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  1. #1
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    Default performance at restaurant - how to do?

    Dear Ladies

    Ive just started with performing bellydance at restaurants. The restaurants always want the bellydancers to dance about 30 minutes. My dance takes 15 minutes for "show" and after that Im dancing with the guests...

    What I want to know from you: How do you do your 30-Minutes-restaurant-performance? What are you dancing? Which styles? And how long are you dancing at restaurants?

    This is what I do:
    1. Mystic intro with candles/shamadan or intro with veil - 2 Minutes
    2. Classical Bellydance - 10 Minutes (2 Songs)
    3. something slow, like violin part - 1 Minutes
    4. Drum Solo - 3 Minutes
    5. Arabic Pop - 15 Minutes
    6. last time a drummer came and played 10 Minutes and i danced... after that I thought my heart will jump out of my body


    I watched a bellydancer at a restaurant... she danced saidi, classic, veil, zills, drum solo. And even she did so much it was getting boring and people didnt watch her anymore. hmmm......... Maybe 15 to 20 minutes are enough?

    SORRY for my bad english - ill try to learn it!!

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Restaurant dancing

    Quote Originally Posted by Tesap View Post
    Dear Ladies

    Ive just started with performing bellydance at restaurants. The restaurants always want the bellydancers to dance about 30 minutes. My dance takes 15 minutes for "show" and after that Im dancing with the guests...

    What I want to know from you: How do you do your 30-Minutes-restaurant-performance? What are you dancing? Which styles? And how long are you dancing at restaurants?

    This is what I do:
    1. Mystic intro with candles/shamadan or intro with veil - 2 Minutes
    2. Classical Bellydance - 10 Minutes (2 Songs)
    3. something slow, like violin part - 1 Minutes
    4. Drum Solo - 3 Minutes
    5. Arabic Pop - 15 Minutes
    6. last time a drummer came and played 10 Minutes and i danced... after that I thought my heart will jump out of my body


    I watched a bellydancer at a restaurant... she danced saidi, classic, veil, zills, drum solo. And even she did so much it was getting boring and people didnt watch her anymore. hmmm......... Maybe 15 to 20 minutes are enough?

    SORRY for my bad english - ill try to learn it!!

    Dear Tesap,
    Your English is wonderful!! to have you understand that I have some experience in this area, I will tell you that I was the house dancer at a family owned restaurant for 12 years. What I learned is that the restaurant owner should listen to the dancer about how the shows should go. As a dancer, I am a better judge of the what the crowd wants from the dancer than the restaurant owner, and I began by explaining that several shorter shows in one evening was better than one longer one. I would do anywhere from 2-5 shows a night, most under 15 minutes, and they were charged according to the number of shows I did. You are right. Restaurant dancing is different than club dancing and the shorter shows are the better choice so that the people will not get bored. If I were you, I would try to explain this to my boss in the nicest way possible. There will be nights when you dance more or less, depending on the crowd and the enthusiasm for the dancing.
    Regards,
    A'isha

  3. #3
    V.I.P. Mya's Avatar
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    Default

    i've never done restaurant dancing, but a friend of mine who just came home on vacation from Houston where she works and dances shared the following information with me on how the dancers (that she has met) at restaurants tend to do their sets:

    For a half hour set with live music:

    Introductory piece - the dancer moves around the audience in a kind of greeting way
    Prop pieces - 2 classical bd songs using veil/ zills/ wings/sword
    Drum Solo
    Musicians fill the last 10 minutes

    i'm certain this varies greatly by place and dancer of course, but that's how some do it.

  4. #4
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Old style AmCab preformances used to run nonstop for 25 to 40 minutes, but such a thing is almost unheard of now. Perhaps attention spans are shorter than they used to be, or maybe people like a chance to look at what they are eating in between songs . If you are curious as to how the longer shows used to be set up, you might get hold of some older music like Eddie the Shiek or George Abdo and listen to the set routines on those.

  5. #5
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    Default

    My teacher recommends the same thing A'isha said... several shorter shows if possible. I recently danced at a restaurant with my teacher and a few students... we each did one dance each no more than 5-6 minutes. It was different because there were different people going up each time, but you could still see the boredom on some peoples faces. Can't please everyone I guess.

    I went to a restaurant where they had a belly dancer who was wonderful and she came out about 4 times throughout the night. I feel that it worked because she did something different each time.

  6. #6
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Dance

    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    Old style AmCab preformances used to run nonstop for 25 to 40 minutes, but such a thing is almost unheard of now. Perhaps attention spans are shorter than they used to be, or maybe people like a chance to look at what they are eating in between songs . If you are curious as to how the longer shows used to be set up, you might get hold of some older music like Eddie the Shiek or George Abdo and listen to the set routines on those.

    Dear Shanazel,
    This was true in nightclub work, but never so much in restaurant work if there was no hard liquor sold there. Most restaurants would have shorter shows, but more of them, unless there was live music, which usually only happened and still only happens in places where drinks are sold for the most part. You get the occasional very American band that does a gig in a coffee house or whatever, but it is not really great music for American Oriental or authentic belly dance. Even with bands like the Brothers of Baladi, when Joseph and Michael were the only members, would do more club than restaurant work. Most of those old routines from Eddie and George were 10-15 minutes each. ( And the music was not at all good for actual belly dancing, being very watered down and simple and repetitive and wishy-washy.)
    Regards,
    A'isha
    Last edited by Aisha Azar; 11-13-2007 at 10:23 PM.

  7. #7
    V.I.P. janaki's Avatar
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    Yes, A'isha is right. I was a house dancer in an Egytian restuarant for 2 years. I used to do 3 sets of 10 - 12 min long. This is the structure that worked for us after trial and error.

    1. set 1 - Veil intro to greet the audience, something oriental with drum solo ( this is when people start eating their dinner)

    2. Set 2 - folkstyle, using props and balancing (towards the end of the dinner)

    3. Set 3 - Mostly pop songs to make the audience to get up and dance (this is after dinner). This set can be long or short depending on the mood of the audience.

  8. #8
    Junior Member Aradia's Avatar
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    I've been dancing at the Marrakech for 20 years, I usually do a 10-15 minute show, 3-4 per night. I think 30 minutes is too long, you want to leave the audience wanting more.

    Each of my shows consists of:

    Oriental opening 5-8 minutes
    slow for either veil or body work 2 min
    folklore or pop song 4 min
    drum solo 2-4 minutes
    finale 1 min or less
    finale reprise to exit the room (never leave a room or stage without music playing as you disappear from their site)

    In the old days when we had live bands everywhere, the shows were longer, the musicians helped add to the energy of the show, but live music has become rare, so now it's a dancer keeping the energy up all by herself, so shorter is better. I would talk to the owner about shorter but more frequent shows, if that's not an option, then just start cutting back the length and see if he says anything or even notices!

  9. #9
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    yes... everything that A'isha said... esp about the part that YOU tell the owner what is up... this is (supposed to be) YOUR expertise... not theirs... that is WHY they are hiring YOU... I wish more dancers would realize this & not pull the diva thing.... (this is NOT to say you should not get paid decently/have a clean private place to change/leave your belongings/be treated well etc... but do NOT overstep your limits of free food/drink... be sloppy/late/rude to waitresses/ers/bussers etc... and do not be indignant when a waiter gets in your way or customers do not respond the way you think they should!!! remember... in a restaurant situation you are a bonus NOT the main attraction... so you better enhance the restaurant experience (& bring in/contribute to return business... not detract from it...) or there is no reason for your continued employment, no matter you fabulous you may be...
    oops.... back to subject...
    what I have found (after 8 years of 1-2x per week @ different restaurants) is that sets of 12-15 minutes work best (even shorter if doing a "student night".. IF for some reason I have students dancing w/ me, I will have 2 or even 3 of them split a set (so dancing 5-6 minutes each at most) & I will make a point of thanking my STUDENTS for joining me.... this works on 2 counts...
    it dispells the "oh (or ewhhh) anyone can dance so I should take a lesson & be a pro bellydancer" & the why bellydance got a bad name cause they "let" anyone do it perception on the part of the audience AND I have found that most students like to be announced as such for the same reasons... plus they feel they can relax more and then usually do a better job when the "pressure" is off
    *****my favorite thing to do is have another dancer perform with me... dancer # 1 will do a 12-15 min set.. dancer 2 will follow immediately... then we will repeat that after a one hour break, with different music... and MAYBE a slight costume change... (the last 2 restaurants I have performed in had INADEQUATE changing areas.. so I might slip on/off sleeves or change a skirt but nothing more!)....
    usually after that time period, at least 75% of the audience has turned over anyhow.....
    I personally (am cab here) will do a typical "fast/slow/fast" routine... with maybe (small)veil in 1st set, & sword in second.... (& just when the waitresses (since they are the ones who see you week after week!!!) are getting bored I may throw in a candle dance or something unexpected...
    also KNOW your audience... one of the restaurants where I currently dance
    has a "younger" crowd & they prefer some of the pop & techno sounding stuff... I try do remixes of classics (like inta omri/leylat hoab etc) for one of my songs mixed in with traditional bellydance music... I also try & keep my options open (so don't play the turkish set when you have a huge table of arabs in the audience... or do not play your classic Egyptian set for the armenian audience ).... sometimes this leads to a 'costume clash' but I find most mid eastern audiences care most about the music you play 1st/your dancing 2nd /& correct (as long as you are not scandalous... which of course you would not be in a family restaurant!!) costuming 3rd...
    & of course being an AmCab dancer leaves me open to do multi culti sets of music as well... when the audience is more of a mix.....
    wheeeee
    have fun!!!!
    oh & YES Shaz.. the attention span of the average American (& probably human) has shrunken considerably... esp in the past 10 years!!!!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aradia View Post
    I've been dancing at the Marrakech for 20 years, I usually do a 10-15 minute show, 3-4 per night. I think 30 minutes is too long, you want to leave the audience wanting more.

    Each of my shows consists of:

    Oriental opening 5-8 minutes
    slow for either veil or body work 2 min
    folklore or pop song 4 min
    drum solo 2-4 minutes
    finale 1 min or less
    finale reprise to exit the room (never leave a room or stage without music playing as you disappear from their site)

    In the old days when we had live bands everywhere, the shows were longer, the musicians helped add to the energy of the show, but live music has become rare, so now it's a dancer keeping the energy up all by herself, so shorter is better. I would talk to the owner about shorter but more frequent shows, if that's not an option, then just start cutting back the length and see if he says anything or even notices!
    oops was posting when you were... love that "always leave em wanting more!!" SO TRUE..
    also like the exit music...!!! usually I just bow & walk (stage walk of course!) away
    & love the part of cutting music shorter & shorter... I dance for this woman who throws private events 1-2x per year (about 8 years now)...
    she always wants 15 min... the 1st time I realized that 10 minutes would be too much!!! SMALL SMALL (maybe 3'x6') space w/ GLASS curio shelf (FULL of GLASS curios) behind me & the back of a couch (w/ people craning around to see me) directly in front (not even lap room!!!)... & that 1st time me w/ my 12" fringe.... eeek I could not even do a decent twist for fear of breaking something/or whacking somebody!!!!)& NOwhere to escape to as people were 3 deep lining the walls/traffic corridors!!!!
    so next (2nd show) I did an 11 minute... still too long/but not painful...
    she complained I did not dance the whole 15 minutes... I told her based on the performance space & my experience I chose what was appropriate for HER party... couldn't believe she hired me the 3rd show... she STILL keeps hiring me for a "15 minute" show... but I keep doing what I think is right!!!

    oh hey Aradia... if you do not mind me asking... what songs constitute your ALL TIME favorite routine???
    (A'isha/Shazanel/Janiki & other "restaurant" dancers out there as well??!!!)
    Last edited by belly_dancer; 11-14-2007 at 12:40 AM. Reason: bad spelling

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