BabaYagaMusic.com » Encyclopedic Dictionary for the Ethnic Dance Arts »
|Performance Skills, Licenses, Web Site, Marketing, Negotiation, Contracts and Stage Fright. Managing Events. Knowing when to Hold and when to Fold. Dealing with the incessant 'It will be great publicity' offers.|
Fourteen Possible Guidelines for Performers
Building a Performer's Skill Set
Learn Your Instrument
"As long as non-dancers insist on performing, the Arabic dance will remain on the fringes of respectability, and self-esteem will remain an elusive goal." Viviane Hamamdjian, quoted by Judy Gabriel in Habibi Magazine in 1983.
The unfortunate fact is that there are places that will allow a pretty girl in a fancy costume and not much technique to wiggle among the tables. Be honest with yourself. A few starry-eyed audience members do not make you an artist; the ones who didn't tell you how wonderful you are may be going home with a lower opinion of oriental dance than they came with.
Musicians have a harder time making anyone starry-eyed because the audience has probably been exposed, at least superficially, to various types of world music. If you are a dancer, don't be a bore! Listen to your chosen genre (a lot!) and figure out what makes it unique; the rhythms, the musical modes, the ornaments, the types of music suitable for entertainment.
One more (sometimes unwelcome) reminder for performers: be in shape and stay in shape. A fiddle player cannot realistically play a contra dance if their bow-arm tires out or their intonation gets wobbly after several tunes. Dancers cannot claim to be professional if they are huffing and puffing after ten minutes of dancing. "[A]ny competent dancer, choreographer or teacher knows that a dancer is limited or liberated by the condition of his/her body. No prop, costume, choreography, trick of lighting, sound or scenic design is as necessary to the execturion of good dance as a strong, disciplined and responsive physique. To assert otherwise is folloy. As dancers, the body is our primary tool; limit its range of motion, form and endurance and you limit the range of ideas and emotions which you, the dancer, can express."— Yasmina Mahal, Middle Eastern Dancer magazine, Dec 1987.
Learn to ImproviseImprovisation is very important in the Middle-Eastern and Belly dance performance world. Unlike the more structured world of classical dance (such as ballet), the live music is NOT controlled by a conductor, but by a band whose musical heritage includes improvisation. The dancer needs to not only be able to follow along but to interpret the music for the audience as it occurs, beat by beat.
Ditto for the musician. Many cultures expect the improvisation that arises from delicate awareness and a thorough understanding of the music. Don't slap sheet music on a stand, bury your nose in it, and expect the audience not to notice that your focus of attention is a stack of paper. Memorize your music and then let it speak through you. Don't play the song the same way twice; find something a bit difference to emphasize every time around.
Be Honest with your Teacher"There comes a time in every student's life when she must make an important decision concerning her dancing. If her goal is simply to dance for fun and she likes her current teacher, she will probably continue to take classes and dance for the fun of it. But, if she decides it's time to move on to another teacher or move out on her own, then both the teacher and student should re-evaluate their attitudes towards each other... A student should realize that she will become competition to her teacher when she moves out on her own... Now don't get me wrong - competition is good, as long as it is the right kind. A student who is honest with her former teacher and tells her she is now on her own should not feel bad about looking and auditioning for dancing jobs... But, she should not stoop to price cutting or backstabbing for the jobs. She should be fair and honest in her business dealings. If she moves on to another teacher, let her former teacher know; just don't stop... If everyone was up front and honest about their reasons for changes, a lot of problems would disappear."— Ashiya
Where Ever You Go, There You Are"We are dealing with adults whose personalities, behavior patterns and ethics were formed long before coming to us. I firmly believe that the ethics and behavior people display within our dance community reflect the ethics and behavior they display in their everyday lives. People who have trouble getting along with others... will bring the same problems to the dance group. Those who experience jealousy of co-workers' successes and achievements and have not learned how to cope... will experience the same problem in a dance group when they come across someone who is a better dancer, prettier, more talented, etc. People who do not think twice about stepping on their peers so that they can advance... will use the same tactics with their fellow dancers."— Conchi
In 2005, Stephen R Covey added an eighth habit, "Find your voice and encourage others to find theirs," to his list of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The list of effective habits are now:
Learn to be a Good AudienceLearning good audience skills benefits the people on both sides of the footlights. "Last spring I attended the Menuhin Competition in Austin, Texas, and I noticed that, even while having to give so many high-level performances themselves, these young musicians made time to sit in the audience and watch their colleagues. Many of them spoke about doing so in previous competitions, and they had nothing but the highest praise for their fellow competitors -- their fellow musicians. Both winners told me, 'I learned so much, watching everyone else!'— Laurie Niles
Learn to Accept CritiqueNajia predicts the typical reaction by dancers to criticism and critique by dividing them into three categories: the professional, the faux-pro, and the amateur.
Critique your Own Performance
These instructions on how to self-critique from Mahin Belly Dance are as appropriate for musicians as they are for dancers. In brief: take a video of your performance and watch it all the way through several times, each time critiquing a different aspect. Highly recommended: reading the original blog for the details that she checks for.
Make it Legal: Licenses and Taxes
Business entities: Every state has it's own rules governing sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, etc. For instance, Kentucky allows one-person LLCs, which other states do not. Base your decision on how to structure your business on current information for your location. Your choice of legal entity will influence your taxes and your liability.
Business licenses: Many municipalities now post step-by-step instructions for acquiring the licenses you need on the Internet. Louisville, KY's official web site includes a Start or Expand your Business page with instructions for registering with the State, the city, the county, the IRS and the KY revenue cabinet.
Music Licensing: there is more to it than just buying the CD! Did you know that music can have up to seven copyrights associated with it? Just because you own a copy does not mean that you can teach a class with it, perform it in public, dance to it at a gig, or make a video of you dancing to it. Feeling faint? Yasmin recommends that you make sure who owns the rights to the music you perform or dance to. Do not try to hide behind 'fair use:' the law does not imply to teaching or performance videos. Small artists and publishers will often be willing to work with you on a deal that you can afford.
Photos: you may be in for a shock. By default, the photographer has almost all the rights to photographs of you, even if you paid for the photo shoot! Therefore, written agreements BEFORE the photo shoot are essential.
Protect Your Product: Copyright and Trademarks(Shoshana Portnoy)
Copyright and trademark can overlap; if you paint an original picture which you then use as your logo, both protections are there, and which protection you use depends on the infringement. If your picture is copied to sell, it is a copyright infringement. If it is used to sell a different product, it is a trademark infringement.
MarketingMake it Clear, Complete and Legible!
I really wish I could remember where I found this list called The rules of the game now are:
Web Site and PortfolioThere are a lot of tools available that make building a web site easy. However, those same tools do not necessarily warn you about what you need to make sure your pages are picked up in search results. Two important tags that are often overlooked by beginners are the TITLE tag and the DESCRIPTION tag.
If you are selling yourself as a performer, here is the content that the potential customer or promoter will want to see ((Shoshana Portnoy)):
It's Business, Not Personal
How Not to Win Friends and Influence People, by Lyeshaj:
Conflict: How to Fight (and not fight) effectively. Because avoiding conflict does not prevent problems; it just prevents problems from being solved. Adapted from a 2005 article by Tim Ursiny.
Getting Hired– and Rehired
It is essential to keep commitments to customers. The dancer's professionalism will be a strong factor in whether or not the customer rehires her for the next event. Each event is different, but if the customer asks for:
Offering good high-resolution pictures to the customer (even if not asked for them) as soon as you are hired increases the possibility of being featured on their posters and flyers, even if it was not discussed during negotiations.
From a 2011 interview by Onca OLeary with Cera Byer:
Negotiating and Writing Contracts
Five Tips for Successful Negotiations (Shoshana Portnoy):
Dealing with Folks Looking for the Lowest Price: Samira Shuruk recommends listening before quoting, which gives you time to tailor your sales pitch to address the customer values.
Dorie Clark at Forbes.com states that when people are not completely sure of how to assess quality, they use price as a stand-in for quality. "While most customers wouldn't pay $20 for paper towels because it's easy to compare them to other products on the store shelves, it's much harder to evaluate certain categories of products or services. Art is notoriously challenging: what makes a Damien Hirst sell for millions while a similar piece by someone else might languish? Consulting or other professional services are also hard to compare, because practitioners may have different approaches or skill levels, so you're not comparing apples to apples. ...when they're not very confident about being able to discern quality in their own right, people who are unfamiliar with a market will be especially led by price increases to go in that direction [and purchase more expensive offerings]."
Mahin neatly summarizes the need for Who, What, When, Where, Why and How in her blog post on writing up contracts. She includes a link to a sample contract.
Different Types of Audiences
Grab, Pre-Planned, Out, and In AudiencesFrom an article by Xan Satish in a 1987 edition of Habibi Magazine.
The Grab audience consists of persons who have come to attend another event, such as an international festival or a food fair. They attend dance performances on a largely coincidental and secondary basis; often, they are simply walking by and are attracted to watch.
Pre-planned festive settings (weddings, parties, and other group celebrations) are natural venues because the people are already having fun and the dancer adds to their enjoyment.
Out audiences (Homes for battered women, hospices, institutions for people with special needs) are not valid audiences in the minds of some dancers, but all these audiences will respond to a dancer's love for her dance.
Artistic or In audiences: relatively knowledgeable audiences who have made an investment of money or effort to be in the audience. It is before this audience that a dancer can best be an artist as well as an entertainer.
Community EventsOne might call these the ultimate 'Grab' audience venue. Tinah, writing for the Gilded Serpent, outlines the challenges inherent in performing at county fairs and, indeed, many civic or charity events run by volunteers. "The most important thing in your gig bag will be patience and the ability to improvise."
Preparing for a Performance
Checklists for Gigs
From Princess Farhana' article on Info to Know Before You Book A show includes some important considerations for how to conduct yourself AT the gig:
Princess Farhana, in her article Dressing the Part in a 2011 issue of Zaghareet Magazine, suggests dressing the part in every aspect of your dance life.
Overcome Stage Fright
Kajira Djoumahna (of Black Sheep Belly Dance) describes how she prepares for her shows in a 2011 interview with Princess Farhana published in Fuse Magazine:
From Laurie Niles on Violinist.com: Address performance anxiety by the way you structure your practice: fix the technique in the difficult spots and THEN rewrite your internal dialogue about those tough passages; visualizing success with a passage you've never conquered in practice will not work well.
Mary Ellen Donald, writing for GildedSerpent.com:
Brad Dosland is a producer, photographer, and publicity expert working with several of the most prominent names in belly dance. He is also a strong writer who frequently posts strong opinions about successful marketing. His Art of the Blurb provides a checklist of the basics that many frequently overlook when constructing their publicity items.
Mary Ellen is not afraid to address some real problems facing promoters who expect The Dance Sisterhood to support their events. In her article Rhythm and Reason in a 1979 issue of The Belly Dancer, Mary Ellen described some passive-agressive hostile acts that folks who claim to be friendly or at least neutral engage in. Her advice: do not be nice to such people to the point of foolishness.
Dancing at a Workshop Seminar is not Pay for Play addresses a frequent misconception by participating dancers, which is: the seminar is making money off their dancing. Be prepared to address these concerns up front.
"If you dance in the clubs and restaurants, you begin to feel like you are in a hamster wheel. It was when I finally left the nightlife to raise my daughter that real creativity for the future of my dance career took over me. "— Shuaila Salimpour, as quoted in 2012 edition YALLAH magazine.
"My advice to Apollo is: I don't care how many cool tricks you can do. How do I come away from the show a different person?" Magician Gillette, as interviewed by Adam Green.
"Because she stages her shows in concert halls and university auditoriums, and not in smoky cabarets, her audiences give her their undivided attention. When she performs her solo dances, they go wild."— Judy Gabriel, writing about Viviane Hamamdjian in Habibi Magazine in 1983.
"Rehearsals are frequent and grueling...three hours a day, six days a week during performance schedules. Teacher Viviane [Hamamdjian] puts her troupe [the Arabic Dance Theatre] through its paces, over and over and over again...But her insistence on perfection, her impassioned maestro tirades and her professionalism get results. She can whip a sloppy dancer into shape in a remarkably brief time...Dancing with a company, [Viviane] admits, is the most difficult test a dancer must face. 'Anyone can dance alone...you make a mistake and no one knows it except you and your choreographer. But if a member of the troupe makes a single little mistake, everyone will know. In order to be a real dancer, you must have the discipline of dancing with others. When you can do that, and not make a mistake, then you are a dancer.' "— Judy Gabriel in Habibi Magazine in 1983.
Dancer: Ruric-Amari. Photo: Anna Wagner.
Ashiya, Dancer's Viewpoint, Desert Dancer magazine, 1984, print.
Dorie Clark, How Raising Prices Can Increase Your Sales, Web.
Conchi, Ethics and Guidelines Part II on Teaching Ethics, Crescent Moon magazine, 1995, Print.
Stephen R Covey, From Effectiveness to Greatness, Free Press, New York NY, 2005, Print.
Dapper John, Copyright This! Web.
Mary Ellen Donald, About Cymbals & a Workshop Checklist. Web
Mary Ellen Donald, Unexpected Mishaps . Web.
Brad Dosland, Art of the Blurb, Web. A checklist of the basics that many frequently overlook when constructing their publicity items.
Najia El-Mouzayen, Real Critics Don't Mince Words. Web.
Maura Enright, Dancing at a Workshop Showcase: Don't call it Pay for Play. Web.
Maura Enright, Learn to Dance, Web.
Maura Enright, Learn to Improvise, Web.
Maura Enright, Problematic Business Promotion Practices and the Man-Up filter. Web
Maura Enright, Standard Rates for Music and Dancing, web.
Google, Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, Web.
Adam Green, A Pick-Pocket's Tale, Web.
Gerald Klickstein, Rebounding from Subpar Performances. Web.
Laurie Niles, Being an Engaged, Attentive Audience, Web.
LyeshajHow Not to Win Friends and Influence People, Jareeda Magazine, 1986. Print.
Mahin, Sign on the Dotted Line; Contracts for Bellydancers, web.
Mahin, Taking on Your Worst Critic, Web.
Neon, The Ancient Art of Keeping Your Mouth Shut, Web. Neon recommends that professionals do not indulge in online critiques of anyone.
Laurie Niles, I just get so nervous. Web.
Princess Farhana, Info to Know Before You Book A Show. Web.
Lily Shang, Sports Strategies for Musicians, Web.
Shoshana Portnoy, Building an Effective Web site, Web.
Shoshana Portnoy, Building a Portfolio, Web. The why and how of GOOD photographs: what makes a picture printable, enlargable, and good promotion for you.
Shoshana Portnoy, Copyright Law Myths vs Facts, Web.
Shoshana Portnoy, Five Tips for Successful Negotiations, Web.
S Tekbilek,Performing in the Middle East documentary Part I, YouTube.com, 9 minutes long.
S Tekbilek, Performing in the Middle East Part II, YouTube.com. An demonstration of her ideal set and music. 11 minutes long.
Tina, A Carousel of Challenges, Web.
Yasmin, Music Copyright Law for Belly Dancers or for any Performing Artist. Web.
Jo Weldon, How To Annoy Producers: a short-and-sweet list of ways to brand yourself as an inexperienced diva. Web.
Jo Weldon, Sponsorship for Beginners, Web.
A small diversion while you are trying to choose just the right font: a Font Conference with Comic Sans as the hero.
A humorous, but real, defense of Comic Sans typeface.
Maura Enright, Proprietor ®
Author: Maura Enright
©2012 - 2015 by Maura Enright
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Your links to this content are much appreciated.