Am i good enough to start performing at restaurants?

Dunyah

New member
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.
 
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Dunyah

New member
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.
 

Sophia Maria

New member
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.
 

Aziyade

New member
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.
 
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.
 

Pleasant dancer

New member
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! :D
 

Roshanna

New member
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.
 
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Aziyade

New member
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.
 

Yame

New member
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.
 

Sophia Maria

New member
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.
I'm sorry to hear you can't find classes! However, I'd definitely encourage you, like the others here, to look a bit harder--there's always something. And you absolutely need need need to take years of classes before you can be a solo performer. Trust me, it will be amazing and fun, and well worth the effort. It's just important to understand that this is like any other dance (jazz, hip hop, ballet)--one must be instructed in person by professional for many years before one can really qualify to do this sort of thing. Learning by dvds is useful, but there's nothing like learning in person.

Going for a unique style is also understandable, but that is something you approach AFTER you learn from teachers, not before. If you don't pay attention to teachers now because you just want your own style, you are probably learning inappropriate technique, as well as missing important cultural and musical information.

I am not a professional, but from 4 years of study and obsessive research :lol::lol: in my opinion you are not ready. (Nor am I :D )

Don't give up, though! If you are really passionate about oriental dance, hunt down those classes!
 

Kashmir

New member
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.
You might be able to learn belly dance from DVDs as a hobbist (although it is not possible for most people) but you would need a wide range of good DVDs - not a single teacher. However, public performance is a whole new level and needs other skills.

After 22 years I think I have a couple of styles down pat - "all styles" is pretty difficult even if you have time, money and talent. Not feasible for most people. It is a bit like learning to paint. First you study the "standard" or "accepted" way - then you develop your style. If you leap straight into "your own unique style" without studying what belly dance actually is what you will end up doing may be interesting dance but it is unlikely to be belly dance.

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.
No - even when practicing you must have on your performance face. If you cannot do that you have a long way to go before going public to anyone - let alone a paying client.
 

MizzNaaa

New member
I know the criticism in this thread might sound a bit harsh, after all in your head right now you feel like "YAY PERFORMANCE!". That is good, it's good that you're so motivated and excited about this, that's the spirit you need before you start learning so you can stay motivated until you reach an ability level that would enable you to perform.

I don't think we've talked in the forum before, so in a nutshell, I'm (I think?) the forum's resident Egyptian newb. I like to believe, because baladi has been part of my growing up, I have a good eye as to what would constitute as 'good' bellydancing? And I've watched your video.

Your moves are not varied, your arms are uhm..for lack of better word a bit stiff. You concentrated too much on what you would call piston drops? Hip rolls, vertical figure eights and not much else. Your moves feel like they're barely attached together, basically there is no fluidity in your transitions...

The music choice, and I'm sorry to say this, is quite a poor one. This music would probably annoy me if I was sitting in a restaurant, I'm guessing the lack of variation in the music could be the reason why your moves are limited, I'm not sure though.

On the bright side, you do have it in you, you seem to have some good understanding of certain aspects of the dance, you just - and again I'm sorry to be so blunt- look and dance like a beginner.

While your abilities are still budding like this, I don't think you should perform, because not only are you possibly giving an image about bellydance to people who've never been exposed to it before, but you also could really disappoint yourself if your performance doesn't spark the approval you seek.

Now this again my seem like quite harsh, but the reality is, I'm a middle-easterner, and if I was in a restaurant and you were performing there, I'd roll my eyes and be like...pfft, go learn to dance baladi woman! Because we are judgmental a-holes sometimes when it comes to our dance, which I think is warranted; it is our dance after all.

So the bottom line is, don't be discouraged, you really do have it in you and the fact that you learned this on your own with DVDs is great, but if you really want to be a pro, go take it to the next level, find classes whether online or offline, and further your studies and practice, then try to get a position in an amateur troupe with a teacher, then study some more then start going pro.

One last tip, Sadie's style is good and everything and learning some of her moves is great but you'll do yourself a world of good to look up other dvds, and most of all watch authentic performances from Egyptian dancers like Dina, Randa Kamel, and older people like Fifi Abdo, Sohair Zaki and old Egyptian clips from movies with performances for golden era dancers, watch dancers from Turkey and even westerners who're older in the field, research and learn and practice on middle eastern music...etc. In a few years, with enough dedication, you'll probably be ace and will be ready to start performing.

I hope you take no offence to my criticism, and good luck with your dancing.
 
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Afrit

New member
No - you are not ready.

Really bad music choice - very boring and trance like. Not really belly dance music which is part of the reason you come across as doing drills rather than dancing. (I think a really experienced person might be able to get it to work). Belly dance is not a series of isolation sets. Looks like exercise to music.

You need also to work on your arms and performance skills. I would not watch you in a restaurant. Restaurant dancers need to be able to engage the audience. (Good isolations though)

Also consider learning how to edit out the "starting the video camera" bit!
 

Roshanna

New member
I've had a chance to watch the video now, and I agree that you are not yet ready to be performing for the general public. You've done well to learn the technique that you have done from DVDs, and I can tell you've worked hard, but your technique isn't of a professional level yet.

I don't personally think your music choice was that bad (I can imagine it working for a dramatic stage piece), but it's not something I'd ever use in a restaurant set, as it is so repetetive.
However, as others have said, your dancing didn't really reflect or interpret the music, and it looked more like a series of exercises. It was mostly static, with virtually no travelling, turning, or use of different shapes and angles. Your arms were mostly in one position all of the time. And you tended to do a single move repeated quite a lot, then move on to another move, rather than using more varied sequences and combinations. And this is not even touching on the whole subject of emotion and engagement, which are vital when performing for an audience...

But all of this is quite normal for somebody who has been learning for maybe a year or so, especially without the variety and guidance that comes from having a teacher. You seem to have a good grasp of the basics for somebody of your level, but you need to widen your training to include transitioning fluidly between moves, combinations and weight shifts, travelling and turning, and a much wider range of arm shapes and patterns (Aziza's arms DVD is really good for this). I stick by my suggestion that the best way to do this is to attend regular classes in addition to your home study.

I don't know how much you know about Middle Eastern music at the moment, but if you aspire to be a professional one day, you will also need to know Arabic and Turkish music very well indeed, to put together entertaining and appropriate sets for different audiences. There are also loads of other considerations. In any case, an excellent starting point is Shira's site - All About Belly Dancing - Shira.net. Read everything there, it's full of very useful stuff :)
Some things you might find especially useful:
Belly Dance: A Good Career Option?
Belly Dancing: Doing Gigs

Good luck in your dance journey - you've had loads of good advice here, and I'm sure you have the potential to one day be a wonderful dancer :)
 
Afrit, you do realise this is just a simple youtube video, I’m hardly going to be making any professionally recorded studio quality dvd’s of my dancing just yet so in the context it’s presented in, learning how to edit out the camera starting bit is kind of redundant in my stage of development right now…maybe once I’ve started performing live then it might be necessary to project a more professional image although if I was doing that I probably wouldn’t post a video of me dancing in front of my ferret cage lol

MizzNaaa, It must be a cultural thing but to me and my friends that baladi dancing just looks... :( I showed my friends some of those dancers you recommended and they all said the same thing. “It looks like a drunk woman trying her best not to fall over”. I hadn’t heard of Baladi before you mentioned it but having googled it, it seems that Baladi is a distinctly unique artform in it’s own right. I guess being brought up in different cultures you get conditioned to believe dancing has to be performed in a certain way or to a certain ideology but if I listened to some country folk music and I was a jazz fan I wouldn’t criticise the folk music for not being jazzy enough. So yeah if I was dancing in a room full of middle easterners I might want to add some Egyptian folk style music into a set but dancing in small restaurants to middle class white people in the middle of Manchester, UK. It’s highly unlikely that those kinds of people are going to appreciate, understand or even recognise the vast variation in different belly dancing styles. So no I certainly won’t be discouraged by your comments, it’s important to find and develop a style that resonates deeply with who you are at your core and if Baladi is what does it for you then each to their own, but it’s certainly not a path I’ll be feeling compelled to walk down any time soon and you don't have to worry I most definitely won’t be allowing myself to be judged by any standards other than the ones I aspire too. But the rest of your comments I can take on board and carry on working on the aspects of dance I know I need to improve and get better at.

constructive criticism is welcomed but what people tend to forget on forums is that unless people can back up their opinions with a video of them performing themselves to the standard they're being critical of then it's all just hot air with no substance, a good critique comes with a good counter example or demonstration from the critic in my opinion. Which is why I actually asked this same question to one of my mentors online and she answered with a much more intelligent and reasonable answer, she said ‘see what the standard of dancing is in your area and if you’re better than what you see out their already then yes you are good enough to perform in those venues, you don’t have to get it perfect right away, you just have to get it started, no amount of classes is going to prepare you for actually stepping onto the stage for the first time and feeling the attention of the audience inspiring that dance to flow through, that comes from you, your soul, your spirit and what you're ultimately capable of, we all have to take that first step sooner or later and from my experience, the sooner you do it, the better’.

So if anyones up to the challenge, post your youtube vids :) then we can really talk and get some constructive conversations flowing
 

Aziyade

New member
MizzNaaa, It must be a cultural thing but to me and my friends that baladi dancing just looks... :( I showed my friends some of those dancers you recommended and they all said the same thing. “It looks like a drunk woman trying her best not to fall over”.
What the ????

Are you for real?


I hadn’t heard of Baladi before you mentioned it
Good indicator you have no idea what you're doing number ONE.


but having googled it, it seems that Baladi is a distinctly unique artform in it’s own right.
No, and any decent teacher will be able to explain this to you.


So yeah if I was dancing in a room full of middle easterners I might want to add some Egyptian folk style music into a set but dancing in small restaurants to middle class white people in the middle of Manchester, UK.
Yes because the whole point of going to a restaurant with a bellydancer is to be bored stiff by music (and dance) that has no relevance to what you're doing or the ambiance of the restaurant.


It’s highly unlikely that those kinds of people are going to appreciate, understand or even recognise the vast variation in different belly dancing styles.
Thinking your audience isn't as smart as they usually are ... good indicator you are NOT ready number two.


[/quote]So no I certainly won’t be discouraged by your comments, it’s important to find and develop a style that resonates deeply with who you are at your core and if Baladi is what does it for you then each to their own, but it’s certainly not a path I’ll be feeling compelled to walk down any time soon [/quote]

Yes, God forbid you actually have any basic understanding of what this dance is, at core, and why MizzNaa just refers to it as balady.


and you don't have to worry I most definitely won’t be allowing myself to be judged by any standards other than the ones I aspire too.
Translates into "I don't want to hear that I'm doing anything wrong" to me.

constructive criticism is welcomed but what people tend to forget on forums is that unless people can back up their opinions with a video of them performing themselves to the standard they're being critical of then it's all just hot air with no substance,
Now I know you're not for real. Go troll elsewhere.

I always love it when people ask questions and then get pissed off when they don't like the answers. :rolleyes:


a good critique comes with a good counter example or demonstration from the critic in my opinion. Which is why I actually asked this same question to one of my mentors online
Then why bother ask on a professional forum? If you already know the answer ...

and she answered with a much more intelligent and reasonable answer, she said ‘see what the standard of dancing is in your area and if you’re better than what you see out their already then yes you are good enough to perform in those venues,
Oh good lord -- and I assume this woman presents herself as a "professional" with you know ethics and all that?

We so need a sarcasm emoticon. And yes, I'll take the infraction, mods. I'm plain sick to death of this bulls--- attitude and lack of ANY kind of consideration towards our profession or any type of professional ethics.

The audacity. Makes me literally want to throw something.


So if anyones up to the challenge, post your youtube vids :) then we can really talk and get some constructive conversations flowing

You've blown it on this forum. We have nothing to prove to you. I pity the other REAL dancers in your area.
 

Darshiva

Moderator
Es, baladi is the essence of bellydance. This is why it was brought up by the lovely lady whose culture created the dance form you wish to take public.

Sadie has some lovely moves but she really isn't the best ambassador for bellydance. Considering everything you've said, it's probably for the best if you do track down a variety of different styles of bellydance classes and really discover whether or not bellydance is for you or not. If it's not, that's perfectly okay - the moves you've been honing will definitely translate to a wide variety of different dance styles. See, the thing with bellydance isn't the moves, it's the way that you dance. Having a distaste for good bellydancing is fine, but it does suggest that bellydance really isn't your cup of tea.
 
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I didn't realise this belly dance forum would be so bitchy and judgemental! I asked for some advice not to be picked at, i dont even think i was as bad as you are all making me out to be considering ive basically taught myself how to dance. Im not going to give up on my passion for belly dancing as im so drawn to it. I did not expect these kind of comments. I actually thought the belly dance community would be more enlightened as it is supposed to be a spiritual dance created by the Ancient Egyptians. Now it seems as though the soul is being ripped out of it. Its the same with horse riding, you have to ride a certain way to make it look good, pull the horses head in so the horse looks prettier etc.

Dancing is meant to be a celebration of a woman's body, all these little things that people pick at to make sure its perfect rips the soul out of it. The Ancient Egyptians didn't do all that they just danced and moved their bodies to the beat of the drum for rituals, celebrations and also preparing women for birth etc.

I honestly thought the belly dance community would be a lot more nicer, Belly dance is my passion, dancing is my passion as ive loved it since i was a little girl and im going to keep at it every day and do it the way my intuition tells me, ill let that guide me from now on.
 
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