February 28, 2012

What Goes Into a Show?

Here is the whole breakdown of why I and other belly dancers in Orlando, charge what we do. After examining this list it should become very apparent why this is a specialty type of service and the key differentiators between a professional semi-pro or hobbyist dancers. The dancing you see in a performance is the fun part, but the behind the scenes work/time that is put into producing a show, it is quite a different story. Because of all these expenses you can now see why the True Cost of a Bellydance Performance is high:


It just keeps going higher doesn’t it?


Car Maintenance

My car is one of my most important investments, if it is not up to snuff I cannot drive anywhere! As a belly dancer I put in about 24,000 miles a year driving to all my private parties and events. Yes that’s right, 24,000!



These get higher every year, oy vey!


“Renting” Costumes

All my costumes are high end Turkish designer duds or from my high end crystal line. All in all, that leads to big $$$$ being spent to make a big impression. Every wear of a costume depreciates its resale value (like a car). In fact we are “renting” a costume every time we use it.


“Renting” Props

– the same basic idea goes for props as it does costumes. they depreciate in value after use, and require special travel boxes, and handling>


Custom Music Edits

Hello software! Music editing software costs money and so does every single song we must buy/download that is not easily available on popular music sites such as I-tunes. Many of the most amazing songs I use have taken months of research to find, (they are in different languages), it is a part-time job in and of itself to find fresh, and audience moving music.


Custom CD/I-Pod

I never use the same playlist twice! Every event is different and I make sure to custom tailor my music to fit with the requests, and event type I am performing in. I would not play Shakira in a traditional Greek wedding party if you know what I mean.Whether it is cd’s you invest in, or finding an ipod that is capable of storing all of the music we have, it get’s pricey



This is the one major difference between professionals and non-professionals who call themselves “professional”. Non-pro’s have had minimal training in this beautiful art form and it is apparent in their skill set. The dance is the first and foremost matter of importance to become a professional. You can have a beautiful costume, but if you dance poorly, it will not compensate. Like Doctors, Lawyers, and other serious professionals, we professional belly dancers spend hundreds if not thousands per year on private classes and training alone to ensure we continue to work on our weaknesses, improve our service, and stay fit for the job


Workshops With the Masters

We spend hundreds if not thousands every year learning from the belly dance masters at workshops held all around the Nation (and World for some of us). This is the top way to maintain technique and keep up with the trends. These are imperative to growing as an artist and making our shows better and better every year. Just a one weekend intensive runs $300-$500 (without the hotel and food/transport)! Looking at my schedule alone, you can already see that this takes up a big chunk of my time and earnings, much like college tuition would for a student.


Airfare and Hotel

Want to get to the workshops and shows to learn from and perform with the masters? Well you have to sleep, eat, and get there don’t you? Airfare to see some of the greatest who do not have their visas, travel to the middle east, and your accommodations are definitely an expense we professionals know all to well.



All those beautiful photos you see in our galleries, marketing materials, and business cards….let me tell you, those professional shots did not happen for free! Photography is an essential part of this business and lets you the client know what we look like NOW. Each costume change is an additional cost on top of the photographers fee (and we rotate costumes frequently). Overall each professional photo-shoot runs $450-$600. Take that with the fact that we professionals do a photo-shoot once to twice minimum per year and you will see how quickly those numbers add up.


Business Cards

An essential part of any business. If you want cheap business cards they will look cheap, if you want to get it done right, it will cost more.



Between the design, encoding, maintenance, renewals, domain, hosting, and etc…that’s $$.



Most gig referral sites run about $300 for their yearly fee, typically a dancer has a minimum of 1 or 2, typically more for most professionals


Performance Makeup

Performance makeup costs considerably more than normal everyday wear makeup, and the fact that it has to be sweat proof also adds a nice chunk to the bill.



The icing on the cake, one looks too bare and unfinished without it.



Dancing full time causes constant weight shifts, and seamstresses are pricey. This is the only way to ensure though that our costumes stay on securely and do not detract from the show after rigorous shows and rehearsals.



In my particular style, sharp movements are commonly utilized, and over time with constant dancing unalignment of the spine is typical. Visiting a chiropractor at least once a month is essential to our professional health.


Hair Upkeep

One might say “that’s not a necessary expense” but boy that couldn’t be more wrong! Could you imagine me coming to a venue looking great head to toe but with long locks that are ill kept and ragged? Keeping my VERY long hair clean, neat, and healthy is a process, and doesn.’t come cheap


Expensive Fuels for Fire Performances

These fuels are becoming more popular as more fire performers are appearing, and so the price has continuously gone higher and higher and for whatever reason are harder to find locally here in Orlando, FL!.


Performer’s Insurance

This is an extremely important factor! This is my way of protecting myself and you in the event that some unforeseen circumstance causes an accident. This also is proof that I am serious about safety

Studio Rentals

If you want to take a class or workshop at a studio, rent must be paid to the owner by the hour and it is not cheap when you add up all the hours in the year you had to rehearse.


Cleaners (only way to really clean a costume)

Costumes (due to their rhinestones, exotic beads, and sequins) are not something you can just throw into the laundry with the rest of your clothes. Especially since these costumes usually cost between $500-$1500! The fabrics used often times trap odors so the use of a professional to steam clean of dry-clean your garment is a must in order to not ruin the beautiful detail work.

As you can see, the True Cost of a Bellydance Performance is much higher than many would have initially thought. The industry rates are what they are for a reason.



2 Comments on “What Goes Into a Show?

April 17, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Nicely shared! IF clients were privy to this information, perhaps the $200-300+ quoted fees wouldn’t seem so “high”.

Angel Roman
April 18, 2014 at 8:08 pm

You know, I love how you talk about the hair and make up….that is so time consuming and for me the time clock (punch in/punch out of work starts right there). I don’t know about you, but I look like a COMPLETELY different person without my hair and makeup done…REALLY… Many are mistaken thinking we walk around looking fabulous all day long…they think we wake up looking like we do at our shows and all we have to do is throw on a costume and get in the car…boy are they so wrong. Sometimes (and I’m sure this happens to you too) I am called at the last minute being asked “Can you come right now?” or be “on call” and I just want to laugh out loud. I need AT LEAST/MINIMUM 2 hours for hair, make up, shave legs, pack props, music playlist selection, etc. Another thing, because of my age (I THINK you are younger than me so maybe you don’t have this problem yet to the degree I do) when I eat, you can see it on my the next day…therefore, I am constantly dieting and working out. That not only costs us money (better quality foods and gym) but we loose the enjoyment of sharing yummy foods with our love ones…I know that doesn’t cost money, but it’s another sacrifice…I hate it when my 11 year old asks me to take her out for ice cream and I can’t enjoy it with her or not take her at all to resist the temptation 🙁 Enough with my rant…lol…thanks for sharing your article! 🙂 Besos!


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