Bellydance evolution rules changed?

walladah

New member
Hello my friends! I have searched for a long discussion we have had concerning competitions and there was one about Bellydance evolution too, but i could not find it, to add my post, then i opened this thread. In case moderators can help with the threads, i think this one might fit well to be transferred to the previous discussions as a follow-up.

I have just read the terms and conditions of the Bellydance Evolution 2013

BDE Terms And Conditions

and i was wondering how those changes might affect the entire event but also the issues we have so many times discussed, f.ex. quality of competition and rewards of dancers who provide professional services through a competition.

To me, it seems very positive that
a) finally, this absolute selection of the public over the dancers is over. I mean the organisers choose competition winners and then the public chooses among them the best one. With the previous system, the more facebook friends a dancers had, the more prone was to win the competition, irrespective of the quality of the dance. Most people selected according to whom they know in person and not according to merit. I was really wondering how Jilina was feeling to have a dancer at her show who is not the best of the competition participators but who is very apt with PR.
b) finally, this absolute free dancing of the people who participate at the BDE show is over. I do not know how the current rates for oriental dancers in group show are in US, but in the BDE the reward is $75 for first and $50 for the rest show which might follow the first. It seems not a high financial reward but it is more or less decent.
c) Rehearsals are not paid for the show, but the dancers who dance for the show have a free pass for the workshops.

Well, to be part of the process you still need to register by paying $25. All participants are not paid for the videos they upload - it seems that exposing the video on the BDE website is the only reward.

Then, i wanted to ask your opinion. To me, it seems a good start, to pay for shows no matter what (at the terms and conditions, says that your role might be assisting dancer, but still you will be paid). If Jilina does this, then who will be the dancer master not to pay for shows? I think this is the most important, i mean, to turn dancers into decent workers. Rehearsals are not paid but at least you do not need to pay for workshops. This seems irrelevant, but late fashion with rehearsals is that teachers take time out of the lessons to teach show choreos (although there might be students who do not take part at a show and actually i hate this, because the curriculum of a lesson is quite different from learning a show part) or they charge !!!! for rehearsals for shows where the student-dancers will not be paid anyway!!!

And now, my question: what do you think? do you think that this type of arrangement for the BDE is professional and solidary with dancers? you know my view on competitions and on unpaid shows. do you think that this turn will make bellydance industry a better space for working artists?
 

Aniseteph

New member
With a week of at least 8 hours a day rehearsing, I wonder how many will be making much use of their free workshop passes!

$75 is better than nothing, but the whole thing is still pay-to-play IMO. Unless you were very local and could take cheap packed lunches, travel/parking/food for a week of rehearsals would use most of that up very fast indeed in many places. And that's without thinking about accommodation costs. You are paying for the experience.

I'm not very interested in it as a belly dance thing, but I'm fascinated by how the business model must work, especially the relative importance of the $25 competition entries versus ticket sales for the show. (I wonder if that counts as "negative talk" as specified in the T&C :shok: :think: :lol:)
 

Roshanna

New member
Unpaid rehearsals makes this still totally pay-to-play. That's a full week when you still have living costs and bills to pay, but aren't able to earn any money to pay them. And after subtracting the submission fee, the pay is only $50, which is barely anything and won't make much of a dent in the earnings lost by taking part. The only way taking part would make sense as a pro dancer trying to earn a living would be to view the loss you make by doing it as advertising expenditure... Of course, I imagine people also do it for fun or because they want to put on a good show - but that won't pay the rent.
 

Duvet

Member
$75 for the first performance, but only $50 for any subsequent ones? Surely if you were so good they wanted you back again, you'd deserve to be paid the same (if not more) than last time?
 

walladah

New member
i have exactly the same questions...

yes, on the surface it seems much easier as it will be in Athens (and i live in Greece, as many many other bellydancers) but i am done with shows based on unpaid rehearsals and unpaid shows. Actually, we have auditions in Greece for this type of work quite often... the worst is that shows go unpaid too, in many cases you pay to attend the rehearsals too and you undertake the cost of the costumes (which might be various for just one show, to match different dance styles).

You know, for students and for newbies, it seems ok (although it is not) but one cannot live on such industry. THis is why i have been very reluctant to involve students and friend dancers in any project i have in mind or i plan, because i want to pay well, undertake costs and if rehearsals are regular (which is normal for a decent show) i would like to pay the dancers, not just tell them "you are paid with the joy of dancing".

As for BDE, it is an... evolution since the first one, this is why i am discussing it again. Otherwise it would be a no-no even for a discussion.

By the way, i realised today (well, also at the recent workshops, i mean the last 6 months) that instead of having prices for lessons, costumes and instructional dvds going down during the crisis, prices go up. Which means, it is impossible for a dancer to keep up with even being able to participate in shows, if she is not paid enough for all the work she does and not just for the 10-15 minutes the audience might watch. I am amazed that the festivals already planned in Greece are extremely expensive related to previous ones (and to actual wages going down and down the last 2 years).

My worry is general, in the sense that we, dancers, build the industry and i try (although it costs me in shows and in exposure to the public) not to reproduce this unfair situation...

THanks a lot for your comments and advice!
 

Zumarrad

Member
I can see the concerns about this, but I'm also aware that so much of our community is about selling learning and performance opportunities rather than producing professional dancers who can make a living at the dance. That's because it's not 1974 or even 1994 any more - there are so few jobs by comparison to what there were when you consider that the dance is all over the world, and there are so many more dancers, many aiming for the highest standard.

Then, we don't have what a dance form like ballet or contemporary dance has: government and lotteries sponsorship and wealthy patrons. It's my understanding that even pro ballet dancers these days often need a second job to tide them over at times these days. All of the arts are struggling to make enough money to pay for themselves.

In a way, I think bellydance has a patronage model from the inside rather than the out: we're our own patrons and we pay to perform ourselves rather than to watch others perform. There are good and bad things about that. But without this model we would not have opportunities to put our dance into a performance arena at all, especially not a big show model like this one.

At least Jillina is one of us and not some impresario telling us little ladies how to suck eggs, as it were.
 

Aziyade

Well-known member
In a way, I think bellydance has a patronage model from the inside rather than the out: we're our own patrons and we pay to perform ourselves rather than to watch others perform.
That is a really interesting observation and it got me wondering: have there ever been other significant art (or entertainment) forms with this inverse patronage model? Or do most of them start out that way? I keep thinking of how the audience for a lot of "experimental theatre" here is made up mostly of theatre people themselves.
 

walladah

New member
Concerning at least the Greek scene of arts, it happens very often.

This is why i am not so happy to see our own kin, our own sisters and brothers exploiting each other due to the lack of out-of-industry sponsors,producers and exploiters.

To me, i think that the in-industry people should be more sensitive in terms of work fairness. Instead, they educate all artists to the idea that once you are new or fairly new, you are supposed to be the slave of the industry and at some point in the future, if you are hard working without pay, then you might become a self-governed artist.

There is a great article by Morocco on this, whose views i share completely. "If prices are up all over". She writes this in early 1980s but i think it still holds nowadays. However, it is very difficult to achieve those aims of decent reproduction of the art (because if you just provide your services to audience who pay, but you are not paid, then you are unable to reproduce yourself as human and as a dancer) if all dancers follow the unpaid system...
 
Last edited:

Zumarrad

Member
While I agree with Morocco that pro dancers should be paid properly, there's also an issue of supply and demand going on.

And BDE is fed by that same thing we see all over, the desire of bellydancers to have their art taken seriously by putting it on a theatrical stage. What funding model would you propose instead? Because I think that's the key issue here - funding.
 

Sirène

New member
This is why i am not so happy to see our own kin, our own sisters and brothers exploiting each other due to the lack of out-of-industry sponsors,producers and exploiters.

To me, i think that the in-industry people should be more sensitive in terms of work fairness. Instead, they educate all artists to the idea that once you are new or fairly new, you are supposed to be the slave of the industry and at some point in the future, if you are hard working without pay, then you might become a self-governed artist.
I don't know how well it does in other areas, but I saw Dark Side of the Crown (BDE) when it came to NYC and I was surprised by the low attendance. NYC has one of the largest oriental dance communities in the US and Skirball center at NYU is not that big, yet the auditorium was only half full, if that much. It doesn't take a genius to multiply the average ticket price and figure out that between travel expenses, costume expenses, music licensing (it's not all Paul Dinletir), rental fees (NYU rarely gives out space for free), et al they're not making a huge amount of money. BDE asks a lot of the local dancers but I believe that stems from financial reality, not a culture of exploitation.
 

walladah

New member
Well, it is true that people have not cash nowadays to spend on show tickets.

However, i also share your comments concerning funding and expenses.
Let me tell you what i think about that:
a) Bellydance industry would have all their workshops, shows and extravganzas full of people if the students, intermediate dancers and professional dancers were rewarded for anything they do for commercial purposes. Why? Because if you make some income out of your art, you invest in it again and again. Personally, once i do not, i cannot attend shows and i also have to be on a budget concerning workshops. Same happens with everyone - and i have no hard feelings because actually i do not participate in this unpaid industry as much as i can. Many dancers stop supporting the shows and workshops of people who have exploited them [and i understand their bitterness], then the entire industry is harmed. I mean, instead of attracting funds from the public we just eat each other's flesh.
b) concerning demand, oh, at least in Greece, there is huge demand for oriental dancers, but no-one wants to pay for this. We have not tried yet to apply the trade union;s decisions about pays and social security contributions, because most people prefer to dance for no pay so we just are unable to ask for a decent pay. I wonder with all this demand in shows, modern music concert halls, theatrical performances and TV shows, how this industry would flourish and how we could fund ourselves by supporting each other's shows and workshops.
c) In case you have such an industry you need to secure your funding if you want to create a big event. You cannot transfer the entrepreneur's risk on your dancers while you keep all the profits, publicity and fame for yourself. If i am a partner in expenses (and i am, if i am not decently paid to take part at the big show), then i want to be a partner in the rest too! you cannot either transfer the profit-making to a dance company and the expense making to the "audited" dancers who will be grateful to participate unpaid or low-paid. I mean, i can stand self-funding, but are they going to make me a partner of the group and not an unpaid back-up? You know, apart from dance companies owned by a famous dancer while we know nothing about the rest, there is also the cooperative solution where partners are equal in both funding, risk, fame and profit. Unfortunately, i have not seen this in Greece yet...
 

Roshanna

New member
I'd be far happier to see shows where dancers received only a low rate of basic pay if any profits from the show were then shared with performers on top of that in a pre-agreed ratio. This would reduce risk for the producer, without being anywhere near as exploitative of the performers as only giving them a small fixed sum (or nothing).

I was recently asked to perform in a local event that's going to be a bit of an experiment (a local Arabic-rockabilly-hiphop fusion band with a decent sized following who are mostly outside the dance community, who want to put on a show with dancers in a 'respectable' venue), and the organiser (a fellow dancer) said up front that they couldn't afford to guarantee full professional rates for everyone, but would pay a minumum rate, plus a share of the profits. I was totally fine with this, as I think it's really good that they are doing something new that will potentially create new audiences for us, and I don't feel that I am being taken advantage of by taking part, because if it does well I'll be paid commensurately...
 

walladah

New member
They never propose this!!

Never do they do this! unless you are a very famous dancer and you can impose the agreement.
When i propose this, telling them, ok, you are afraid there will be no income for that show, then we can make this deal, they never accept to have my share of the little profit they expect. THen, you know that those people who deny, are not really afraid of having too few customers, but they are afraid of having too many.

Moreover, what you have been offered seems an excellent case of experiment in both art and business - and the people count you as humans and artists and not as replaceable slaves... Weldone!
 

Yame

New member
I don't know how well it does in other areas, but I saw Dark Side of the Crown (BDE) when it came to NYC and I was surprised by the low attendance. NYC has one of the largest oriental dance communities in the US and Skirball center at NYU is not that big, yet the auditorium was only half full, if that much. It doesn't take a genius to multiply the average ticket price and figure out that between travel expenses, costume expenses, music licensing (it's not all Paul Dinletir), rental fees (NYU rarely gives out space for free), et al they're not making a huge amount of money. BDE asks a lot of the local dancers but I believe that stems from financial reality, not a culture of exploitation.
Sad, but true.

And I have to say, you never know how much it actually costs to put on a show until you try to put one together yourself. I was astonished by the prices theaters--even small ones--charge for stage rental of even just a few hours. I am now amazed that anybody at all can afford it. There is no way I could even break even, even if none of the performers got paid. Unless you can pack a theater, you're probably not making any money.
 

Sirène

New member
I'd be far happier to see shows where dancers received only a low rate of basic pay if any profits from the show were then shared with performers on top of that in a pre-agreed ratio. This would reduce risk for the producer, without being anywhere near as exploitative of the performers as only giving them a small fixed sum (or nothing).
This model could work for a single show, or a series of shows at a single theater, but it would be an accounting nightmare for a show visiting multiple cities all over the globe. Even if a profit was turned, the expense of distribution would likely take up a large chunk of it. However, doing profit distribution on a location-by-location basis would probably be out for a show like this since (most likely) the soldout performance in one city negates the cost overrun of the half-empty theater in another city. It's a balancing act, and I think at this time they're doing what they can.

To a dancer used to making $200/night+tips, $75/$50 is small potatoes, but look at it from a show runner's perspective: for sixteen backup dancers (12 Cabaret & up to 4 Tribal Fusion) they're committing to an additional payroll of $1,200 ($2,000 for two nights), regardless of whether they sell enough tickets to cover expenses. Now multiply that by the number of cities they visit. That 'pittance' that some dancers are turning their nose up at is a financial risk measured in the thousands.

I can understand someone not having the time, the financial freedom, or just the desire to give over several full days and two prime performance evenings in exchange for $125 and workshops, but I don't buy the charges of predation and exploitation.
 

Aniseteph

New member
In a "normal" show yes, it is a financial risk, because it adds to your fixed costs and if you don't cover that in ticket sales you're stuffed.

But this is different because of the competition side. Even if ticket sales are poor you can cover that extra payroll - part of it is already offset by the winners' competition entry fees, and more from all the other dancers who don't get through. If the $75/ $50 payment is enough to make more dancers happy about sending in their competition entries - maybe they like the idea of being paid, maybe they feel less exploited, it offsets some of their expenses - then it makes business sense. More entries ensures that they cover the costs of the winners fees, and generates interest/ ticket sales among local dancers.

Yes there will still be the usual profits/losses associated with expenses vs. ticket sales, but in terms of the competition winners' payments the big risk as far as I can see is not having enough unsuccessful entrants to pay for them. So I notice it is up to 12 Cabaret & up to 4 Tribal Fusion dancers. If you don't get enough entrants, there's your saving - fewer winners.
 
Top