+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 20 of 20
Like Tree6Likes
  • 1 Post By andalee-oriental
  • 3 Post By micamica
  • 1 Post By Samira_dncr
  • 1 Post By micamica

Thread: Feeling super discouraged....




  1. #1
    Official BHUZzer Birdielee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Orlando, FL, USA
    Posts
    385

    Unhappy Feeling super discouraged....

    I've been out of dance gigs since the end of January. Since then I've been 'pounding the pavement', auditioning, calling, asking, dropping in---looking for more, but nothing seems to be coming my way. I'm not rolling in cash so I've been printing my own business cards, and having a friend take nice photos of me. I know the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence, but it just seems like gigs come much easier to some folks than to me. I feel like a loner in this situation, as if no one wants to tell me what I should do, or share what is giving them a bit more success...maybe I have to 'earn my dues'? I feel like my dream is being ripped out of my hands. I'm so stressed, I am at my wits end, and don't know what to do anymore. I don't want to give up, but I'm really bummed! I just need some direction.....


  2. #2
    Advanced BHUZzer raqFariha's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    1,555

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    when it rains it pours. i don't know anything about your local market, but i know that things around here tend to go from bone dry to really busy in a snap.
    the important, and hardest, part is to not seem desperate or shaken when you're looking for gigs, it would turn into a downward spiral of wasted energy.
    "there is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everyone a great deal of good" -Edwin Denby


  3. #3
    Master BHUZzer andalee-oriental's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Durham, NC, USA
    Posts
    3,666
    Blog Entries
    1

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    Hang in there lady. I understand what you are going through and struggle with bouts of dry-spells and feelings bad about my situation. This sounds very similar to a post I wrote here a couple of years ago.

    There are so many factors going on in situations like this it helps to be able to analyze each one.

    Here are some thoughts:
    1) There are very few dancers who can make a living dancing at gigs. Many supplement with teaching, vending and putting out instructional DVDs or other products.

    2) Looks do matter. It sucks, but it's true. We know you're beautiful, clients and restaurant owners are often looking for something specific--and that may not be you. I don't get gigs because either I'm too fat, too American-looking or my boobs are too big (or my prices are too high ;). Most of the regularly gigging dancers in my area are very thin, have long dark hair and look ethnic or exotic. That is not me, nor will it ever be.

    3) Consider why gigging is so important to you and why you feel like you need to do it. I had to do this and it freed me considerably. I do not need to gig to earn a living. I use it as a way to earn money to do belly dance things that I want to do. I like gigging and would like to have more gigs, but I don't need them. I have to tell myself it's OK when someone else gets a gig I bid on. A lot of positive self-talk helps.

    I'm no master at this yet, I still have a long way to go...but now I try my hardest to work on two things instead--1) Being a great teacher who can share the art with others and 2) Improving my technique and skills. I also make sure I am a positive and active member of the belly dance community. It's important to reserve a place in your heart where belly dance is about feeling good and not about your value as a paid performer.

    4) The economy is crap. According to the media, consumers are coming back with a vengeance, but I don't think that is trickling down to the entertainment industry yet. Last year was my best gig year to date. This year, things are going much more slowly. I'm getting about half the business I had this time of year last year...And nothing has changed on my end...There are several reasons: 1) possibly undercutters, 2) less people looking for dancers and 3) more new dancers on the scene looking for work!

    Maybe you can find your own factors an analyze each one. I hope that what I have said can offer some comfort...as this is what the older, wiser Andalee would write the younger, newer Andalee two years ago.


  4. #4
    Official BHUZzer lauraw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    445

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    No advice here, just empathy. We are pretty dry here. Only one restaurant hires and the pay is pretty bad. So you really have to get creative here in going after gigs...


  5. #5
    Ultimate BHUZzer *Shira*'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Posts
    7,697

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    Since I don't know you and have never seen you dance, I can't really say why you're having problems, but here are some possibilities:
    • Maybe the market for entertainers as a whole has dried up due to the economy.
    • Maybe there's something about your "look" as a dancer that's not what potential clients are looking for.
    • Maybe other dancers are undercutting.
    • Maybe other dancers are doing a better job than you of packging themselves professionally (better web sites, better promotional pictures, better business cards, better phone manners, etc.)
    • Maybe other dancers are more "visible" due to recurring gigs at popular restaurants, a larger network of word-of-mouth referrals, etc.
    • Maybe you're not getting word-of-mouth referrals from past clients because they didn't like your show.
    • Maybe you're not getting word-of-mouth referrals from past clients because you haven't kept in touch with them to remind them that you exist and remind them how to contact you. (In other words, you should build a mailing list of clients you have danced for, and send quarterly emails to everyone on that list to promote places you'll be publicly performing, remind them of your availability to dance at whatever seasonal occasions might be timely to promote such as weddings, and so on.)

    If you haven't already seen it, there's an article on my web site with an introduction to marketing: Marketing Yourself As A Dancer


  6. #6
    Official BHUZzer Birdielee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Orlando, FL, USA
    Posts
    385

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    Thanks everyone.
    To Andalee, the one main thing that I think I have going against me (and I hate to say it, I really do, but it's reality) is my skin color. Everyone is not looking for a black girl.

    And to Shira, you brought up so many good points. I need to work on my business savvy. You said so many things that I need to do, keeping in touch and networking. Better promotional materials...etc, etc. And I can truly understand why that would help or hinder me....however, I noticed that several of my counterparts didn't even need cards or even a website. I suppose I was foolish for thinking that I could do the same. But I guess I have to work harder than others to get what I want...and study harder on how to market myself better (I had a few tough lessons about that, and a few fails with trying to get work and not even having a card/website...how embarrassing! You live, you learn...). Kinda wish I had a heads up before I started to pursue this. I didn't know it would be so difficult!


  7. #7
    Mega BHUZzer Lara L's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
    Posts
    2,913

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    boy, I could have written this- I have, in fact! Other dancers who look more successful than me in my area are complaining just as loudly about lack of gigs, so I'm sure part of it is just that- lack of gigs in general- and I know that as a stay at home mom, I don't have as many opportunities to network as someone who, say, works for the local arts association and can go out to social events at night, and yes, I'm aging and showing it- but I can't help wondering if it is my dancing style too. Maybe I'm just not any good. I get comments from dancers all the time, but part of why they say they like my dancing is because it is 'different' from what is available here- but different doesn't always sell. So, do I stay true to my style, branch out to try for gigs, just give up on the whole performance idea. I really don't know.

    It could just be the economy, but it sure preys on all my insecurities!


  8. #8
    Official BHUZzer Birdielee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Orlando, FL, USA
    Posts
    385

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    Yes, it really does mess with your insecurities, as if you weren't already feeling insecure!!! I feel you. But what bothers me even more, is when a restaurant owner/manager tells you that you're beautiful, loves the way you dance, "we want to use you", "we will call you". If you're not interested, don't tell me you are! There are venues in my area....there is work..I know it, but whether or not they want to pay the price I charge, or want someone not so dark??? Or this? Or that? Or maybe I'm not confident enough? The list could go on and on.


  9. #9
    Ultimate BHUZzer *Shira*'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Posts
    7,697

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    Quote Originally Posted by Birdielee View Post
    Kinda wish I had a heads up before I started to pursue this. I didn't know it would be so difficult!
    I completely understand why you're frustrated!

    One thing dancers who want to "go pro" often don't realize is that it's not enough to be a good dancer. There's also a very important need to view dancing as a "job", and view yourself as a "business". Therefore, it's necessary to think in terms of marketing, negotiating skills, accounting, financial planning, economics, and all those other things that people study in business school. Many belly dancers don't have any experience in those areas, nor have they taken business courses.

    Sadly, I suspect you may be right about your skin color limiting your opportunities as a performing dancer. People here on bhuz have spoken of that on other threads in the past such as this one http://www.bhuz.com/rest-belly-dance...le-models.html . Maybe some of them will step in and offer advice based on their experiences.

    I wish I could offer more help, but I hope I've given you a few thoughts on things you can look at doing.


  10. #10
    Advanced BHUZzer Elibelinde's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    1,648

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    Andalee and Shira you are wise women - so many good thoughts!

    Number 1 though - this economy. Hang in there Birdielee!


  11. #11
    Established BHUZzer harmoney76's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Marshall, MI
    Posts
    633
    Blog Entries
    1

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    Andalee, you so said it!!!
    The dancer cannot be separated from the dance, she also cannot be separated from the history of dancing, from the line of dancers and teachers leading to her.


  12. #12
    Advanced BHUZzer raqFariha's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    1,555

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    i remember learning in entrepreneurship class that when businesses don't make profit it's usually because the sole-proprietor is GREAT at what they went into business to do, but doesn't know how to run the business side.
    if that's the case for you, the good news is you can take a class at an adult ed. center or buy a book and learn those skills!
    "there is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everyone a great deal of good" -Edwin Denby


  13. #13
    Official BHUZzer Birdielee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Orlando, FL, USA
    Posts
    385

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    Thanks for the wake up call everyone. I gotta run this ship like a business....that's where I got off on the wrong foot, b/c I didn't think that I had to put so much thought into it...just kinda show up "looking" the part and dance well. Lack of knowledge can teach you some hard lessons sometimes. I think I am going to look into some business courses and books. It may not help immediately, but it surely can't hurt!


  14. #14
    Official BHUZzer micamica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    414

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    Don't feel bad, a couple of dry months (or more) isn't bad or a sign that you are bad. It really is very rare to make a living on gigs!
    My questions and advice-
    Do you have a website? I looked on your profile but didn't see it, maybe I missed it. I would say it is absolutely impossible these days to be a professional dancer without a website. Having a website allows people to browse, email you, and get to know something about you before inviting you into their home for a party. They are taking a risk that this will be something family safe and fun that will make their event a blast. I know we dancers tend to think about safety, going to a person's house, etc, but things are pretty scary from the other side. Can you imagine inviting a stranger to perform at the party you've been planning for months? You're paying her a lot of money, have never met in person, and everyone knows you've hired her-if this goes badly it is all on you!! Will she show up on time, cancel at the last minute, or be rude to the guests? For that price she might be a real diva! We know differently, but the public does not, and party planners are often under a lot of self-induced stress.

    I consider YouTube videos to be absolutely essential! People who hire me generally have no idea what a bellydance show is like. They will flat out tell me they have never seen a bellydancer in person, it just "sounds cool" Videos show them my style, personality, and that yes, I am family friendly. Videos need to be clear, but not professional. I have been filming with a cheap camera

    "Aiptek DV-S ISDV32B MP4 Digital Camcorder and Still Camera with Built-In MP3 Player (Blue)" on Amazon

    for the last couple of years. The colors are off and I have to edit sound on top of my YouTube videos, but the picture is clear (way better than the $200 camera I got to replace it and sent back!) and potential clients can easily see my costumes in action and facial expressions. I make sure to keep all videos and pictures within the last 6 months, and state so on my website. There a quite a few dancers using pictures taken 5 to 10 years ago, and the public knows this. Being able to state that all pictures are current is a selling feature, and a further reassurance that I am who I say I am online. My dance videos include a typical bedlah but also more full coverage costumes. This sort of costume is rarely asked for by a client, but showing that I dance in situations where so much skin is not desired is a great way to market yourself as appropriate for any occasion.


  15. #15
    Official BHUZzer micamica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    414

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    Professional photos, also essential. Easy and cheap-put an ad up on Craigslist looking for a "Trade for CD" session. In case you haven't heard of this, this means the photographer gets to take photos of you, you get to work with him, and you both walk away with a CD to do what you want with. Great for us because we get good photos, get to try different styles of photographers. Great for them because it is rare to find an actual belly dancer with professional level costumes as a subject. Within two days you will have way too many emails and have to take the post down. Generally these are legit inquiries-creeps are easy to spot, but surprisingly rare. In fact, you could put up an ad for "only female photographers apply" and end up with several good responses. Word of warning-DO NOT ACCEPT REQUESTS WHERE THE PHOTOGRAPHER USES YOUR PHOTOS FOR STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY!! You can't control where those photos go or are used. You want someone to buy your picture for $2 and put it on an ad for an "adult" service? No? Then turn down stock photo requests! While it is not a crazy request for a photographer, most professionals understand that these types of specialty sessions are just to make you/them stand out from the pack. I usually only get 1 stock photo request for every 30 emails. Do email everyone back, even if your answer is "no thank you". There are some photographers I didn't want to work with a year ago, but they have improved/gotten a studio and I would like to work with them this year.
    These kinds of ads won't get you the really high end kinds of shoots that require hair/make-up artists/ set designers, but you will get good clear images of yourself. I like using photos done by different artists, everyone has a different vision. Even if your friend is a professional, I have found that working with a variety of photographers has taught me a lot about working the camera-good for any event where photographs will be taken. Also, shots taken in front of a range of backdrops gives you that "model" sort of look, making you look glamorous and sought after by the public =)


  16. #16
    Official BHUZzer micamica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    414

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    Also, how are you marketing yourself with to customers? I find people seem to like me because I am approachable. It has been that way my whole life, strangers on the street want to tell me their life story. So I use this as a strength. I wear light make up, bright colors, and when talking to clients mention how much I love kids and dogs. This all works for me-wild and exotic does not. My smile is too friendly, smoky eyes look terrible on me, and I really love turning in big flowing skirts. So instead of trying to create that as a persona, I use what happens naturally when I dance.
    So how should you market yourself? That is up to you, but I say use your color as your strength. I know I have not gotten gigs because I am not "ethnic" enough. But everywhere there are dancers who have not gotten gigs because they were too short, chest to small, hair too short, whatever. Can't be helped, but you can use uniqueness to help you. You have dark skin? Awesome! Girl, you are exotic! And exotic often leads to higher paying gigs. You can wear that fabulous jewel toned make-up (I'm so jealous) and market yourself as bringing something "no one else has" to the party! I find that is the reason people say they hired me, because they wanted their party to be different.

    Making money at this does require a depressing amount of time on the computer. Spending time reading the information on Bhuz alone is like taking a college course. And for most it will never be a "pay the bills" job. But if it is what you love, don't give up! Use this precious time off to perfect the look and feel of your dancing self. When gigs do come everyone, including yourself, will be ultra impressed and thrilled they hired you.

    Reyveka

    Wow, that was a lot of writing! I am impressed if anyone made it through all that
    *Shira*, Birdielee and Elibelinde like this.


  17. #17
    Official BHUZzer Birdielee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Orlando, FL, USA
    Posts
    385

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    @micamica (reyveka) Wow, you just handed down a lot of great info! Thank you so much. I know I need a website, asap, as folks have been asking me for a web address when I've been out searching. I've just been overwhelmed with all of the things that I don't have that I do need, and you're right about all of the time that I'll be spending on the internet....I've already been doing that (lots of researching). So, I feel a little better now, that I have a better idea of what I need to do to market myself.

    I will take all the pointers I can get...anyone, feel free to spill your knowledge...I am listening!


  18. #18
    Advanced BHUZzer Elibelinde's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    1,648

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    Quote Originally Posted by Birdielee View Post
    @micamica (reyveka) Wow, you just handed down a lot of great info! Thank you so much. I know I need a website, asap, as folks have been asking me for a web address when I've been out searching. I've just been overwhelmed with all of the things that I don't have that I do need, and you're right about all of the time that I'll be spending on the internet....I've already been doing that (lots of researching). So, I feel a little better now, that I have a better idea of what I need to do to market myself.

    I will take all the pointers I can get...anyone, feel free to spill your knowledge...I am listening!
    Are there booking agents in your city? You might try that also.


  19. #19
    Mega BHUZzer Samira_dncr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Las Vegas, BABY!
    Posts
    2,856

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    Quote Originally Posted by Birdielee View Post
    I've just been overwhelmed with all of the things that I don't have that I do need...
    Breathe deep. Make a list and do what you can, when you can. You'll get better at the business stuff.

    It's easy to suffer from paralysis of analysis...and to feel like you can't move forward until you have it all finished. Don't worry about having it all RIGHT NOW. One step at a time. Baby steps.
    andalee-oriental likes this.
    Samira Tu'Ala, Producer of the Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive® & Festival


  20. #20
    Official BHUZzer micamica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    414

    Re: Feeling super discouraged....

    I definitely agree with one step at a time. I think almost every professional dancer goes through a certain process, unless you were independently wealthy before you started dancing. You start out thinking, hey I can do this, no problem! I am smart, talented, and know how to act professionally. And the idea of getting paid to do what you love never hurts.

    But then after a little time of wondering why no one is hiring you, you realize you need a website, business cards, professional photos, videos, a persona, a biz number if you don't want yours public, a biz email address, maybe different costumes/accessories/make up, a portable sound system that runs on batteries, an MP3 player for the sound system, and of course the money to pay for all of this. And you need to present it to the public all at once in order to get work as a professional. This scenario is one of the things that makes people realize going pro may or may not be for them. The ones who still want to turn pro go back to the drawing board, probably get another job to pay for everything, and quietly gather all the necessities while plotting their triumphant return to the professional dance world.

    The next shocking stage comes as you start to experience a variety of professional gigs. Being a professional dancer can be so bizarre. You will be amazed at how many people don't know that you can hear them talking while you are dancing, you will question why an audience of less than 10 people is looking at you with terror in their eyes, but then realize that it is maybe better than the last crowd, most of whom were desperately avoiding watching you dance. You will wish DJs would understand that you can't hear them calling you when you are stuck in a waiting area that is 20 feet away and through at least one set of closed doors, and you wonder why does almost every birthday party performance start with someone asking if they need to send the kids out of the room...do they really think the party planner hired a stripper for a backyard BBQ birthday??

    Yup, those are the perks of being a pro!
    LarkBegin likes this.


Similar Threads

  1. No Classical Dance Training, Feeling Discouraged
    By SatinWorship19 in forum Belly Dance Instructor Center
    Replies: 96
    Last Post: 05-19-2008, 04:57 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Statistics
  • Threads 41,406
  • Posts 596,489
  • Members 38,204
  • Welcome to our newest member, Laureen


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53