The Devil's Details,
Show Ethics for Professionals
4 - What
NOT To Do
- Show up drunk or stoned. No more needs to be said.
try the newly burned CD before the party. There is
nothing worse than getting all the way to a job and finding
out your CD doesnít work and you donít have a back up.
your CD over without your name or a case. What if the
person playing the music puts it on a pile of all the other
unlabeled home-burned CDs he may have? If you are in a
multiple dancer show you may just have to perform to someone
elseís music. And you can forget about getting your CD
other music on the CD before or after your show music. Having
other music on your show CD tempts fate and Murphyís Law
and was mentioned above. If your CD has multiple tracks,
write the number of tracks for the DJ. It will help him
be prepared for the end of the show and your exit.
the musicians about music. Also discussed above, musicians
have a lot on their minds the night of a performance. If
you wait until then to talk to them, your chances of having
a meaningful conversation are slim. It is best to call
before the party or come prepared with a list of well-known
songs you know how to dance to.
the musicians out of tips. Donít fool yourself, they
see everything. They will never forgive you for it and
they will never trust you again. Plus your name will be
mud with all the musicians in town. Is a $20.00 dollar
bill worth the consequences?
last minute or not show up. This is another cardinal
sin of professional belly dance. Broken bones and a death
in the family are about the only legitimate excuses. Even
then it is your responsibility to find at least one sub
before you call in to announce the bad news. A cold, the
flu, a sick cat, a broken fingernail, a better paying job
elsewhereÖ are not good enough reasons. You may be the
best dancer in the world, but if you canít be relied upon
to show up for work no one will hire you. Word gets around
a sub you do not know. If you recommend someone for
a job, you should be able to vouch for their dancing ability
and their character. If you canít, it is better not to
put your reputation on the line. If you do refer a stranger,
Murphyís Law dictates that she will totally embarrass you
and the customer.
up late without calling. This too is unprofessional
behavior. If you are caught in traffic it is not the customerís
fault. It is better to deal with the problem quickly and
tell the truth. The owner or customer may be able to delay
or rearrange the show for you if they know exactly when
you will arrive. Or they may not have room at any other
time and you can turn around and go home. Assume
the consequences. Liars are always caught eventually
after your show when you donít have to. It ruins the
mystique. It implies you have nothing better to do than
sit in a bar all night. How exotic is that?
or be too friendly with guests/customers you donít know. This
only reinforces the idea of belly dancer as prostitute.
You shouldnít have to sit and open bottles for a good wage,
not in the US at any rate. It is one thing to go over and
say hello if customers ask for you. Weddings and private
parties are often arranged in this way. It is quite another
thing to spend the evening with strangers. It signals to
all the regulars that you will sit with them too. And if
you donít, the club may loose their business. Check your
motives. Are you working or are you playing the diva and
flirting with customers? If the later is the case, go home
and save your charms for when you are on stage.
only to men or flirt with womenís dates without their permission. Donít
ruin the night out for the lady. The guy may like the attention
while heís getting it, but he wonít get anything else for
the rest of the evening from his companion except grief.
He certainly will remember that and wonít bring another
date back to the restaurant. Your employer loses a customer
and if it happens often enough, you will lose your job.
Put yourself in the ladyís shoes. Would you want someone
coming on to your husband or boyfriend?
that the show is about you Ė it is about, for and paid
for by the audience. Star behavior only turns off customers.
They want to have a good time, not be constantly reminded
of your magnificence.
facial expressions or movements that are not appropriate
to the audience. Again, dance for yourself in the mirror. Do
you use any facial expressions that might offend women
or children? Sticking your tongue out, even a little, is
never a good idea. Do you have any muscle ticks or nervous
habits that might come out under stressful conditions? Filming
your self during a performance is always a good idea.
bad things about other dancers or musicians to the people
you work with or to customers. What goes around comes
around. You never know when your words will come back to
haunt you. Itís best not to get involved. Remember that
there are at least 2 sides to every story.
to make the musicians look bad while you are dancing on
stage. I went over this above. Making a scene only
makes you look amateur and petty. Itís better to deal with
snafus gracefully and go on with the show. Donít make your
problem the audienceís problem. Smiling through disaster
will make you look the professional and endear you to the
band when you address it nicely later.
finger cymbals off beat. If you canít play them well,
donít play them at all, particularly if you are working
with a band. You will throw them off beat and then the
music will really sound dreadful.
your veil in the middle of the stage or where you will
step on it. A veil on the floor is distracting. Audience
members will watch it and wonder how long before you trip
on it. And trip on it, you will. Thatís Murphyís Law.
a prop you are not good at. Why set yourself up for
failure? Try to be objective about your dancing ability
and your skill level with the prop.
a song you donít know what the lyrics mean. If you
are performing in front of an audience that understands
the lyrics of your song and you donít, you could insult
them without even knowing it. I once witnessed an extremely
famous American belly dancer doing Ďhappy, happy, joy,
joyí to one of Om Kalthoumís saddest songs. I was offended.
I can only imagine what someone growing up with the music
a plastic smile. If youíre not happy dancing you should
reassess your reasons for performing. If you are happy,
let the joy shine on your face. But your joy must look
real, not fake. Watch yourself in the mirror when you practice.
Smile at yourself. Get used to how a real smile feels.
It is not etched in stone. It comes and goes.
a belt where the back gaps. Make a thread casing
for elastic and sew it either on the sides or in the back
of the belt. Men may think they want to see your crack,
but not really. They certainly donít want to see your underwear
or the safety pin that attaches your skirt to your belt.
Certainly women donít want to see any of it.
a bra that doesnít fit. Gaping holes between the cups
and your skin are not pretty. Besides your nipples, they
show you couldnít adjust your costume properly or that
you didnít know how. If you canít do it yourself,
pay someone else to do it. Donít think no one will noticeÖ
Sagging and Ďsports-bra-smashí are not flattering either.
Look for healthy cleavage but not overflow Ė either over
the top, under the bottom or out the sides. Check
that the back strap is snug, so you donít fall out when
things really start to jiggle.
the profession without guidance. In this day and age
there are many wonderful professional dancers and experienced
teachers all over the world that newcomers can go to for
advice. Besides answering your questions, they can also
boost you up when the going gets rough and to see reality
when you have blinders on. Ask what the going rate for
a show is in your area. Find out the places not to work
and why. Learn who the other working dancers are in your
city and go see them perform. Are you up to their standard?
Are there any professional associations you can join, a
newsletter to subscribe to, any Internet list serves to
belong to? Donít be too shy or too proud to ask for help.
Knowledge is power, and it just may save your life. Donít
kid yourself. This can be a dangerous profession. You owe
it to yourself to do research.
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Devil's Details, Show Ethics for Professionals, Part 1- Booking
a Party by Yasmin
When a dancer looks
good, she, or another, will get called back to perform again. When
she looks bad, customers might be turned off to our lovely art form
forever. Therefore, a bad dancer not only ruins things for herself,
but for all of us
Devil's Details, Show Ethics for Professionals, Part
2- The Cross Cultural Factor by Yasmin
Devil's Details, Show Ethics for Professionals,
Part 3- Separating the Girls from the Women by
Copyright Law for Belly Dancers (or for any Performing
Artist by Yasmin
Hollywood blockbuster movies down to clips on YouTube the law is
the same and it applies to anyone who uses someone else’s
music for their own purposes.
International Belly Dance Congress told by Salwa
of Belgium and the winner of the contest professional
September 28-30, 2007, in Bogner Regis, England Gala photos provided by Josephine
Wise, others by author.
being able to prepare my planned choreography properly for the
Oum Kalthoum song, which is not easy to interpret to begin with,
I quickly turned to emotions in order to fill up the space.
Textiles Part 3: Creating Your Unique Statement by
is possible that you may never have performed professionally
while wearing a lampshade on your head…but I have!
for Middle Eastern Belly Dancers, Is a 501c3 Right
for You? by Dawn Devine
understanding the nature of non-profits, how they are organized
and run, you can see their potential for developing successful
arts organization, performance space, dance company or troupe.
Not Me; it’s You: Toxic People and What to do
About Them by Taaj
problem is, sometimes it’s hard for a reasonable person
to tell if she or he is under attack by a toxic person who intends
Web Apps for Busy Dancers by Asim
part of my day job is to keep up with technical information,
I thought I would write about three free useful online services
for busy dancers, and see if these can give you a hand—without
killing your Bella Budget!
Have All The Cover-ups Gone? by Ashiya and Naajidah
happened to professionalism? Mystery? Decorum and good taste?
Taking It to the Next Level by Piper
people think that performing is a way for egotistical show-offs
to get attention. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A
true performer entertains her audience, doing her best to make
sure everyone is having a good time. What could be more generous