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  1. #1
    Established BHUZzer ambriehlmagycblade's Avatar
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    For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    I am writing an article, and I am interested in your take on what makes a dancer look professional, vs. looking amateurish? When you first see a dancer on stage, what do you notice? (as far as costume and appearance)

    Thank you for your opinions!

    Ambriehl
    Last edited by ambriehlmagycblade; 08-13-2010 at 08:34 AM.


  2. #2
    Ultimate BHUZzer shahla's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Two things come to mind right away.

    1.) Stage presence. Does the dancer make contact with the audience or is she staring at the floor in front of her. Does she look comfortable on stage.

    2.) Costume - It doesn't have to be a $1000 Bella, but does it fit the dancer nicely without having the look of being held together with safety pins and bubblegum.


  3. #3
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    What Shahla said. It doesn't have to be megabucks bling, but make an effort not to look like you just threw a bunch of random stuff together. Looking like a student dancer is fine if you're a baby dancer and it's your first show. If you're presenting yourself as a semi-serious performer (whether student, semi-pro or pro), make sure everything fits and flatters and looks well-made.

    Also, another pet peeve of mine. Your veil and accessories should compliment your costume, rather than clashing with it. If you are wearing a purple and orange costume, avoid using, say, a red, green and pink tie-dyed veil. It creates a jarring visual effect that distracts from your dancing.

    And grooming! Gah. There is nothing that drives me battier than when dancers show up to a venue with their hair half-damp from the shower, with chipped nail polish, and "office" makeup. If you don't look like a drag queen up close, you're not doing your stage makeup right!


  4. #4
    Advanced BHUZzer maurazebra's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    If you are talking about the first moment or two, then Posture. Of course, one could argue that a lot of what was mentioned above contributes to an attitude that produces good posture...


  5. #5
    Mega BHUZzer mahsati's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    I am going to say stage presence, confidence, and skill. I can generally recognize a professional dancer even if she/he is wearing jeans and a t-shirt just by the way they own their body's movements.

    While I think that professional level costuming helps to complete the pro look and is incredibly important on stage, it isn't what signals to me that someone is a pro.


  6. #6
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Zumarrad's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Poise.


  7. #7
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Oh, I skimmed through the first post (my bad, not enough coffee!) and thought this was a costuming-only thread, since it's in the Costumes forum. Not like it really matters, but we might have a more productive conversation if this thread were in The Rest

    I would definitely agree that stage presence is a biggie. Also, "damage control." If a dancer forgets her choreography or trips over a pile of hummus on the floor, she should seamlessly get back into her dancing as if it never happened. Even if she falls off the stage, she should get back up and keep dancing. I remember losing a belt at a film premiere back when I first started dancing professionally - it was literally one of my first pro gigs. I almost DIED. Happily, another more experienced dancer was there to help bail me out. But if this happened to me now, I probably would've laughed it off and been done with it in 5 seconds rather than turning into a deer in the headlights and letting the embarrassment affect my dancing for the rest of the show.


  8. #8
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    - Posture and technique
    - Good sense of musical interpretation
    - Depth of ability/experience that allows them to make something other than the easy or obvious artistic choices
    - Charismatic stage presence
    - Mature, ethical demeanor when conducting business or interacting with others
    - Flattering, occasion-appropriate grooming and wardrobe

    Stageworthy hair/makeup/costuming are what I consider "necessary, but not sufficient," because they are the only things on this list you can outright BUY. There are lots of performers who look like they deserve to be on stage when they're standing still, but as soon as they start dancing, they aren't. A true professional doesn't intentionally seek to be on stage looking less than their best, but a good dancer in hair curlers, a bathrobe, and no makeup can still out-perform a pretty dancer with crummy technique and no stage presence.


  9. #9
    Master BHUZzer danielabellydance's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    The first things I notice are poise (hunched back and "chicken wing" arms are a dead giveaway of someone who has not had enough training) and costume (no "bras with coins sewn on" unless you are a student and this is your first student show)

    I danced at a hookah bar a few times that refused to pay the going rate on a regular basis, so I told them I couldn't dance there anymore....on their website, they have pictures of their current dancers - all "chicken wing" girls wearing ACTUAL BRAS and hip scarves over chiffon skirts.

    Oy.


  10. #10
    Advanced BHUZzer Karnak's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    I am always impressed when the dancers have great stage presence. They need to be poised, confident, and their expressions need to look genuine. I think this would also include not just knowing the moves, but executing the moves with strength and grace too.

    As for costuming, the costume needs to be in good repair and it needs to fit. Big costuming issues distract me. I once saw a dancer whose shoulder straps on her bedlah top kept slipping off and the cups looked ill-fitting. I kept waiting for her top to slide right off during her dance. I can’t remember anything from her performance other than her distracting top and that when she leaned forward I was going to see a lot more of the dancer than I wanted.


  11. #11
    Advanced BHUZzer Karnak's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Quote Originally Posted by danielabellydance View Post
    The first things I notice are poise (hunched back and "chicken wing" arms are a dead giveaway of someone who has not had enough training) and costume (no "bras with coins sewn on" unless you are a student and this is your first student show)

    I danced at a hookah bar a few times that refused to pay the going rate on a regular basis, so I told them I couldn't dance there anymore....on their website, they have pictures of their current dancers - all "chicken wing" girls wearing ACTUAL BRAS and hip scarves over chiffon skirts.

    Oy.
    I don't even think lingerie bras with coins sewn on are okay for students when performing in public - I saw a troupe perform at a Renaissance festival with a bunch of new students who wore the costumes you described. They looked very tacky and I don't recall hearing or seeing any indication that they were new students. I'm sure a lot of people in the crowd walked away thinking that's what belly dancers look and dance like.


  12. #12
    Advanced BHUZzer caroline_afifi's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Peoples choice of music often tells me alot about them.


  13. #13
    Master BHUZzer danielabellydance's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Karnak View Post
    I don't even think lingerie bras with coins sewn on are okay for students when performing in public - I saw a troupe perform at a Renaissance festival with a bunch of new students who wore the costumes you described. They looked very tacky and I don't recall hearing or seeing any indication that they were new students. I'm sure a lot of people in the crowd walked away thinking that's what belly dancers look and dance like.
    OMG, a ren faire is NOT a student show! I think the "bras with coins" is only ok at a real "student recital" - as in "we are all only students and you, the audience, are all only our family and friends who don't mind seeing us in bras". No way should they be out in public in actual bras performing for strangers who don't know their skill level!


  14. #14
    Established BHUZzer ambriehlmagycblade's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Quote Originally Posted by SatinWorship19 View Post
    Oh, I skimmed through the first post (my bad, not enough coffee!) and thought this was a costuming-only thread, since it's in the Costumes forum. Not like it really matters, but we might have a more productive conversation if this thread were in The Rest
    Actually-I AM doing the article on costuming!!! This is why I put it in the costume section of the forum!!! You had it right, Satin!

    Carry on ladies, and be as specific as you'd like concerning costume/grooming!

    Ambriehl


  15. #15
    Ultimate BHUZzer shahla's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Here's another costume related item. Coverups. My first dancer teachers instilled upon us the importance of covering yourself with a coverup or veil of some sort when you are in your costume but not performing. We were bascially told that nobody should see you in your costume unless you are dancing. So, if you are greeting your audience to say a few words at the beginning of your show or seeing them out the door at the end, wear a coverup of some sort


  16. #16
    Ultimate BHUZzer shahla's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Oh, and bathing suit tops. That one drives me particularly nuts. I've seen new student dancers perform in bikini tops. I remember watching a student recital once a few years ago during which a student did a solo wearing a bikini top. The color was nice on her and it fit her in terms of being a bathing suit, but it was not suitable for performance and her teacher should have told her so.

    I was so distracted by worrying about her coming out of the top during her performance that I couldn't enjoy it.


  17. #17
    Official BHUZzer Anahit_Karyan's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Frankly, I think that someone looks more professional in an embellished L. Rose dance bra and skirt that fits them well, than in an expensive but poorly chosen costume. Fit and coordination are imperative. Each article of clothing should fit you properly, and flatter your body shape. The colors should flatter your skin tone, and should go together well. Even some expensive pro costumes I've seen have had some horrible color combinations.


  18. #18
    Master BHUZzer Michelle75's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    I feel the costume is the last thing that makes a dancer professional. She can dance in a Turkish Airport specail or a 2,000 professional costume and still have great posture, strong core, energy in the arms, confidence, musicality, etc.... It's not the costume at all.


  19. #19
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    In that case, a professional's costume:

    - Fits properly
    - Matches the style of song
    - Is appropriate for the venue
    - Is consistent with the level of the performer

    In the old days, you could often predict who was good by what they were wearing. Better dancers tended to have better costumes. If they made their own, it often reflected years of experience performing and making costumes, and if they didn't, it demonstrated that they traveled to the Middle East as part of their training and bought their costumes abroad, or they at least felt that it was important to spend money on clothing to reflect their station in the dance community. Now, since the advent of the Internet, a six-week wonder can be prancing around in a custom Bella--not fooling anyone who knows better by doing so, but Hollywood has well demonstrated that to the GP, if you've got a fancy costume, that must make you a good dancer.

    OTOH, when I see a good dancer in a bad costume (ill fitting, wrong for the style, cheap, ratty, whatever), I don't always assume this correlates to their dance ability--the proof is in the pudding on that--but it may say something that doesn't reflect favorably on them about their judgment or their financial savvy. (I'm not saying you shouldn't dance if you're poor, but rather, if you think all you can afford is a costume that looks like the dog chewed on it, maybe you should have looked into other possibilities before getting on stage, such as borrowing a costume from someone else, or finding a better deal for your limited cash. For example, building a tribute performance to Fifi around a new, $30 man's galabeya looks much more professional than spending the same amount of money on a hand-me-down bedlah with the finish worn off the sequins.)


  20. #20
    Established BHUZzer jmdruadh's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Quote Originally Posted by ambriehlmagycblade View Post
    Carry on ladies, and be as specific as you'd like concerning costume/grooming!
    Here's what makes a dancer's appearance professional:

    - her costume fits, is flattering, and is in good repair

    - shows an appropriate amount of flesh for the venue/occasion
    (and never any more than she intends)

    - she's wearing sufficient accessories
    (At a minimum, she should wear earrings and either armlets or bracelets. A necklace usually helps.)

    - all the pieces of her costume and accessories coordinate or complement each other
    (For example, if you're wearing a gold bedleh, don't wear silver jewelry. If your veil isn't the same color as the costume, it should contrast in a pleasing way.)

    - all the items you're wearing are of similar "dressiness"
    (i.e., don't wear your folkloric antiqued coin necklace with a blingy rhinestone costume)

    - she's wearing actual stage makeup
    (A common newbie mistake is to wear evening makeup. A dancer needs to wear true stage makeup to overcome the distance & lighting of the stage, to appear more glamorous than the party guests, and to help her expression read to the audience.)

    - her hairstyle is as dressy as the costume
    (I have been guilty of this, but it makes a huge difference.)

    - the costume isn't bolder than the stage presence of the dancer
    (For example, Jillina's crazy pink costume with the stuffed snake. On most other dancers, it would look like the costume was wearing them, but she pulls it off.)

    - the costume is appropriate for the level of the dancer
    (Costuming tells the audience what to expect, and if the dancer delivers something else, they'll be uncomfortable. A newbie dancing in a Sim looks like she's playing dress-up. But put the same dancer in a nice choli, hipscarf, circle skirt and jewelry, and you'll focus on her dancing. This is not to say that students should buy junk, but they should avoid straying too far from their current level.)


  21. #21
    Advanced BHUZzer yameyameyame's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Quote Originally Posted by mahsati View Post
    I am going to say stage presence, confidence, and skill. I can generally recognize a professional dancer even if she/he is wearing jeans and a t-shirt just by the way they own their body's movements.

    While I think that professional level costuming helps to complete the pro look and is incredibly important on stage, it isn't what signals to me that someone is a pro.
    This. A million times.


  22. #22
    Established BHUZzer CFerhat's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Professionals are able to objectively examine every aspect of their appearance and evaluate what enhances versus distracts from their performance. Amateurs often do not have the experience or objectivity to do this.


  23. #23
    Ultimate BHUZzer laura 2's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Quote Originally Posted by jmdruadh View Post
    - she's wearing sufficient accessories
    (At a minimum, she should wear earrings and either armlets or bracelets. A necklace usually helps.)

    - all the pieces of her costume and accessories coordinate or complement each other
    (For example, if you're wearing a gold bedleh, don't wear silver jewelry. If your veil isn't the same color as the costume, it should contrast in a pleasing way.)
    If we're talking just appearance, proper accessorizing is something I feel really puts the finishing touch on an overall polished look. You really need (IMO) something to continue the costume to your head and arms. Otherwise, much like with pedestrian hair and makeup, it looks rather like you just slapped on a costume and wandered in the door 10 minutes later. I think proper accessories say "I really put a lot of time and thought into looking my best for the audience tonight."

    Oh, and ITA on the cover-up. In fact, I'll go so far as to say I think professional dancers should all own an actual cover-up (I have three of varying weights for different seasons), and not default to veil wrapping. ducks flying tomatoes


  24. #24
    Advanced BHUZzer LiesaB.'s Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Arms.
    According to your body type & style:
    decorated (or not) accordingly; full of carriage, poise, power, energy; part of the dance & music without aimless motion. For me, one of the big dividing lines between amateur & professional in intent & presentation.


  25. #25
    Advanced BHUZzer LiesaB.'s Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    And, to add to other comments:
    Just an example: a true professional or shall we say top-level dancer putting on a hip scarf over jeans when asked to do an impromptu as a "treat" for guests, whether at a casual hafla or nightclub, is still a professional. (thinking of Ava Fleming)/In this type of case, the persona of the dancers carries no matter what the costume.

    But, if you are wearing a costume in the first place, the standards of fit, appropriateness, harmonizing, etc. certainly apply.
    Some professionals make awful costumes choices to some of us, Nagwa's crab-grabbing-boob bedlah springs to mind...that doesn't mean she is suddenly no longer a professional.
    Same for Jillian's snake costume. For me, it totally takes away from her dance because for my personal taste, I don't like it. If you like it, that is fine. She is still a professional and a great dancer.
    Maybe we mean, before you are "famous", here are some rules to break at your own risk! lol


  26. #26
    Ultimate BHUZzer steffib's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    In terms of off-stage appearance, a big "me too" on the coverup. It just makes such a difference to see a nice coat! And, add to that the whole transportation and storage equipment, bags, suitcases, etc.

    I recall that e.g. Fatihem impressed me when she came to a workshop (in a very rustic settinng) pulling a little suitcase with rolls that had all her things in it - and it was color-coordinated with her entire appearance. She was a professional from the time she walked up to the room to the moment she walked out of sight.


  27. #27
    Advanced BHUZzer LiesaB.'s Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Quote Originally Posted by steffib View Post
    In terms of off-stage appearance, a big "me too" on the coverup. It just makes such a difference to see a nice coat! And, add to that the whole transportation and storage equipment, bags, suitcases, etc.

    I recall that e.g. Fatihem impressed me when she came to a workshop (in a very rustic settinng) pulling a little suitcase with rolls that had all her things in it - and it was color-coordinated with her entire appearance. She was a professional from the time she walked up to the room to the moment she walked out of sight.
    Nice!


  28. #28
    Mega BHUZzer mahsati's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Quote Originally Posted by ambriehlmagycblade View Post
    Actually-I AM doing the article on costuming!!! This is why I put it in the costume section of the forum!!! You had it right, Satin!

    Carry on ladies, and be as specific as you'd like concerning costume/grooming!

    Ambriehl
    For costuming, in order of importance for me
    1) Fit
    2) Condition
    3) Style
    4) Materials

    I like to see a finished product head-to-toe with coordinating accessories. :)


  29. #29
    Ultimate BHUZzer lizajuk's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Leave any idea of fun,
    self-therapy
    personal empowerment
    at the stage door.
    If people are paying to see you this is not about YOU!
    Back stage take no more time and space than you need (not want).


  30. #30
    Advanced BHUZzer raqFariha's Avatar
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    Re: For an article: What makes a dancer look professional, vs. amateurish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michelle75 View Post
    I feel the costume is the last thing that makes a dancer professional. She can dance in a Turkish Airport specail or a 2,000 professional costume and still have great posture, strong core, energy in the arms, confidence, musicality, etc.... It's not the costume at all.
    this.
    the way i put it, costuming is the frame around a work of art. your dancing is the art and it will speak for it's self, taking the time to frame it well just shows that you care about presentation and about protecting the art (in the care of glass, maybe UV filtering, over a painting) the Mona Lisa was a masterpiece before it was framed and hung up.


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