Lets 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: http://www.samirashuruk.com/belly-dance-rates-by-region/. 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.