March 24, 2014

How to start your belly dance career as a newbie

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How to start your belly dance careerLets say you are dancing at a festival or in a restaurant during your first year or two as a working belly dancer. You do not have much experience with the whole business aspect and after your performance an audience member asks you if you would come and perform for their event. What do you do? How much should you charge? Should you dance for free since you are a newbie? Are you wondering how to start your belly dance career?

This was a great question posed to me by Mylene Bellydance . Here is my advice:

1. If you are working at all as a belly dancer i would sincerely hope that you are taking weekly continual training in belly dance no matter what level. Any time you perform you need to understand that it is not about wearing a sparkly outfit and shaking it to a few tunes.

You are representing a culture, a tradition, and most importantly must make it a point to train and learn what is ethical and unethical in this dance and business.

Having a mentor/teacher or reaching out to an experienced and respected dancer would be the first thing to do. See if they feel you are ready to accept a private party in the first place with your current dance level and knowledge set.

If they feel you DO have sufficient experience to do a private party as an amateur then ask them if you could accompany them to one of their events so you can learn first hand what it is like, and what is expected.

If the party comes sooner than later, then book a private intensive with a belly dance mentor who will guide you into creating set lists, contracts, local rates and cultural and safety practices. I offer business mentorship via my bellydance management program if you need someone to teach you all of these vital things. Click Here

2. Always charge if you are performing. Do not ever perform for free, or for food or my favorite…”exposure” for private parties unless if you have a special instance with a charity you are a sincere supporter of for example.

One really great place to find out what base local rates are is this article on Samira Suruks site: Simply look up your state, find your region and follow the fee amount for newbies.

3. Knowledge and shadowing truly is the way to go before you ever gig. My first private party ever was a wedding my instructor booked. She, another of her top students and I all belly danced for the wedding reception and together. Our teacher Jolie guided and reassured us throughout the entire process.

Even then, years later when i began booking parties on my own it was so crazy doing all the work by myself and in the beginning i made mistakes like anyone else. I hope that you can avoid all of those growing pains by reaching out to people who can make sure you learn and have a basic handle of what to do BEFORE you gig.

4. If you feel that you are not ready to gig at this time, please refer the client to the best dancer in your area. This is a beautiful sign of camaraderie and one day, other newbies will be referring clients to you.

Hope this advice helped and please comment and let readers and I know what you decided 🙂 Best of luck and thank you for reaching out! i hope this blog on how to start your belly dance career was useful.


2 Comments on “How to start your belly dance career as a newbie

March 27, 2014 at 10:56 pm

Thank you Ms. Jennifer. But what do you think about what other belly dancers called “practice gig” and “promo gig”? And about having a live training, what if he/she learned this kind of art form from instructional DVD’s because there aren’t instructors in his/her area and he/she’s the only one doing the belly dance? And if going abroad is the only way, what if she/he really have a potential but then just can’t afford for having a class/workshop in the other countries? What do you think she can do in order for her to express her passion? Will she/he got the chance?

March 27, 2014 at 11:07 pm

I personally am not fond of the practice of “promo gigs” nor “practice gigs”. One should practice at home or in the studio, not for public performance, that is my firm belief. Everyone is different but this is my opinion.

If a dancer has only trained from dvd’s because there are no instructors in the area, they should really consider skype classes if on a liited budget and unable to travel. It is one thing to think one is a good dancer when they are following a dvd. it is another thing when a trained professinoal can give you constructive feedback and correct you even if it via skype. dvd’s honestly will only go so far, but all belly dancers working in the field should have a professional train and critique them so they can grow, otherwise they might not be doing the art jsutice without that valuable knowledge and feedback, like any other art.

If a person truly wants something bad enough I believe with hard work they can achieve it. In this industry I will not lie, you need to invest money to get the return later…like paying for tuition to learn knowledge and skills in college so that later they can land the job. That is the way to really be respected, you must train in belly dance, learn the cultural nuances, and really be able to be a true representativ eof the art form.

it take s alot of time and dedication, but if you really want it, you can do it. I know you could.


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