Troupe or Soloist? Choosing What's Right for You.

Joining a troupe or going solo both have benefits. When you join a troupe your joining a well bonded team of people who all got their in a similar way as you. As a soloist, you have freedom of choice and direction. Below are a few points to consider before making your decision.

 Kat’s Troupe Sirens of the Sound. Photo by Jeanie Lewis

Kat’s Troupe Sirens of the Sound. Photo by Jeanie Lewis

Consider your personality and work style.

Did you enjoy group projects in college? Did you do well with taking direction? A troupe is truly a team effort. Everyone has to pull their weight even if it’s lead by someone. If you are the type who prefers to get things done on their own and likes to take lead a pre-existing troupe may not be right for you. Now this is not always true. As someone who sits in the Type A / Aries side of things I’ve been in many troupes as well as currently lead my own troupe. I like to get things done quickly and efficiently.

Think about the personalities in the troupe you want to join. Will you fit right in? Do you already clash with your fellow students who are in the troupe as well? That relationship will only get worse or better depending on how you tackle it. Keep an open mind and communication open but know that if you cannot stand dealing with a person that will only get more problematic in a team setting.

Think about your goals.

What do you want to accomplish with your dance? Is it to go pro? Is it to gain a community? To give purpose to your practice? If you are looking for a community, or want to continue your dance practice past class, a troupe might be right for you. If you are looking to go pro and start gigging professionally, both troupe and soloist have advantages. A troupe can start you gigging in a safe environment with someone else leading the negotiations. If lead by an experienced dancer, they can also start showcasing you as a soloist within the troupe and help lead you in the right direction. If you are looking for a community, a troupe is a great place to be. You build lifelong relationships with people on a weekly basis and truly learn the meaning of teamwork. You hear the term “sisterhood” when talking about troupes and I would completely agree. Every troupe I have been in or am currently in has blossomed a friendship that I still cherish to this day.

If you are going the soloist route, you get to choose your adventure. You get the say for all costuming, music, and performance choices. What you loose is the safety net and guidance that a troupe can provide. Without that safety net it’s easier to make miss-steps. You also can loose larger gig opportunities. For example, large festivals want a performance group and not just a soloist. They also may want an hour long full show that you simply cannot provide. On the plus side, being a soloist provides more freedom and ability to do more quickly. For example if a gig opportunity comes up, you only have to check your schedule to see if you’re free. You never have to worry about wearing a costume you don’t like because it’s what everyone else picked. You’re the boss!

Consider your commitment level.

How committed are you to performing? When you join a troupe you are promising to a group of people that you will use your extra time to commit to practicing, performing, and costuming. Are you up for that? This means showing up on time, purchasing or creating costuming, learning others choreographies, and being a team player.

As a soloist the only person you are committing to is you. You are responsible for manifesting performance from start to finish. If you are not a self starter, this route might not be the best for you.

It’s OK to do both.

You don’t have to choose. You can be a soloist and in a troupe. You know your schedule and limits best so don’t feel like you are inhibited to do what feels best. Explore your options, but never limit yourself to opportunities. Take each new option as a learning moment.

Kat teaches, dances, and produces shows in Tacoma, Washington. You can find out more about her belly dance classes, belly dance performances, and belly dance shows at www.tacomabellydance.com

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