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  1. #1
    Moderator Yshka's Avatar
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    Question Appropriate behaviour?

    Ok I had a performance last night and have to vent. My performances were in different cities with only little time to travel between the two.
    The first performance was in a village. I was dancing there with another dancer. We were supposed to be picked up at a quarter to nine PM, but after waiting for almost an hour at the trainstation they showed up. We were cold, and having a neck injury this is not nice, my muscles are all clenched and hurt today. I cannot move my neck properly.

    When the co-organisers got there, I told them I wasn't quite happy having to wait that long. They apologised but on the way to the car, the co-organisers started arguing in front of us about how one of them could have picked us up earlier, blablabla...
    Finally when we got to the place we were supposed to perform in with only 30 minutes left before I had to leave again for the other performance.
    We got dressed and decided I'd do the first 15 minutes show. After the performance I talked to one of the co-organisers again, and like before, as I talked he glanced at other people nearby and gave them weird looks that were obviously about me, like he wasn't taking me serious. My sense of respect for them decreased but I remained calm and professional about the entire thing. I talked to him again later to get the payment settled, which went alright. I had to leave by then and the other dancer needed my cd (I had one for the entire night plus some back ups, but not all of my music was on backup and she had no backups at all of her music). To make sure she'd be ok I left my cd with her and made sure a taxi was arranged to get her back to the railway station.

    The co-organisers were very seemingly irritated. I then just talked business to them before leaving. My friend was to perform later on but the main organiser insisted on a 15 minute break. A pole dancing stripper came out. I was dumbstruck as I'd just danced and the other dancer had her show right after the stripper.. But I couldn't stay around either having other oligations.
    From what I have heard the other dancer handled it perfectly and was very conscious not to 'cross any lines', which is already harder after such a show.. I very much admire her for that.

    After my show, the other dancer told me I had an 'attitute' towards the co-organisers and should have just laughed everything off, I should have been nicer, etc. I got confused. I had talked to her about my frustrations in the dressingroom more freely, but had not shown them explicitly to the co-organisers (except for the running late thing, but we had settled that in the car, no hard feelings IMO). I had handled everything correctly though I couldn't stand any longer laughing about it all and acting like it was okay to treat me that way and give me strange looks. It had been a big misunderstanding, nobody was to blame.

    What should I have done?? The other dancer told me I was going to loose this client if I didn't smile about a bit, but what was there to smile about?? They were not very nice to me and looked annoyed the entire time, still I remained calm and as kind as I could be at that point, and took care of the business part in a correct fashion IMO. Also, this other dancer thought it was rude of me to ask about payment issues etc.
    Is it?? I have had clients try to not pay me at all and one time I went along with the other dancer the organiser was just postponing payment, and she was afraid to ask.
    This dancer is a dear friend of mine, but less experienced in performances and everything that comes with. She insisted I should have been "nice and smily" to the organisers because they should think "oh, this person is really nice..".

    Now I'm just freaked out and confused. What have I done that is so wrong?? Never have I treated this client inapropriately or with disrespect, and still the other dancer told me I had to just smile it off??
    Is it normal to just have organisers treat you anyway they like and not be allowed to say anything in case you might loose them as a client? I have performed before and have had to deal with payment and organisers, and I have done nothing but act in a professional maner, being serious but kind.
    I feel we have to treat our clients properly, but they must have equal respect for us also right?

    I haven't talked to my teacher about it since she is abroad, but have mailed her about my experiences last night and hope to receive some feedback soon. I need to talk to her about this when she gets back some time this week. On one hand this is difficult, it was her gig but she gave it to me. I would not want to cause trouble for her (though I know she has never dealt with these people before and probably will not either judging by the kind of event, backyard party involving stripper).
    On the other hand I feel like I have handled everything in a correct way and should not be blamed for not 'smiling at the organisers enough'. Should Am I wrong here? Should I feel guilty for not having responded all smily and brainless to someone who was not being cooperative and didn't take me seriously? I hate this situation and I really feel bad.
    So one should just be all smiley and nice, and if one talks business all of a sudden it's their 'attitude' playing up?? Come on... We have also not had any trouble with the main organiser. His family members (co-org) were the ones picking us up and acting strangely.

    I'm sorry for the long post but I had to get it off my chest. I just don't know what to think about all this. I hope some of you more experienced performers can tell me what you think. Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Reen.Blom's Avatar
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    I am sorry that you are frustrated Yshka! I cant give any advice I just want to wish you all the best! Cheer up! here's lots of hugs for you *hug*.

    I am sure you handled everything well and professional!

  3. #3
    V.I.P. da Sage's Avatar
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    Hi Yshka,

    I don't think you were out of line at all. The party organizers should have picked you up on time. A fifteen minute delay is one thing, but 45 minutes to an hour is ridiculous! They should have apologized profusely, and tried to make it right with an appropriate tip.

    As for smiling...I am a naturally smiley person. I tend to err on the side of smiling even when I am angry, worried, or serious (it's my face's version of "staying calm" or "thinking now"). As a result, sometimes people do not take me seriously. So I think it's good that you were not smiling!

    You were perfectly correct to behave in whatever way is natural to you, down to smiling or not smiling, as long as you are behaving reasonably, professionally, and properly respectful of the people you are with (as people, not superiors or bosses). Pasting on a fake smile during negotiations, especially when you have a reasonable right to be annoyed, would be silly. Letting the situation affect your dancing would be unprofessional, of course. They hired you to dance, not kiss ass, right?

    Your fellow dancer may have been stressed out because of the situation. But she's the one who showed up without her own copy of her music, right? And you covered for her at your own expense. IMO, she should have kept her mouth shut, even if you were over the line (and I doubt you were).

    Customers who keep you waiting, and are less than professional otherwise, are not the customers you need to keep. How many parties are these people going to throw? I wouldn't worry about it, and I hope your neck/shoulders feel better soon.

  4. #4
    V.I.P. Kharmine's Avatar
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    When one is in a difficult position with employers, it's always best to consider how much those people are going to affect your life in the future.

    If they are in a position to hire you again for a decent-paying gig, or give you an important referral, you may have to pretend to be a lot less annoyed than you are.

    Coming up with the kind of response that lets them know you won't put up with crap but making them think you're still a desirable hire is tricky and takes considerable thought. Unfortunately, most of us can only learn this through maddening experience!

    As far as I can tell, you were not out of line to act as you did, and I think you showed considerable restraint! At least no one can accuse you of being a diva.

    Your friend has an instinct for survival that all women, unfortunately, have to learn early. It's called "Smile, or you'll be called a bitch and maybe punished." The sad true, however, is that being nice-nice all the time and just rolling with the punches like an air bag will not always be enough to prevent things from going just as bad next time, if not getting worse. Nice girls get stepped on and worse, all the time just because they WILL "put up with it."

    I can't stress this enough -- whenever possible, have a written agreement between you and the employer. It doesn't have to be a long legal document, something short and specific in plain language will do.

    It needs to cover everything that matters to you including transportation if someone other than you is responsible for getting you there and back. Always write in a contingency -- if the person picking you up isn't there within a stated time, for instance, you get to take a taxi and be reimbursed for it by the employer. (BTW, make sure you CAN get a taxi where and when you need it.)

    If taking care who else you're performing with is important to you, make it part of the agreement that you will not perform with certain acts and you must see a schedule of your performance and a list of the other performers as soon as they're confirmed.

    Make sure it's agreed that you can back out of the agreement if you show up and find that the performance lineup was "misrepresented" to you (tip: never call it a lie), AND they must pay you at least half of the performance fee for your wasted time and travel.

    Putting this in writing may be enough to keep unscrupulous employers from trying to put one over on you. Maybe.

    None of this is at all unreasonable or out of the ordinary for a professional performer. Trust me, you're not a spoiled rock star demanding a certain kind of chocolates in your own exclusive dressing room, so don't worry if the employer balks or seems a little put-out.

    He is either inexperienced and just going to have to suck it up, or he is pretending in be annoyed in the hope that you will revert to being a "nice girl" and will retreat so as not to be considered a "bitch."

    I've had years of performing in Renaissance fairs and handling agreements with people who wanted to hire our acts, so this is about as basic as I can think of for protection in situations such you experienced. It won't be foolproof, of course, but it should help.

  5. #5
    Moderator Yshka's Avatar
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    Dear Da Sage, thank you so much. They didn't tip or anything, but I was glad to have everything settled before I left. My teacher had kind of put me in charge of the business aspects so I felt responsible for both of us. I didn't want to leave the other dance in an uncertain situation. I still feel confused about what she said to me though. I feel she really had no reason to. I left my cd out of responsibility and not wanting her to feel left behind. She hardly ever brings copies of her music to gigs though (feeling I'll have it all on one cd anyway, perhaps?)

    The situation did not affect my dancing. Judging from the applause the audience was very satisfied, and I think the main organiser was too.
    I talked to everyone with respect and professionalism IMO, and after the performance I even went up to them to say how it was "unfortunate for things to go wrong, but I'd hoped they were satisfied nonetheless, etc. etc...", to cool things off and make sure there was no reason to cause trouble for the other dancer.

    I arrived at my 2nd gig an hour late. Luckily it was organised by a dancer I know very well, who changed the programme for me and the group to dance later on. I got some cd's from another dancer to pick an additional song not having my newly prepared set (I was asked to dance for approx. 10 mins but my backups contained only one 6 min. song I hadn't already danced to before at this party). I think I was very lucky having those life saving dancers around. I have learned a lot from both gigs in many ways...

    By the way, thanks for caring about my neck. I've been wearing scarves all day to keep it warm but my range of motion up there is getting smaller. I fear it'll be completely stiff in the morning.

    Dear Reen, thank you very much for your kind post, hugs to you too. I'll go see if I can give you a reputation point. One goes to da Sage too
    Last edited by Yshka; 06-19-2007 at 12:36 PM.

  6. #6
    Moderator Yshka's Avatar
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    Dear Kharmine, thank you. I have thought about this all, and suspect they will probably not be getting me or my teacher a well paying gig again, nor an important referral in the future (what would they refer to us for, as a dancer performing when the stripper is on a break??). I held myself back from looking too irritated nevertheless, I kept calm and I guess as 'nice' as I could be under the circumstances. I think I've not crossed any lines.

    About what you've said, I have probably not really learned this survival technique myself. I have taken a lot of crap from people so far in my life and am not able to just smile everything away. I'd rather go down with my principles than without. This is one of the reasons I was not über-smiley-friendly anymore, but still behaving properly and professional.
    I will consider this written agreement thing very carefully. Thank you for giving me helpful advice. This might/will pobably not prevent anything else from happening in the future, but I won't know if I don't try right?

    I've been trying to give you some rep. for it, but seems like I have to spread it about first. I'll be sure to have a one coming your way though, you've been very helpful.

  7. #7
    V.I.P. janaki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yshka View Post
    I have taken a lot of crap from people so far in my life and am not able to just smile everything away. I'd rather go down with my principles than without. This is one of the reasons I was not über-smiley-friendly anymore, but still behaving properly and professional.

    Dear Yshka,

    Given the circumstances, I think you havw passed with flying colours. I have seen people ill treating dancers many time.

    You go girl!!! Stand up for your principles. I think you made all bellydancers very proud for the way you handled rather a sticky situation. Don't feel bad. Don't worry about what your friend said. In the end, if your heart tells you that you have done the right thing, you are right!!!!
    Hope you are not doubting yourself anymore!!!!
    Hugs
    Janaki

  8. #8
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    I have so little patience with tardiness that I'd probably have been steaming at the ears in this situation. You handled a bad situation the most graceful way possible, and I disagree with your friend about being smiley and pleasant when you've been (pardon the expression) screwed over. If you act like a doormat, people will walk on you.

  9. #9
    Moderator Yshka's Avatar
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    Dear Janaki, thank you so much for your very kind words. Inside I feel I have done the right thing, but the other dancer's words made me doubt though I know how to act around clients, and I think I have not treated them wrongly in any way. Hearing from all of you wonderful dancers makes me doubt myself less indeed! I'll feel more comfortable as well when I talk to my teacher, as she will be back from her trip this week.

    Dear Shanazel, I guess you can say I felt like that too. I've had 2 days of upper body stiffness from waiting in the cold. My neck injury played up and stiffened my shoulders and upper back as well (a mucle connected to the head/neck and left shoulder tore last december). Last night I taught beginners classes, which made me feel better, but this morning I was stiff all over again. I did 'kindly' tell the co-organisers I got a bit pissed from waiting. I feel somehow reassured not having behaved improperly on my side. And hey, I could always send them the bills to my physiotherapist or masseuse lol.
    Thanks for telling me you think I've handled this situation right. I cannot just smile when people 'screw me over'.

    I talked to the other dancer yesterday and found out she'd not seen the co-organiser's behaviour. Makes no sense why she told me all that, but guess she was weirded out by the situation as well. We're fine now.
    I still think she should have brought back-up cd's though. What if my cd had failed? I'd have backups of most of my music, but she'd have none?? I've told her this again so we'll see whether she's going to take my advice.
    Last edited by Yshka; 06-19-2007 at 05:02 PM.

  10. #10
    V.I.P. Lydia's Avatar
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    like all the lady,s above i agree,you did the correct thing...busines is busines...be diplomatic and kind ,but in the end of the day you want to be treated like you treat them you did your share correct so it is than up to them to come and pay you... even before you ask!! that is the correct way...dont feel bad you did just fine, and now smile please !! hugs Lydia

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