It can be overwhelming to try to hire a belly dancer, or any live entertainment for an event. This is perhaps even more true in south Florida. This past week, I was honored, as well as several other talented belly dancers, to be featured in a gigmasters blog on some tips for hiring a belly dancer. Follow the link below to see the gigmasters blog, and scroll down to see my full article.
1. What should a client consider when looking to hire a belly dancer?
look their profile and personal websites over carefully and ask all the
questions you want, even the uncomfortable ones. When hiring
exclusively online you can never be too careful. Photos can be old, or
photoshopped or out right stolen from other sites! Don't hesitate to ask
to meet in person beforehand. Double check with liability insurance
especially if the dancer is using fire. Not only does this protect you
if something were to happen during the show (God forbid!) but it also
shows that the dancer has made a professional commitment to their dance
by taking the time and money to purchase their insurance and learn how
to perform safely. Also, don't just go for cheapest. On lead generating
sites such as Gigmasters, it is easy to see a line of bids and just
click the cheapest but even with a great company like Gigmasters you can
be burned by this. You get what you pay for and if a dancer is pricing
themselves under the competition there is a reason. She may be new, or
an "undercutter" and she also isn't going to take you party seriously.
If something better comes up she will not hesitate in leaving you high
and dry the night of your event! Or if she shows up she might be less
than what you were hoping in skill, punctuality and ethics. I have heard
horror stories from clients, everything from the girl not being the
same as pictured to dancing in non family friendly ways, the list goes
on. It is not worth the gamble!
2. What questions should a client ask a belly dancer that they are considering booking?
check for liability insurance, photos, reviews, videos, website. If the
dancer doesn't have any of these it can be a red flag. It isn't just
having these things but these are evidence that they take their dance
career seriously and have invested time, money and energy into it. Of
course this could mean the dancer is just starting out or hasn't had the
luck of getting good video so ask to see a live show. Almost all
professional bellydancers perform at weekly shows at local restaurants
and this is a great way to see them in action! You will not only get to
see their dancing but how they deal with the crowd and their demeanor.
This is a quick and fun way to ensure you are getting the right fit for
3. Once a client books you for a performance, what details should be discussed prior to the event?
order to ensure a smooth show be sure to discuss spacing required for
show, music format and time of performance. Depending on the props being
used and the personal preferences of the dancer will depend how much
space she will need. Try to be as accurate and realistic as possible. We
can accommodate nearly any requirement but we have to know what we are
working with! After space, music is probably the next most important
factor. The dancer will bring music on multiple formats usually but it
is good to check over beforehand with your DJ. Some DJs are not equipped
to play CDs or even iPods and if this is the case it could prove to be a
disaster if the dancer is not prepared! If you have no DJ but are
planning to use a home stereo system you should do a check to make sure
it is playing properly. Some home stereos will not play burned CDs so it
is a good idea to try to play a burned CD just in case. A professional
dancer usually will also have her own sound equipment so if you're
stereo is being strange, ask her to bring her sound equipment. Finally,
respect the time frame you and the dancer discussed, she likely has
several engagements throughout the night and you delaying the show for
30 minutes could cause her all sorts of trouble. If you suspect this
might happen let her know as soon as possible so you can work out
4. Please tell us - when did your act get started, and why do you do perform?
actually started in ballet at 22 months. I come from a dancer family on
my mother's side. Everyone on her side is involved in dance or
performance in some way so it was barely a choice, I was enrolled into
ballet class just 4 months after I started walking. Lucky for me I loved
it. I quickly added on several other classical dances and went on to
perform with Ballet Florida and Palm Beach Opera. During this period, my
much older brother took up belly dancing (men dance it too!) and it
made quite an impression on me. Though I was absorbed in the classical
world for most of my life I found myself being more attracted to belly
dance. When I started college, the ballet schedule was simply too
demanding with school and I left the dance. During this period I used to
have horrible nightmares about being late to dance class and running up
the stairs to the studio but the stairs sucking me in. I had to have
dance in my life! I started attending belly dance classes and instantly
fell in love. With my classical training I progressed very quickly and
before long I found myself a full time belly dancer. In belly dance I
found myself even more than ballet, I had the freedom to express myself
outside of a ballet narrative or choreographers instructions.
act though I wouldn't say was complete till I added the fire sword. The
sword dance was always what attracted me to belly dance before I
started and having the strength, balance and flexibility from classical
dance it was a natural dance for me. But I found the audience to be so
untrusting and they automatically assumed the sword was not real or it
was some sort of parlor trick so I thought I needed to add an extra
element of danger to the act. So I sewed some wick to my sword and set
it on fire. My goal was to do all my same tricks, including body and
head balances with the sword on fire, other dancers thought I was nuts!
But I did it anyways and now it is one of my most requested acts. Of
course, I'm not the first or the last and other dancers have followed
suit, but I have yet to see anyone do it quite like me.
What kind of gigs do you usually book?
from birthdays and weddings to half time entertainment and baby
showers. Pretty much every event benefits from having a belly dancer.
You don't have to be Middle Eastern or Mediterranean descent to
appreciate it! Besides offering different and memorable entertainment we
are also party starters! We get everyone up on the dance floor having a
good time so that your party is a success not just the show at your
6. What is the most interesting/unique event you have ever worked?
have been so many! What sticks out most in my mind is a yacht show I
did. The guest of honor was retiring and his friends wanted to send him
off in style, so naturally they went to Gigmasters and started searching
different entertainment options. They decided on me as a belly dancer
and as a complete surprise. Only problem is, how do you sneak a belly
dancer onto a yacht? It's hard enough sometimes into a house but a yacht
you're even more limited. I offered I should disguise as a server or
caterer of some sort so I dressed in all black, like a server and
boarded the boat inconspicuously with a suitcase filled with all my
goodies. From there I was ushered into a private room in the bottom of
the yacht where I changed. Once we were on the open sea the guest of
honor thought he knew who everyone was on the boat so he was beyond
surprised when I came up the stairs!
7. What other advice do you have for clients booking a belly dancer?
fun with it! Ultimately we are here to make your party unique and
unforgettable. Work with your dancer to make the performance an
extension of your personality. It doesn't have to be huge, just little
details from a costume color or a certain song you like. But these
details can make an impact and make your party and show stand out
8. Anything else you’d like to share?
Dancers love photos and videos of shows! If you ever get some from your event please send it to us. Even cell phone clips, we love it and it helps us remember your party as well, cause usually we are having just as much fun as you are!