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Thread: Turning pro - what do I need?




  1. #1
    Official BHUZzer Delial's Avatar
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    Turning pro - what do I need?

    I've been studying belly dance for a while (6 years). I've signed myself up for some showcases and wondering if anyone could give my a list of things I need as a new professional, some tips on getting out there, becoming known (amongst potential clients and belly dance community), do's and don'ts for the newbie pro etc


  2. #2
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Ooooooooh, this would be a good topic for me to blog about. A lot of my baby-dancer friends have been asking me for info on the life of the pro entertainer and it's hard to squeeze it into one post

    Where to start? The first thing I'd seek out is an established pro to show you the ropes. Do you have a good teacher or a more experienced friend who might be willing to take you under their wing?


  3. #3
    Official BHUZzer Amira_Siddiqah's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Heya.The leaning [on formats, etc] is for my local market here in South Africa, but I think you may still find a lot of useful stuff in some of my articles on the subject:

    Shimmer | Explore the art of Belly Dance. Discover a new you!

    'Dancing out' and 'When good shows go BAD' will both be of help, I hope.


  4. #4
    Master BHUZzer shems's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    I'd find a mentor and connect with other professionals in your area. That kind of a network will be your greatest support and will keep you from making a lot of mistakes. There is a lot of reading you can do online, to help you be smart about the many, many things you need to know to be a pro dancer. Here's a start:

    performing and professionalism

    Standard rates and professional links and guidelines

    belly dance rates

    Nile Breeze Dance Company

    Seriously, connect yourself to other professional dancers, find somebody trustworthy, experienced and professional you can turn to for advice and information. It will be the best thing you can do for yourself as an aspiring pro.


  5. #5
    Official BHUZzer Delial's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    does the mentor have to be a teacher you regularly have classes with or a performer who's style you admire? How does mentoring work exactly (do you pay them at regular intervals, is it private classes etc)?

    Satinworship I would love to read the blog/article when you're done.


  6. #6
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Mentoring is usually done by your teacher. You don't typically pay someone for the actual mentoring -- you pay her for classes or privates, but the mentoring is an informal relationship.

    If there's a dancer in your area who you'd choose to usher you into the world of professional dance, I'd contact her and say 'I've been dancing 6 years, I'm interested in going pro. My current teacher is great, but she isn't able to guide me in that area (or whatever, I wouldn't give a lot of info here). I like the way you do things and I wonder if I could set up some private lessons to work with you and pick your brain about professional dancing?'

    There are pros who enjoy mentoring and those who feel threatened by up-and-coming youngsters. Don't commit -- or ask her to commit -- to too much early on. Take things slowly. This can be a sensitive relationship, and the pro is opening herself up to having a younger dancer steal all her clients and gigs -- if she's been hurt in the past she may be gunshy or seem discouraging. Give yourselves both time to feel each other out.


    Above all, keep in mind that what you're REALLY asking is for her to train you to be her own competition. For this reason, it's very VERY smart to choose a dancer who is retired from public performance but still teaches. These dancers often really enjoy mentoring and continue to 'compete' with the other local dancers by seeing who can polish the next shining star!

    The other option, and a very good one, is to choose the troupe that gets the most pro work in your area. The director of THAT troupe, if she likes your work and feels like you'd be a good 'fit' can guide you. Hardworking troupes are often eager to have reliable professional subs on hand -- which can grow into becoming a full-fledged pro member -- but will choose mostly their own students because they know them well.

    So, start by setting up one private lesson and bring a buttload of questions to that lesson. Start with questions that are less sensitive -- what marketing materials do I need? How many costumes? What kind of music do private parties like? If things are going well, you can ask about more sensitive issues -- what are the going rates? Where do the most gigs come from? Of course, it's best to dance at your first lesson, too, and let her give you some coaching and see how well you work together in that way.


  7. #7
    Master BHUZzer Lilaravena's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    yes - a strong support group is key. Without my dear friends - who are also fellow dancers - I would not survive. They have been a great support for me and me for them (i hope so at least) ;-)

    Also - find out if there is a professional dancer group in your area. That way - you can find out going rates, meet other dancers, and learn a lot. I know I have.

    I too waited about 6 years before I got out there. You will always be learning.

    Just align yourself with some amazing - trustworthy - friends/dancers. They really make my experience a dream ;-)


  8. #8
    Master BHUZzer casbahdance's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Like everyone else has posted, a mentor is the way to go. Finding a mentor might involve seeing more than one teacher before finding the best fit.

    When making your appointment for that first lesson (for which you will pay), let the potential Mentor know that you desire to go pro and you'd like some feedback and information and ask if he/she would give you a critique on technique and presentation. The potential Mentor should provide guidance on what he/she would like to see in your demo and how long it should last.

    (Please note that the "you's" in this post are rhetorical and not directed at any one person)

    Attend that first appointment prepared with your demonstration dance and your questions; as usual, Lauren's list is excellent. If you find that teacher is a good fit for you, make another appointment (for which you will pay) and ask what Mentor would like to see at that time. These lesson-type mentoring sessions don't have to be every week -- that can get really expensive really quick -- they can be on whatever schedule works best for you.

    If your mentor says you're not ready to go pro yet, take his/her word for it, while asking for specifics on what will make you ready. If Mentor says "group lessons," you take group lessons and schedule privates periodically to check your progress. You are also free to get other opinions about your readiness for pro work, which is something I'd encourage anyone to do.

    Mentoring is a lot of talking. If someone is really on the verge of being pro material, then there shouldn't be a need to focus on technique except to strengthen what already exists or work on movements as suggested by the Mentee; rather we'd be working on strengthening stage presence and such. I'd suggest dancing at every festival/halfa/event in town to increase the Mentee's experience, especially as it relates to whatever topic on which the two of us happened to be working.

    When I was a kid (maybe 11 or 12 years old), I remember accompanying my mom to the private lessons she took. She was a working dancer at this time, so these were more like mentoring sessions where she'd tell and show her Mentor that she was working on, getting some feedback, etc. This stuff sometimes took up the whole lesson and sometimes it didn't. Other times, she'd do very little dancing; rather, she'd really picked the brains of her Mentor, getting info, advice, whatever she needed.

    Having a mentor is a wonderful thing. When both Mentor and Mentee have mutual respect for each other, wonderful things can happen.

    Deborah


  9. #9
    Master BHUZzer andalee-oriental's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    It's like having a sponsor in AA. :D


  10. #10
    Mega BHUZzer Lara L's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Quote Originally Posted by andalee-oriental View Post
    It's like having a sponsor in AA. :D
    ..g.:


  11. #11
    Mega BHUZzer elljay's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Aside from all the other good advice - I suggest a business plan. So many dancers think that transitioning from hobbiest to pro is just a matter of getting paid, but its not. You need to think about marketing, advertising, expenses, what your goals are, your business registrations, any insurances you might need...a plethora of things. No matter how small, you need a business plan if you are going into business.


  12. #12
    Official BHUZzer humdinger70's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Important thing - once you go pro, there are legalities (licensing, taxes, etc.) that must be accounted for. You play for pay, the government wants its cut, too.

    Consult with a reputable tax accountant and maybe a legal professional so that you properly dot the 'i's and cross the 't's.


  13. #13
    Master BHUZzer Lilaravena's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Quote Originally Posted by humdinger70 View Post
    Important thing - once you go pro, there are legalities (licensing, taxes, etc.) that must be accounted for. You play for pay, the government wants its cut, too.

    Consult with a reputable tax accountant and maybe a legal professional so that you properly dot the 'i's and cross the 't's.
    YES YES YES!! Trust me - my life is a lot simpler because I have an accountant I can call on for advice. Legal is the way to go!!

    I am also lucky that my father-in-law is a CPA ;-)


  14. #14
    Advanced BHUZzer jewelbellydance's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Mentoring is great, if it can be had. Many of our local dancers who have turned pro haven't had a mentor, but have succeeded. You just end up experiencing a lot of trials and errors along the way! If you can't find a mentor, still work hard to get connected. Offer to dance at every showcase you can, offer to work in duets with other people, perhaps pursue doing this in a showcase. Attend workshops and any other events where you can mingle with pros. Let people know that you're trying to get more performance experience and pro work.

    This all helps because, one day, an established pro is going to need a sub or a partner for a multi-dancer gig. They'll only invite someone who they've seen dance and interacted with and who they know can behave professionally. Working with others can be a good way to get the ball rolling.
    RaqsRazi likes this.


  15. #15
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    As far as what else you need:

    Essential: (this list looks long, but it's not that intimidating, really)
    - Business cards
    - Website
    - Proper business licenses (check with your city hall, county clerk, and state revenue service)
    - Small but versatile collection of costumes, veils, props
    - Info on the going rates and standard practices in your area for restaurants, private parties, etc
    - Full repertoire of dances, props, styles to enthrall a variety of audiences for 20-30 minutes (entrances, pop numbers, drum solos and, depending on your style and audience, wings, sword, fire, veil, cane, shamadan, etc)
    - Wide collection of music to draw from to put together sets
    - Business phone separate from your home number (cel phone, answering or forwarding service)
    - Contract to use with clients (Michelle Joyce has volunteered hers for us to use as a model, it's on her site)
    - A ridiculous amount of makeup and false eyelashes
    - A nice bag to carry all your crap in
    - A high-quality boombox or ipod speakers

    Optional: (the importance of these goes up if you live in a larger, more competitive market
    - Professional photos to use on cards & website
    - Marketing materials (postcards, brochures, etc)
    - Friendly relationships with a network of working local dancers
    - Tremendous physical beauty (hey, it would be a plus... I put it under 'optional')
    - Ability to accept credit cards (paypal will do, usually)
    - Checking account that will accept checks made out to your stage name (usually requires county assumed name filing)
    - Bookkeeping system or software
    - Liability insurance


    Am I forgetting anything, dancers?
    RaqsRazi and Nuriya like this.


  16. #16
    Ultimate BHUZzer laura 2's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren_ View Post
    Am I forgetting anything, dancers?
    The only thing I can think of is the ability to improv comfortably, or at the very least to quickly adjust choreography on the fly. If you are going to be dancing in restaurants or people's homes, you can't be reliant on choreography. Those 8 traveling undulations to the left might take you into the kitchen or down the basement steps!


  17. #17
    Advanced BHUZzer jewelbellydance's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren_ View Post
    As far as what else you need:

    Essential: (this list looks long, but it's not that intimidating, really)
    - Full repertoire of dances, props, styles to enthrall a variety of audiences for 20-30 minutes (entrances, pop numbers, drum solos and, depending on your style and audience, wings, sword, fire, veil, cane, shamadan, etc)
    -
    He he, I think I started out with 'mildly impress' rather than 'enthrall'. ,r:;


  18. #18
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Quote Originally Posted by jewelbellydance View Post
    He he, I think I started out with 'mildly impress' rather than 'enthrall'. ,r:;
    LOL. Good point. My early audiences were politely tolerating me.


  19. #19
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren_ View Post
    LOL. Good point. My early audiences were politely tolerating me.
    LOL! I love your honesty on this. Been there. Done that. And I'm sure this happens to the best of us

    The point of going pro gracefully is not to come twirling out of the gates Jillina-caliber, but rather to make sure that the inevitable "WTH was I thinking?" moments are minor, relatively infrequent and not utterly catastrophic to our ego


  20. #20
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Oh, and to the OP and anyone else who might need it, I posted an article I wrote on this topic under "The Rest" earlier today, and thought it might be more appropriate to X-post it here:

    So You Want to Be a Professional Belly Dancer… | Carrara Nour


  21. #21
    Advanced BHUZzer mehndidancer's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Your article right on the mark!

    Alrana


  22. #22
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Thanks! I try to be at least quasi-relevant


  23. #23
    Official BHUZzer Delial's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    I just wanted to say thanks for the advice! I know it was a while ago but I've been busy since. I found a mentor who I totally trust and has given great advice . Followed his advice (business and dance wise) and have since managed to get gigs and invites to other shows as well as present myself well within the belly dance network.


  24. #24
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Smile Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Delial View Post
    I just wanted to say thanks for the advice! I know it was a while ago but I've been busy since. I found a mentor who I totally trust and has given great advice . Followed his advice (business and dance wise) and have since managed to get gigs and invites to other shows as well as present myself well within the belly dance network.
    WOW. Love a story with a happy ending! (especially since we helped).

    Bravo, Delial!


  25. #25
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    This is great! Sounds like you're on your way to a happy and successful dance career


  26. #26
    Advanced BHUZzer SandraDances's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Make sure your mentor can actually mentor you on what you want. If you want to go the restaurant route, make sure either she does that, has done that, or at the very least can connect you with dancers who do. How else will she know the ins and outs?
    Also, make sure your mentor has other dance friends of her level or above. Is she well-respected? Does she speak of other dancers kindly? If she is a loner, she will not help you make friends and influence people.

    ahh-just saw this was a resurrected thread-good luck to you!


  27. #27
    Official BHUZzer Delial's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Many thanks Sandra! I remember thinking of all those things when I was looking for a mentor, knowing the perfect person but being a little too scared to ask for ages!
    I'm so glad I did though as its really made a huge impact in all aspects of my dance and knowledge and put me on a really good path.
    It helps that he's Egyptian and danced with the Reda Troupe as well!


  28. #28
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. SaNoorah's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Quote Originally Posted by shems View Post
    I'd find a mentor and connect with other professionals in your area. That kind of a network will be your greatest support and will keep you from making a lot of mistakes. There is a lot of reading you can do online, to help you be smart about the many, many things you need to know to be a pro dancer. Here's a start:

    performing and professionalism

    Standard rates and professional links and guidelines

    belly dance rates

    Nile Breeze Dance Company

    Seriously, connect yourself to other professional dancers, find somebody trustworthy, experienced and professional you can turn to for advice and information. It will be the best thing you can do for yourself as an aspiring pro.
    thanks for sahring. hmm, the first 3 links aren't working, anyone know the updated links?


  29. #29
    Master BHUZzer SamiraShuruk's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Quote Originally Posted by SaNoorah View Post
    thanks for sahring. hmm, the first 3 links aren't working, anyone know the updated links?
    Rates Article
    Performing and Professionalism
    Belly Dancer Rates


  30. #30
    Advanced BHUZzer rakkasah_barbara's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro - what do I need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Delial View Post
    I'm so glad I did though as its really made a huge impact in all aspects of my dance and knowledge and put me on a really good path.
    How nice everything turned out so well for you, and ofcourse congratulations for winning Miss Belly Dance UK 2010

    B


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