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  1. #1
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    Default My inner tormoil with belly dancing

    I am 49 yrs old and have been very athletic all my life (a few years off and on in ballroom dancing, weight training for approx 15 yrs) and for the past 4 years have added approx 3 to 4 days/week of belly dance group classes. I am in great shape and much younger looking (some cosmetic surgery help, LOL). I am very addicted and drawn to belly dancing, the music (especially drums!) and now more than ever, I want to become an excellent belly dancer and possibly perform professionally someday (I do not need to be a highly paid performer that does this for a living, just a proficient and talented belly dancer). However, I feel I’m too old to have an ambitious goal as this (Since I’m sure I need several more years of training, how old will I be then, OMG).

    I do not want to pursue this ambition and financial commitment if it is not realistic because of my age. You know how “they” say when it comes to goal setting, make certain your “goals are realistic.” So, please give me your honest (even if brutal) opinion of what to expect at my age. I’m asking this because I’m thinking about investing more financially with belly dancing as in say, private lessons approx 3 times/week and possibly attend extensive workshops. Seriously, I do not want to waste my money and time and hope on a goal that is not realistic and wake up one day broke saying, "what was I thinking? I should have listened to my brother and saved my money and dignity!!!!. I am able and ready, if need be, to accept that I may need to modify this goal and just do belly dance for fun & exercise.....(I’ll achieve it in my next life!) Thank you. MC.

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Greek Bonfire's Avatar
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    It depends where you live and what people want. Some places and events want older dancers because of their life's experiences that they bring to the dance. I've seen older dancers - by older I mean women at least 35 and some at 60 - perform at haflas, events, even some private gigs.

    If you love it so much though, maybe you should just consider going to workshops for the fun of it, and if professional opportunities open up, then go with that.

  3. #3
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    I can't rep you for that Fotia, but I really want to. That is excellent advice, especially considering the circumstances.

    Misty, chances are that you are a good dancer. Why not take that drive and ambition and put it towards becoming the best dancer you can be. It's an unachievable goal because the goal post keeps moving, but it's also achievable in baby steps because you get to celebrate the small things, like having someone you respect and admire compliment your performance.

    Bellydance is a strange dance form - it's like fine wine, dancers usually get better with age. It is definitely possible to start a performance career at an age when other dancers would be long retired. Go for it, be prepared (as you should be regardless of if you're 20 or 60) for failure to achieve your aspiration and just have as much fun as possible while you're doing it.
    Bellydance in Kyabram!
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    Email kyabrambellydance@gmail.com for more information.

  4. #4
    Senior Member walladah's Avatar
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    Default "save money and dignity" and...

    "do it at the next life"...

    Dear Misty, i do not believe in reincarnation (I am sorry), least believe i in saving dignity (forget about money) by not doing what a person yearns for...

    However, let's say that you can do what you want in your next life: how do you think this "stepping back" in this life will affect your karma? I mean, don't you feel that by accepting all this about not becoming a professional bellydancer in this life, while you want to so much, is a major injustice to yourself?

    Go for it! do it! it is one thing if you ever change your mind about this dance and it is another thing if you do not ever give yourself the chance to change your mind...

  5. #5
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    I say if you really want to do it, go for it. BUT, you need to be realistic about it. Age and looks definitely play a part in the success of most belly dancers. Yes, you are "older" but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Maybe doing it as a part time job vs. having the goal of a full-time career will be better suited to you...?

    The arts & entertainment industries are tough ones to make it in, even for someone who is young and drop dead gorgeous. I think it's great that you've taken care of yourself physically. As you know, this will help you in all aspects of your life- even belly dance! There are plenty of people out there who enjoy watching mature dancers and are inspired by them.

    I think having a realistic but positive attitude will make all of the difference. Yes, you will miss out on jobs because some clients want 25yr olds, but don't let that take away from all the entertainment your putting out there when you do get a job or the people that you will inspire when they see you dance or the joy that you get from dancing. In the entertainment industry, people are turned down for all sorts of reasons and it's usually not personal. Just know what your getting into and if you are good at performing, then go ahead and do it!
    Last edited by Belly Love; 03-03-2011 at 03:28 AM.

  6. #6
    AFK Moderator ~Diana~'s Avatar
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    A lot of what the girls above it good advice. I would add look around your area and gage what kind of interest there is in bellydancing first. For example in my province there is a growing interest in learning bellydance but there is not the interest for people/buisness to hire performers (hobbies wise let alone professional wise). All my friends who wanted to go down the road you are thinking of had to move to a larger city where there is a chance of even breaking in.

    However I won't lie, age and size does play into it as a factor (personally experienced this). You will run up against views that they want a younger dancers, you will come up against people who are set against having older dancers and/or those not media accepted skinny, you will come up against people who want you to dance a particular way, and you will come across those who think you are a stripper. It's not going to be an easy road. I've watched friends go through hell (financially and emotionally) trying to break into this business professionally and they are much younger.

    Still I say go for it if it is what your heart really wants to do. Even if bellydancing is not a big thing in your area, if you put enough effort and work into it you might become the founder of it there. And who knows you might bring it to life in your area and make it popular.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    1. Beginning dancer. Knows nothing.
    2. Intermediate dancer. Knows everything. Too good to dance with beginners.
    3. Hotshot dancer. Too good to dance with anyone.
    4. Advanced dancer. Dances everything. Especially with beginners
    .
    ~ Attributed to Dick Crum, a folk dance teacher ~

  7. #7
    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Misty View Post
    I want to become an excellent belly dancer and possibly perform professionally someday (I do not need to be a highly paid performer that does this for a living, just a proficient and talented belly dancer). However, I feel Im too old to have an ambitious goal as this (Since Im sure I need several more years of training, how old will I be then, OMG).
    Why is it necessary to set a goal of performing for money? Why not simply set a goal of performing at a level equivalent to that of a professional, but without seeking paid gigs? Why isn't proficiency a sufficient goal in itself?

    Even if you were 20 years younger, I'd still ask these questions. Because the fact is, there are a lot more would-be professionals than there are paying gigs to go around.

  8. #8
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    I can answer some of those "why" questions:
    It would be nice to have a place that you are wanted and expected to dance regularly, such as a restaurant or regular performance gig

    It would be nice to get some of the money back that you put into classes, music and costuming, not to mention to be able to write them off on your taxes

    In some communities is it nice to be known

    You have more credibility to your family

    Do any of those hit it for anyone?

  9. #9
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Misty View Post
    I want to become an excellent belly dancer and possibly perform professionally someday (I do not need to be a highly paid performer that does this for a living, just a proficient and talented belly dancer).
    First of all, a professional dancer is a professional dancer. If you want to put yourself in the public arena, be aware that if you dance for free, or take jobs for less than the going rate, you are going to make enemies quickly.

    The "professional" arena is very different from the "workshop show" arena, and the minute you get into bellygrams and restaurant work, you up the stakes considerably. Let's face it -- in most communities the actual JOBS are quite limited, and you will be competing against people who are OFTEN either much younger or much more skilled. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there. And if you put yourself out as a pro, you WILL be in competition with people who are trying to make a living doing it.

    HOWEVER:

    The opportunities for performance in dancer-friendly workshop shows are much greater. There you won't find the competition that exists in restaurant work. That would be my recommendation to you -- work towards having a goal of being a great dancer, and perform at local hafli and workshop shows. Age isn't a factor there.

    As a "rapidly approaching an age of non-marketability" dancer, I feel ya! But the important thing to remember is that it's not about trying to LOOK young. We can have thousands of dollars in plastic surgery and that still isn't going to make us dance the way a 20-year-old can.

    What WE have -- our edge -- is life experience. We need to focus on wringing as much emotion out of our dancing as possible. We have twice the life experience of the young whippersnappers, and twice the joy and pain. That should come out in our dancing. That should be our "wow" factor

  10. #10
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiradotnet View Post
    Why is it necessary to set a goal of performing for money? Why not simply set a goal of performing at a level equivalent to that of a professional, but without seeking paid gigs? Why isn't proficiency a sufficient goal in itself?

    Even if you were 20 years younger, I'd still ask these questions. Because the fact is, there are a lot more would-be professionals than there are paying gigs to go around.
    Shira, you took the words out of my mouth.

    Why do dancers feel validated by being able to take paid gigs? Why do we need the "professional" label to feel like we've achieved something as dancers?

    I can understand wanting to make a living, or even just wanting to make some side money, out of an activity you love... or at least getting back some of the financial investments you've put into it. I can understand wanting to be accepted by other professionals in the field, and considered one of them. I can understand wanting to be respected by the public as a professional.

    What I don't understand is why these things should be a primary motivating factor. If you truly love dance, you should do it regardless of whether or not it will ever bring you financial reward. I don't mean doing professional gigs for free, but taking class and/or dancing for yourself, dancing at student haflas and other appropriate events, etc. If dancing for the sake of dancing doesn't bring you joy, if you think you are wasting time and money improving yourself when you will never be a professional, then why do it in the first place?

    There are indeed many more "professional" belly dancers than the market demands. We do a horrible job of setting high standards and send students off to take professional gigs long before they are ready and long before their dancing is up to par. Some of them continue to study the dance and bloom into true professionals, but not all. Regardless of whether or not they do though, the market is still oversaturated with tons of subpar dancers at any given moment.

    Performing professionally is not glamorous. It involves a lot of marketing and self-promoting, a lot of negotiating, it involves writing up contracts, it involves dealing with rude customers, drunk patrons, dirty floors, broken glass, community gossip, etc. It involves traveling to unknown places and getting lost when your GPS won't cooperate. It involves dancing when you are feeling sick because you can't cancel out on a gig at the last minute. Most of the time it involves most if not all of the above. These things take a lot of energy, effort, and thick skin in the face of disappointment. There are a lot of positives to performing professionally as well, but I think most people who dream of becoming professional belly dancers tend to overlook the negatives.

    Considering these things, do you really think being a professional belly dancer is the best goal you can set for yourself? Do you really think it's the best way to validate yourself as a dancer?

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