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 what it is:
It just keeps going higher doesn’t it? That is part of our travel expense and we have to make sure to have a full tank prior to the event date to ensure we arrive on time and safely.
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. That’s right, 24,000! Each week I am performing at various venues and events and those oil changes, tune ups and fluid changes occur more frequently because of this.
These get higher every year. Oy vey! In Orlando you pretty much have to take toll roads to get anywhere quickly.
All of 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. I am all about providing high caliber shows so every detail must be high-quality in order to produce the shows that I do.
The same basic principle applies for my props as it does towards costumes. These beautiful show accessories depreciate in value after use and require special travel boxes, and care when 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/Amazon. 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 moving music.
I never use the same playlist twice! Every event is different and I make sure to custom tailor my music to fit with the cultural background 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 or business phone that is capable of storing all of the music we have, it get’s pricey with memory storage quickly.
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. Education in cultural nuance is a huge advantage and so is training in how to engage an audience.
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 too 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.
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, coding, maintenance, renewals, domain, hosting, and etc…that’s $$.
Most gig referral sites run about $350+ for their yearly fee, typically a dancer has a minimum of 1 or 2 and more for most professionals.
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. It wouldn’t be very cute to have a bellydancer whos macara and makeup is smudged across her face form all the sweat.
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 performances and rehearsals. Anytime we obtain a new costume as well, we immediately need to fit is properly.
In my particular style, sharp movements are commonly utilized, and over time with constant dancing misalignment of the spine is typical. Visiting a chiropractor at least once a month is essential to our professional health.
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! Al o fthe products and supplies we use to prepare for your performance is an expense as well.
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!.
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.
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.
The time that is involved in order to coordinate every aspect/detail necessary in order to create a flawless show is truly something that most clients don’t realize. The time it takes to speak to the client, coordinator, d.j., and the clients’ friend who will assist for the day of and etc. is just one piece. Then the time it takes to search for the music to perfectly complement the cultural backgrounds and event type comes next. Once songs are selected, cutting the music takes time. Then it is the time to design the show and select the perfect props and costume. There is also time involved in performing pre-show maintenance on the costume and props to ensure they are wrinkle free and look beautiful for the day of the show. More time comes into play as I get ready (hair, makeup, nails, skin, dressing up) and then pack everything needed before I can leave my house. There is time in driving to the venue, looking for parking, unpacking and contacting the day-of assistant so they can usher me in, unseen, to where I can change and store my belongings. Then there is a warm up. Then the performance itself, plus the time after for pictures with packages that include them. After the show the time waiting to be paid as I pack up and cool down is next. Then, more time is added as I drive back home, late at night, tired. Once home, the time involved in hanging everything up to dry, store everything back in their appropriate containers, clean what was smudged and then wipe off the makeup and shower is next. Finally, there is a cool down stretch and mini massage to ensure the body can continue to feel good the next day is done. The 1 show the audience see’s is just part of a much larger picture.
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 and will continue to rise as the cost of living rises with it. Have questions? Contact me today!
If you are a dancer reading this post, please chime in below!