There are a few helpful posts out there about how to choose a dance name (links at end). This is about my journey (when you see the word “journey” you should know to settle in for a longish post).
First of all, I choose to have a Dance Name (aka “Stage Name”) purely for privacy purposes. I am a professional working girl and do not need prospective employers or clients to google pictures of my belly and tattoos. Of course I tell people about my “hobby” (aka obsession), and sometimes invite my boss to come to shows. I am not on a crusade to change the world’s first image that pops into your head when you say Belly Dancer. If this is your crusade I will support you in this, but I almost didn’t get a job once because the interviewer found out I am a snowboarder. He is a skier and that was almost the end of that.
I am also, in general, not the kind of person that cares if they don’t know where to mail a 25-year High School reunion announcement to. I wouldn’t have gone even if they could find me. Which they didn’t.
Secondly, I am familiar with the concept of having multiple names. This doesn’t mean that sometimes (or always) I suffer from a bit of an identity crisis. I got married in my early 20’s and changed my name. I was not unhappy to do this, as my maiden name was often mis-spelled and mis-pronounced. Unfortunately, my married name was always mis-spelled and mis-pronounced.
Five years after my divorce, I decided to change my last name, but couldn’t fathom going back to my maiden name. Literally it felt like a step back. So, I picked some names out of my family tree and took a new middle name and last name, that is impossible to mis-spell and mis-pronounce.
Timing is everything, so they say. I was wise and changed my name just before I moved to a new state, so it was easy to show up and just say, yes, this is who I am. No one knew the wiser.
Fast forward to the invention of Facebook. When I first signed on, all I wanted to do was *peek*. So I made up a fake name and logged in. I didn’t have any interest in jumping on that bandwagon until many years later, and I’m told “you already have an account”. So the name I’d picked many years before on a whim sort of stuck. The name was Katrina B****.
At that time, the majority of my Facebook use (and friends) revolved around the Burning Man Community. In that community it is normal if not expected to have a Playa Name. So – by default – Katrina became my Playa Name. Like the Hurricane.
Now my Facebook use and friends revolve almost entirely around my Belly Dance Community. The problem is that for me, Katrina had truly become a Playa Name that doesn’t have place in my dance world. My dance friends never called me that – they called me Kat. (One of those nicknames that you never asked for but people choose for you.)
So, for the last year I have been changing my Facebook Name (also to be my Dance Name) – repeatedly – trying on new names to see what fits. [This is a little nerve-wracking as I’m afraid they’ll stop letting me do this and then I’ll be STUCK.] Most of the dancers in my local dance community don’t actually have Stage Names OR fake Facebook Names (or Playa Names, for that matter), so they just all think I’m crazy.
This is the Part about Actually Choosing my Stage Name
My criteria for a Dance Name are:
- retain the initials KB (that also means having a first and last name)
- have personal meaning to me
- be unique in the belly dance community – at least locally if not nationally
- be “ethnic” or at least interesting, but pronounceable
This last point is a tricky one. I dance Improvisational Tribal Style belly dance. Although we dance about 50% of the time to ethnic music (in a gross generalization this means from the Arab world), it is not so dominant in my troupe’s style that it would make sense for me personally to have an Arabic name (although I know many fusion dancers that do).
My heritage? – well let’s suffice it to say that I’ve traced my people back to getting on a boat in England in the late 1500’s.
Having settled on Kadence (which means rhythm – and meets the first 3 criteria), I was left finding an “ethnic” last name starting with B that is not so “ethnic” that I can’t identify with it. I was trying out Bast (and the variation Bastet) for a while, because I love the concept of a cat goddess. But the name just sounds a little harsh to me as it rolls off the tongue.
Because yoga and mantra are a daily part of my life, I can relate to Sanskrit better than any middle eastern languages.
So that is how I found the word Bidala. It is Sanskrit. For cat. Which clearly have great personal meaning for me, but is also just plain funny because Kat is my nickname.
Bidala, Cat, Kat – It’s all the same to me! Unfortunately, I realize it is not “all the same” to my friends and dance community. It will take time for this one to stick.
Middle Eastern Names http://www.bdancer.com/med-guide/names/fnames.html#A
Sanskrit Translator http://spokensanskrit.de/
Extensive Names List http://www.babynamescountry.com/