I received an email a couple of days ago full of very deep and “real” questions and one topic that really stood out to me was the “expectations notion” or ideology of where belly dancers “should” be allocating their funds if they want to be professional.

What I mean to say is, if you are a belly dancer, some people have a view out there that if you do not do “x, y, and Z” on a regular basis then you aren’t “serious” about belly dance.

The writer of this email described feeling as if certain dancers looked down on her because instead of spending on workshops each time there was an event, she chose to focus on private lessons for herself and attend a few events as family and bill expenses had to be met.

I thought this quite an interesting story, and as requested will give my own personal opinion. So here it is….

When it comes down to it, before money can be talked about, if you decide to become a professional belly dancer the best thing you can do in my humble opinion is decide what your focus will be in this business. Are you more of a teacher, or is performing more of your passion? Would you rather organize events, teach fitness,  conduct research, create products, or would you want to travel and teach workshops?

The sooner you figure out what your focus is, the more clear it will become of where to allocate your extra income, and what YOU need to get you to where you want to be.

For someone like me, being a performer is my top priority above all, so I spend my extra funds attending big, well known conventions, making sure to have great costuming and taking private lessons.

If my main goal was to teach classes, my performances would not be as numerous at huge events most likely (compared to performer scenario above) as classes are typically at night or on weekends. Most extra income would be allocated to attending trainings to make me a better teacher, network/outreach to my community, and of course into the routines and pieces needed for my students dances.

If your goal is to produce events, taking business classes, going to industry events and performances in other Arts genre’s will be invaluable in helping you create a well done event. Spending on travel in order to reach business sponsors, donors, and etc…will be what takes up most of your time apart from everything else.

So What Is the Problem?

The problem is that there is an unrealistic expectation for a belly dancer to be equally amazing in all of the possible avenues, and that just crazy. If your bud is more of a teacher than a performer, do not make her feel bad if she cannot attend every workshop weekend, she has other priorities for her focus, and
would most likely want to spend her only extra income on a training seminar, weeklong intensive, music, or private lesson so that she can get new material to give to her students.

If your friend is a performer above all, understand that if she has any extra income, it will be to take workshops, give up weekends at home to perform, and must continuously train in order to get to a performance level that will produce the results she/he needs to be successful. Teaching 50 classes, is not going to be her main focus, and she will not spend much on it as a result.

So moral of the story, when you decide what moves you most in this business, stick to it, and no matter what budget, put your money towards what will give YOU the best results for YOUR goals, and do not apologize if someone gives you smack about not doing what THEY do, or what they THINK makes a successful belly dancer.