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  1. #11
    V.I.P. Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yame View Post
    Another thing is to always try to be aware of who will perform at events you will be attending with friends/family, and of what will be presented, so that you can "warn" them of what they might be in for. That way if they want to back out on it they can, and not feel as cheated out of their money.
    This is why I don't like dragging friends and family to events. I feel bad about maybe not being as supportive as I could be, but I don't want to inflict overlong shows of not-so-great dancing on non-BDers. Husband has already suffered enough, poor thing.

    I don't think we do ourselves any favours by not making the distinction between events by and for the BD community and shows for the general public.

    If it's really aimed at the general public, and you don't want to bore them or make them regret the ticket price or think belly dance is a load of rubbish, the organiser has got to take responsibility for setting standards and thinking from the "civilian" audience's POV rather than the BD community's. I don't think people want to face the fact that those POVs are very different, hence dramas and shooting of messengers who dare to say the emperor has no clothes.

  2. #12
    V.I.P. PracticalDancer's Avatar
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    There is a lot to comment about in here; forgive me for waiting until I had a few moments at home in front of a real keyboard to dive in -- this is too much to take on via an iphone!

    First, welcome to the forum! This thread has a lot to chew on!

    Quote Originally Posted by Avariel View Post
    . . .it was three hours of sort of lukewarm performance. . .
    Three hours is a lot, even if the dancers were good! This is what we 'round here refer to as "the never ending belly dance show!"


    Quote Originally Posted by Avariel View Post
    . . . A local troupe was putting on a show at a big theater in town, a ticketed event that had been advertised grossly throughout the weeks leading up to it . . .
    oh my, she invested a lot financially in the event, didn't she? That probably added to her reaction!

    Quote Originally Posted by Avariel View Post
    . . . and my friend, a non-dancer and uneducated "civillian" was very dissapointed that we paid for tickets (her words.) she is, bless her, very honest and while she was tactful she told me what she thought. . . .
    I recall when my brother in law went to a certain Bruce Willis movie . . . when my husband asked what he thought, the BIL wanted his time back! Audiences invest. My econ prof (who was known for throwing keg parties) gave really relevant examples of econ terms, like "cover charges" are sunk cost, but leaving and taking advantage of something better as "reinvesting."


    Quote Originally Posted by Avariel View Post
    . . . but nevertheless I was mortified, not only for myself, but for the dancers on stage. Many of them I know personally and as much as I love them all, it hurt a lot to realize that my friend was kind of right. . . . So me, being somewhat naive, sent a very professional, private, tactful letter to the event coordinater (the leader of the troupe in question) a few days later. I thought that perhaps she would be concerned with what a customer felt about her product that said customer had paid for. The results were disasterous. Instead of responding to me directly and discussing the issue at hand (i.e. amateur dancers professionaly representing this art form to the town at paid events) she blasted it all over facebook, while hiding it from me, and created a whirlwind of drama that swung around her like a sack of rotten potatoes.
    And here we come to the meatiest part. Everybody needs feedback, but it is ONLY useful if the recipient is open to hearing and acting on it. And, few, very few people are receptive to blind feedback. Yes, you said something she should hear. But, she wanted to hear how fabulous and nice everyone looked, because they are a reflection of HER. She undoubtably took it personally, because it was her show. And, you questioned her judgement.

    In this case it is a tough one. She has to realize that not everyone appreciates her taste and talent at grooming dancers. Granted, we all have to start somewhere. I know I embarrassed many an instructor and myself over time. But, while you may have advice for others, maybe one day your own student, this is a good case study to learn that no matter how true the message, the person who hears it has to be ready to handle it.

    In the meantime, keep dancing, my friend.

    Regards,

    Anala

  3. #13
    V.I.P. da Sage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avariel View Post
    Hi guys! new poster on the forum but I've followed threads on here for years. Happy to have a community that's active online and tha tI can hopefully bounce thoughts and ideas off of

    Recently I had a friend come to town from across the country and she's never seen bellydancing before. A local troupe was putting on a show at a big theater in town, a ticketed event that had been advertised grossly throughout the weeks leading up to it, so I felt it was a great opportunity to show my friend multiple styles and flavors of bellydance and be there to answer questions or comment while the show was going on so that she could learn a little while also enjoying great dancing! Unfortunately, in my hometown a lot of local troupes tend to put dancers on stages and in professional, paid venues while the dancers are still sort of going through amateur and student phases in their dance technique, so the result is a lot of awkward shows that leave audiences fidgety, restless, and not paying attention. Our town's support community is usually pretty dismal, and the low quality performances at paid shows is why. Not only do people not want to pay for what they're seeing, but they think that all professional bellydancers are like this and don't even bother going to other shows when they hear about them.

    This show I took my friend to was no different. There were the typical (very) few bright stars in the lineup, but it was three hours of sort of lukewarm performance, and my friend, a non-dancer and uneducated "civillian" was very dissapointed that we paid for tickets (her words.) she is, bless her, very honest and while she was tactful she told me what she thought. I don't want to repeat it here, but nevertheless I was mortified, not only for myself, but for the dancers on stage. Many of them I know personally and as much as I love them all, it hurt a lot to realize that my friend was kind of right. I had gotten to the point where I was so used to seeing what we were seeing on stage that I had sort of fallen into accepting it as "as good as it'll get" and concentrating on myself as a performer, studying hard so that my contribution to the community was as big as I could make it. But after hearing what my friend said, and looking out over the (not even close to sold out) theater, I realized how having dancers on the stage that maybe weren't ready for it yet was seriously killing our community. What we were actively doing in front of the public, on stages and in restaraunts, was educating the public on what bellydance was, whether we wanted it to be how they saw it or not.

    So me, being somewhat naive, sent a very professional, private, tactful letter to the event coordinater (the leader of the troupe in question) a few days later. I thought that perhaps she would be concerned with what a customer felt about her product that said customer had paid for. The results were disasterous. Instead of responding to me directly and discussing the issue at hand (i.e. amateur dancers professionaly representing this art form to the town at paid events) she blasted it all over facebook, while hiding it from me, and created a whirlwind of drama that swung around her like a sack of rotten potatoes. I had another dancer friend who clued me in to what was going on, and after 8 hours of facebook vomit (all hidden from me; the new method of talking behind someone's back is changing security settings on wall posts, apparently) the facilitator finally responded with a very unprofessional, personally scathing, and overly-dramatic response. To me it was devastating; to not only see something happening in our community that was obviously killing all of us professionally, but then have someone causing it be so intent on twisting it so it was about "them" that they miss the point entirely; I was really at a loss.

    A lot of friends have advised me that I should just cut my losses, let the drama queens simmer and boil in their own created reality and go about my way, but the fact remains that their actions are still affecting all of us. I feel unable to let go of it completely because I feel like, amidst all the drama and name-calling, the point is entirely being missed, and that point is so, so, so important. I don't feel the need to create chaos for the sheer enjoyment of it; I'm a really good dancer, an inherent people pleaser, and I hate making anyone upset, much less drama-queen upset. (that's pretty epic upset.) I have no reason to drag anyone down, and would rather our entire community as a whole get phenomenally good and put on outrageously sold out shows that make everyone think bellydancing is the best thing EVAR.

    How can I do this? Talking to the persons in question seems impossible; has anyone else ever struggled through this as a community? Any success stories? Advise for those of us that are still trying to solider through it? How do we deal with troupes and performers like this? Am I just being stupid in even concerning myself with this? Will welcome someone giving me a reality check if I'm totally in the wrong; I'm frankly at a loss at the moment and don't have a clear direction to go in besides, as Dori puts it, "Just keep swimm- er, dancing."
    I think you picked the wrong show to take your friend to. Why are you blaming the organizer when you know from your own experience exactly what to expect?

    This is why I only bring confirmed bellydance enthusiasts or dabblers to multi-group bellydance-focused theater shows. For non-enthusiast newbies I choose restaurants on nights that I know good dancers are performing, or recommend one-troupe theatrical shows after I've seen them.

    I feel I have to prepare friends for the extreme variations in a "scene" bellydance show. One of my friends is very critical (in general, not just about art), and I told her in advance that we could talk afterwards - that the audience would be made up of friends and family of the dancers, who basically could "opt in" to that performance opportunity at practically any skill level. It would not be OK to shoot off her mouth between acts like she might at another kind of show.

    I told another friend: Go to the "scene" show, but remember...X, Y, and Z are pros. There are some other dancers (M, N and O) that are really awesome, and SHOULD be pros. You will also see some dancers who perform at a low-to-middling-hobbyist level, even though they've been dancing for years. You take the bad with the good, and remember that it will be a long show.

    Your complaint to the organizer is not quite the equivalent of shooting off your mouth between acts, but it was ill-advised. She felt she was doing a service to her community...and she gets complaints instead! Yes, she should have kept her mouth shut on Facebook, or at least spoken openly without naming names.

    But a 2 or 3 hour all-bellydance, multi-troupe show just doesn't attract the regular public. And it never will. So why change the model that gives the bellydance community what it wants (plentiful performance opportunities for all, individual development of dance pieces, community-building), just so a few pro and pro-level dancers can better impress the few non-enthusiasts who get dragged to each carefully curated show?

    I also don't think that these "scene" shows have to be relegated to non-professional locations and token ticket costs. Sometimes the choice is between a hall that's too small and a hall that's too big. Can you blame the organizer for choosing a comfortable space for her show? I'd rather pay $10 to sit in a comfortable seat with a nice view, than pay $1-5 for a seat on the floor, or a bad view.

    I'm not against all-pro shows. In fact, I think they're great. But even those are mostly attended by bellydance enthusiasts (be they dancers, former dancers, or fans), and NOT the general public.

  4. #14
    V.I.P. Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by da Sage View Post
    So why change the model that gives the bellydance community what it wants (plentiful performance opportunities for all, individual development of dance pieces, community-building), just so a few pro and pro-level dancers can better impress the few non-enthusiasts who get dragged to each carefully curated show?

    I also don't think that these "scene" shows have to be relegated to non-professional locations and token ticket costs.
    Agreed. I'm 100% for "scene" shows and having them where you like and with what content you like. It's crossing that boundary into general public land that causes the problems IMO. And these days it's can be a tricky boundary. You want to shift tickets, but who to?

    Quote Originally Posted by from the OP
    A local troupe was putting on a show at a big theater in town, a ticketed event that had been advertised grossly throughout the weeks leading up to it,
    The big theatre wasn't the issue, the tickets aren't the issue; the devil is in the gross advertising.

    Our usual open-to-all novelty Christmas competition do is on again, and the venue have stuck it on their Facebook and invited the world and it's dog. . It's easy these days to show up on the radar of non-scene people who know their context (I am not being entertained, what is this cr&p?) but not ours (yay, good for us, getting up there, having a go and celebrating our achievements).

  5. #15
    Member Avariel's Avatar
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    LOL I love you guys. So yes, a few things that maybe I need to learn, are:

    Bring "first timers" to smaller venues, or restaraunts where they'll see dancers that I know are professional and talented. I think the mistake I made with my friend in the original post was that I was trying to "support" the show that the troupe in question was putting on, and I should have known better that they were going to be performing sub par. I do think the organizer needs to take responsibility for the event; no one cares that you're wearing an expensive costume and pounds of glitter, or that you've invested thousands of dollars, if you can't execute a basic bellydance movement. BUT...you're right, my responsibility lies in taking civillians to shows that I know are going to be good. Support the shows that I think are meeting the standards that I want to emulate throughout the community. Check!

    And maybe learning the difference between what the general public should see and what can be performed for other dancers at events that are more enthusiast centric would help, too. I've never even thought about that persay, although I've always known instinctively what to perform for regular people and what might be more acceptable in front of other dancers. So that would help in knowing what to bring friends to. Great advice, and thank you for bringing it to light for me; I should take responsibility, too, if I am the one exposing people to the art form.

    But I honestly think a lot of the "the public just doesn't come to shows or care" can be changed; I've seen communities where the public DOES come, and it's because the dancers are actually really incredible. Even students; going to Portland and seeing two year ATS students dance with more poise and grace than some 7 year dancers in my town was sort of a wake up call for me, and those "students" may not be able to execute some more advanced moves yet, but they are a delight to watch because their presence and poise were the first things their teachers worked on. So there's sort of a..."The public can see us, lets make sure our students are, above all, enjoyable to watch" attitude in that town, and maybe it's because of the higher profile teachers there; maybe it's because it's a bigger city where art and culture are very rich and so the standards for both are much higher because it's more competitive...I don't know. I just know that it's possible, and the excuse "the public just doesn't come, so accept it" doesn't sit well with me The fact that I see that attitude in troupes who DO put untrained dancers on stage makes me feel even more strongly that it's one we have to squash. It's almost like..."No ones watching so lets just do whatever we want." But people ARE watching. And making comments. To me, mostly, LOL. But I've heard differing opinions on this topic, so I may have a lot yet to learn about this, as well.

    And I think the big theater venue does change people's expectations slightly. If you're in a restaurant or some other smaller venue that maybe doesn't ooze "PROFESSIONAL SHOW!" as much as a big theater does, people tend to be more forgiving. It seems silly, but it's so true. If you see a musician, for example, in a restaurant, you obviously expect the music to be good, but compare it to a big concert hall; you expect it to be concert quality performance, not the same as the guy playing in the restaurant. There's something about a big theater venue that makes people expect more out of the performance they're seeing, and I do think that's something that organizers should consider.

    As far as knowing when someone's ready to hear critique...that seems tricky to me, too. I felt, when I sent the letter, sort of divided on it myself. On the one hand, who was i to send a critique to a fellow dancer? It was easy when I was in the audience, right, and she's the one on stage. And what if she simply didn't want to hear it? On the other hand, she was also the event coordinator, and in her shoes I'd feel a need to know if someone was upset with a show I'd put on, especially one as well advertised at this. But I honestly think that most of you are right, and that the best way to handle that is to dance and put on the sorts of shows I want to see and keep my mouth shut. (Sorry, mouth.)

    And yes, DaVid is already incorporated into an event that's being facilitated by a troupe in town who DOES really have incredible standards I'm currently in a quasi-informal troupe with my instructor and another advanced dancer, and we're in the process of getting a small show together; probably won't be for a few months, but we know that if we're going to talk the talk we'd better walk the walk. So we're tiny, but we've started the process, at least, of creating shows and events that we want to see.

  6. #16
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aniseteph View Post
    This is why I don't like dragging friends and family to events. I feel bad about maybe not being as supportive as I could be, but I don't want to inflict overlong shows of not-so-great dancing on non-BDers. Husband has already suffered enough, poor thing.

    I don't think we do ourselves any favours by not making the distinction between events by and for the BD community and shows for the general public.

    If it's really aimed at the general public, and you don't want to bore them or make them regret the ticket price or think belly dance is a load of rubbish, the organiser has got to take responsibility for setting standards and thinking from the "civilian" audience's POV rather than the BD community's. I don't think people want to face the fact that those POVs are very different, hence dramas and shooting of messengers who dare to say the emperor has no clothes.
    Yup, this is very true! I have on a few occasions brought friends and family from out of town to mixed-level BD haflas because they were in town for a limited amount of time and that would be their only chance to see me dance, and they wanted to see me dance. I almost always warned them about what they were going to see so the choice was theirs. I've had good success with this, for the most part they had a good time and I was happy they came to see me.

    Most of these haflas are NOT intended for the general public. I mean, people can and do bring friends and family, and that's fine, but they should all be aware that what they are about to see is the equivalent of a student recital, with perhaps a few professional acts at the end.

    My husband has been to many, and knows what to expect. He likes to support my dancing, so he comes once in a while. I don't expect him to see every performance I do, but I am happy he is still coming out to see a good portion of them despite the fact that he does not enjoy most of the other dancing he sees there!

  7. #17
    Moderator Amulya's Avatar
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    Btw I have done well so far bringing BF to belly dance events, he only disliked two dancers and liked the rest (he is very critical of dance) and those were the same ones I dind't like either. But we are lucky: there are really good events here!

  8. #18
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    Well, if they can't take constructive criticism responsibly, they shouldn't be preforming for an audience. Not only that, their egos will prevent them from getting better.

  9. #19
    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    A lot of belly dancers don't understand the difference between a student recital and a professional dance show. They don't understand the difference between marketing an event solely to the friends and families of the performers versus marketing it to the general public.

    No belly dance show should ever be more than 2 hours long. This is true regardless of whether it's a student recital or a professional show. People's attention spans have limits, plus people are busy and are careful about how much of their precious time they devote to things.

    I don't think it's necessarily bad that you gave feedback to the organizer, but an email probably wasn't the right way to do it. Critique is often best delivered through face-to-face conversation, when you can read the other person's reaction and control it. Instead of telling her everything that needed to be fixed, it would have been better to pick just one thing and focus on that.

    I think the one piece of feedback I might have chosen in the situation would have been to say, "Since your vision for this event was to provide an opportunity for students of ALL levels, even beginners, to perform, I'm surprised you marketed it to the general public. It was essentially a student recital, so wouldn't it have been better to focus on marketing it solely to friends and families of the performers?"

  10. #20
    Member Avariel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiradotnet View Post

    I don't think it's necessarily bad that you gave feedback to the organizer, but an email probably wasn't the right way to do it. Critique is often best delivered through face-to-face conversation, when you can read the other person's reaction and control it. Instead of telling her everything that needed to be fixed, it would have been better to pick just one thing and focus on that.
    Yeah, I definitely think I should have maybe called her or set up a coffee meeting or something with her to discuss it. Totally agree! Though I doubt in this instance the level of drama would have been less But the conversation would have definitely been more controlled.

    I think the one piece of feedback I might have chosen in the situation would have been to say, "Since your vision for this event was to provide an opportunity for students of ALL levels, even beginners, to perform, I'm surprised you marketed it to the general public. It was essentially a student recital, so wouldn't it have been better to focus on marketing it solely to friends and families of the performers?"
    That's essentially what I said. They actually demanded a list of specific critiques from me because what I had originally said was "too general" and made it seem like I was doing a drive by heckling. To me it made perfect sense, but in a little bit of confusion I acquiesced and sent a (short) list and at the end repeated that I didn't think any of that stuff really mattered, because they had teachers there to critique students specifically and the true issue was people being in professional venues before they were ready and to maybe keep them in student venues until they were. They ended up simply arguing with the list of specific critiques I sent and ignored the point completely That was my "sigh, I give up" moment.

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