What you need to know to be pro dancer?

Aziyade

Well-known member
Spin off from the Amora thread:

So we often complain about the ill-prepared student or the 6-week wonder who tries to get the job at the restaurant. Many of the posters here have been working professionally for 10+ years, and have studied the dance for more.

What is the absolute bare minimum of knowledge a dancer needs to know in order to be a SUCCESSFUL professional performer? Let's say her goal is to dance in a nightclub or hotel. And let's say she wants to dance for a primarily Arab audience, rather than an audience of Westerners. Let's say she's a raw beginner with no formal dance training, and no special musical training.

We'll assume she's going to pick up a certain amount of knowledge on-the-job and with performance experience, but what would she need to know (if you were the hotel owner) in order to get that first job?

(In other words, is there a lot of stuff that we expect dancers to know that isn't really NECESSARY? A lot of us are fascinated by history, culture, music, region-specific folk dances, etc. But how much of that knowledge is TRULY relevant to the job of dancing?)

If you were creating a syllabus to train professional dancers (NOT teachers -- just dancers) what would be on it?



Another topic for discussion:

It has been suggested that we teachers spend too much time teaching students the basics, and that a professional course could be much shorter in length.

Teachers and students -- in your experience, how long does it take information given to really "sink in" ? Do you feel that an intensive course (where you were lectured or given instruction for 6+ hours a day) would allow the student to absorb more than if she were getting weekly shorter lessons? What is the shortest length of time you could expect for such a professional training program to take, assuming you started with a raw beginner?
 

Aziyade

Well-known member
Yasmina Ramzy's course info

Here's the general information for Yasmina Ramzy's Toronto-based Professional techniques course. Note that she will only accept already established dancers, not beginners, and her program is 60 hours over 2 weeks:

Course Elements

Technique Refinement
Improvisation
Musicality
Creating Choreography
Character Portrayal
Personal Feedback
Showmanship
Costuming
History
Marketing
Stage Presence
Personal Coaching

Limit of 10 students per session

Professional Course is offered several times a year as an intensive 2-week course covering over 60 hours of class and performance.



The marketing and business end of it alone seems like that could easily be a 2-week course itself! When you are your own manager, the business end of being a professional is YOUR responsibility, and while you won't need an MBA, having some basic (and slightly beyond basic) understanding of marketing and good business practices is essential.
 

Aziyade

Well-known member
Hadia's program

Hadia's professional training program is 55 hours and consists of:

Choreography
Improvisational Skills
Baladi and Saidi Styles
Individual Choreographic Coaching
Technique Refinement
Rhythms
Musical Understanding and Interpreting
Audience Communication
Professionalism
Presentation Skills
Business Tips for Success


Some of this is open to intermediate dancers with no audition, other parts require an audition tape and are open only to professional dancers.
 

Aziyade

Well-known member
Amora's program

From her website, this is Amora Shams professional course, which is open to all starting levels. Course is 20 days long, 60 hours.


Initiation
1 class (3h)
Body posture – Pharaoh Dance The Philosophy, Physical and Esoteric Medicine in Belly Dance History of Belly Dance – From Origins till nowadays. Dancers Styles

Beginner
5 classes (15h)
Belly Dance Moves: Undulations, Hits & Shimmies Moving in the space – Combinations Saudi Arabian Dance Dance with your Belly: The Belly Roll

Intermediate
6 classes (18h)
Dance to the music – relation of the instruments with the body moves Be able to Improvise any Arabian song Baladi, Taxims & Solo Tabla Darbuka BD items: Cymbals, Veils & Double Veils

Avance
3 classes (9h)
Create your Choreographies Belly Dance Music structure and distribution Relation between dancers with live musicians BD items: Isis Wings & Cane Saidi Dance

Professional
3 classes (9h)
Tricks of the Trade: Make-up, sewing, travelling, marketing ... Preparing a professional show – CD’s & live musicians BD items: Sword & Candelabrum Dance with your Belly: Other Belly Moves

Specification
3 workshops of 2 hours each (6h)
Workshop with Folkloric Dance Teacher: Nubian Dance & Melaya Alexandrian Dance Workshop with Tanoura Sufi Dance teacher Workshop with a live Darbuka percussion player
 

shiradotnet

Well-known member
I would tell the would-be professional dancer that there are multiple levels of achievement needed, each qualifying you for a certain type of job.

Let's assume the dancer has already mastered student-level dancing in haflas and free stuff like county fairs.

These include:

1. Dancing short little 10-minute sets for the non-Arab general public (birthday parties, certain restaurants, etc.)

2. Dancing 20-30 minute sets for Arab audiences in high-end Arab nightspots (hotels, certain restaurants, etc.)

3. Dancing 20-30 minute sets for Arab weddings

An ambitious dancer could start doing gigs in category #1 while building the skills for #2, and then in turn she can start doing gigs in category #2 while building the skills for #3.
 

Aniseteph

New member
Even the student-level performance is going to take a couple of years IMO, if you are going to make a decent job of it technically AND have the background knowledge not to come over as Captain Clueless when left to your own devices.
 

Amulya

Moderator
Add: knowledge of music and checking translations. Tell them about things that a dancer should never do. Educate about costuming.

No one ever teaches about marketing, I don't know any teacher who does. If they know: let me know, can never know enough about marketing!
 

Aziyade

Well-known member
No one ever teaches about marketing, I don't know any teacher who does. If they know: let me know, can never know enough about marketing!
Yasmina Ramzy, Hadia, and Michelle Joyce (of Cheeky Girls fame) include marketing in their training programs or workshops.
 

shiradotnet

Well-known member
No one ever teaches about marketing, I don't know any teacher who does. If they know: let me know, can never know enough about marketing!
Being devil's advocate here... why should a DANCE teacher be expected to teach MARKETING?

If someone wants to learn business skills such as marketing, accounting, sales, etc., why not take classes in those things from a local college or vocational school? The principles of business are the same regardless of whether you're talking about belly dancing, plumbing, retailing, etc. With respect to marketing in particular, the 4 P's apply regardless of whether you're a belly dancer or something else (Price, Place, Product, Promotion).

Being a professional belly dancer = RUNNING A BUSINESS.
 

Aziyade

Well-known member
Being devil's advocate here... why should a DANCE teacher be expected to teach MARKETING?
For a professional program, I would assume the teacher would cover as many aspects of professionalism as possible.

If you're an arts major, you take a class in arts marketing ( in most schools ) or something the equivalent of "working in your field 101."

?
 

shiradotnet

Well-known member
For a professional program, I would assume the teacher would cover as many aspects of professionalism as possible.

If you're an arts major, you take a class in arts marketing ( in most schools ) or something the equivalent of "working in your field 101."
I agree that an aspiring professional dancer needs instruction in business skills, including marketing, sales, and negotiation.

In the university I attended, the dance majors did take classes in business skills, but those classes were not taught by the Dance Department professors. Instead, those students went to the classes offered by the Business School, taught by business professors, attending the same classes as business majors and MBA students.

My point being that an expert dancer/instructor might have done some marketing somewhere in her career, but why not refer students to someone with more expertise to acquire that particular skill?
 

Amulya

Moderator
Yasmina Ramzy, Hadia, and Michelle Joyce (of Cheeky Girls fame) include marketing in their training programs or workshops.

That's cool! Cheeky Girls has a video on restaurant dancing, not sure if it includes a lot of marketing, but it includes a lot of other useful stuff.
 

Darshiva

Moderator
Add: knowledge of music and checking translations. Tell them about things that a dancer should never do. Educate about costuming.

No one ever teaches about marketing, I don't know any teacher who does. If they know: let me know, can never know enough about marketing!
Shemiran Ibrahim's course covers this nicely. Otherwise I'd probably recommend investing in a marketing course at TAFE.
 

Amulya

Moderator
Is TAFE good enough for belly dance? I can imagine belly dancers themselves could give specialized info. Although, I suspect that most teachers rather don't due to competition...
My own teachers were always very vague about it. Not that it was an issue for me; they forwarded gigs to me :)

Btw I think we have this topic covered somewhere here on OD
 

shiradotnet

Well-known member
(In other words, is there a lot of stuff that we expect dancers to know that isn't really NECESSARY? A lot of us are fascinated by history, culture, music, region-specific folk dances, etc. But how much of that knowledge is TRULY relevant to the job of dancing?)
She needs to know enough about culture to ensure that she is able to provide a show pleasing to the hypothetical Arab audiences you said she wants to dance for AND to interact appropriately with audience members. For example, she should know which hand gesture is the Arab equivalent of flipping the bird so she can avoid using it. She should know what a prayer rug looks like and why it would be a very, very bad idea to bring one out on stage to use for doing floor work. That kind of thing.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
So what hand gesture, etc? I don't know that I've ever learned that one. Fortunately dancing for ME audiences is not a common experience in Wyoming.
 
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