The Term Belly Dancer

LunaXJJ

New member
What's your opinion on people referring to themselves as belly dancers even though they aren't professional?

Do you think that a novice should call him/herself that?
Do you think you have to preform to be considered a belly dancer?

I believe that a belly dancer is someone who belly dances. Someone who has appreciation for it, and enjoys it. I'll never belly dance publicly, does that mean I'm not a belly dancer? I'd like to think not.
 

Darshiva

Moderator
I believe that once you are addicted to it, you might as well call yourself a bellydancer openly, because you are already in your heart. It's just a good idea to be open about your level of experience when asked.

No, you don't have to perform publicly to be a bellydancer, you just need to dance (and work on improving).
 

Mosaic

Super Moderator
In the first few years I always said I am learning bellydance, didn't actually say I was a bellydancer. I still say I am a student (perpetual student) of the dance and I that I also teach bellydance rather than say I am a Bd'er as I don't earn my living from dancing. But if someone who is learning calls themselves a Bd'er I don't lose any sleep over it but do wish they would clarify their level.
~Mosaic
 

Eshta

New member
I think the distinction is whether you call yourself a "professional" belly dancer or not. Professionals work as a belly dancer as all or a significant part of their living and are therefore paid to perform. That's a broad definition, but one I work with.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Millions and millions of people in the US call themselves baseball players even when they only play for the love of swatting a ball with a bat and running like hell to beat the throw to first. Why shouldn't millions of belly dance enthusiasts call themselves belly dancers even if no one throws money at them when they shimmy?

This is not something that keeps me up nights. ;)
 

Imeera

New member
I am a novice, well more of a beginner. I would say I was learning to belly dance, but I wouldn't call myself a belly dancer. Not until I have actually dance to a song with confidence. Also I wouldn't call myself a professional unless I actually performed a few times at least and continued doing so, not a one off. I think people most of the time just wants to be something, whether a belly dancer, baseball player, footballer or anything. But people will keep doing it because they are people even when they know otherwise. Its annoying, but what can you do?
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
I think the distinction is whether you call yourself a "professional" belly dancer or not. Professionals work as a belly dancer as all or a significant part of their living and are therefore paid to perform. That's a broad definition, but one I work with.
This. I first started calling myself a bellydancer after I did my first performance. However, the term "professional" came along a lot later, and I'm still hesitant to use it because, while I have been paid to perform, as well as having been asked to perform for benefits where we are billed as "professional," the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know.

I think you need to put a pronoun before the word bellydancer.
 

Kashmir

New member
I believe that a belly dancer is someone who belly dances. Someone who has appreciation for it, and enjoys it. I'll never belly dance publicly, does that mean I'm not a belly dancer?
I think there is a difference between being a belly dancer and being a professional belly dancer.

If someone actually belly dances (at home, with friends, alone or for paying clients) I, too, think they are a belly dancer. The proviso is they do actually belly dance. That is, they aren't a beginning student who is learning basic isolations. They aren't someone who has never learnt to belly dance but feels they have a belly dancing soul. They aren't club dancing with a bare belly or doing modern jazz in bedleh or adding a hip drop to salsa.
 

goddessyasaman

New member
I did'nt call myself a professional belly dancer till I had been dancing for like 12 years, I had started a business in teaching and performing, I think I had called myself a Belly dancer when I was dancing for abour 6 years I had about 4 different styles under my belt, but the time is different for everyone I think, some see it differently after all.
 

Eshta

New member
This. I first started calling myself a bellydancer after I did my first performance. However, the term "professional" came along a lot later, and I'm still hesitant to use it because, while I have been paid to perform, as well as having been asked to perform for benefits where we are billed as "professional," the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know.

I think you need to put a pronoun before the word bellydancer.
Lol Greek Bonfire, in an ironic twist, to a degree I think you only start getting near professional stage when you reach the point where you realise just how much there is that you still have yet to discover :lol:! If I think back to when I was just starting and I though that if I could just master the steps (which was hard enough!) I would be a 'proper' belly dancer!
 

TribalDancer

New member
I find bellydance to be unique in its proliferation of people calling themselves bellydancers at any stage in their dance--hobby or pro.

I never met someone who takes ballet classes once a week and calls themselves a ballet dancer.

I don't see people who take a computer programming class a couple times a week and tells people they are a compute programmer.

I don't see people who take race driving courses a few times a week and calls themselves a race driver.

Instead they "take ballet classes/study ballet", "do computer programming", or "enjoy race driving". Do you sew your own clothes, or are you a fashion designer? Do you like to learn and play with new makeup techniques, or are you a makeup artist?

While there are some linguistic exceptions, for the most part there is a distinction between someone who does something as a hobbyist--no matter how frequent or avid their studies--and a pro. And often the difference is in "I do" or "I study" instead of "I am a." For the most part, no matter how much one may enjoy these activities, no matter how much they may learn about the standards and practices of a given area of interest, in my experience, people don't tend to identify themselves AS something until/unless they do it professionally. It can be a side job to a primary profession; for instance, someone who cleans houses for a living, and sells a painting here and there might identify as a painter, even if they don't sell often and don't do it as their only job.

But in bellydance, it is so interesting how eager people are to identify AS a bellydancer. I have never been certain why that is such a strong pull in this versus other activities/hobbies/interests...
 
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Shanazel

Super Moderator
Because we're special. :dance:

If it looks like a belly dancer, moves like a belly dancer, and acts like a belly dancer, then it must be a belly dancer.
 

seona

New member
Because we're special. :dance:

If it looks like a belly dancer, moves like a belly dancer, and acts like a belly dancer, then it must be a belly dancer.
:clap:



To be honest, it's something I never think about. For me there is good dancing and bad dancing...despite your ''status''. I have seen some terrible dancing on youtube by dancers who label and promote themselves as professional and then again I have seen beautiful dancing by dancers who just dance because they love it. So from this example has the ''pro'' more of a right to call her self a bellydancer than the dancer who isn't a ''pro''? Even when the non-pro is a far better dancer? For me I enjoy watching dance, on the internet I like to watch good dancers whatever the level, and at haflas I enjoy all the dancing, experienced/student/pro/begineer/whatever.

I agree with Esta's post, it's the distinction of the labelling of a ''professional''.....
I dance because I love the music and love dancing, so, that's me, am I a belly dancer? Well I bellydance so......:think::lol:

Like Shazanel said, I too am not going to loose sleep over it :lol: I'm just me, doing my thing.
Interesting question though Luna
 
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TribalDancer

New member
I can change my oil and call myself a mechanic? Can I rearrange the furniture in my living room daily and call myself a decorator? Can I babysit my nephew and call myself a nanny? If I bathe and blow-dry my dog every week, can I call myself a groomer? Why is it automatically acceptable for bellydancers (and people take offense if it is suggested otherwise), but seems strange (and even delusional) in so many other instances?

Just because someone participates in an activity, does it then follow they should identify themselves as that generally?

I groom my dog, but I am not a groomer.
I work on my car, but I am not a mechanic.
Some people bellydance, but that doesn't make them a bellydancer.

That's my opinion. Yours may differ, and I take no offense at that. :)

:clap:



To be honest, it's something I never think about. For me there is good dancing and bad dancing...despite your ''status''. I have seen some terrible dancing on youtube by dancers who label and promote themselves as professional and then again I have seen beautiful dancing by dancers who just dance because they love it. So from this example has the ''pro'' more of a right to call her self a bellydancer than the dancer who isn't a ''pro''? Even when the non-pro is a far better dancer? For me I enjoy watching dance, on the internet I like to watch good dancers whatever the level, and at haflas I enjoy all the dancing, experienced/student/pro/begineer/whatever.

I agree with Esta's post, it's the distinction of the labelling of a ''professional''.....
I dance because I love the music and love dancing, so, that's me, am I a belly dancer? Well I bellydance so......:think::lol:

Like Shazanel said, I too am not going to loose sleep over it :lol: I'm just me, doing my thing.
Interesting question though Luna
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
Just because someone participates in an activity, does it then follow they should identify themselves as that generally?
Normally no, but in when it comes to the arts it isn't unusual. How many people put out student level oil paintings and then call themselves painters? The difference between them and the professionals is whether or not someone will pay for it though.
 

Crow

New member
Jane: LOL! :lol:

Ariadne: I agree, it seems that in the arts its a completely different story, so there's no use making comparisons with other professions.

I studied mathematics, but I am not a mathematician. I work programming computers, and I feel comfortable calling myself a programmer. It is after all my profession.

If you write poetry you are a poet. If you paint, even on weekends and badly, you are a painter. If you belly dance, you are a belly dancer. Don't ask me why, it must be something to do with the perception of your level of competence: If a layman asks me to calculate 245^3 and I come up with an answer, he'll say that I am very good with numbers, but he won't call me a mathematician. If on the other hand I tell him that I have just proved the Riemann hypothesis, well then maybe yes.

In contrast, to me (a complete two-left-footer) anyone who can show a reasonable level of coordination and choreography is a dancer. Maybe if I am really impressed I'll qualify it with a "professional", but that is generally reserved to those who make money out of their art.
 

seona

New member
Jane, that is toooo funny! :lol:
Tribaldancer, ditto, no offence taken either :D






With belly dance it seem's people can just learn the basics then get out there and charge, whatever the standard and without much training and there are no qualifications. I have actually changed the oil on my vehicle before (get me!) :D, but I know I wouldn't get a job in a garage, I'd be laughed out the door, and so on. I used that example in my last post to kind of highlight the fact that anyone can get a job as a b/dancer (not saying I agree...)
Despite that I have no problems if others identify as dancers, wether they dance for the love of it or for money, to each thier own, me personally I like to keep low and didn't tell anyone for years that I bdanced. It's not something I bring up randomly in conversation either if anyone asks I tell them I love to dance :dance:

Like I said in my other post it's something that I've never given thought to before.
 

Aziyade

Well-known member
I think if you really enjoy doing something and it becomes the primary focus of your free time, then you tend to call yourself that.

It's a little more intense with bellydance because there is that whole "community" that you discover once you start getting into it. Suddenly you are surrounded with PEOPLE JUST LIKE YOU!!!!! OMG!!!! And you want to self-identify with that group.

And for a lot of students, they may have been though the whole Western dance syllabus, and taken any number of art classes in various arts, but never found an art where they could REALLY express themselves until they found bellydance, and that kind of increases the "claim" they hold on the idea of the word.

I don't worry so much about it, because I usually meet two kinds of people: those who say "Oh I'm a bellydancer" and prance around like an idiot, and those who say "I'm a bellydancer and I took classes with X back in the day," or "I really enjoy Baligh Hamdy, don't you?" or something of that sort. The latter I can sit down with and have coffee and enjoy a good conversation. The former I try to quietly back away from.
 
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