Performer & Entertainer

Duvet

Member
When you dance in front of an audience (paying or otherwise) how do you view yourself as a dancer – as a performer, as an entertainer, both or something else?

For me, I've noticed that for years when I danced out and thought of myself as a performer it put pressure on myself relating to technique, stage craft, presence, form, authenticity, comparison with past performers, etc; all self-focused and self-critical. But when I recently started thinking of myself as an entertainer it felt much more relaxed. All the other stuff is still mega important (otherwise it could just be a circus act), but it put the focus on the audience and their reactions, rather than just on me. I guess I find it easier to please other people than to please myself!
 

Kashmir

New member
I'm an entertainer that uses dance to entertain. I don't do it for the audience but the non-technical parts are very important to me. For that reason when I watch other dancers a failure to connect with the music and audience is a bigger fault than a sloppy hip drop for me.
 

Duvet

Member
I'm an entertainer that uses dance to entertain. I don't do it for the audience but the non-technical parts are very important to me. For that reason when I watch other dancers a failure to connect with the music and audience is a bigger fault than a sloppy hip drop for me.
Can you explain that a bit more please? You entertain, but you don't do it for the audience? Do you mean you just do it for the applause? :) But when you are the audience you notice when the performer fails to connect with you as the audience, so dancing for the audience is important. Have I read it wrong?

IMO, as an entertainer or performer, the main focus, other than the music and dance, is the audience. Without the audience I'm just dancing for my own pleasure. With an audience, I'm sharing that pleasure. But if I see myself as a performer, then I'm there to educate them or to impart my skill (i.e. dance with correct technique, nuances and show how much I know), but as an entertainer (while all the technical stuff is still important) I'm there to make the dance accessible and more participatory. But this is my own opinion, and the way I interprete my labels for what I do in order to help me get out there infront of an audience. Other peoples ideas/labels might differ.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
When you dance in front of an audience (paying or otherwise) how do you view yourself as a dancer – as a performer, as an entertainer, both or something else?
I view myself as a dancer with an audience. :D

If the audience is entertained, I reckon that makes me an entertainer. If folks sit there glumly and stare into their mousaka while I dance, I become background noise. If my audience expects me to be making belly dance accessible/participatory/understandable, then I'm a teacher.
 

farasharaks

New member
I view myself as both an entertainer and performer, those two go hand in hand for me, that's just how I see it and what helps me mentally when I go onstage. Whatever mindset you choose to put yourself "in the mood" to dance in front of an audience is fine as long as it's positive and helps you become a better dancer. I think of it as I'm there to make people happy, they came to see a show and see me dance, I will dance to the best of my ability and make them happy, hence to entertain. I'm a performer so I'm also in my mind slightly acting if you will, I'm taking on this persona, this character, far removed from my real "at home" life, but this stage presence. I feel everyone has their own thing and whatever way makes them more comfortable with the experience is fine as long as it's positive. Just keep dancing and do what you do best, do what you love with all your heart; if the definition of it stresses you out, then just be you!
 

Leilah

New member
I think a performer is an artist demonstrating their hard won skills, which can be entertaining, but not always. An entertainer is making an emotional connection with their audience using their skills to do so.

I have noticed ever since I started watching belly dancers, that not every dancer is an entertainer. Some seem to dance for their own pleasure and we just "happen" to be watching. Others connect and respond to the audience and make the performance more of a group participation experience. As an audience member, I really do prefer an entertainer over a pure performer.
 

Jane

New member
It depends on what the audience wants, if I have an audience. A balloon delivery for Uncle Fred's birthday, a full stage production, a show in front of your belly dance peers, restaurant gig, demonstration at a cultural event, or an Arabic wedding all have different expectations. It's a professional dancer's job to meet those on a case by case basis.
 

Salome

Administrator
At this point in my life I would consider myself a performer rather than an entertainer. Entertaining is part of being a performer in that one element of being on stage is engaging the audience in a way that they become invested in the experience. They are entertained/engaged/experiencing, even building something with you.

To me being an entertainer first is more about catering to the crowd rather than performing your program. Any professional is going to evaluate where and who they are performing for and take those things into consideration when they prepare a program. So I don't mean that should be discounted. But entertaining to me is more about making choices that may not be your first choice artistically but it's the right choice for the venue... Because when you are there to entertain it's not necessarily about what you personally have to say/share but more about.... entertaining that crowd in a way that that crowd will be entertained.

I have done a lot of entertaining, at least I hope it was entertaining lol! And every bit of it is part of my dance story. But I would say in the last many years I have focused on opportunities that are performance centered because I feel more nourished and inspired in that space.
 
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