Friday, November 6, 2009

No, I don't sit by my phone waiting for it to ring!

Lately, I have gotten a TON of last-minute gig requests - like, really last minute. For example, just last night I received a text from the owner of a club I have danced at before - the text came in at 8:30, he wanted to know if I could dance at 10:00. What!?! No! I have a life, thankyouverymuch!

Contrary to popular belief, I do not sit by my phone in costume waiting for the phone to ring. I need at least 12 hours advanced notice if you want me to perform. And even that is pushing it. Maybe it's because I have a day job - I work 9:00-6:00 every day, and then teach 6 classes a week. So - I'm busy. My weekends are precious to me, and every single second is scheduled weeks in advance. Even if I'm not "doing" anything in particular, I have so many errands to run on the weekends, because of lack of time during the week, that I always feel that I need a weekend from my weekend by the time Sunday evening rolls around.

So, if you call me hours before you need a dancer, don't expect me to take the gig. I am probably busy. And even if I'm not busy, I'm probably exhausted and would rather stay home and rest than flip my weekend upside down in a whirlwind of getting in costume, packing my gig stuff and getting out the door. Sure, I could always use the money. But sometimes I could use my sanity more.

But someone must be doing this gigs, no? I mean - who is actually dancing at the restaurant that called me at 7:00 for an 11:00 show? Or the lounge who wants to know if I can be there in an hour? There's got to be someone taking these last minute gigs, or else these club and restaurant owners would actually need to *plan ahead* and book a dancer - gasp! - a DAY in advance!

So what's your position on last minute gigs? Do you take them? Do you charge more for the aggravation? Or are you like me, where the likelihood you will take a gig with less than a day's notice is slim to none?

Friday, September 4, 2009

How to be a good audience member, Rule #1

Don't get up and walk out mid-show if doing so involves walking directly in front of, or past, the dancer! Especially when she has a sword on her head!! And when there is almost no one left in the restaurant!

Recently, I was performing on a very slow night at my weekly gig. There were a total of three tables when I started my show - two groups of two, and one group of six. One of the tables of two got up and left almost immediately after my entrance - they obviously were not there for the show and got out of there pretty quickly. So, I was left with two tables to perform for, eight people total.

About three quarters of the way through my set, I am in the middle of my sword routine when the table of six gets up, walks right past me and out the door! Leaving me with TWO people to perform my sword, drum solo and finale for!

Now, I know that I am a good performer. I know that audiences enjoy my shows. And I understand that bellydancing just isn't for everyone, and some people will go out to a venue that happens to have bellydancing just to enjoy their time, and not have any interest in seeing a show. But doesn't common sense and decency tell someone that walking out of an almost-empty restaurant, not only in the middle of a dancer's show, but in the MIDDLE of a SONG is RUDE?? No? I mean, I would think it would be pretty darn obvious!!!

So, Rule #1 about how to be a good bellydance audience member - wait until the end of the show to leave. Or if you must leave mid-show, do it so that you are inconspicuous, and at least wait until a song is over!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The end of summer....

Sad to say, but it's true. Summer is almost over. I haven't blogged much this summer because things have been sort of slow in bellydance-land, so I haven't had so much to talk about! Summers are usually my slow season - most of the gig-requests I get are from people looking for hula dancers for their luau. If I have to explain the difference between Middle Eastern dance and music, and Polynesian dance and music one more time, I'll scream. I think part of the lull this summer was also due to the economy. Of course, bellydancers are a considered a "luxory item" (because, even though we like to think we are necessary in order to have a good time, you actually can have a fun party sans bellydancers...).

I kept busy with the Aradia workshop and show, teaching my classes, and performing at Hush many Sunday evenings. I do have a few stories to share from those experiences, but I'll save them for another day, and another post. ;-)

But, with the fall comes more bookings. I just got back from a great gig out in NJ (very funny birthday boy!), and I have jobs booked the next few weekends. So, now that I am back in bellydance mode, I am also back in blog mode!! I'll be posting more and more in the weeks to come, hopefully with new stories to share!

So, how did you spend YOUR summer vacation?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Aradia Workshop and Gala Performance!

Aradia from Las Vegas ( is coming to NYC this weekend!

Friday, June 26, Aradia, along with myself, Mariyah, Nabila, Kymberly, Suneydis, the Daniela Dance Company, and Mariyah's Move with Grace Dance group will be performing in a Gala Performance. Check out the flyer for details. Tickets are only $20 for this amazing show!! You can purchase tickets at this link: BUY TICKETS HERE! Don't wait to buy your tickets at the door - this is a SMALL venue and will likely sell out fast!

Also, don't miss out on a weekend of AMAZING workshops - Saturday, we have a morning session of Egyptian, Lebanese and Turkish Combinations, followed by a class on Double Veil. Sunday morning it's a drum solo workshop, followed by a Saidi/Assaya class. Email me at for a registration form - pre-register and save!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Career Stability/Longevity

I posted this on a few days ago, but I'd like to get feedback here as well....

First, a little backstory to explain what got me thinking about all this - A few months ago I found out I had a basal cell carcinoma on the tip of my nose...long story short, I had Mohs surgery to remove it three weeks ago, and it turned out to be a lot worse than anyone thought. They actually had to remove some of the cartilage in the tip of my nose because it went down that far (on the surface, it only looked like a teeny tiny little red spot that wouldn't go away). Anyway, the plastic surgeon did a skin graft from another part of my nose to cover the hole, and the healing process is now shaping up to be longer than I had originally anticipated.

Obviously, while this is all going on, i can't gig. No one wants a bellydancer with a bandaged, oozing nose. I'm not even sure how long I'll be out of commission - I had originally budgeted for no gigs the month of May, but that is when I thought I'd only have a few stitches. I figure I am looking at about two months of gigs lost when all is said and done.

So, in the meantime, I've been teaching. Thank GOD I have a day job, because if I had this sort of injury and BD was my only source of income, I'd be in serious doo-doo right now.

Which leads me to my question/thought of the day....we can't always gig. We can't always be the sexy, pretty, mysterious bellydancer that our clients want/expect us to be. Whether it is because we get older, or we get injured, or become pregnant or something else that affects our appearance.... I think that the amount of time in our lives where we can go out there and be the pro bellydance performer is so short compared to the times we cannot.

In my experience, in the times where I can't get out there and perform, I can still get out there and teach. Because you don't need to "look the part" to teach - you just need to know what you are doing. And that doesn't change despite of what you look like. So, if you really want to be a dancer, make a living off of it (or a substantial part of your income, anyway), do you need to be a teacher as well? I have friends who are amazing dancers, but who just don't like teaching, or don't think they are very good at it so they don't do it. Are they destined for a short dance career?

Is teaching the only way we as dancers can insure that we will be around for the long hall? Those who can't do, teach, right?

What do you think? And don't forget to wear sunscreen!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

How well should you know your music?

In a workshop I attended, Nourhan Sharif said you should listen to a piece of music so much that you are sick of it, and only then are you ready to dance to it. Her point being that you need to know your music well to be able to do it justice with a live, improv performance.

I understand what she is saying but I also see it slightly differently - I have basically the same set that I use for all my basic gigs (birthdays, retirement parties, weddings, etc). Pretty much the same songs, in the same order, unless there is a special request or other reason that I would change things up. Lately, I have been feeling, well, uninspired when I dance to those songs. Kind of like "Ho hum, shimmy, shimmy, pop, turn, turn, turn.....same old, same old" I know them SO well, that they don't get me excited any more - you know, the feeling you get when you hear a song you LOVE and you just need to get up and dance to it right away!

I have found that, lately, my exciting (to me) shows - the ones where I finish feeling like I rocked - are the ones where I am using different music. Maybe a song I don't know very well, because I've only heard it a few times. So it's new to me. Yes, I am probably missing some accents I could be using, or getting slightly off-beat when there is a change in the music that I didn't realize was coming. But I am having more fun, and I feel like it shows. And I think that is pretty darn important.

What do you think? Do you listen to your songs until you hear them in your sleep? Or do you like to change it up frequently?

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Show was a Success!!

My fourth annual student showcase was another huge success!! I am so proud of all of my students - everyone worked so hard and it showed!! The show just keeps getting better and better every year!! Here are some pictures of the night - enjoy!

Friday, January 23, 2009

And no shipping and handling charges!

I received a voicemail the other day that went exactly like this:

"Hi. I am having a party this Saturday and I would like to order two bellydancers. Please call me back at ....."

Um. Excuse me? You would like to order two bellydancers? You do know that bellydancers are people and you can't order a person, don't you?? You order things off of Ebay and Amazon, you do not order people.

I understand that most of the general public doesn't get that what I do is an art. I understand that, 95% of the time, I am hired as a "novelty act" to embarras the guest of honor, and not because the party host appreciates the ancient art form that is Middle Eastern Dance and wants to share that appreciation with his guests. I understand that - it comes with the territory of being a bellydancer that does "belly grams" and short party gigs.

But I would hope that potential clients, and the entire general public, at least see me as a person providing services that you HIRE, and not a good that is ordered and delivered to your party. At least understand that. You can't ORDER me, but I would be more than happy to be HIRED by you.

I didn't call this person back. Bad business move? Maybe. But it would have been a bad move for my ego if I allowed her to "order" me for her party.....