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Gigs 101 -- When Art Becomes a Business

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. Keep up with a FREE subscription to the BABA YAGA newsletter.

Fourteen Possible Guidelines for Performers

  1. Be prepared for anything. The definition of "anything" will expand greatly with experience.
  2. Most people will not be interested.
  3. Many people will try to cheat you.
  4. Many restaurants are teetering on the financial edge and in chaos. Leave your own financial problems and chaos at home.
  5. Don't take whatever happens personally.
  6. Remember what Mom told you about listening to your feelings when dealing with strangers or walking alone down dark streets? Ditto for business deals as a performer.
  7. Always be the most professional one at the table.
  8. There is a difference between negotiation and getting bargained down. The first shows your business savvy, the second cheapens the merchandise. Don't get bargained down.
  9. You cannot save a dying restaurant.
  10. Be on time and more than prepared for anything (see rule number one, above).
  11. Keep your end of the contract. The keeper customers will keep theirs.
  12. Remember that you are in a business, and that monopolies are illegal. You will have competition. Big deal.
  13. Your customers are observing your behavior and like to gossip as much as you do.
  14. You cannot fake respect for your own art form. If you don't attend other people's performances unless you want to drop off a business card or pick their brains, if there's always time and money for costumes but none for training, or if you cannot bring yourself to practice unless there's a gig coming up -- you are part of your own and everybody else's problem, not a solution. Evolve!

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 Improvise

Improvisation 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:

  1. Be proactive;
  2. Begin with the end in mind;
  3. Put first things first;
  4. Think win/win;
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood;
  6. Synergize (the whole is greater than the parts);
  7. Sharpen the saw (Improve physically and mentally);
  8. Find your voice: discover what is important to you, then learn to think creatively and make the decisions that will give your life meaning.
To identify what is important to you, the following exercises were recommended:
  1. Assume you have had a heart attack. What is important now?
  2. Assume your work or home situation will change in two years. What else do you want to do?
  3. Assume everything you say about anyone else can be overheard by that person. This makes your voice powerful.
  4. Assume you will have a one-on-one visit with your Creator every quarter. We all have a moral compass and it should not be ignored.

Learn to be a Good Audience

Learning 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 Critique

Najia predicts the typical reaction by dancers to criticism and critique by dividing them into three categories: the professional, the faux-pro, and the amateur.
  1. The Professional "is professional and behaves like a professional, taking both blows and accolades 'like a real man.'"
  2. Amateur dancers who aspire to look as if they were professionals "become angry with the public (their audience) who criticize and judge their lack of professional qualities regarding physical appearance, appropriate costuming, and other parameters that are important to audiences. These wannabes are often student dancers who have danced in a few student recitals, a party here and there and who have accompanied another dancer on her gig as a backup dancer or a second."
  3. The true amateur "thinks of herself as a part of a lovely sisterhood of dancers who simply dance for the joy of it... These true amateurs should not be subject to the judgment of a critic [and would not] except for the unfortunate fact that dedicated amateurs are often convinced by friends and instructors to join a troupe whose members imagine themselves professionals simply because they dance in local haflas and festivals and accompany their leader/instructor on her gigs... If criticism is unwelcome, then those dancers comprising the sisterhood of dancers should not be dancing in venues where a critic may be called to report upon the event."

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.

  1. Watch solely for posture.
  2. Turn off the sound.
  3. Turn on the sound and listen for the phrasing, instrumentation and accents in the music. Are you responding to them?
  4. With sound on or off, watch just the arms.
  5. Watch for the technique of each movement.
  6. Did you stop and start your playing in places that make sense musically?
  7. Is your timing steady?
  8. Watch your face.
  9. On your last run through, pick your favorite moment from the performance.
  10. Ask a trusted fellow performer to tell you their favorite moment -- you may be surprised what they pick!

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)


  • A copyright protects original creative works, including music, choreography, graphic designs, novels, etc. New creative works are automatically protected by federal copyright. Nevertheless, copyrights can be registered with the Library of Congress, and some remedies for infringement require this registration.
  • Entire shows cannot be copyrighted, but specific components of the show (original choreography or music) can be.
  • If your choreography is not notated or recorded it cannot receive copyright protection.
  • Choreographic copyright is not connected to the music used.
  • The Copyright Act does not define choreography, but the Court of Appeals has excluded social dance steps and simple routines from copyright. How long a series of movements (however original) must be to be copyrightable is not clear... There are no clear guidelines. Infringement is defined by a work being substantially similar to the copyrighted work, "leaving choreographers in the dark as to when imitation changes from flattery to infringement."
  • Props are not protected unless they themselves are original works of art. If it is very unique it might be eligible for patenting.
  • The U.S. Copyright Act provides national protection. International treaties, specifically the Berne Convention, facilitate protection of copyrights worldwide, since protection in one Berne country is extended to the others.


  • A trademark protects something used to identify where a product or service comes from: like a distinctive logo. The logo is not trademarked, but its use is protected. Trademarks are also automatically protected, but unless registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office, the protection is limited in scope. Trademarks can last forever by being renewed when they expire.
  • Unregistered trademarks are protected only in the geographical area where the trademark is actually used. A U.S. federal registration on the Principal Register will prevent others from claiming lack of knowledge of the original mark, providing a national scope of protection.
  • Distinctive names, slogans and phrases which are used to sell a product or service can be protected by registering a trademark.

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.


Make it Clear, Complete and Legible!

I really wish I could remember where I found this list called The rules of the game now are:

  • Think of what will be of value to your audience and deliver it.
  • Go beyond money (yes, you do need to make a living but charging for absolutely everything you do only limits the number of people willing to use your services).
  • Stop just selling (don't push ads, join the conversation for real).
  • Listen and respond (those who engage with you are telling you what they want, what they like and what they don't. This is direct access to the source, beyond market studies, focus groups and gut instinct).
  • Aim to become invisible (make your products and services as easy to use as possible. The more people have to work to access them, the less likely they're to do so.)
  • Enjoy what you do (it shows and it colors everything else).

Web Site and Portfolio

There 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.
  1. Title tags, placed within the HEAD tag of the web page, inform search engines as to what the topic of a particular page is. The search engines in turn will usually display the contents of the title tag in the first line of your listing. So, create a unique title for each page on your site. This will help users recognize if the page is relevant to their search. Include the name of your web site/business and other bits of important information (physical location, main products or services).
  2. Make use of the DESCRIPTION meta tag. Like the Title tag, the DESCRIPTION meta tag is placed within the HEAD tag of your document and gives search engines a summary of what the page is about. Whereas a page title may be a few words or a phrase, a page description meta tag can be a sentence or two or a short paragraph. Make them telling, because search engines might display them in search results as well.

If you are selling yourself as a performer, here is the content that the potential customer or promoter will want to see ((Shoshana Portnoy)):

  1. Who are you? Provide a bio and a professional photo. Describe your background, your strong points, your experience. A successful bio can be anyway from one to three paragraphs.
  2. Don't make a potential customer search for videos on YouTube; every video by anyone who tagged you will show up. Post the videos you want customers to watch on your site, so they do not judge you by the less-than-flattering ones. Videos should demonstrate your range and signature numbers.
  3. Provide a gallery of photos. Include both live performance shots and publicity shots. You will save yourself (and your customer) time if you have high resolution photos (suitable for publicity posters) available for download on your site.
  4. Contact Info: List every possible way to contact you and put this info in a conspicuous place.
  5. Past Media Coverage: Post links to the best ones so potential customers can read them and use them in a press release.

It's Business, Not Personal

How Not to Win Friends and Influence People, by Lyeshaj:

  1. Sign up for every belly dance class in town but don't show up for half of them. Take six lessons and start performing.
  2. When the restaurant owner sees his business hurting because of poor shows, come on to him. It will cheer him up and should secure your job. If he tires of you, try the waiters -- even the dishwasher may put in a good word for you.
  3. Try to find out via the grapevine where other dancers are booked for private parties. Then show up one hour before the scheduled time and pretend to be the dancer they ordered.. most don't know one dancer from another. Or lie and say the dancer they booked is ill and you are taking her place.
  4. Travel to small towns. Tell them you are "direct from New York" or Egypt. Use big names, change yours to sound like one of the famous dancers.
  5. Collect workshop flyers for your album so you can say you went. But don't go. Remember, you are a big star now, a natural.

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.

  • Focus on the upside (what might be gained by confrontation) instead of the downside, and visualize the argument going your way, with both parties agreeing and walking away as friends.
  • Practice with minor confrontations, such as overcharges at a supermarket.
  • Raise the topic in a pleasant way with a positive attitude, not as a full-scale assault. The person you are confronting may not even realize that s/he is causing a problem.
  • Start by finding something you both agree on; 1 percent of your opponent's position is a start.
  • If you are partly at fault, admit it.
  • Focus on the core problem and ignore past issues. Get back on track if you get sidetracked.
  • Ask for a recess of an hour or two if you need to collect your thoughts.
  • Look underneath the anger (secondary emotion) to the primary emotion (shame, pain, frustration, fear, helplessness) that may be in control of the conflict.

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:

  • a contract to be signed and returned
  • your business id number
  • your music
  • your biography
  • a low resolution picture for the web and a high-resolution picture for printed publicity
this means she is on a schedule, using a checklist and already has stresses of her own to deal with. Do NOT make her ask you a second time for any of these things. Worse - do not make her ask you a second time for each one of these things, one at a time. As Cera Byer says, "You don't have to be the most talented candidate if you are the best to work with. If you are both, it puts you way ahead of the game."

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:

  • I apply to everything that looks interesting. Everything...just so people have my resume on file.
  • I Google dance festivals, theater companies - anything that I know pays dancers in my area - and I send in unsolicited applications... even when I don't see a listing saying they are hiring, I write to them, tell them who I am, and say I'd love for them to keep my resume on file for future projects. Some companies don't like this, but I've had people write back and say OMG, a choreographer just quit, can you come in today?
  • Once you have a gig, be cool with everyone. Exchange cards with the tech guys, the venue owners, the bartenders, the dancers, the directors. Treat everyone like your peer, because you really don't know who is around. Everyone you meet may be the person who hires you for your next job.
  • Be punctual, manage time well, deliver a strong product, take criticism well, follow through on commitments as best you can (and own mistakes when you cannot)- like every other relationship you'll ever have - and one job will be easily into 20.
  • You don't have to be the most talented candidate if you are the best to work with. If you are both, it puts you way ahead of the game.

Negotiating and Writing Contracts


Five Tips for Successful Negotiations (Shoshana Portnoy):

  1. Know Your Price in Advance
  2. Keep Your Contact Professional
  3. Collect Information First- Resist the Urge to Answer on the Fly
  4. Always Negotiate with Long Term Gain/Relationship in Mind
  5. Consider other avenues of payment, but "Avoid accepting trades that don't actually benefit you. Remember 99% of the time, It will be great publicity is a lie. All you publicize is that you work for free."

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.

  1. The customer will ask price first thing. I ask about their party and I describe what I do and THEN state my price. Takes less than 30 seconds.
  2. First find out what they actually want. What kind of party is it? Where is it? Who will be there? What country are they from? etc ... just asking these will help you determine music, props etc... even colors if you want to match or coordinate.
  3. Then tell them what you would do specifically FOR THEM... How what you do is OF VALUE to them (this differentiates you from the pack as they haven't had that conversation yet, most likely).
  4. Then state price. The customer's reaction is quite different when you clearly describe how your service fulfills what they are looking for instead of launching immediately into a price negotiation.
  5. Do not discuss how great you are or how bad the competition is.

Dorie Clark at 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]."

Contract Writing

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.

WHO is responsible for paying you?
WHAT kind of entertainment is wanted?
WHERE is the venue?
WHEN do they want the show to start?
WHY do they want dancing?
How will you be paid?
How will you change costumes at the venue?
How will cancellations be handled?
How will the music be provided?

Different Types of Audiences

Grab, Pre-Planned, Out, and In Audiences

From 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.

  • This audience is naive, noisy, attracted by color, excitement, spectacle, props (especially the tricky and dangerous-looking ones), and noise (drums and zill work. They are easy to attract and easy to lose.
  • Since they have no monetary investment in the performance, they will quickly leave when things get boring. Minimize audience disappearances with a well-paced act that has no delays or dead spots in the performance.
  • Avoid being after another MED ensemble or an inexperienced rock group that has to clear the stage of equipment before the dancer(s) can go on.
  • Some members of an audience may think it is OK to parody a dancer while she is dancing, or to make inappropriate noises. Tactfully and directly interacting with the source of disruption (making that person the temporary canter of attention) will usually stop the distraction and win the audience over at the same time.

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.

  • Keep this balance in mind: the dance ADDS to the occasion but is not the REASON for the occasion.
  • Incorporating interactive dancing into the event adds greatly to audience 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.

  • Generally have both time and patience.
  • Possess appreciation for subtlety, detail, technical proficiency, style, and elegance of costume.

Community Events

One 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."
  • You are a community performer performing on a community stage and must trim your sails to this wind. Fair officials often have no idea what these types of acts need to look good, and sometimes they do not care.
  • Bring a print copy of any emails or forms that indicate where and when you are scheduled to perform, the better to expedite discussions with confused volunteers.
  • Arrive at least an hour prior to your designated time. Expect to walk, expect dust and dirt, and assume the worst.
  • Do not expect a decent dressing room. Try to wear most of your costume and makeup into the fair.
  • You will have to work to attract and keep an audience. Community stages can be located next to livestock or even inside noisy carnival ride zones.
  • Remember, they serve alcohol at many fairs. Take someone along with you.

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:

  1. Reconfirm a week and a day before the show;
  2. It is acceptable to bring an escort to ensure your safety;
  3. If you feel unsafe at any time, leave!
  4. Do not leave anything you own unattended;
  5. Be gracious but do not do anything you do not want to do.
  6. Leave as soon as you are paid.

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.

  • Do not wear rags to rehearsals;
  • Put on a touch of makeup before practicing or making a sales phone call;
  • Use a small rolling suitcase to transport gear to your performances;
  • Wear a coverup when at a venue but not on stage.

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:

  • As I put on my costume and makeup, I start my backstage process. Even if I am at home looking into my own mirror, I am now 'backstage' I don my makeup I also don my persona. I become larger than life, I take on a new idea of myself as I transform my physical look.
  • At my destination I put on my finishing touches close to the time of my performance...belt, lipstick, dance shoes, and heavy tribal bracelets. Once fully adorned, I stretch and breathe and ready my finger cymbals for a quick put-on.
  • After my cymbals are on my hands, I always do a backstage centering meditation in the form of an East Indian pranam, or puja for the stage. My personal pranam (also known as a prayer, moving meditation or centering exercise) is a variation of my teacher's. Everyone in my classes learn this as well, as it serves to set apart sacred time from mundane and it really works to help change focus and bring one into the now.
  • Once on stage, I almost always make a circle when I enter to help me claim my space and set it aside in my mind from anywhere else. If I cannot make a circuit because of my style or choreography that day, I do so in my mind to delineate my space from everyone else's. Now fully prepared, I lose myself in the moment and just dance!

From Laurie Niles on 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.

Managing Events


Mary Ellen Donald, writing for


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.

  • A local sponsor brings in a well-known instructor two weeks before your own well-publicized seminar and is charging less than you announced.
  • Local instructors who have been offered free passes to your seminar do not bring any of their students to the seminar and do not attend the classes themselves. But, they show up to dance in your seminar's show.
  • An associate who assures you that she will support your seminar in every way possible does not announce the event to any of her students, brings no students to the seminar, and puts on several small workshops in your area a couple of weeks before your event.
  • A dance publication which was given exclusive interviews with your guest instructors publishes a review of the event that features photos and comments from the teachers, the publication staff, and random attendees; but there is no mention of you or your name in the entire article.

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 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.

Ruric Amari Stressed for Success
Dancer: Ruric-Amari. Photo: Anna Wagner.



Ashiya, Dancer's Viewpoint, Desert Dancer magazine, 1984, print.

Cera Byer

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.

Kajira Djoumahna

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.

Fuse Magazine

Google, Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, Web.

Adam Green, A Pick-Pocket's Tale, Web.

Habibi Magazine

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.

Onca O'Leary

Princess Farhana, Info to Know Before You Book A Show. Web.

Suhaila Salimpour

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.

Samira Shuruk

S Tekbilek,Performing in the Middle East documentary Part I,, 9 minutes long.

S Tekbilek, Performing in the Middle East Part II, 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.

Zaghareet Magazine.

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.
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