How to be a Professional Belly Dancer - Lessons From Rosalba
If you're thinking about becoming a professional belly dancer, these are some tips you MUST know before taking that big step. Don't believe us; believe Rosalba, a Los Angeles based belly dancer with years of experience.
Keep Tuning Your Instrument - Your Dance
"Train, train, train, practice, practice, practice. Taking a workshop with a very experienced and talented teacher can give you enough material to work with for 6 months to 1 year.
Take notes on everything that you learn in a workshop and work on it at home.
"Always aim to be the best that you can be and not by competing with other dancers, the only attitude that will bring you the best results is to compete against yourself."
"Don't compare yourself to other dancers or try to imitate them on their style - use it as an inspiration to find your inner voice and your own way of moving.
"Always be humble about your dancing and, even at times when you feel like you have learned everything about belly dance, know that the sky is the limit."
Learn the Business From People Who Know
"Talk to an experienced dancer about the business of belly dance before you promote yourself as a professional. There are so many factors involved in the business aspect of it that if you are not wise enough to handle it, you can put yourself in bad situations and very negative experiences."
Know the Music
"Learn about Arabic music, the instruments involved in the music, take classes about the proper way to interpret Arabic rhythms with your body.
"Know about the music by and who Oum Kalthoum, Abdel Halim Hafiz, Nancy Ajram and AMR Diab, and Hakim are."
Respect the Cultures
"There are many religious and cultural sensitivities you have to be aware of and you don't want to say the wrong thing to a client on the phone because they will find it insulting or will think of you as plain ignorant person and will not hire you for their event.
"Learn about the cultures that you are representing so that when people call you on the phone and ask you questions about music styles, props, artists, folkloric styles, etc, so that you sound like a knowledgeable person that has taken the time to also learn about the cultures and not just how to belly dance.
"Learn the historical and cultural differences between Lebanese, Egyptians and Jordanians. Also, know about their music and their singers, both for the older generations and the younger ones. Know that Armenians, Turkish and Persians are not the same group of people, nor do they speak the same language and have very different cultures."
Counter the Stereotypes
"I stole a very wise quote from Virginia Mendez who once told me 'Always take the opportunity to educate the general public about our dance'. For the type of client that has never hired a belly dancer and says something like 'well, I decided to call a bellydancer instead of a stripper'.....take a deep breath and take they time to explain how belly dance is a very skilled dance form that has nothing to do with stripping.
"For the clients that want to pay you less than the professional fee, take the time to educate them on what it takes to be a skilled professional and why that reflects on your rates. That is if you are ready and skilled to provide professional services. Another of my favorite quotes is take each gig so seriously "as if your life depended on it". Look your best and dance your best at any opportunity you have, your dancing will leave strong impressions and that's how your business will grow.
"Always present yourself in the most professional manner, that includes on the phone while talking to clients, when you arrive to an event, and how you dance."