Don't be a bellydancing scapegoat!
The Devil's Details,
Show Ethics for Professionals
2 - The Cross-Cultural Factor
Middle Eastern vs. Western Audiences,
Party Bookers, Restaurant Owners, Musicians, etc
Knowing how to navigate cross-cultural
waters is an essential skill for any successful belly dancer.
Differences in communication styles, attitudes and traditions
can affect every aspect of your job. Sometimes it can mean the
difference between getting hired or not, paid or not, or called
back or not. Understanding your audience’s reactions can turn
a lousy show into a great one. Why did all those women stare at
you with daggers in their eyes? Why did someone try to stuff dollar
bills down your bra or stick one on your forehead? Were they trying
to cop a feel and/or smear saliva on you? Have you carefully watched
the audience, how they interact with you and each other? If a
certain type of behavior is annoying (on or off the stage), think
through an appropriate way to discourage it without offending
you obtain up front will usually depend on the nationality and
type of booking agent. Private parties booked directly by the
customer will always be more straightforward than those booked
by an intermediary DJ, musician or club owner. These people may
not actually know all the details when they book the dancer, other
than the date and how much they are willing to pay. It is best
to be laid back if you want the job and finalize things the week
before you are due to perform (but NOT the night of the show once
you are already there).
oriented, efficient and organized comes across well to Americans
but not necessarily to Middle Easterners,
who take a more ‘go with the flow’ attitude.
has usually been to settle the money right away and take the
as it comes,
unless I have multiple bookings that night and time is an
issue. Then it is important to communicate this lack of flexibility
the booking agent so they can’t come back to you on the night
of the party and say, “You never told me you couldn’t wait
for an hour…”
There is a great deal of passive aggressive face-saving behavior
in this profession. It is not always woman friendly either. Respect
is not a given…
of trouble it can be helpful to remember the saying, “You catch
more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
Know that it is NOT selling out to be sweet but firm in the
face of adversity, especially with Middle Easterners. Tempers
stress happens, but it is foolish to end up on an eternal blacklist
for one hotheaded remark. That is not to say don’t stand up
yourself. Just try to leave your emotions out of business conversations.
It is after all only a job. Perhaps you will wake up the next
morning with a different perspective. One more thing, if a
turns into a question of honor for a Middle Easterner, things
can get blown all out of proportion. It doesn’t matter who
wrong or right. Saving face is what is important, and if the
dancer is not careful she will often find herself turned into
advice I have ever read about the double talk in our profession
is an article written by Artemis Mourat entitled Top
Twenty Club Cliches, about
what owners/bookers say when they don’t want to tell dancers
are hiring agents worth their own paragraph. It is important to
remember that they are also colleagues and in the same boat as
you when something goes wrong. But their priorities are
different. They will be at a party all night instead of for one
30 minute show. They may have to play for several acts without
a break. As the night wears on alcohol can get the best of reason.
The musicians may have to deal with inebriated customers, which
adds stress to an already high-adrenalin situation. If a dancer
doesn’t get paid for half an hour’s work it is extremely annoying.
But if the band doesn’t get paid, the booking musician and all
the people working for him are out an entire night’s work - that
the musician will have to reimburse the others for whether he
collects or not.
is under far more pressure to please his customers than you
tend to assume that all dancers know the ins and outs of performing
to live music. They take for granted that she understands the
musical cues, pauses and band interaction common to dancer/musician
communication. Musicians also do not take kindly to being ridiculed
in front of an audience. Remember that there are infinitely more
ways for them to make a dancer look bad than the other way around.
In the West, dancers are a dime a dozen. Musicians rule. If they
don’t want you to work, you won’t work. It is better to stay on
their good side, even if it means putting up with occasional frayed
nerves and flaring tempers. If something is important to you,
say so, but it’s better to settle things at booking, rather than
on the night of the performance.
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Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Devil's Details, Show Ethics for Professionals, Part 1- Booking
a Party by Yasmin
When a dancer looks
good, she, or another, will get called back to perform again. When
she looks bad, customers might be turned off to our lovely art form
forever. Therefore, a bad dancer not only ruins things for herself,
but for all of us
Copyright Law for Belly Dancers (or for any Performing
Artist by Yasmin
Hollywood blockbuster movies down to clips on YouTube the law is
the same and it applies to anyone who uses someone else’s
music for their own purposes.
8-11-00-Yasmina's First Club Gig a
silly comic strip by Lynette
"You're so beautiful! Wouldn't you like to audition
to dance for us?"
Dunes, Report on North African Fusion Band by
Abdullah sings so soulfully, that even though the words are in
a foreign language, you think you know what he is saying, and the
other band members bring everything together for a joyful music
Raqs –An International Belly Dancer Goes Home
to Macedonia by Paola
musical folklore of this region deserves full debut in the World
Music scene, and those of us in the MED community worldwide are
ripe for the breath of fresh air that Chochek and Gypsy Brass Music
can bring us. It is an original, organic and time-honored fusion,
brought about by history, geography, and most importantly, tolerance
and mutual cultural celebration.
North Beach Memories Chapter 6: Bert, by
On my first
Monday at the Casa Madrid, Bert came to support the place and
me. Well, what he saw was equivalent to a San Francisco earthquake.