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  1. #21
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    I have to admit I haven't read through all of the posts. But where I am from, this isn't that unusual. Well, having three different bands is unusual. But bands are comparatively rare and dancers are thick on the ground, so this situation does happen a lot.

    I was invited to dance with a well-known band earlier this year. The dancers were told that if there was enough money coming in at the door, dancers would get paid, but only after the band was paid, the house was paid, and advertising and expenses were covered. Well, the place was packed, but guess what? Somehow there wasn't enough to pay the dancers anything at all. I thought they could at least offer us a free CD or something.

    I also play in a band and I can tell you we are not getting rich. I don't know of very many belly dance shows that really rake in money at the door. After the expenses, organizers are lucky to break even. Sadly, paying dancers may not happen because of that. Sure it would be better if everyone got paid, but it often just doesn't work out that way. Unless people want to start paying $20 and upward at the door for belly dance shows, but our demographic here is used to paying $5-10 at the door.

    Whenever I organize a show I try my best to make sure everyone gets paid, but sometimes the amounts are really pitifully small.

    It's really a labor of love and not a professional gig in my area. If we took our band fee and averaged it out over the hours of rehearsal, travel time, set up time, time on stage, not to mention all the emails and phone calls with dancers and organizers, the hourly pay would be so small that it would be disgusting.

    We try to provide a good show and a good experience for dancers, but that most often doesn't include a magnificent sum of money for them. Sadly.

  2. #22
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    If each performer is poorly paid, that is unfortunate but equitable. If everyone is paid except the dancers it is not equitable. Period. Full stop. No exceptions. Anything else is a load of particularly fragrant fetilizer.

    Until dancers find the intestinal fortitude to say a firm and collective "no" when asked to be the only freebies in the auditorium, this kind of nonsense is going to continue. What would've happened at that packed show had all the dancers refused to dance unless they were paid the same rate as everyone else? No dancers, no show, right?

    Funny thing. You can have a belly dance show without live bands but you cannot have a belly dance performance without live belly dancers. This is a damned strong bargaining chip and in today's competitive dance market we need as a group to learn to use it.
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  3. #23
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Well, without knowing any specifics about this event, it's hard to tell whether or not what she's doing is unethical. It sounds to me like she's throwing a belly dance event for the benefit of the belly dance community, not for profit. Something like a hafla, or even a larger-scale festival like Rakkasah (or anything in between) but that isn't meant to be a professional show.

    I know of professional shows with high ticket prices that don't pay their performers, and I don't agree with that. But from the email, it doesn't sound like that's what it is.

  4. #24
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    How does the belly dance community profit if the belly dancers are the devalued performers?
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  5. #25
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    How does the belly dance community profit if the belly dancers are the devalued performers?
    Are Rakkasah performers devalued performers? Are hafla performers devalued performers? Are competition performers devalued performers? Are performers at a workshop gala devalued performers?

    There are tons of scenarios in which the belly dance community has events aimed at itself where performers do not get paid. The community profits because it gives people a chance to share their work and watch many others for a low cost, it gives people a chance to be a part of their community and to start learning how to perform without the pressures of a professional venue. Not everyone can be a professional, and those who can still need a place to start learning and practicing stagecraft and gain performance experience. Some people just want to perform for fun.

    That's the point of a hafla, that's the point of a festival, and that's what the event the OP posted about sounds like to me. Without further information I can make no further judgment about it.

    Would you rather us have no events where the performer does not get paid? Where will people get to dance for fun? Where will people get performance experience? Where will people get the chance to watch so many peers in one place? Where will people get to know about others in their community? There is a place for these events. They are absolutely necessary. In fact, if not for them, I believe we'd have even more underqualified "professionals" performing at *actual professional venues* for below-market prices, or for free.
    Last edited by Yame; 09-13-2012 at 11:32 AM. Reason: typo

  6. #26
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Yame, you make a good point, but (although it took me forever and a day!) I found the event the OP was talking about, and it is pretty heavily marketing to the general public.

    I can understand a local dance instructor who says, "You know, my students really need some experience dancing to a live band. I think I'll hire Dunyah and bring her down to play for my students. We'll have a hafla and it will be good fun for the local dancers." In that case, no, I wouldn't expect the local dancers to be paid. Heck, I can even see asking them to pay a small door fee to help pay for the band -- this is the only "pay to play" scenario I approve of, btw

    But this is a big event, marketed more to the public than the dance community. The organizers are hoping to create (it looks like) a festival kind of environment where both the bands and the dancers, and the fire-eaters and the lion-tamers or whatever, are entertaining the mainstream audience. In this situation, the lion-tamers aren't enjoying the festival -- they are paid performers. The organizer probably said "Hey, I'll bet I can get more tickets sold if I have lion-tamers, so I'm going to hire some."

    The problem is that she said the same thing about the dancers. If the main function the dancers will have is to entertain the audience, like the lion-tamers, then I think they should be paid as well.

  7. #27
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aziyade View Post
    Yame, you make a good point, but (although it took me forever and a day!) I found the event the OP was talking about, and it is pretty heavily marketing to the general public.


    But this is a big event, marketed more to the public than the dance community. The organizers are hoping to create (it looks like) a festival kind of environment where both the bands and the dancers, and the fire-eaters and the lion-tamers or whatever, are entertaining the mainstream audience. In this situation, the lion-tamers aren't enjoying the festival -- they are paid performers. The organizer probably said "Hey, I'll bet I can get more tickets sold if I have lion-tamers, so I'm going to hire some."
    Well, that's a whole 'nother story, then!

  8. #28
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Let me just say that was MY interpretation of the ads -- Andrea may have another one. but it did not look like a heavily "bellydancer only" event to me at all.

  9. #29
    Member AndreaSTL's Avatar
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    I looked at the MySpace pages of the bands, and here is how they categorize themselves:
    Electroacoustic/experimental/progressive
    Classical/folk rock/other

    The third might actually play ME music, but I'm not entirely certain. I'm finding conflicting info online. Even if they do, that's only 1 of 3 targeted to the dancers. Nope, this event is mostly targeted to the GP. The dancers would just be icing on the cake.

    Live music in these parts is rare. I would be more supportive if the scenario was along the lines of what Aziyade described. Everyone pooling their money to bring in a band and building a community hafla around it actually sounds like fun, but that would more or less be a closed event. This is just wanting pretty dancing girls for atmosphere.

  10. #30
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndreaSTL View Post
    ... that's only 1 of 3 targeted to the dancers. Nope, this event is mostly targeted to the GP. The dancers would just be icing on the cake.
    In that case - WTH?!!! and I guess she will get the quality of dancing she pays for.

    Aaand once again belly dance will be represented to the GP as something you do to electroacoustic/ experimental/ progressive/ classical/ folk rock/ other. For free of course.

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