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  1. #1
    Mega BHUZzer Doozer's Avatar
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    First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    Not only does this gentleman have the good luck to be turning 98, his adorable little wife has hired me to dance at his birthday party at a local senior center. Lucky for him because she thought to do something special and lucky for me because it's my first paid gig! I'm nervous and have questions:

    How much to you 'make' over the birthday boy? I'm there for HIS birthday...there's obviously going to be a difference between this situation and let's say, a community dance performance. I really don't want to make some kind of huge faux pas.

    Here's what I'm doing for my set (it's short, about 10 minutes):

    Midtempo baladi rhythm, easy on the zills in consideration for those with hearing appliances.
    Snappy veil to a 5/8.
    Drum solo.
    Finale (a nice one by Eddie the Sheik).

    I mention music because I'd like to know if slower music would be more appropriate?

    George Abdo has a very nice complete bellydance routine on his 'The Joy of Bellydancing' CD. Better choice perhaps? It's track 14 in case anyone has it and gives a listen.

    Any advice would be appreciated, thank you!
    Last edited by Doozer; 02-27-2011 at 09:42 AM. Reason: Can you say spellcheck?
    Well behaved women rarely make history.


  2. #2
    Master BHUZzer norma's Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    Quote Originally Posted by Doozer View Post
    Not only does this gentleman have the good luck to be turning 98, his adorable little wife has hired me to dance at his birthday party at a local senior center. Lucky for him because she thought to do something special and lucky for me because it's my first paid gig! I'm nervous and have questions:

    How much to you 'make' over the birthday boy? I'm there for HIS birthday...there's obviously going to be a difference between this situation and let's say, a community dance performance. I really don't want to make some kind of huge faux pas.

    Here's what I'm doing for my set (it's short, about 10 minutes):

    Midtempo baladi rhythm, easy on the zills in consideration for those with hearing appliances.
    Snappy veil to a 5/8.
    Drum solo.
    Finale (a nice one by Eddie the Sheik).

    I mention music because I'd like to know if slower music would be more appropriate?

    George Abdo has a very nice complete bellydance routine on his 'The Joy of Bellydancing' CD. Better choice perhaps? It's track 14 in case anyone has it and gives a listen.

    Any advice would be appreciated, thank you!
    Raks Mustapha is also a nice choice. I used that routine for my first public performance many years ago!

    I'm thinking with an older gentlemen it might be nice to have at least one slow song to be a little flirty with.

    Take your cue from what is going on around you. If the guy is a ham and spry he might want all the attention on him. On the other hand, he may get more enjoyment watching you pick on his friends and family.


  3. #3
    Mega BHUZzer Doozer's Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    I like Raks Mustapha too: it's classic and obviously ME, that's why I mentioned it and just might use it. People of Mr. Johnson's generation may have certain ideas of what bellydancers are about: I'm thinking retro glam (we're talking costuming too) are a good direction to go.

    It's good to hear from dancers that have done this. I'll pay close attention to how people are reacting. : ) Thank you!
    Well behaved women rarely make history.


  4. #4
    Advanced BHUZzer la_soraya's Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    Congratulations on your first gig!!

    I just did a birthday party a couple months ago for an older Russian man (granted there were about 50+ people at the event a whole range of ages). The birthday 'boy'-which he was a heart, was in his 80s and he was sooo flirty, i had a good time with him and definately 'hammed it up' more than i would for say a bachelorette party or someone under 60 ;)

    I'd say don't make your set too slow and mellow. They may be an older crowd but nothing will make a great impression like a wham bam entrance thats really, 'hey! its your birthday! lets celebrate!'.

    Private events are a great place to showcase your talent as a dancer. Bring your favorite fun props and really impress them (this might be a good alternative if you wanted to keep it on the slower side, do a song like "Serpentina" but add a sword and suddenly its more of a jaw dropper)-just a suggestion, some people have no idea belly dancers can do anything besides move their bellies ;)

    For the 'finale' piece, I highly recommend you get everyone clapping, finales are reallly good to involve the audience especially at a senior center.

    In terms of 'fawning' over the birthday boy, i'd definately venture out to where he's sitting and do a few moves by his side, bat the eyelashes, smile- doing so in a way thats also amusing to the audience, get a few giggles going!

    Last thoughts: whatever you do, whatever happens, keep smiling (they don't know you didn't mean to get tangled up in your veil ;) Be prepared but don't be over prepared, remember to just have fun, its definately a birthday to be remembered ;)

    Good luck!

    I promise last thing ;) if you know the birthday boy/wife/family is of a specific ethnicity, id HIGHLY recommend you add ethnic music (ie russian, greek, israeli, etc). People may disagree with me but its a guarantee re-hire for you to respect their heritage that much to taylor your set to them (every time i've done it, i've gotten rave reviews and lots of referrals)
    Last edited by la_soraya; 02-27-2011 at 11:31 AM.
    ~Mariana ~ Award Winning Professional Bellydance Artist: www.marianabellydance.com


  5. #5
    Mega BHUZzer Doozer's Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    Well then....defiinitely have a different point of view. : ) Maybe I'll bring my water goblets or sword.

    Yes, FAWNING is the term I was trying to think of!

    I'm looking forward to this, more for the dance itself than the money.
    Well behaved women rarely make history.


  6. #6
    Advanced BHUZzer la_soraya's Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    Quote Originally Posted by Doozer View Post
    I'm looking forward to this, more for the dance itself than the money.
    Good for you :) it should never be about the money (gasps in awe)I think that's the true secret...

    Ps: water goblets sounds amazing!
    ~Mariana ~ Award Winning Professional Bellydance Artist: www.marianabellydance.com


  7. #7
    Advanced BHUZzer Jennah's Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    For the older crowd, they always love the cane dance. At a private party for seniors, I got a gentleman with a walking cane to bravely dance with me with his cane and me with my dance cane. For another dance, he stood up without using his cane, but I offered to hold his hands for stability.
    The gentlemen are actually braver than the ladies when it comes to dancing in front of anywhere from in front of a large party of people.

    I do improv depending on the crowd. Sometimes, there could be cd player problems or prop problems so you can't always be prepared. Just enjoy the performance and make the birthday boy feel special. Usually the birthday boy wants to feel young and flirty.

    This is based on my experience.
    Jennah ~ Petite Dancer


  8. #8
    Advanced BHUZzer Marianna's Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    I like the music you picked out, as well as the length. 10 minute sounds perfect. Something fast/medium, then slow, then fast again and you're done. I wouldn't go overboard with the props, veil is enough for 10 minutes.
    Take the age into consideration. A 98 year old's party environment will be different than a 40 year old"s. A 40 year old will probably get up and dance with you and it will be fun, etc. With a 98 year old, a lot of guests will be most likely older, and a lot of the guests could be immobile. This is not always like this, of course, but in general the age - range will be higher than if you would dance for a 40 year old. I'm just saying this, to not count on a lot of audience participation, just in case you don't get any.

    I danced once at a 90 year old's party. I felt so honored that I was a part of this huge milestone, I was the first (and sadly, most likely the last) belly dancer he has ever seen close up. This gentleman sat in his wheelchair, he could barely move, and he could not even make any sounds. So basically everyone, including him were just watching me, and clapping, but there was no one getting up to dance, etc. It was nice though, they took a lot of pictures, and they told me, that he really enjoyed it.

    So I think it's best to plan to dance pretty much the whole time, stay near him if you see them taking pictures, etc. If the audience / guest of honor seem to be into getting to dance, great, if not then they will just sit there, enjoying the show.

    Have fun! I didn't read everyone's response, so I may be repeating things said already.


  9. #9
    Ultimate BHUZzer *Shira*'s Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    One good way to make the birthday boy the center of attention is to pull 3-4 guests out of their chairs and have them stand in front of the birthday boy as he sits in his chair. Pose them (for example, with their hands behind their heads) and get them all started doing a simple belly dance move such as a hip drop, so that it looks like everybody is performing just for him. Then you can switch to having them all do shimmies, etc.

    Bonus points if you have a mix of males and females doing this.

    I'll usually try to choose sons/daughters of the guest of honor, or maybe grandchildren, or close friends of both genders.


  10. #10
    Master BHUZzer casbahdance's Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    If I know that the honoree is unable to dance, or if he/she has said he/she really would prefer not to do it, then I have said honoree choose a person or two to dance with me. Sometimes if the honoree is simply a bit reluctant to dance with me, I'll tell him/her that he/she gets to pick somebody to dance with me after we have done our thing together. Either way, it's worked every time!

    Deborah

    Have a wonderful time!

    To Norma: I've danced to Raks Mustapha a number of times myself back in the day!


  11. #11
    Mega BHUZzer Doozer's Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    Since we're on the subject of music, among other things...

    Is Raks Mustapha about something happy? I'd hate to dance to something like, 'I lost my lover so I stabbed myself in the heart' or something equally awful.

    The suggestions here are wonderful! I gather that he's pretty immobile and the guests won't be very interested in getting up and dancing with me so it'll be a subdued crowd (this according to the senior center director). Regardless, it's important to me that it's a birthday he'll remember and enjoy. It'll certainly be something I'll never forget, so when I'm his age there'll something to fondly look back on.

    I improvised to the set for my sister today and her eyes got huge when I busted out my red 8mm silk veil...I'll take that as a good sign and use it tomorrow. The drum solo portion of the set is a bit worrisome, however...
    Well behaved women rarely make history.


  12. #12
    Master BHUZzer norma's Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    Shira's site has a translation:
    http://shira.net/music/lyrics/ya-mustapha.htm


  13. #13
    Ultimate BHUZzer *Shira*'s Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    Quote Originally Posted by Doozer View Post
    I gather that he's pretty immobile and the guests won't be very interested in getting up and dancing with me so it'll be a subdued crowd (this according to the senior center director).
    At senior centers, nursing homes, etc. the residents always love it if you recruit the staff to get up and dance with you. It's almost as good as getting their own family members up to dance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doozer View Post
    Is Raks Mustapha about something happy? I'd hate to dance to something like, 'I lost my lover so I stabbed myself in the heart' or something equally awful.
    Here is the translation: http://www.shira.net/music/lyrics/ya-mustapha.htm

    And here is Meissoun's research into the history of the song: http://www.shira.net/music/ya-mustap...uers-world.htm


  14. #14
    Established BHUZzer wingaki's Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    Quote Originally Posted by Shira View Post
    One good way to make the birthday boy the center of attention is to pull 3-4 guests out of their chairs and have them stand in front of the birthday boy as he sits in his chair. Pose them (for example, with their hands behind their heads) and get them all started doing a simple belly dance move such as a hip drop, so that it looks like everybody is performing just for him. Then you can switch to having them all do shimmies, etc.

    Bonus points if you have a mix of males and females doing this.

    I'll usually try to choose sons/daughters of the guest of honor, or maybe grandchildren, or close friends of both genders.
    i love this! what a great idea! thank you xx


  15. #15
    Mega BHUZzer Doozer's Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    'I love you like tomato sauce'? The reference to drugs? It's a giggle but let's see about the history of the song as some meanings have probably gotten lost in translation.
    Well behaved women rarely make history.


  16. #16
    Ultimate BHUZzer *Shira*'s Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    Quote Originally Posted by Doozer View Post
    'I love you like tomato sauce'? The reference to drugs? It's a giggle but let's see about the history of the song as some meanings have probably gotten lost in translation.
    It's meant to be silly and playful!


  17. #17
    Mega BHUZzer Doozer's Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    Ohhhhhh.....OH! LOL! Love it.....I'll dance to it for my next gig or community performance for sure. I ended up using the first five songs from the 'Strictly Belly Dancing' CD by Eddie 'The Sheik' Kochak and ending up with Light Rain's 'City of Dreams.' If the drum solo in 'Raks Mustapha' hadn't been freaking me out so much that would have been an excellent choice.

    So, it went like this: lively zill/combos, veil, freestyle, sword, then audience participation (the birthday boy's wife got up and did the circuit around the tables with me). It was a hoot, everyone was so surprised that bellydance wasn't all boob shaking in their faces. I heard alot of comments that it was 'fun' and 'tasteful.' The comment that tickled my funny bone was from a gentleman that said I did a good hula.

    Thank Goddess my sister was there because she manned the CD player. I'm so grateful!
    Well behaved women rarely make history.


  18. #18
    Master BHUZzer norma's Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    Quote Originally Posted by Doozer View Post
    Ohhhhhh.....OH! LOL! Love it.....I'll dance to it for my next gig or community performance for sure. I ended up using the first five songs from the 'Strictly Belly Dancing' CD by Eddie 'The Sheik' Kochak and ending up with Light Rain's 'City of Dreams.' If the drum solo in 'Raks Mustapha' hadn't been freaking me out so much that would have been an excellent choice.

    So, it went like this: lively zill/combos, veil, freestyle, sword, then audience participation (the birthday boy's wife got up and did the circuit around the tables with me). It was a hoot, everyone was so surprised that bellydance wasn't all boob shaking in their faces. I heard alot of comments that it was 'fun' and 'tasteful.' The comment that tickled my funny bone was from a gentleman that said I did a good hula.

    Thank Goddess my sister was there because she manned the CD player. I'm so grateful!
    Awesome!


  19. #19
    Advanced BHUZzer LiesaB.'s Avatar
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    Re: First paid gig: birthday bellygram for older gentleman : )

    Good job! Sounds like you really added that special something to their party!


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