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  1. #1
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Default Where do we go from "advanced" ?

    Vague title, I know, but I couldn't think of a better one without more coffee.

    So here's the thing: I've been doing Middle Eastern and international folk dance now exclusively for about 7 years. I was teaching, but I've decided to hand over most of my classes to my teacher-trainer, to give me more time to focus on my own dancing.

    I am, in all my teachers' opinions, an "advanced" level dancer. Big deal. What does that mean? What's supposed to come next?

    There are NO restaurant jobs in this town, and I did sub for one restaurant dancer and absolutely hated it. So I'm not looking for a regular restaurant gig. But I have a lot of knowledge, and a lot of skill, so what should I DO with it?

    Apart from teaching (which is where "advanced" level dancers seem to be aiming) what is there to DO with this dance? My group does some cultural programs and international festivals, but our "group" is sort of a loose group of friends, and frankly they don't want regular gigs. I can't do a whole show by myself either.

    I guess I'm just wondering what some of you do with your dancing, especially if you don't teach. I ADORE performing, and should probably make an effort to try and do more of it while I'm relatively young, but I don't even know where to start.


    (By the way, I've missed you all! I had a really rough spring and summer while my husband and Mom were in the hospital at the same time, and it's only JUST now started to calm down a bit. I have SO MANY threads to read through!! Glad to be back, though. And I've lost 20 pounds since I was here last! Whoo hoo!)

  2. #2
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    I wrote a piece on my dance blog about this question; All The Myriad Ways (to make money as a raqs dancer)*. It's a general overview of the ways I've seen dancers more-or-less successfully support themselves in the dance, and may be of some use.

    Performances can be anywhere, but a recommendation of alt. performance ideas kind of depends on what, exactly, you hated about restaurant gigs. It also depends on things like how your dance community is setup, so you avoid potentially undercutting, as well as other issues. I know a lot of dancers, for example, dislike being so close to the audience.

    Does any of that help, though?


    * Yep, the title is redundant, blame the lack of sleep I wrote it under...

  3. #3
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    I am not nearly at your level so I will leave those questions to the pro's. However, I am glad you are back and I am so sorry about your loved ones being sick. I hope everyone is well and healthy now. It sounds like you just want to focus your time on your dance now. I look forward to reading your posts as always....HUGS!

  4. #4
    V.I.P. Kharmine's Avatar
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    First of all, Aziyade -- welcome back! I know what it's like to suffer alongside one's ailing loved ones, and I hope that yours are doing much better so that you can all have peace of mind. Congrats on losing the extra pounds, too!

    I'm nowhere near being an advanced student, but I've had to make career shifts and this seems to be such a time for you.

    It sounds as if you are currently rather tired of teaching and not sure if you want to continue doing it in the future. Is that right? Or do you think you might want to do so after you've had a break? Do you have any interest in teaching on the college level?

    Have you ever sat down with a tax advisor/financial planner to figure out what sort of studies/travels/competitions you could write off your taxes as a business expense, and which moves might best enhance your career from a finance angle?

  5. #5
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Advanced dancer

    Dear Aziyade,
    Responses in context below.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aziyade View Post
    Vague title, I know, but I couldn't think of a better one without more coffee.

    So here's the thing: I've been doing Middle Eastern and international folk dance now exclusively for about 7 years. I was teaching, but I've decided to hand over most of my classes to my teacher-trainer, to give me more time to focus on my own dancing.

    A'isha writes- In fact, I think there is actually no better way to improve your own dancing than actually teaching the dance. It leads to a very intensive understanding of the dance when you have to try to explain it to others. However, it you are not really into teaching right now, then I can understand your actions on that level.

    I am, in all my teachers' opinions, an "advanced" level dancer. Big deal. What does that mean? What's supposed to come next?

    A'isha writes- It's kind of like, "Now you are enlightened." and yes, what in heck does that mean, exactly? So you are enlightened, (or advanced), so what? Is being "advanced" some end in itself? This is one reason why I have beginning and continuing classes only. That whole "advanced" concept has never quite been fully satisfying for me. After 33 years, I am a continuing student, even though I am an "expert" in some areas of Middle Eastern dance. When I know them all on a expert level, maybe THEN I will be advanced!!

    There are NO restaurant jobs in this town, and I did sub for one restaurant dancer and absolutely hated it. So I'm not looking for a regular restaurant gig. But I have a lot of knowledge, and a lot of skill, so what should I DO with it?

    A'isha writes- That would depend on what your goals are. Do you want to interact with other dancers, and can you travel to do so? Do you want to make money? Do you want to research and get more knowledge? Is your goal to educate the general public for free or otherwise? Decide where you would like to go so you can have a vision for yourself and that will make it easier to decide how to proceed.

    Apart from teaching (which is where "advanced" level dancers seem to be aiming) what is there to DO with this dance? My group does some cultural programs and international festivals, but our "group" is sort of a loose group of friends, and frankly they don't want regular gigs. I can't do a whole show by myself either.

    A'isha writes- I have found any number of things to do with the dance. Find a cause to get involved with. My group recently decided to find a cause and support them with volunteering our dance services at any events where they need entertainment, free of charge. ( We very, very rarely dance for free, but felt we need to give back to a community that supports us.) If you know of any community events where there is entertainment, send in a publicity packet. If you want to be paid for your services, be sure to make them aware of that. You CAN do a whole show by yourself it you are in charge of how long you dance and what you do. MOST venues will work with you. Talk to your local community center and offer to put on a program to benefit some local cause. Set up a student night at a nearby restaurant or club, or location of your choice. I do this 3 times a year and it's always fun. I charge a whole $3 for people to come in and watch the dancers, so I can pay my rent.

    I guess I'm just wondering what some of you do with your dancing, especially if you don't teach. I ADORE performing, and should probably make an effort to try and do more of it while I'm relatively young, but I don't even know where to start.

    A'isha writes- Try talking to someone at a local coffee house or other such establishment. Make up a publicity packet and send it to the organizers of local and regional fairs of all kinds, the Chamber of Commerce, any colleges or universities in the area, clubs and organizations. Make sure your marketing materials are very professional, short, to the point and carry pertinent information about what you can offer without being too over the top. No busy person wants to spend the rest of their life reading all about YOU. They just need some info, not a huge Me-fest in writing. Usually one or two photos will suffice, an introductory letter on good stationary and one page describing what you have to offer. Contact info should be on all sheets if possible.


    (By the way, I've missed you all! I had a really rough spring and summer while my husband and Mom were in the hospital at the same time, and it's only JUST now started to calm down a bit. I have SO MANY threads to read through!! Glad to be back, though. And I've lost 20 pounds since I was here last! Whoo hoo!)
    A'isha writes- WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope everyone including you, is recovering nicely. Congratulations on the loss of lb-age.
    Regards,
    A'isha

  6. #6
    V.I.P. Yasmine Bint Al Nubia's Avatar
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    Hi Aziyade, Glad you're back and I hope things are going well for your family. I read Asim's blog and it follows a logical progression for dancers who are "advanced". Like you, I'm not as comfortable with the term advanced,so I prefer 'continuing advancement. I prefer to think of this art form as a journey . Also like you I'm not getting any younger and I don't like restaurant gigs(I've done a few). Asim suggests tht operating as a vendor or workhop teacher is challenging and I know I don't want to do that either. I still enjoy teaching because it gives me an opportunity to share with others and watch new dancers grow. I've also entered the "Personal Best Contest" and I took second place. That was great learning and performance opportunity and I would recommend it for you. The preparation for the contest allowed me the chance to dig deep into my creativity, knowledge and entertainment skills.
    I live in the Rust Belt, so it isn't any different than living in the cornfields, travelling to workshops and networking with other dancers is a must. But most important of all, remember to dance for yourself.
    Yasmine

  7. #7
    V.I.P. Maria_Aya's Avatar
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    Hi Aziyade and welcome back !!!
    Hope everything is ok now with your family and to continue even better.

    Agreeing in most with Aisha, and not exactly understanding the term advanced, as i have classes, Basic Arabic = beginers, Arabic I = after 1 year, and from year 2 its Arabic continuation.

    I agree and worked for me also to organize for my self and my group, events, cultural or charity ones, turned in time to be big shows, the biggest that have ever happened in Greece, and this gave me me a strong basis to aproach people that could help me do more.

    I guess that each country have total different ways on working things, so maybe i'm not a big help, but wishing you always to keep alive the flame and the love you have for oriental dance.

    with dance friendship
    Maria Aya

  8. #8
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Oh I just love you guys! Thanks for all the sweet welcome backs

    Asim, thanks for the link. I like how you broke it down. I think I'd like to definately do more cultural events (assuming we actually HAVE any) and possibly some higher-end shows. There are 2 specific charity gigs I'd like to have here, and I probably could get them since they don't PAY anything, but all the really GOOD local artists perform at them, so it would be sort of legitimizing myself as a real "Artist" to perform at them. I think I'll focus on getting those two (which are both in February and March) right now.

    On the teaching thing, I enjoy doing it, but the hassles of trying to rent space from a dance studio and trying to have multiple levels of classes and trying to make everybody happy is just exhausting. I'm working with a teacher in Louisville who has some of the same problems I have with so many different levels of students, and I'm hoping to come up with some kind of solution.

    The problem I'm mostly running into is not having enough time to prepare a class, teach it, commute to it, practice, rehearse with my own group, cook dinner, love my family, and still have time to knit and do OTHER non-dance related stuff.

    Removing the teaching is going to help me regain some hours. I'm not quitting permanently, but I need to figure out if I'm going to really actively market our "school" or just teach here and there. That's something I need to put some effort into thinking about.

    A'isha -- I love the "now you are enlightened" comment. That's exactly how I feel. Like I got the message: Now you are enlightened, now go do something productive with it!

    I think it would help if I could actually attend something other than a beginner's class, but frankly (and not to blow my own horn) I'm more experienced and knowledgeable than most of the other teachers and student teachers in town, and the lady who I student taught under (who's been dancing for 20+ years) has already told me that I've gone well beyond what she knows. That's what I mean by "advanced" -- I'd LOVE to be a "continuing" student of somebody's, but I have to drive 2 hours to do that, and that's been hard to do every week in the BEST of years!

    A'isha, you said a lot would depend on what my goals are. I think I just need to do some serious soul-searching to figure that out. I know I want to perform, and I don't mind at all performing for free IF I feel I am educating somebody in the process. I just need to think about this a lot. You've given me some EXCELLENT ideas on how to approach branching out as an entertainer. THANK YOU!!

    Competitions would be great -- I really need to do Shakira's competition. I think I would benefit A LOT from having some professional criticism.

    So many ideas ... I love you ALL!!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

  9. #9
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Welcome back, Aziyade. I am glad things are better for you and your family now, and I wish you an enchanting and fulfilling time in spreading your wings (of Isis, of course)

    Two things occur to me as I read this thread, neither of them original with me (alas):

    Teaching: to teach is to learn twice

    Enlightenment: Before enlightenment, chop wood, haul water. After enlightenment, chop wood, haul water.

  10. #10
    V.I.P. janaki's Avatar
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    Personally, I think learning, teaching and performing are continuous and never ending processes. The more I learn, I feel like there is a lot more out there to learn. I like the way Maria structred the class. Arabic Continuation!!!

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