Stage Name Mystique

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
Stage names: many of us have them. Most dancers take on Arabic names while others take on Gypsy, Turkish, Greek, Hungarian, etc. What do you say to people when they ask you if you really are that nationality? You want to keep the mystique without downright lying, so how do you answer?
 

Safran

New member
I have only gotten the nationality question once, in Egypt (apparently a family in the audience had made a bet who can guess where I'm from. Options were Russian, English or Egyptian. I was sad to tell them that they all lost :D). However, when being asked if Safran is my "civil" name, I always tell the truth. Besides, the studio/agency where I am working in now, we have a tendency to present the stage name and "civil" name together.
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
I have noticed that if a dancer has an Arab stage name, no one will ask her if she's Middle Eastern, but if they use a Greek, Turkish, Russian, etc. name, they get questions about that nationality left and right. I am not just one nationality, so I say "I am everything" and even something similar to Shanazal where I say "When I'm onstage, I am Fotia 100%" and then they look at me like what??? But I really don't want to get into all that; I'd rather just like to keep it simple.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
"I'm a FAKE Greek." is what I tell people. I love Greece and all things Greek, but I'm a Euro-mutt. Anything/everything EXCEPT Greek. I kinda adopted the whole thing, if that makes any sense...

It helps that I can speak enough Greek to be dangerous.
 

Duvet

Member
I've never claimed to be anything other than an Englishman.

My stagename does not conjure up images of mystique or excoticism, but I have still been asked if I'm Arabic/Egyptian. I think that is fueled by curiosity - the quest to understand or accept why a bloke would be bellydancing; one answer being, "Well, he must come from that country, so it must be part of his culture". As it isn't part of my culture, and I'm aware of the surprise that a male bellydancer can be met with, I'm happy to spread the word that Middle Eastern dance is not the exclusive preserve of Middle Eastern women (whether those women are really Middle Eastern, or pretend).

But then I'm not a professional, so destroying that mystique won't loose me any gigs or fans!
 

Roshanna

New member
I have been asked where I'm from quite a few times lately whilst 'on the job' - I always just answer truthfully. I'm originally from the southwest of England and still have a bit of a pirate/farmer accent, so nobody is likely to believe I'm Arabic once I open my mouth in any case ;)

A while ago one of the staff at a Lebanese restaurant asked where I was from, and was then quite impressed that I'd taken the time & effort to learn Arabic dance when I wasn't an Arab. So I don't see it as something to hide.
 

khanjar

New member
I have been asked where I'm from quite a few times lately whilst 'on the job' - I always just answer truthfully. I'm originally from the southwest of England and still have a bit of a pirate/farmer accent, so nobody is likely to believe I'm Arabic once I open my mouth in any case ;)

A while ago one of the staff at a Lebanese restaurant asked where I was from, and was then quite impressed that I'd taken the time & effort to learn Arabic dance when I wasn't an Arab. So I don't see it as something to hide.
Ah from the South West eh, but that would figure, those born here as soon as they can move up country as the rest of the country comes down here to live.
 

Duvet

Member
So thats three bellydancers in a row with a strong South-West connection. Can't think of a suitable catch line to that, but its interesting.
 

Nejmeh

New member
My answer is the same as in normal live, from Friesland(a rural province from the netherlands, my moms side is from there and I was born and raised there) That is where I am from, if someone asks what my decent is I am willing to tell (though sometimes I say Israel instead of Palestine, just not to get in a big discussion)
 

Munniko

New member
I think if I decide to perform professionally I will either use a stage name or my full first name because well what I go by now doesn't sound like a person you'd go to see dance. If anyone asked about my decent I would tell them honestly:lol: but most of the time that doesn't happen they just assume I'm white or sometimes Hispanic depending on the season and let that be.
 

SidraK

New member
I'm a pasty, green-eyed ginger, so I can't imagine that anyone would assume me to be from the ME or Mediterranean. While Sidra is a fairly generic name (I'm told that it has a Latin root, meaning shimmering or starlike, and therefore common meaning in several languages from the region), I also have the option of saying that I chose it because it's Spanish for cider...and I really like cider!

As student performers, the main reason we were encouraged to adopt a dance name was less mystique and more personal safety/anonymity when performing at public events, festivals, etc.
 

Samira_dncr

New member
I like to proudly acknowledge that I'm a good Scottish girl. They almost always blink their eyes and ask me, "no, really, what is your ancestry?" (as if I couldn't possibly be Scottish with that brown hair and olive complexion). It makes me laugh to blow the "mystique" right out of the water. :p
 

Marissa-Julia

New member
I'm glad I found this thread! One of my dance teachers requires her advanced students to take dance names for their security/privacy. Also, I think out of the respect for the ME and Mediterranean cultures, to avoid exploitation, etc.

I grappled with the idea of taking a stage name for a little bit and had finally settled on my own: even though I don't like my name, I just thought nothing else would fit. I'm naturally blonde (currently a ginger though), blue-eyed and very fair-skinned. So I thought taking a stage name would earn me no mystique whatsoever. In fact, I thought I might be laughed at for having such an unsuitable name, or I'd just look like a fake.

But now since a stage name is a requirement, I'm starting my name search again. Any suggestions?
 

Darshiva

Moderator
Tell your teacher that you are following in the footsteps of some great bellydancers and using your own name.

Some examples I can cite for you:

Jillina
Ava Fleming
Keti Sharif
Paola Blanton
Beata
Trisnasari
Suhaila Salimpour

This is just off the top of my head and without using middle eastern dancers as examples.


If using your own name is what you want to do, you should do that. As you can see from the examples above, there's no rule that says you have to use your last name as well, so if she requires anonymity you can not use your last name as a means of providing yourself with some distance between stage & self. But frankly, if someone wants to find you, they will find a way, stage name or not.
 

Mosaic

Super Moderator
I'm glad I found this thread! One of my dance teachers requires her advanced students to take dance names for their security/privacy. Also, I think out of the respect for the ME and Mediterranean cultures, to avoid exploitation, etc.

I grappled with the idea of taking a stage name for a little bit and had finally settled on my own: even though I don't like my name, I just thought nothing else would fit. I'm naturally blonde (currently a ginger though), blue-eyed and very fair-skinned. So I thought taking a stage name would earn me no mystique whatsoever. In fact, I thought I might be laughed at for having such an unsuitable name, or I'd just look like a fake.

But now since a stage name is a requirement, I'm starting my name search again. Any suggestions?
I agree with Darshiva, if you want to use your own name do so, but you can always take the Rissa from Marissa - Rissa is "different" & pretty but is still part of who you are:D (I like your name Marissa -Julia, it is a lovely name) You could also run with Rissa-Lia both are part of who you are:)
~Mosaic
 

Marissa-Julia

New member
Since it's a troupe I wouldn't want to cause trouble and be the only person to refuse a stage name :( But I thought the compromise could be that I only use the name whilst dancing with this group and use my own name when I eventually solo. And all of your suggestions are great ones :) Everyone calls me Riss or Rissa, so maybe I could incorporate that somehow.

As for my teacher, she's lovely and only wants the best for her students. But unfortunately you are correct...you can be found, stage name or not :(
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
I'm going to disagree with Darshiva. I personally know two dancers who were stalked by the same guy and they weren't the only ones. He has a thing for belly dancers and the stories I've heard of some of the stuff he's pulled... having a stage name did make a difference for some of the dancers nor is he the only wacko out there.

If you go professional by all means make the decision for yourself then whether to use your own name but in the meantime it sounds to me like your teacher is only concerned for your safety and has given you some good solid advice (and set a policy). Personally I would listen to her. I also like Shanazel's solution. The advantage of a made up name like that is not only is it quite personal to you you never have to worry about someone else having the same name. No one said your stage name had to be middle-eastern after all. ;)
 
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