Here we go again...

Amulya

Moderator
I posted a picture elsewhere which said:

"I am an artist, this does not mean I work for free, I have bills just like you, thank you" This was a text printed on a shirt and think it was very appropriate for belly dance!

Anyway, I got a response from a beginner dancer:
"somethimes you have to work fro free when you are building up your experience. Unfortunitely art doesn't pay the bills."

I responded:
"I have never done that, it undermines the market and it will later be bad for you when prices have come down in general due to all the free stuff people offer.
Plus it might get very hard to charge more lateron when people know you first did it for free.
I noticed that with belly dance it's not an issue to ask for money and charge the regular fee like everybody does :) if venues don't want to pay, it is not worth it"

This is a person who dances for free everywhere, representing this dance in a wrong way (baby belly dancer, not yet able to execute movements right and does some sort of fusion on top of it)
 

gisela

Super Moderator
"somethimes you have to work fro free when you are building up your experience. Unfortunitely art doesn't pay the bills."

well being an artist in another area I kind of agree with her that sometimes the "working for free" is the only way (but there can be a reward in there somewhere along the way)... BUT... the point of this picture (I saw it on FB too) was that it sucks that it is like this and to point out to people that it isn't right that artists shouldn't get compensated for their work. So she totally missed the message, me thinks.
 

Starmouth

New member
My student troupe performs for free regularly, but only at community events (carnivals and the like) where EVERYBODY is performing for free. The events are free admission, so there is no income generated anywhere, and usually feature all kinds of dancers, kids theatre groups, singers, face painters, you name it. In those circumstances I think it is acceptable to perform for free.

If we stage a proper show in a professional setting we always charge. Or at any event that people pay to attend.
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
I dance for free when I am doing benefits but that's the idea - we are raising money for a benefit. But don't think I'll work a private gig for free. If she has to dance for free as a baby bellydancer, that's what haflas are for - to get experience in front of other dancers. Sometimes we've held haflas in restaurants that were still haflas - not a solo appearance, not even for a really good meal!
 

Aziyade

Well-known member
Choosing to donate a performance is one thing. I will donate performances and maybe even classes for animal-welfare organizations because I personally believe very much in those organizations. Donating involves invoicing for $0 and getting a receipt from the organization, so they understand what I'm actually doing.

Doing ANYTHING for free to "build up your experience" is bullshyte. The place for "free" design, or "free" concerts or whatever is college. Once you are in the pro market, price your stuff like everybody else. You don't see doctors offering "free" surgeries to build up their experience.

Send the silly woman this link:

Harlan Ellison -- Pay the Writer - YouTube
 

Amulya

Moderator
Donating performances are totally fine, I have one lined up for a big festival soon which is all done by volunteers, I have no issues with that. But this person does it at restaurants and gets free or discounted food. Well that's a different thing.

This same person tried to get me to teach for free for her and her friends... argh...

It basically comes down to when it's a gig that other dancers get paid for, then it's undercutting and ruining the market.
 

Pleasant dancer

New member
I posted a picture elsewhere which said:

"I am an artist, this does not mean I work for free, I have bills just like you, thank you" This was a text printed on a shirt and think it was very appropriate for belly dance!

Anyway, I got a response from a beginner dancer:
"somethimes you have to work fro free when you are building up your experience. Unfortunitely art doesn't pay the bills."

I think this is the problem; some people view their dancing as purely "art", i.e. they think "it's my art so I can do with it what I wish, give it away for free, etc." I don't think this attitude makes anyone value art any more than if they paid for it, but that's just my opinion.

This is a person who dances for free everywhere, representing this dance in a wrong way (baby belly dancer, not yet able to execute movements right and does some sort of fusion on top of it)

And that's the thing: who would actually pay her the going rate if they can get her for free? Not everyone values quality over quantity, and many organisers of events really don't know what quality is, or dare I say it, don't care.

I often think that people who undercut professional dancers/teachers have no real ideal of what it actually costs to provide good quality dancing/teaching (in monetary and other terms, e.g. training, insurance). They are in their own little cloud cuckoo land of enjoying themselves and producing their art with no concept of the potential damage to the concept of good quality belly dancing. It's hard enough out there for professionals to keep going, without this kind of disadvantage thrown in,

I have absolutely no problem with student groups performing for free at festivals, carnivals etc, that's where you cut your teeth re experience. But dancing for free at an event where the organiser is commercial, no, no, no.

Sorry for the rant, but I feel strongly about this. And I still haven't got the hang of doing multiple quotes yet, damn!;)
 

Amulya

Moderator
Multiple quotes is basically going back and forth copying quotes and editing your post. Hope that helps.

Wish this forum had the multiple quote button. Will ask the other mods about that :)
 

Aniseteph

New member
Someone here or on Bhuz made the point that if you dance for nothing the owner/organiser is paying more for the toilet paper than your performance.

I wouldn't expect an owner/organiser who doesn't care about belly dance to turn up their nose at free entertainment, but if you go along with it that's how much you are valuing your time and skill, IMO.
 

Amulya

Moderator
LOL at the toilet paper comment!

She commented on that video clip I posted on FB, maybe she felt that clip was meant for her :p
She said she'd only dance for free at charity events, but also said she dances for barter, what is that???
 

Darshiva

Moderator
That's dancing for food, goods or favours.

Eg: I've got this wonderful friend of mine who is both a jeweller & amateur photographer. She's been doing all my promotional photography (outside of the events I perform at) for free for years now & gives me free jewellery to add to my costumes/jewellery stash for dance because she wants to support & encourage what I do. So I am intending to return the favour by dancing in front of her shop at the local 'Turkish Bazaar' (note the inverted commas, this is the day when everyone drags their shops outside onto the street instead of keeping it inside). Ergo, I would be dancing for barter or returning a favour in kind.

I suspect that the lady in question is dancing for her dinner. I've done that before(my ex-teacher organised it & didn't tell me we were being paid in food until after I'd danced!), the audience isn't exactly appreciative of the work that went into it (threw food at us when the greek owners motioned for them to shower us with money) and I promised myself I'd never do something like that again.
 
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Taslin

New member
I feel your baby dancer "missed the bus" on her retort. So art isn't paying her bills and neither is Belly Dance...so what IS her point then? Other than to say "Hey i dance for free, but I'm not used to getting paid for any of my other art forms either".

Go do something that does pay you to pay the bills, and stop cheapening your art would be my advice. Doesn't mean you have to stop dance, but you have to put money in to dance to get money out of it. So why not put money into classes with another job, and then when you are ready to perform get paid what you are worth. < Is what i would say to a baby dancer dancing for nada.

She's only decreasing her worth, i dont understand how anyone would think that someone who has used your services for FREE will eventually want to pay you......that's just common sense to me.

As far as bartering: a photoshoot sounds like it could be of equal value to a performance. I'm sure we'd all dance for Bella's,lol. Hummus -not so much.
 

Amulya

Moderator
Darshiva, they threw food at you guys? As in food fight kind of way?

Dancing for food is just too cheap, I can understand if you are in an area where you don't get much contact with other dancers who can tell what to do and what not to do, that a baby dancer might make this mistake.
This baby dancer does some sort of circus tricks while dancing, something wil hoops, balls, whatever. I wish she'd focus on belly dance first. But I can't say much, just give hints.

Good barters are a great idea I think!

I am so glad I called up my teacher when I got my first gig so I could ask her about the fee. She said I had to ask $350 (it was a private event, birthday party) and I did. They paid, no isssues there. If I didn't ask, I probably would have charged less. A good teacher who is honest about these things and not jealous and trying to put you off if priceless!
 

Amulya

Moderator
Got some good news: she has decided to join a belly dance group and asked me to refer her to groups. I hope she finds what's she's looking for :)
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
It's like any walk of life where your vocation pays your bills. On my day job as a legal secretary, I have my share of woes, but I put up with thiings because I need the money. However, you have these other people who work to just get out of the house, and they usually are a pain because they mess up when the rest of us who are working for a living are trying to stand up for things when they go too far. But these hobby people tend to "scab in" if you get my drift, sort of like when the union is striking, and these "scabbers" just mess everything up.
 
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