Do large tattoos limit performance opportunities?

Salome

Administrator
Concur, bedouin spread over vast territory from saudi arabia to the sudan, they have their own cultural identity ...
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
How can you separate the dance from the culture and people? Isn't performing their dance a celebration of their culture and identity? If it wasn't for the Middle East and its people, we would not be doing what we love.
Allow me to quote myself from another thread on another board on another subject - that also came around to this question:

This is *my* personal "spin" on this...

I'm an American. I'm *NOT* responsible for cultural hangups - either "theirs" or "ours". I'm certainly not interested in conforming, or kowtowing, to a culture that is 1,700 years in the past (theirs). Or one that is on the brink of the precipice of falling back 2,000 years for another Dark age (ours).

Yes, they brought the world a beautiful dance - or did they? No one really knows the ultimate history. Even if they did originate what has become "Belly Dance", its quite possible that it may precede their current culture by several thousand years. Just because someone's a dancer, doesn't mean they have to buy into the rest. Otherwise, we all better reach for our Burqas (me included).
 

Yame

New member
I'm an American. I'm *NOT* responsible for cultural hangups - either "theirs" or "ours". I'm certainly not interested in conforming, or kowtowing, to a culture that is 1,700 years in the past (theirs). Or one that is on the brink of the precipice of falling back 2,000 years for another Dark age (ours).
You don't have to conform to anyone's culture in your personal life and beliefs, but when you are belly dancing you are representing someone else's culture and you should do so respectfully and as accurately as you can.

Yes, they brought the world a beautiful dance - or did they? No one really knows the ultimate history. Even if they did originate what has become "Belly Dance", its quite possible that it may precede their current culture by several thousand years.
Yes, they did. I don't care what you think about pre-Badia belly dance and whether or not you think the dance has roots in ancient whatever and has been done for a million years or if you think it was brought in by the gypsies or if you think aliens created it, fact of the matter is, before it was ever brought over to the west it was a social dance all over the Middle East, and they were the ones who put it on the stage. Over here, expositions notwithstanding, it was Middle Eastern immigrants who taught our natives how to dance when belly dance was first brought over. It's still a part of their culture much more than it is or ever will be ours and is still performed professionally.

Just because someone's a dancer, doesn't mean they have to buy into the rest. Otherwise, we all better reach for our Burqas (me included). [/I]
What do burqas have to do with anything? No belly dancer in the Middle East wears a burqa for dancing. Burqas aren't even that common in most Middle Eastern countries. What a huge, innacurate generalization.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
You don't have to conform to anyone's culture in your personal life and beliefs, but when you are belly dancing you are representing someone else's culture and you should do so respectfully and as accurately as you can.
As far as the dance itself goes - I agree.
Yes, they did. I don't care what you think about pre-Badia belly dance and whether or not you think the dance has roots in ancient whatever and has been done for a million years or if you think it was brought in by the gypsies or if you think aliens created it, fact of the matter is, before it was ever brought over to the west it was a social dance all over the Middle East, and they were the ones who put it on the stage. Over here, expositions notwithstanding, it was Middle Eastern immigrants who taught our natives how to dance when belly dance was first brought over. It's still a part of their culture much more than it is or ever will be ours and is still performed professionally.
All I'm saying is that *I* don't know the answer to this - and neither do you.
What do burqas have to do with anything? No belly dancer in the Middle East wears a burqa for dancing. Burqas aren't even that common in most Middle Eastern countries. What a huge, innacurate generalization.
What I'm saying is that the dance is one thing, buying into their repressive culture is quite another. I am QUITE sensitive to repressive cultures - since ours is headed that way, and rapidly.
 

LilithNoor

New member
I'm certainly not interested in conforming, or kowtowing, to a culture that is 1,700 years in the past (theirs
Wow, what an unpleasant, narrow-minded and bigoted way of lumping millions of people and hundreds of different cultures together.

I expected better of belly dancers than this.

Otherwise, we all better reach for our Burqas (me included).
Oh FFS.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Wow, what an unpleasant, narrow-minded and bigoted way of lumping millions of people and hundreds of different cultures together.
Sorry.

I have little better use for "our" culture either. Anyone's is too limiting on human freedom. I won't defend any culture, religion, law, rule, guideline, moral, or anything else that puts unnecessary limits on human freedom. Your right to swing your fists ends at MY NOSE.
 
there is a pic of the tattoo....i do love it...

but i do wonder how hard it would really be to cover up....

then again, what can i do if i can't? nothing. i *do* live in california, so that might at least help. i just started dancing at Jodette's, so i think after awhile i will ask her opinion (if she doesn't offer it before then!) as she knows the market in sacramento pretty well....

*hope hope*
i do like tribal...just hard to get into that IN sacramento...and i feel egyptian music much more than tribal.....
I'm from Sacramento and used to dance at Jodette's for six months over five years ago. I can tell you right off the bat that the owners at her restaurants really don't care about anything other than if you're willing to dance two sets for $20 a night. If you had bigger aspirations like, say, dancing in one of the nicer restaurants in the area that she doesn't have under her belt (like Marrakech or Kasbah), then yes, there would some concern about your marketability with tattoos on your body. Places like Marrakech care about the whole package.

On a side note, I hope that she isn't sending you out to dance in the restaurants after only a few lessons or several months, like she's notorious for doing....:naghty: That wouldn't be fair to you, the professional dance community, or paying restaurant patrons. It sounds like you are new to belly dancing (correct me if I'm wrong), and if that is the case then you have other things to worry about BEFORE you even set foot in a restaurant for money, like at least a couple years perfecting your technique and improv skills, developing a strong ear for Middle Eastern music, learning about the many different cultures, etc. All stuff that Jodette never told me about when I started there. I had to undo a lot of the bad habits that I picked up there over just a few months and stayed out of restaurants for over a year until my teacher (Mychelle Crown) felt that I was ready for a paying audience. I hope that you're exploring the dance community in Sacramento outside of Jodette's studio because we have a lot of great, awesome talent (including Adrianne, Amy Sigil and the rest of Unmata, Zaheea, Mychelle, etc.) and performance opportunities that her students often don't know about. Happy dancing! :)
 

double_frick

New member
I'm from Sacramento and used to dance at Jodette's for six months over five years ago. I can tell you right off the bat that the owners at her restaurants really don't care about anything other than if you're willing to dance two sets for $20 a night. If you had bigger aspirations like, say, dancing in one of the nicer restaurants in the area that she doesn't have under her belt (like Marrakech or Kasbah), then yes, there would some concern about your marketability with tattoos on your body. Places like Marrakech care about the whole package.

On a side note, I hope that she isn't sending you out to dance in the restaurants after only a few lessons or several months, like she's notorious for doing....:naghty: That wouldn't be fair to you, the professional dance community, or paying restaurant patrons. It sounds like you are new to belly dancing (correct me if I'm wrong), and if that is the case then you have other things to worry about BEFORE you even set foot in a restaurant for money, like at least a couple years perfecting your technique and improv skills, developing a strong ear for Middle Eastern music, learning about the many different cultures, etc. All stuff that Jodette never told me about when I started there. I had to undo a lot of the bad habits that I picked up there over just a few months and stayed out of restaurants for over a year until my teacher (Mychelle Crown) felt that I was ready for a paying audience. I hope that you're exploring the dance community in Sacramento outside of Jodette's studio because we have a lot of great, awesome talent (including Adrianne, Amy Sigil and the rest of Unmata, Zaheea, Mychelle, etc.) and performance opportunities that her students often don't know about. Happy dancing! :)
that *does* bum me out that when i do finally feel comfortable enough dancing in restaurants that marrakech will be difficult with my tattoo...perhaps if i find a way to completely cover it up (with make up) they could make an exception. :D heh

i am somewhat new to belly dance, at least outside of my home. hahaha i am (don't cringe too much!) an at-home, video belly dancer! yiiiiiikes! but in my defense i think i'm like a natural, maybe a past-life belly dancer. haha i was doing the egyptian walk and mayas while dancing my crying baby around the house years ago and then i kinda fell into belly dancing and fell in LOVE with the music and the culture. its become an obsession and i feel bad others around me to share my interest quite as much since now they have to suffer endless ME music and youtube videos of classical egyptian movies!! :dance:

but i have taken 2 classes with Daleela a year ago or so. and then a month or so ago i did go to the Unmata studio for one class, but fusion really isn't my style. i thought about going to the tribal class, but decided to do a 6-week round at jodettes first and though i am aware of the pitfalls at her studio (i can't even use my own zills, don't know if thats normal or not) i do like LEARNING the zills with dancing which i've never done. and my main concern was getting a teacher to see me and correct me, if need be. so far only compliments, so i'd say i did pretty good at home, i just need to refine and really bulk out my repetoire for (in my estimation, for my comfort) maybe the next year and then i'm gonna start performing. so there will be no rushing THIS shy gal into a premature performance! ;)

and thursday i may go to another belly dance class, i forgot her name. :( she's japanese and dances tribal style (i'm sorta learning japanese, so awesome! hah) ....plus, i think i'll get to bring my zills hahahaha
eventually i plan to make my rounds to all the belly dance studios so i can explore all the styles fully and meet all the different girls. so exciting. i have to say, i really liked the girls at Hot Pot too. so super nice. i've noticed that in the belly dance community. not QUITE as much cattiness as other groups of girls (like models, etc)

so, anyway, i mostly am going to jodette for the teachers eyes and maybe a little sisterhood with the other classmates and i really, really like kalila! so sweet and she's a good teacher. though i wish i could meet and dance in one of jodette's class.....she does seem really nice, and super interesting. :)

i really appreciate all the feedback and the interesting discussion spurred by the thread. :) personally i feel it is important to recognize and appreciate the culture from which the dance we love so much comes from. i want to represent the dance in a way that is respectful and celebrates ME culture. i have so much interest and LOVE for ME culture, music and dance that i just want to share it and the best way i can see to do that...is through dancing. :dance:
 

Kashmir

New member
but i have taken 2 classes with Daleela a year ago or so. and then a month or so ago i did go to the Unmata studio for one class, but fusion really isn't my style. i thought about going to the tribal class, but decided to do a 6-week round at jodettes first and though i am aware of the pitfalls at her studio (i can't even use my own zills, don't know if thats normal or not) i do like LEARNING the zills with dancing which i've never done. and my main concern was getting a teacher to see me and correct me, if need be. so far only compliments, so i'd say i did pretty good at home, i just need to refine and really bulk out my repetoire for (in my estimation, for my comfort) maybe the next year and then i'm gonna start performing. so there will be no rushing THIS shy gal into a premature performance! ;)
After a year, you will probably be ready for a student show or hafla. Give another 4 years or so (with a steady, suitable teacher) before hitting the paying gigs.
 
After a year, you will probably be ready for a student show or hafla. Give another 4 years or so (with a steady, suitable teacher) before hitting the paying gigs.
I agree with Kashmir 100%. I'm glad that belly dance feels natural to you, but you won't be ready for paying gigs for several years, regardless of what you think right now. Also, if you haven't been dancing long and your teacher is only complimenting you, this could be a sign that they might not be that good. I know all of the dancers that you have been going to for lessons, and they are focused on making their students better than they were in class the previous week. I seriously doubt that none of them had any suggestions for how you can improve. However, when I was at Jodette's, she frequently told newbies that her dancers "are the best in the world!" and would dish out compliments to everyone like candy. This is not to say that you are a bad dancer and don't have potential to go professional, but everyone ALWAYS has room for improvement, even world famous pros like Zoe Jakes and Aziza. I would be suspicious/skeptical about the teaching experience or proficiency of my instructor if they never had any suggestions or helpful tips.

If you want to dance at Marrakech, then get in line - I've been dancing professionally for over 5 years and am still a backup dancer there. Also, Mychelle and Zaheea are the head dancers and doing the booking; Mychelle especially WILL NOT EVER book a dancer at Marrakech that has been trained by Jodette. Period. You can ask her why if you ever meet her, but it's not my place to go into details here.

I know it's tempting to want to rush into restaurants, but let me be honest with you: the pay in Sacramento for most venues is not that great or even worth your time fretting over. This can pretty much be attributed to the influence of Jodette - she is notorious for sending her students to restaurants that hire trained professionals and undercutting them to ridiculous rates like $20 a night for two sets. I am not the only person in town that will tell you this. The few places that are worth it (i.e. classy atmosphere, appreciative audience and venue owner, decent pay and tips) have a stable of reliable, well-trained professional dancers with years of experience and education under their hip belts and won't let anyone with a total of 1-2 years experience perform there for money. If you want to get into the professional realm, keep taking classes and start doing your research on the local dance community. Get to know everyone, learn their relationships with each other and how the community functions. Going pro isn't fast or easy, but if you are serious about being truly successful (like Zaheea, Mychelle, Nyla Crystal, Adrianne, etc.), as well as representing ME culture respectfully, you would be doing yourself a huge favor to realize and accept that it will be several years before you are truly ready to make the transition.
 
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double_frick

New member
Here's a great article about going pro from a well-respected dancer based in Florida: So You Want to Be a Professional Belly Dancer… | Carrara Nour | Belly Dancer for Weddings and Events in Orlando

Also, my apologies for being all b!tchy-sounding in my last post (or several) about youknowwho. It's a very sensitive topic around these parts, but we only have the best of intentions :) I try to tread carefully where I may, though.
thank you, and i agree that i'm not near ready....and its not that i'm 'a natural' that i think i could be ready in a year it is because i've been dancing quite a while every day. but i definitely understand where you are coming from and i am not saying after a year i'd jump in, obviously i'll reassess when i get there.

i think kalila is a good teacher, i can't say much about her dancing as i haven't seen her do much more than teach. i think the compliment is more that she's surprised that i haven't been to many classes and it is surprising to people for someone to have learned adequately without a teacher the whole way through. don't get me wrong, i've a LONG way to go, i understand this. i'm not trying to step on any toes...

i really appreciate all the input, again.
 
thank you, and i agree that i'm not near ready....and its not that i'm 'a natural' that i think i could be ready in a year it is because i've been dancing quite a while every day. but i definitely understand where you are coming from and i am not saying after a year i'd jump in, obviously i'll reassess when i get there.

i think kalila is a good teacher, i can't say much about her dancing as i haven't seen her do much more than teach. i think the compliment is more that she's surprised that i haven't been to many classes and it is surprising to people for someone to have learned adequately without a teacher the whole way through. don't get me wrong, i've a LONG way to go, i understand this. i'm not trying to step on any toes...

i really appreciate all the input, again.
I think that you've done a great job clarifying yourself and completely understand where you are coming from now much better. :)
 

Gia al Qamar

New member
Chiming in...
I think you've received some very good advice here regarding covering up both with costume, accessories and make-up...
Yes...I have nearly 20 tattoos and most are fairly well hidden by my costumes, look like henna or look like part of my costume!
I never had an issue with any Middle Eastern client, audience or club owner regarding my tattoos...ever.
But...and let me say this emphatically...my tattoos are very feminine and were placed in such a way that they LOOK like part of my 'fantasy costumed look'. I also held off getting quite a few until I "graduated" from working in local restaurants...Your chest piece...which rocks...is also very American, very 'in your face' edgy and doesn't go with the graceful lines of Egyptian style or Turkish cabaret...even American cabaret. SO...yes...you have to make some adjustments for it...It doesn't mean that you cannot HAVE a career, it just means that you have to make concessions to create that "fantasy" look that is yours and yours alone...you may lose some jobs, but...heck...you could lose jobs for almost any reason...so study well, study long and hard and make our community proud!
Now...having said that...I want to address the deragatory words used to describe ink and the people who have ink...it is childish, unfair, uncalled for and bigoted. Knock it off.
 

Afrit

New member
I never had an issue with any Middle Eastern client, audience or club owner regarding my tattoos...ever.
Born there? or in the States? Certainly in Sydney those born in Lebanon and who emigrated as adults find it very offensive.
Now...having said that...I want to address the deragatory words used to describe ink and the people who have ink...it is childish, unfair, uncalled for and bigoted. Knock it off.
Mmm, so hair removal is grooming but permanently defacing the skin is personal choice?
 

Gia al Qamar

New member
Born there? or in the States? Certainly in Sydney those born in Lebanon and who emigrated as adults find it very offensive.

Mmm, so hair removal is grooming but permanently defacing the skin is personal choice?
Ummm...what?
My comments were about my personal experience as a pro dancer...in my decades performing, *I* have never had an issue.
With regard to your odd foray into grooming and hair removal...I don't understand...at all. And your choice of the word 'defacing' tells me that you have far more invested in my personal choices than I like...
 
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Erik

New member
After a year, you will probably be ready for a student show or hafla. Give another 4 years or so (with a steady, suitable teacher) before hitting the paying gigs.
In studying belly dance over the Web in the last eight years I have noticed quite accidentally two similarities between belly dancers and airplane pilots.

#1 Both require an extensive number of people in the background to enable them to do what they do.

#2 Both require a certain amount of time in practice before qualification, no matter how naturally one takes to it initially. [There are natural pilots, and there are average pilots who wobble and crash before getting it right.]

Emphasis in this case is on #2. Kashmir is right. Log your hours before you try to wear your wings.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
...my tattoos are very feminine and were placed in such a way that they LOOK like part of my 'fantasy costumed look'.
This does raise a VERY good point. Of my whopping entire two tattoos, one cannot readily be seen at any time (nape of neck, covered by hair) - and the other was "engineered" to add to my costuming (lower back). Both display beauty - they're pretty.

If I had the "usual dude tattoos", it wouldn't work as well. In areas where a dancer might have problems with tattoos - s/he'll have far more if they're flaming skulls or somesuch ugliness, instead of something to enhance hir beauty.

Gia's tattoos enhance her beauty - as it should be.
 
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