Hobbyist CircuitBy Salome
Most students desire a graduation from the classroom to personal expression and draw the conclusion that the professional market is the next step. Like any craft, Oriental dance has an ABC order of progression. If you are at the point of putting theory into practice the next logical step is to participate in the hobbyist circuit.
The hobbyist circuit is developed by guilds, instructors, dancers, and students. It consists of recitals, showcases, seminar-shows, annual productions, dance festivals, and similar events. The hobbyist circuit provides a valuable service for everyone in the dance community. It offers students and hobbyists the opportunity to perform, it provides budding professionals the chance to hone their skills and it gives accomplished professionals a promotional outlet.
If there is no readily apparent hobbyist circuit in your community;
If all else fails or you are feeling industrious try creating a performance venue yourself.
Choose a venue for the hafla, a dance studio, city arts center, or even your own back yard may do. Plan an itinerary. You may find music enthusiasts who would be glad to bring a tabla or two and add to the atmosphere. Lead a line dance. It’s a fun ice breaker and a good way to establish a community feeling. Include an “open floor” time for party goers to dance. Perform yourself and offer the opportunity to your classmates, local instructors and others in the dance community. Make flyers and ask those participating to distribute them to friends, family and the dance community.
Choose a venue for the recital, a dance studio, city arts center, school, or room at a Unitarian church can be of minimal cost or possibly free. Arrange for sound equipment and a volunteer to MC and operate the sound equipment. Dress up the room with fabric and other decorations.
Organizing a recital alone may be more stress than you bargain for. Ask peers and/or your mentor to participate behind the scenes. A recital can showcase solo performance, student troupe performance and instructor performance. Encourage instructors and their students in your local and neighboring area to participate in the recital.
Make flyers and ask those participating in the recital to distribute them. Post flyers in your local and neighboring area and at the recital venue. You can also list the recital on-line, see Belly Dance Events
Public service performance
I highly recommend senior centers, nursing homes and retirement villages. Many elderly people in these communities are isolated and often lonely. Your performance will be a shinning event that will elevate the soul. Call a facility, ask for the events coordinator, and explain you and/or your peers would like to give a gratis performance for the facility residents. They will almost always welcome and accommodate.
Ongoing performance venue
Dance guilds generally maintain an ongoing performance venue for their members. It takes a fair measure of work and carries more responsibility than one person typically has time for. It isn’t necessary to form an official organization but I would suggest banding together with several people who would like to accomplish the same goal.
Hobbyist forums usually take place in a coffee house, cafe, deli or similar eatery. Visit the options available, look at the layout, the clientele (“Big Bob’s Truck Stop” may not be appropriate) and if there is an area that can serve as a “green room”.
Once you choose a venue, approach the establishment with your proposition. Have a clear vision that you can relate. Explain who you are, what you want to do, when you want to do it, why and how. It might go something like this:
My name is Rose Rivera. I am an advanced student of Oriental Dance. My peers and I would like to have a performance outlet, the first Wednesday of every month for an hour at your establishment. The purpose is to provide performance experience for the hobbyist dance community here in anytown, U.S.A. You can expect X number of dancers to perform a family suitable Oriental dance program.
Do not approach a venue that employs professional dancers. Business is business. Management is unlikely to pay for what they can get for free. Start small, schedule one performance night per month. Arrange for a friend, family member or dancer (that isn’t performing that night) to MC the show. The MC can announce each dancer, and a brief related statement about her or him. An audience tends to be more receptive and supportive if they understand the context of the show. The MC can also operate the sound equipment. Create a set list ahead of time, and post it in the “green room”. Contact a guild/organization that maintains an ongoing performance venue for detailed advice.
Whether a party, recital, one time or ongoing show, if you can stay organized, ask for help and keep a sense of humor you should succeed. Good luck!