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  1. #1
    Junior Member EsmereldaDancer1987's Avatar
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    Default Am i good enough to start performing at restaurants?

    Hi

    I want to start dancing in restaurants, and would like some feedback before i perform in public. What does it take to be a good performer?

    Here is my video on youtube

    Belly dancing in new outfit - YouTube


    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
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    Note from moderator: this is Dunyah's post from the other, identical thread. Next post is the "real" post in this thread. Dunya, you can go in and edit it if you'd like to keep some of the advice, otherwise just write delete her and I will remove it

    I don't think the link got posted, try again. My advice would be to consult your teacher or dance mentor. You need to know how to conduct yourself in a professional manner, as well as how to dance. You need to negotiate your fees and not undercut other professional dancers in your region, and how to handle rude or disinterested audience members, how to take tips, etc. for starters.

    Being a restaurant dancer is about looking good, having a nice costume and being entertaining while coping with what may be a crowded space and dodging waiters and waitresses with trays of food and drink.

    If you have to ask if you are good enough, you may not be ready, especially if you have never performed in public. You should really have a teacher or mentor helping you.

    There is lots of information, here and on other sites, about dancing in restaurants, have you tried a google search? There is the Biz of Bellydance group on Facebook, for example.

    There is a lot of collective wisdom here, others may chime in with helpful information, too.
    Last edited by gisela; 01-13-2013 at 08:16 PM.

  3. #3
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    Okay, I replied in the other forum where you posted. Now I see the link. You look beautiful, great costume, move well. You were probably dancing for the camera at home, I'm guessing? You don't project any emotion or expression through your face. Your music doesn't really support projecting different feelings as it is all one tempo and mood. Do you always dance to fusion music? Depending on the restaurant, that might be fine, but beware of music that goes on too long with no dynamic changes. Good luck, I still think you should be working with a teacher or a mentor to launch a professional dance career, even though restaurants are low-paid and not ideal performance venues, still, many members of the public may see you and form their impression of the dance based on you. And if there are other dancers working in your area, you really ought to contact them, find out the going rates, find out if someone, often a dancer, books dancers into the local restaurants, and schedule an audition for that person.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Sophia Maria's Avatar
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    That is a lovely costume!!

    Question: how long have you been taking classes, and are you trained in different styles? Dunyah is right, your moves are very nice, but there is very little variation and the music, quite frankly is a little monotonous and fusion-ish (whereas you are wearing a cabaret costume).

    If you were to consider restaurant dancing, you would have to master a few different styles distinctly, because different venues call for different material (Egyptian, Turkish, Lebanese, etc.)

    Dancing in public, in any place that's not on a high stage, is different because your emotion and audience connection would be different. You must be a entertainer and present yourself dramatically (because sometimes it's almost like acting or being a stand-up comedian; you have to connect with the audience) and professionally. At the moment, like I said, you are a lovely dancer, but perhaps you could takes classes or workshops with teachers on the subject of audience interaction, tarab/emotional expression, or perhaps restaurant dancing in particular?

    Don't be discouraged, but consider furthering your study into specific areas like these before presenting yourself as a public performer.

  5. #5
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    You really need to work with a live teacher, who can coach you on performing skills. You can't learn those from a dvd or from Youtube.

    If you enjoy dancing and think you would enjoy performing, get into a class now! A good teacher can help you get rid of that stiffness and awkwardness. Also, I would check out a teacher who specializes in Arabic or Turkish dance, and not so much tribal fusion, as it seems that is a heavy influence with you. You will have a much easier time (in most communities) getting restaurant work with an Arabic style.

    But since you asked, I would say no, you are definitely not ready for restaurant work. Get some classes under your belt and work on personal expression and musicality. Then once you've tried performing with your classmates, talk to your teacher about shadowing her in her pro gigs, and let her know you would be interested in a performing career.

  6. #6
    Junior Member EsmereldaDancer1987's Avatar
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    I haven't been to any classes because there aren't any in my area and i want to have my own style, i follow Sadie's dvds mainly as i like her technique. I didn't think the music was very tribal fusion, i just liked the drum beat on it and i like mystical music, I listen and dance to all different kinds of belly dance music. I love all styles of belly dance, and want to learn every style so that i can incorporate them together and have my own unique style.

    I was concentrating in the mirror hence why i didn't show much emotion lol I have a very expressive face naturally so if i was out performing i would be showing more emotion and expression on my face connecting with the audience.

  7. #7
    Member Pleasant dancer's Avatar
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    Hi. I popped through to your Youtube channel and saw that you say you haven't attended any classes and teach yourself through DVDs. I also see you are in the UK. So am I, so I'll take it from this angle as I spent several years dancing in restaurants etc in the UK and have experience to speak from.

    On the plus side: you are young and pretty with a good figure (always a plus sign for restaurants, even though it shouldn't be the most important factor!) and you have a least one good pro-looking costume. You've done well to teach yourself so far from DVDs, but you have a long way to go. From the small amount of evidence we have. I think you have potential, and because you are young you have the time to learn and develop before you start working professionally.

    On the negative side - well to be perfectly honest no-one who has not attended classes or had amateur performance experience should be thinking of going pro. Get yourself off to classes, workshops, festivals. Become a good enough dancer to join a teacher's amateur performance group and get yourself some real performance experience. Even though the local Church fete audience will be mostly appreciative, this is not always the case and it's better to find out about the negative reactions you can receive as a belly dance performer before you start dancing as a soloist.

    Restaurant dancing, although it doesn't require you to be the best dancer in the world, does require considerable performance and interpersonal skills. Sometimes people think it will be easy because they see a poor dancer in a restaurant and think "I can do better than that" and perhaps they will. But as Dunyah pointed out, restaurant dancers are important because it's where most people see belly dancers perform and gain their impressions of the dance, so you need to get it right. You will also need to learn how to handle restaurant owners in order to get the respect and payment you deserve!

    Long post sorry, but hope it helps. Don't be discouraged, just get yourself some professional tuition and performance experience. And practice as you mean to perform even if it's in your living room, i.e. smile!

  8. #8
    Member Roshanna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EsmereldaDancer1987 View Post
    I haven't been to any classes because there aren't any in my area and i want to have my own style, i follow Sadie's dvds mainly as i like her technique. I didn't think the music was very tribal fusion, i just liked the drum beat on it and i like mystical music, I listen and dance to all different kinds of belly dance music. I love all styles of belly dance, and want to learn every style so that i can incorporate them together and have my own unique style.
    There are lots of teachers in the UK, even in small towns. There are quite a few UK dancers on here and we may be able to recommend someone good in your area There are also several directories of UK teachers:

    Bellydance Classes - Find a Teacher
    Find Belly Dancing Teachers and Performers in the United Kingdom! Belly Dance Lessons and Dancers! Search for Belly Dancers!
    Belly dance classes in the United Kingdom
    Bellydance, Classes, Haflas & Events, UK - Classes
    http://www.mosaicdance.org/teacher-directory/

    Developing something that is truly your own 'style' of bellydance in an artistic sense (rather than dancing a certain way because it's all you've learned or you're stuck in a rut) takes years, maybe even a lifetime, and having good teachers who can correct you, give you honest feedback, and help you to become a better dancer whilst remaining true to your own personality and creativity is an essential part of that process.

    If you are a long way from a regular class, you can still travel to workshops, haflas and festivals, which are good fun & you'll also learn a lot from them. You could also consider taking private lessons with a good teacher. Or save up and come to the JWAAD Summer School (the best week of the year as far as I'm concerned) http://www.jwaad.com/summer_school_2013.htm

    I'm at the stage in my dance career where I am doing some restaurant work, and I travel 1.5-2 hours each way by public transport every week to take advanced classes in London. Getting to a good class isn't always easy, but it's totally worth it, and definitely necessary if you want to be the best dancer you can be.
    Last edited by Roshanna; 01-15-2013 at 03:35 PM.

  9. #9
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    When I mentioned Tribal fusion, I was seeing more the influence in your movement, rather than in the music. I think most restaurants ( but hey it could be different in the UK) are usually looking for a more Oriental kind of approach.

  10. #10
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Quality of restaurant performers varies greatly from region to region, so the technical skill you need to reach before you are "ready" for restaurant performing will depend greatly on where you live and the other dancers who are working in your area.

    So you really need to find yourself a local mentor if possible, and you need to go out there and watch other dancers and see what they look like. If there are no dancers in your area, then you need to achieve the highest possible technical and entertaining skill before putting yourself out there in public, because you will be representing belly dance for people who have never seen it before.

    If there are no dancers in your area, you need to set aside the time to travel to a major city and watch dancers there. You should check out forums and threads discussing the business side of dance.

    More importantly than developing your technique, you need to develop style, stage presence, you need to understand your audience and music and know how to create a set, you need to familiarize yourself with performing etiquette and professionalism, standards and minimum rates, etc etc. Also remember, you need to have the stamina to perform for 20+ minutes in one go, and to remain entertaining that entire time.

    I didn't watch your video because I don't want to criticize or critique your dancing, but from your response where you say you were focusing on the mirror, to me that is a huge red flag. You need to be able to dance very well without a mirror. You need to be able to focus on multiple "targets" (your audience) and interact with them WHILE expressing yourself and/or the music, WHILE also maintaining a very high level of technique and skill. If you can't do all those things while seeing yourself in the mirror (meaning, focusing on the mirror is detracting you from expression), then you definitely won't be able to do them in front of a live audience.

    If you have never performed before, you need to gain performance experience at amateur venues before you think about any sort of professional venue. You only develop stage presence with practice, and practicing in front of a camera or mirror is not equivalent to practicing in front of live people. This is another reason your video won't say much... if you have an actual performance video from a belly dance event, it'll be easier to gauge your level of skill in relation to restaurant performing. The next best way would be a home video without a mirror.

    But still, there are many things you need to know and be able to do other than dance well and engage your audience, in order to dance professionally. I've mentioned many of them above. One of the most important things is to know how to arrange a set and to know enough music to be able to arrange multiple sets which make sense and are engaging to the audience. This will depend on the establishment and on the audience... you'd arrange a set for a Greek audience differently than you would for an Egyptian audience, for example. So you need to know enough about whatever audience applies to you and the relevant styles of dance and music.

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