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A Professional - Primer

By Salome

With the wide spread popularity of Belly dance comes a steady wave of enthusiasts eager to 'go pro'. I've seen all types, from the respectful and studious to those who proudly proclaim they have "never even had a lesson".

Professionals are held to a different set of standards than those who enjoy belly dance as a hobby. In this series we will explore what some of those standards are and how one might accomplish them.

A professional
  • Is highly trained
  • Commands polished, quality movement
  • Can make a seamless recovery
  • Uses stage space
  • Possesses a complete repertoire
  • Can perform as a soloist, in a duet or group
  • Improvises with ease
  • Can perform to live music
  • Possesses a sizeable music collection
  • Can play finger cymbals and has at least a basic knowledge of Near/Mid East rhythms
  • Possesses correct knowledge of the culture relating to Oriental dance
  • Understands the difference in style and correctly presents her/his style to the public
  • Possesses a collection of professional quality costumes
  • Possesses a basic knowledge of stage make up and appropriate costuming
  • Practices the ethics of performance
  • Practices the ethics of pricing
  • Possesses marketing tools Ė PR pictures, biography, resume, demo video
  • Possesses knowledge of industry standard practices - auditioning, contracts, pricing

    That may seem overwhelming but one does not take a year of once a week classes and then join the Bolshoi Ballet Company or a Broadway show. It takes years of dedicated application to become a professional. If developing said traits doesn't particularly speak to you then participating in the hobbyist circuit where performance is enjoyed on a more relaxed level may be more your cup of tea.

    Before we move on to "A Professional - Dance", let's explore why these traits are necessary. Chances are if you want to be a professional in this field itís something you feel very passionate about. Most likely you have respect for the dance and will desire the publicís respect. You will want to be taken seriously as an artist and be paid well for your performance. I think I can safely generalize when I say all dancers hold this position. Itís only AS professionals that we can collectively achieve these goals. If you have not yet developed as a professional in ethics, quality, and knowledge it will show and will only serve to keep prices down and public perception low for everyone, including you.