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Thread: Advice Needed




  1. #1
    Just Starting! zahira124's Avatar
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    Advice Needed

    Hello All,

    I am new to this site! I have been taking bellydance classes for 3 years now and am part of a dance troup. My instructor has created this group about a year ago. My instructor has not used me for any gigs, but instead has used another girl from the dance troup in several ocassions. The thing is, I don't consider myself all that great but I do know for sure that I am better than this girl. Not only that but my instructor gave a gig to someone who recently joined our troup which is not all that great. so besides the issue that I have with why my instructor has not cared to ask me to do a gig, I am considering starting up my own business and getting gigs for myself. But I still want to be part of the dance troup. Is that okay...would I have to tell my instructor that I am considering going out to the Prof world. I would say that I am ready just by seeing that my instructor giving gigs to these two girls who are not better dancers than me (I am not trying to sound like a snob at all-it's just obvious). Do I need to keep my instructor informed?

    Thank you All!


  2. #2
    Taj
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    Re: Advice Needed

    Maybe a good place to start, before you run off to set up your own business, would be to ask your teacher why she hasn't chosen you for these gigs?


  3. #3
    Mega BHUZzer aazura's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    Does your instructor know you want to perform and want to be considered for paying gigs? I agree with Taj--talk to your instructor. She can help mentor and guide you into the pro world.


  4. #4
    Just Starting! zahira124's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Taj View Post
    Maybe a good place to start, before you run off to set up your own business, would be to ask your teacher why she hasn't chosen you for these gigs?
    She has picked 4 girls...two of who are really good...better than me and the other 2 that are not there is a total of 8 of us. I feel awkward asking her why don't you pick me...in a sense I feel like I am begging her to give me a gig. At the same time I feel that if she gives a gig to two girls who seem to be beginners I should be able to perform as I consider myself on an intermediate level.


  5. #5
    Established BHUZzer emtink's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by zahira124 View Post
    I feel awkward asking her why don't you pick me...in a sense I feel like I am begging her to give me a gig.
    don't feel awkward! just say something like 'i'd like to start gigging. do you think i'm ready? what can i do to prepare?'

    my instructor, who refers gigs to me and other dancers, and i have had multiple miscommunications on gigs and performances! usually its not that she doesn't want me to dance, but that she didn't know i was available or wanted the gig. just open up the conversation and see where it goes.


  6. #6
    Official BHUZzer SidoniaOfNashville's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    Man, this reminds me of somebody I used to work with. She had some serious personality issues though. If she felt threatened by someone (usually someone who had professional potential) she would limit what she would let them in on (gigs and even dance material). Not saying this is your issue, this was a rare case.

    I think you should approach her first. Better than to go off on your own without finding out the true reason behind it. She might just not know that it's what you want to do. Maybe there's just one thing that you need to work on or even costume that you need to buy that will make you ready in her eyes. You can tell her you're ready and still not sound whiny about it. If you don't address it now it could cause issues later because it's obviously what you want to do, and you have every right to pursue it whether with her or on your own.


  7. #7
    Taj
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    Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by zahira124 View Post
    She has picked 4 girls...two of who are really good...better than me and the other 2 that are not there is a total of 8 of us. I feel awkward asking her why don't you pick me...in a sense I feel like I am begging her to give me a gig. At the same time I feel that if she gives a gig to two girls who seem to be beginners I should be able to perform as I consider myself on an intermediate level.
    I understand the awkward feeling, but I think you owe it to both yourself and your teacher to a.) make it clear that you would like to start doing gigs, so there's no confusion on that score, and b.) find out what she thinks about you doing gigs. Then you can go from there.

    If you don't ask, you'll never know!


  8. #8
    Master BHUZzer Adishakti's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    I agree with the others about talking to her about it first. Find out why she didn't ask you, and what you need to do before she will consider you for future gigs. Maybe it's just a matter of time... maybe you are next on her list?

    Maybe you don't have enough in your repertoire (an issue if there is not sufficient time to put together new choreography or are not comfortable with improv), don't have quality costumes, transportation, etc, etc... it doesn't necessarily mean you aren't good enough. As a teacher, I have to consider a lot of these little things before passing gigs along to my students.


  9. #9
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    As everyone else has said, I think it would be worth your time to pursue the matter with your teacher. If she is genuinely trying to thwart your budding performance career, then you can walk away with a clear conscience. However, there may be other reasons why you are getting passed by.

    In the first scenario, the party hosting the gig may have specifically asked that the other dancer be included. Even if you are technically not great, you can still be a charismatic entertainer, and often the GP gravitates to that dancer, even if she isn't someone whom the rest of the dance community is impressed by. For that matter, the other dancer may be a friend of the person doing the hiring, or otherwise instrumental in setting up gigs.

    Other than saying that you felt you were a better dancer, you didn't clarify if there might have been additional factors. Sometimes it is a matter of logistics--the gig came up quickly and the teacher went with the ones who had already performed the routine. OTOH, I know of a dancer who uses knowledge of troupe choreographies to play a nasty gate-keeping game. "We would have let you dance with us, but you didn't know the routine..." (as she carefully leaves off the part about how she won't teach the routine to anyone but her chosen few...). Were you trained and ready to perform what was needed?

    Of course, the real question is whether you are paranoid or if they are actually out to get you. It is definitely true that there are dancers who are mean-spirited and cliquish, and occasionally mentally unbalanced, and they do go out of their way to intimidate and exclude others. It would also be wrong not to admit that there are dancers out there who grossly overestimate their abilities. (Certainly, if you are getting a lot of positive feedback from dancers outside of your immediate circle, then you can assume you may be justified in feeling slighted.)

    It is important to remember that just because you have been studying some number of years, it does not follow that you are automatically better than a student with fewer years of classes or worse than another who has been dancing longer. There are a lot of factors that go into making a good dancer, some more intangible than others.


  10. #10
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    Definitely talk to your instructor. Not only is it smart to avoid hurtful miscommunications with your teacher, but it's also a great idea to get honest feedback on where you stand and where you might need to improve.

    And here's the hard part - if your teacher gives you some hefty constructive criticism on your style, your technique or even your look, stifle the urge to feel offended, and listen to her. You might have to challenge yourself here. But nobody improves by only receiving (or listening to) praise. It's important to look at ourselves objectively and to be open to all sorts of critique. (Of course, some critique is just plain mean-spirited - but you get good at sniffing this out!)

    It's amazing how at 3-4 years of experience, many of us feel like we've reached a level of mastery and deserve tons of gigs. And of course we've mastered something at that monumental point in our careers when we begin to groom ourselves to go pro. Trouble is, many of us look back a few years later, and think, "What was I thinking?" or "Why did I do things that way?"

    Even at just shy of 7 years of dance experience, I'd consider myself a pretty darned good intermediate-advanced dancer and a stellar entertainer. Superstar material? Not yet We're always learning.

    Shameless self-plug? Maybe. But I wrote a blog the other day that you might find helpful and encouraging:

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


  11. #11
    Just Starting! zahira124's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    thank you ladies. I sent her an email and am waiting a response. I told her I am interested and doing gigs and that I wanted her feedback if I was ready.

    I have gotten good feed back from gigs that I have done (on my own). And from people who have watched us all perform. So that has gotten me thinking as to why she has not approached me but instead other two of whom people have critized their dancing. I guess I will have to wait and see.

    But in the meantime, would it be wrong of me to start my own website and have business card ready for when family and friends recommend me?


  12. #12
    I could get used to this! mysterywoman's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    Others mentioned you should talk to your teacher, and I agree. FYI, there could be many reasons (other than dance skill) why she chose the other people. For example, maybe they have more professional-looking costumesthan you, or maybe they do a better job with stagemakeup and hairstylethan you or maybe its something else intirely.

    Dont ask "Why did you choose thembut not me?" Just ask, "What do I need to do to beeligble?"


  13. #13
    Just Starting! zahira124's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by mysterywoman View Post
    Others mentioned you should talk to your teacher, and I agree. FYI, there could be many reasons (other than dance skill) why she chose the other people. For example, maybe they have more professional-looking costumesthan you, or maybe they do a better job with stagemakeup and hairstylethan you or maybe its something else intirely.

    Dont ask "Why did you choose thembut not me?" Just ask, "What do I need to do to beeligble?"
    I have hi-end costumes, many, and do look the part..so the look has nothing to do with it. I am looking forward to her response. I will update as soon as I hear from here. Thank you all for your wonderful advice.


  14. #14
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    I haven't read all the responses, so I apologize if I'm rehashing things here. (in a big hurry but want to help if I can!)

    You need to talk to your instructor. I know it's difficult, it takes a lot of guts and a lot of maturity on your part to do it. But trust me, running your own business will take 10 times the guts and maturity.

    As your own agent, you'll be doing nothing BUT asking for gigs and trying to convince people that you're worthy, 24-7. If you can't do that with your instructor, how will you be able to do it with total strangers week after week?

    Your instructor must have a reason for not asking you, and it may have nothing to do with your dancing. She may not feel that your 'look' is marketable. Your dancing may need more polish than you realize -- or maybe she thinks you need help with makeup, costuming, hair. Or maybe your demeanor isn't businesslike enough -- maybe you need to practice making eye contact, speaking strongly, shaking hands. It's important to recognize that clients aren't usually hiring for dance ability (though they'll be upset if someone shows up who doesn't dance at a pro level) but are hiring a sort of 'costumed character' for their party and you have to fit that expectation in many ways.

    You and I can only guess at what she might see as a barrier to professional work for you -- but she KNOWS and if you ask her, she'll SHARE that information with you and you can work past it.

    Your instructor is hiring out dancers for gigs -- therefore she must know what makes a dancer marketable in your community. By not finding out what she sees as a flaw in your presentation, you're depriving yourself of the exact key that you need.

    I'd just say (in person or via e-mail) "I'm very interested in dancing professionally and I wonder if you feel like I'm ready to be sent out for gigs. If you don't feel like I'm ready, could we set up a private lesson to go over the work you feel I need to do, on my dancing or other aspects of my appearance/presentation, in order to get ready?"

    I wouldn't mention anything about other dancers getting gigs before you, or how ready they are. I know it's valid and bugs you, but it would come off sounding like jealousy, or sibling rivalry. It doesn't sound professional, and isn't really relevant. The only thing that's relevant is whether YOU are ready, and if not, what to work on.


  15. #15
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    oops, just skimmed back through the thread and realized you're way ahead of me! LOL.

    I'll leave my response there in case it's useful to someone else in a similar situation.


  16. #16
    Fotia
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    Re: Advice Needed

    I would talk to your instructor too. Sometimes they actually need to hear it from you first.


  17. #17
    Just Starting! zahira124's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    She answered back and told me that of course I am ready for gigs....so should I ask why she hasn't picked me? ..lol that does sound so funny doesn't it.


  18. #18
    Established BHUZzer emtink's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by zahira124 View Post
    She answered back and told me that of course I am ready for gigs....so should I ask why she hasn't picked me? ..lol that does sound so funny doesn't it.
    maybe something like: i'd appreciate any referals you can give me.


  19. #19
    Master BHUZzer SamiraShuruk's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by emtink View Post
    maybe something like: i'd appreciate any referals you can give me.
    Yes, this is great. Or even "I'd appreciate any referrals and feedback you can give me. Pelase also let me know if you can use an assistant on a gig so I can learn the ropes."
    Maybe the other girls expressed interest to her already. Maybe their style "fit" those particular gigs better. Regardless, there is ALWAYS more to learn as a professional and expressing and working towards that develops us more as dancers and as professionals.


  20. #20
    Official BHUZzer beautynlaw's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    WOW bellydancing professional after three years. That is impressive. I am nearly two years in with weekly belly dance lessons and DVD instruction once or twice weekly and am only ready, realistically, for troupe performance. To actually go out to secure your own ( i suppose paying) gigs ( does that include or exclude hafla's) seems quite optimistic. IJS.

    Every belly dancer should read the book Snake Hips. It is hilarious and an easy read about the "world" of belly dance including everything from troupes, to haflas to costuming and performing. (If I recall correctly, there was a dancer in something of your current situation.)


  21. #21
    Established BHUZzer faaria's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    Well if you are ready you are ready. Is your instructor the kind that would mentor you? If not maybe you should seek out a new one?


  22. #22
    Established BHUZzer AmiraStar's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by beautynlaw View Post

    Every belly dancer should read the book Snake Hips. It is hilarious and an easy read about the "world" of belly dance including everything from troupes, to haflas to costuming and performing. (If I recall correctly, there was a dancer in something of your current situation.)
    I loved that book! I was so excited to see dancers that I knew in it. Definitely a good read..g.:


  23. #23
    Advanced BHUZzer jewelbellydance's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by zahira124 View Post

    But in the meantime, would it be wrong of me to start my own website and have business card ready for when family and friends recommend me?
    No, it wouldn't be wrong. However, it could put your teacher's/other troupe-mates noses out of joint if you do all this without letting them know - because that may come across as being secretive. You will survive much better in this industry if you can be friends with your fellow dancers - referrals and joint gigs can be a big part of business, especially when you're new.

    So, first and foremost, keep asking questions of your current teacher, as everyone has suggested. Then if you do decide to go it alone, try to do so in a way that you can still work with your teacher/troupe. But be prepared for that relationship to fall by the wayside...because sometimes these things simply happen, despite your best intentions.


  24. #24
    Mega BHUZzer mahsati's Avatar
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    Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by zahira124 View Post
    She has picked 4 girls...two of who are really good...better than me and the other 2 that are not there is a total of 8 of us. I feel awkward asking her why don't you pick me...in a sense I feel like I am begging her to give me a gig. At the same time I feel that if she gives a gig to two girls who seem to be beginners I should be able to perform as I consider myself on an intermediate level.
    If you consider yourself to be on an intermediate level skill-wise, I would not recommend promoting yourself separately as a professional dancer yet. I would recommend talking to your teacher and letting her know you would like to work towards being a pro dancer and want to have her mentoring/a chance to intern with her for performance situations.

    It can do a lot of harm to a beginning pro dancer's reputation if they strike out too soon and are not seen as qualified by some of the people who hire them. I have seen it happen before and it is very hard to change a promoter/dance company/entertainment agent/restaurant owner's first impression of you. I would wait until you could be sure that you were ready to dance at an advanced level to be sure that you are setting yourself up for a successful career.

    On a side note, as a teacher who also does gigs where I bring students on occasion, it is not always the highest level of dance ability only chosen for every gig. I will choose dancers who are all competent, but I may also choose based on style, expression, audience interaction ability, availability, knowledge of the choreography, professionalism, perceived interest, or other factors to try to get the best mix for the specific performance. It is not necessarily a slight that the teacher chose other dancers - she may have simply thought that for this specific gig they were a better fit.


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