Toronto Bellydancers: Know Your Audience

Who you are dancing for can determine your show: Your music, costumes and props. Is your audience from a Middle Eastern country, who fancy a traditional show, or are they Canadian or of some other culture? Any Middle Eastern establishment prefers a very traditional show with all Belly dance music from the homeland. Canadian audiences often like a taste of the traditional and some fusion, like a House/Arabic song, because it speaks to their culture. Sometimes Greeks will insist that you dance on the tables, where this may be looked down upon by Egyptians. If the audience is not Arab or Canadian, it is often a good idea to put a pop song from their culture into your set. For example, if they are Indian, add in the latest hot Indian song. Knowing your audience is key to the longevity of your Toronto bellydance career!

Dance Quotes Picks from Toronto Bellydancer Eden

Here are some of my favourite dance quotes to inspire Toronto Belly dancers and all dancers of all genres world-wide. Enjoy!

“Bellydance is the only dance which expresses womens’ femininity in its entirety.” Eden Fieldstone

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”

― Rumi

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”
― Voltaire
tags: dance, dancing, reading
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Friedrich Nietzsche
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
tags: dance, music
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Friedrich Nietzsche
“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul”
― Martha Graham

Dave Barry
Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.

Albert Einstein
Dancers are athletes of God.

Voltaire
Let us read and let us dance — two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.

Maurice Béjart
The dance: a minimum of explanation, a minimum of anecdotes, and a maximum of sensations

Scott Nilsson
Dance is the poetic baring of the soul through motion.

Jerome Robbins
Dance is like life, it exists as you’re flitting through it, and when it’s over, it’s done.

Anonymous
If dancing were any easier it would be called football.

Martha Graham
Dance is the hidden language of the soul.

Maya Angelou
Everything in the universe has rhythm. Everything dances.

George Carlin
Those who dance are considered insane by those who can’t hear the music.

Friedrich Nietzsche
Without music, life would be a mistake… I would only believe in a God who knew how to dance.

Friedrich Nietzsche
He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.

Friedrich Nietzsche
You must have chaos within you to give rise to a dancing star.

Friedrich Nietzsche
I would believe only in a god that knows how to dance.

Indian Proverb
To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak.

George Bernard Shaw
Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire.

Vicki Baum
There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.

Doris Humphrey
There are times when the simple dignity of movement can fulfill the function of a volume of words.

Vincent Lombardi
The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It’s your mind you have to convince.

Mark Twain
Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody is watching.

Ginger Rogers
I do everything the man does, only backwards and in high heels!

Client Satisfaction

Pleasing your clients is very important.  In the arts, the best business is repeat business and word of mouth.  Keep your clients talking about you positively and your gigs will snowball.  Client Satisfaction is not just bellydancing a great show.  As a Toronto bellydancer, I go above and beyond the performance.

Often first time clients are surprised at the fee for a Toronto belly dance show.  I explain to them that as a professional dancer they are getting my fifteen years of experience and my twenty years of dance training in a twenty minute show.  As well, I let them know that the preparation for the show, which is vital for a great performance, takes more time than the show itself.

Even though belly dance shows are typically , I ask the client if there is a special song that they want me to include in the set. People like to listen to songs that are endearing to them.  As well, I inform them of the various props I use and include them in choosing which ones I will use for their show.  And most importantly, I am polite.  I do not act like I am the star and give them diva attitude.  I am greatful for their business and conduct myself most humbly.

Lotto 649 and Bellydancing

Have you heard the recent Lotto 649 commercial where one woman says that if she won the Lottery she would take up bellydancing?  I always laugh when I hear this commercial.  I certainly didn’t have millions when I took lessons to become a Toronto belly dancer.  I was a university student on a student budget.

Bellydance lessons are not expensive.  On average in Toronto, $18/class.  Being a bellydancer isn’t for the rich.  It is for the average person who wants to learn an affordable art form which provides great cardio and strength. Don’t wait to get lucky with the 649.  You already have what it takes to take bellydancing lessons!

 

 

 

Toronto Bellydancing Fees

Many potential clients wonder why the standard fees for a Toronto Belly dancer starts at $200 for 20 minutes for a party.  It seens a lot for 20 minutes.  Well, the actual performance is 20 minutes, but the work is not.  For a bellydancer to perform one 20 minute show, it is approximately 4 hours of her time.

To prepare for a show, it generally takes 2 hours.  The belly dancer has to stretch and do her strenghtening exercises to prevent injury.  Then she has to do her hair, nails, and make-up and eat a nutritious snack or meal to give her energy to perform.  That in itself is 2 hours.

Then there is travel time.  Depending on where the gig is, the average minimum amount of travel time there and back to the gig is about an hour.  Albeit a 20 minute performance, the bellydancer is at the gig for about an hour.  She has to change in and out of her costume, set-up the music, and deal with her clients.  This takes time.

As well, a professional Toronto bellydancer has to constantly take dance classes as part of her professional development and keep buying new costumes.  This costs the dancer a lot of money on her part.  At some point, a professional belly dancer will need some form of physical therapy to maintain her body or deal with an injury.  That comes out of her pocket.

Considering the time put into a performance is about 4 hours, the cost of professional development and maintainence, $200 for a show is very fair.  The client is not just paying for 20 minutes of a bellydance performance.

Audience Participation

Being an established Toronto bellydancer, over the years, I have noticed that some audience members seem to be intimidated to dance with the bellydancer.  It is usually from women who often say a version of, “I am not as good as you.”

I find this a bit sad because when a belly dancer asks a patron to dance, it is just for fun.  No one is expecting them to be “as good as the bellydancer”, and no one should care either way.  The point of dancing with the belly dancer is just to have fun.  There is no need  for anyone to feel the pressure of competition.

I appreciate that it may be intimidating to dance with a professional, but rest assured the belly dancer is not judging you.  She has no expectation of an audience member to whip out some awesome moves.  The bellydancer just wants you to enjoy yourself and dance freely your way!

Audience Etiquette

Sometimes audience members seem to lack common sense etiquette for the performer.  Being a working bellydancer for over a decade I have come across plenty.  The most common is men dancing too close to the belly dancer, not staying a respectful distance away.  When the dancer asks an audience member to dance, she is not asking them to grind gyrate their pelvis into hers.

Another common etiquette issue is tipping.  Yes, tipping the bellydancer is customary.  There seems to be some people who think this is an opportunity to cop a feel.  They aim to  put money in the belly dancer’s bra.  There are other ways to tip a belly dancer. You can slip it in the top of her skirt or simply hand it to the bellydancer and let her decide where to put it.  i’n my opinion, this is the classiest and most respectful.

Last month, when I was in the middle of performing, the DJ was having trouble with the sound system and thought it was my IPOD.  To deal with this, the organizer came right up in front of me, blocking the audience’s view, and point blank asked me to give her a CD because the volume isn’t loud enough.  I was stunned.  She was ruining the show more than the lack of volume from the music. I kept dancing and just told her to turn up the volume, but she kept coming up to me asking me for a CD.  You would think a DJ would know how to operate an IPOD so that the volume is reaching the audience and you would think it is common sense to not talk to the performer, blocking her, while she is entertaining.  And to boot, a woman walked across the stage, in front of me, to go the the bathroom!!!!

You Don’t Have To Win The Lottery To Be A Toronto Belly Dancer

Recently, there is an ad on the radio asking what would you do if you won the lottery.  One woman’s response is to take belly dance lessons.  I always chuckle when I hear this ad.  Like so many others, I certainly didn’t need to win the lottery to take belly dance lessons.  Many years ago, I had a strong desire to become a belly dancer, so I just took lessons.  They are very affordable for most people – currently about $18/class.  Belly dancing is not an expensive hobby, unlike skydiving, which is a few hundred dollars a jump. That could require a lottery win.

Don’t listen to that ad.  Don’t wait for the 0.05% chance of winning the lottery.  Start belly dancing in Toronto now!

 

 

Better Sleep, Better Toronto Bellydance Show

Our culture promotes caffeine to get us through the day, or night, for most bellydancers. The average adult needs 8 hours of sleep a night and a nap during the day to perform optimally. The siesta was established for good reason.The fake awake of caffeine, with its inevitable crash, cannot replace natures refreshing sleep.

I used to work all day, dance 2 to 4 shows at night. I could barely function and my bellydance performance suffered. Once I started taking naps after work before I went to bellydance in Toronto, my shows had more energy.  So, incorporate a nap into your prep for your Toronto belly dance gigs. It is simple. Paint your finger and toe nails and nap for an hour while they dry. Warm-up, put on your make-up and bellydance your hips off!!!

 

As You Eat, So Is Your Show

As a Bellydancer in Toronto, the age old saying, “You are what you eat,” can be translated as, “As you eat, so is your show.” Food that energizes you, energizes your show.  So hold off on a big plate of pasta…unless you want to become the new up-and-coming Toronto belly dance performing artist who sleeps on stage!

So which foods really fuel the body and rev up your show.  Being a Toronto belly dancer for the past 15 years with back-to-back gigs, I have always found that a meal rich in protein and no heavy simple carbs is the best. I forgo white bread, pasta, pita, etc…I eat meat protein and greens.  For me, this is very easy to digest.  I especially find that red meat gives me a surge of energy.  Some people find the opposite.

Recently, I was feeling run down.  I had my last gig of three and my legs started feeling weak and tingly.  I was so tired. I didn’t know what to do.  I had to get energy fast.  I asked for a glass of orange juice and vavoom, life force returned and I put on a high energy show.

So, protein, juice and NO HEAVY CRABS!  Us professional Toronto bellydancers don’t want to put our patrons to sleep.