How does it work?

Aire

New member
Hi Everyone,

I've been offered several times by two different studios to dance at their events which are not for charity and where they charge about $25 or $30 per person, when I go on to talk about the pay, they say that they don't pay because the event is only to promote the studio, so I just say no to the offer.

Is this normal in the Oriental Dance field, How does it work?

Thanks.
Aire.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dancers and pay

Hi Everyone,

I've been offered several times by two different studios to dance at their events which are not for charity and where they charge about $25 or $30 per person, when I go on to talk about the pay, they say that they don't pay because the event is only to promote the studio, so I just say no to the offer.

Is this normal in the Oriental Dance field, How does it work?

Thanks.
Aire.

Dear Aire,
It is very typical for dancers not to pay each other. I think that in the end, we have to stop this trend and start treating each other better. I am artistic director of a dance company and whenever we invite someone to dance on our stage, we pay them. As far as I know, I am the only person in the world of dance who consistently does this . If we sponsor the show, then we can not pay our guests dancers very much, but they do receive monetary compensation, every single person on the stage. Without them, we have no show. We wish we could pay them what they are really worth, but we have our other bills to pay also. If we are working for a college or the city or whatever, each person on the stage makes the same amount of money and the dance company fund gets an equal amount.
When we sponsor people, they must be willing to receive a lesser salary for their performance so that we can pay everyone who contributes to making our show a success. The "Star" no matter how great, is still not doing the show alone. I also have to say that so far, there has never been a single person who has turned us down because of our policy. This type of generosity is greatly respected on our part because we fully understand they are probably being paid more on other stages. If one person gets paid, we ALL get paid and that's all there is to it. We have turned down shows where we were not offered compensation.
I am not sure if you are a student or a professional dancer, but I also would not dance for free on a stage where someone else is being paid. When I ask non-professional dancers to join us, they get paid, too. If they are good enough to be asked to participate in a professional show, then I obviously think they have value to add.

I have to tell you again, however, that my dance company is the ONLY group I know that operates like this. I think we are very rare in the world of Middle Eastern dance.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Aire

New member
Dear Aire,
It is very typical for dancers not to pay each other. I think that in the end, we have to stop this trend and start treating each other better.


Hi Aisha,

Thank you very much for your response, and thanks for setting a good example by acting with honesty torwards you fellow dancers.
I have danced for free with my teacher at a festival for dancers in which there was a cover charge, my teacher has gotten paid for herself but I trully never expected any pay because I was not dancing as a professional, the audience was aware that it was the teacher and her troupe of students performing...but when I started working as a professional My expectations really changed.

Thanks again.:clap:
 

Lydia

New member
MMMMMMMMMM ....I dont understand this...if its to promote the studio why they dont do the whole thing for free? so they want to promote the studio ,they also: make money ...and then tell the dancer ,just come and dance and sorry no salaris???? not good thinking!!:mad:
I just can not undersatnd this kind of thinking....what ever the reason is its simple they make money so why you dont take money ??
If the whole thing was a promotion or charity and nobody makes money ok ....but like this ...i think you are saying,, no,, is a good thing
 

jenc

New member
I also don't understand. do you teach at these studios? Or did they teach you?

If you teach or used to study there and the studio is struggling, there could be a reason to help out, but only if you were told more details.

If not they are not only being greedy, but also dishonest in using you to promote.
 

Aire

New member
The one studio, that I used to study at, is the one that I have performed for free as a student, and then when I became professional the studio owner had hired me to perform for clients that have called the studio and have requested a show, In this case the studio owner always made a profit as well because she was the agent. I never taught at her studio and I was making a living only on dancing, so I said no when she had asked me to perform at her events that I know she is charging to get it.
The other studio owner is in the same city, and I have never set foot at her place, and she says that the event is to support her studio.

Unfortunatelly there are many dancers that will go along with this so, I feel like a lonely warrior except now that I have your support.

(I'm not reveling my Identity because I don't want to make enemies, these are woman that could gv me a bad reputation I don't want to say who they are either but I really wish that things were different in the area were I live)

Also ladies, what is the difference between a Haffla and a student recital?
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dancing for pay, etc.

MMMMMMMMMM ....I dont understand this...if its to promote the studio why they dont do the whole thing for free? so they want to promote the studio ,they also: make money ...and then tell the dancer ,just come and dance and sorry no salaris???? not good thinking!!:mad:
I just can not undersatnd this kind of thinking....what ever the reason is its simple they make money so why you dont take money ??
If the whole thing was a promotion or charity and nobody makes money ok ....but like this ...i think you are saying,, no,, is a good thing



Dear Lydia,
This is just business as usual in the regular world of Middle Eastern dance. Dancers complain constantly about how they are expected to dance for free at so many events, yet they expect other dancers to dance for free. Not only that, but they continue to dance for free at fairs and other places where the sponsors can well afford to pay them It seems there is always someone who wants to be in the public eye so badly that they are willing to give away what dancers with integrity charge to do.
Even at haflas where I do not pay the dancers, anyone who is performing does not pay the cover. In my not so humble opinion, it is just plain wrong to ever charge a dancer to dance. Without our fellow dancers, we have nothing with which to build a show. I think we need to start respecting that and proving our respect. This has been my policy for many years.


Dear Aire,
Hafla just means "party" in Arabic. Many people mean student recital when they say hafla. Some people also use it to mean, "Come and pay me to dance while I make money". I see this frequently. I use the word hafla to mean a group of dancers getting together to do a casual dance night. I usually charge a small cover $3-4 for people who are not performing, as I need to pay my rent. Occasionally I might make a little bit of money but usually it is about even. I do not charge dancers to perform, and I make sure they have a private dressing area and a decent sound system. I also usually MC such events myself because I am not usually sure if I will make enough money to hire one.
Regards,
A'isha
 
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Aire

New member
$3 or $4 is really nothing...and it makes sence that if you are organizing the party you receive some compensation, in this case it is a matter of just getting toguether to have fun.
Arthur Murray dance studio (I know they only teach ballroom) charges students to perform big bucks! but, they are paying the teachers to perform or just to show up and they also train the teachers for free as well as on the job training, and everybody is happy... because the clients/students can afford it...and you should see how happy they are.
Too bad I don't like ballroom.
 

shiradotnet

Well-known member
Dear Aire,
I am artistic director of a dance company and whenever we invite someone to dance on our stage, we pay them.

I have to tell you again, however, that my dance company is the ONLY group I know that operates like this. I think we are very rare in the world of Middle Eastern dance.
Kahraman Near East Dance Ensemble here in Iowa pays its guest performers for formal, professional-quality stage shows that have been advertised to the general public. It does not pay people who perform in haflas, which are advertised only to the local students and teachers.

I would agree that you're rare in paying your guest performers, but there are others out there.

Just for curiosity's sake, do you still pay all your guest dancers even in situations where an event has failed to draw enough attendees to cover expenses? I'm thinking of a workshop + show type of event, where maybe attendance was sparse for the workshop and the income from the show is needed to cover the workshop instructor's fee, the venue where the workshop was, the venue where the show was, travel expenses for bringing in the instructor, etc. I've known of events that just barely broke even without paying the guest performers in the show, and they would have lost money if the guest dancers had been paid. So I'm curious how you handle that - do you pay people anyway and accept the loss it causes?
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance etc.

Dear Shira,

Kahraman Near East Dance Ensemble here in Iowa pays its guest performers for formal, professional-quality stage shows that have been advertised to the general public. It does not pay people who perform in haflas, which are advertised only to the local students and teachers.
It is GREAT to hear there is at least one more person out there who pays everyone on her stage!! I applaud her!! I wish more people would do it.

I would agree that you're rare in paying your guest performers, but there are others out there.
As I said, I was the only one "I" knew of, not that others did not exist.

Just for curiosity's sake, do you still pay all your guest dancers even in situations where an event has failed to draw enough attendees to cover expenses?
So far this has not happened, but I would come up with the $$ to pay them something because it would not be their fault that the event was not successful. They still put in the hours rehearsing and still did their best to do a good show. Their value to me is not lessoned because the crowd was sparse. When I ask dancers to perform they are told that they will receive monetary compensation, and it is usually an approximate amount, stating that it may be a bit more or less depending on circumstances such as audience turn out. For example, during the last show, I was able to pay everyone a very little more than I had anticipated because the crowd was a little bigger.

I'm thinking of a workshop + show type of event, where maybe attendance was sparse for the workshop and the income from the show is needed to cover the workshop instructor's fee, the venue where the workshop was, the venue where the show was, travel expenses for bringing in the instructor, etc.
I do not see this as the responsibility of my guest performers. It is my responsibility, not their's and they should not have to pay for the fact that my event did not make money. If we work just about anywhere that has an ethics code, we get paid whether or not a certain number of customers came in that day, unless we are working on commission, which I think is rather bogus unless a salary is paid in correlation.


I've known of events that just barely broke even without paying the guest performers in the show, and they would have lost money if the guest dancers had been paid. So I'm curious how you handle that - do you pay people anyway and accept the loss it causes?
I would do so. My dance company has a dance fund that we have for expenses and it would come out of that. The only time I did not make enough to cover every expense ( and usually a least a bit more) was when I was a very young dancer and I sponsored Cassandra. I was $17 short for all expenses for show and workshop. I was poor and it seemed like a fortune to me at the time.... but I paid my dancers.

I meet expenses by doing bare bones events. I searched until I found a place that would let us rent for an affordable amount of money instead of looking for the fanciest venue in town. I also considered the size of the audience that are average for this area now. I have made it a point to advertise in ways that pay off instead of taking out newspaper or dance mag ads that do not attract the people in my region, because I am not interested in flashing to the whole world that I am having an event; only in getting the word out to those likely to attend. I do email mailings and fewer postal mailings, I try to mail as many flyers as my stamp will allow in hopes that people will give them to other dancers.
I keep workshops to a reasonable length ( 3 hours) and pay the instructor per student. I hire instructors who are willing to work for what I can reasonably pay,and I have a minimum that they will earn, and a maximum since I do not believe in overstuffing a classroom with dance students. I pay the instructors the same amount I ask when I go out to teach workshops around the U.S. and in Canada. I ask them if they are willing to stay with someone rather than putting them up in a fancy hotel. They are welcome to stay in one if they are willing to pay for it. I pay them the same thing for the show that I charge to dance.
I find that there are many, many wonderful up and coming dancers, like Ahava and Mark Balahadia who turn out to be truly excellent instructors as well. But, if I asked Shareen El Safy, Morocco, or any other really well known dancers, the same thing would apply. So far attendees have been impressed that I can charge a reasonable amount for the classes, bring them wonderful shows and workshops where it is not so crowded that they can't learn a thing. I am really happy with the way that we are doing things and it seems to be a successful marketing plan for the dance in my area.
Regards,
A'isha
 
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Samira_dncr

New member
Aisha--I am proud to say that the Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive compensates each and every performer in our show. Our artists are compensated based on experience so our headliners make a pretty fair wage. Not only do we pay our artists, but we also compensate our event "Directors" and our volunteers too. Not everyone is paid cash, some people (like the volunteers) receive workshops or show tickets.

We manage to do all of that while paying the expensive costs of venues and technicians in Vegas. It is a pretty daunting task, but we've built the event to the point that we know we can expect an estimate of 250 to 300 attendees at the shows (although some of these are comped tickets) and we also have 30+ workshops that contribute to the overall buget as well.

I personally think that many organizers operate from either a scarcity mentality (there is never enough) or a prosperity mentality (there is always enough). If you believe it is possible to pay everyone, then you find a way to make it happen. Personally, I work backwards. I write down what I want my profit to be...I write down the expenses...and then I try to figure out how many attendees I need to make it happen. I've done this long enough that I can make a fair estimate of what I can expect to do. And if the the numbers don't look right...I tweak it here and there. But when I need to cut expenses, it isn't at the cost of the artist. I find a less expensive way to build the website, better ways to advertise, and/or more cost-effective venues. Any way I look at it, the artists deserve compensation.

Aire--it's unfortunate that your area doesn't seem to share this perspective. I think you are right to not dance for free. You have my sympathies. As far as the difference between recital and hafla... I would iterate what Aisha has already said. My understanding is that the word "hafla" just means "gathering" and that it isn't even used for the same purposes that we use it here in the USA.

"Hafla" tends to get used to mean anything from a casual gathering to a student recital to a full-on pro-show. So it depends on the organizer. I do a similar gathering in Vegas to what Aisha is doing. I charge $5 at the door. I charge everyone, including the dancers. I realize that there is a strong sentiment out there that dancers should never "pay-to-play", but I would venture that my expenses are higher in terms of studio rental...and it is really about supporting the space. Most of the performers are students and hobbiests. Our professionals are usually working on Saturday nights. I hold this "community hafla" once a month and have done so for nearly 7 years. It's a nice consistant place for newer dancers to gain experience and a way to get to know others in the community.

Thanks for starting this thread. And thanks to Shira and Aisha for your contributions.
 
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Aisha Azar

New member
Compensation etc.

Dear Samira,
Well, that makes 3 of us now that I know of who believe it is important for dancers to pay each other!! that is out of the literally hundreds of dancers that I am acquainted with!! I am glad to know that other people see the reasoning and respect behind it.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Samira_dncr

New member
Dear Samira,
Well, that makes 3 of us now that I know of who believe it is important for dancers to pay each other!! that is out of the literally hundreds of dancers that I am acquainted with!! I am glad to know that other people see the reasoning and respect behind it.
Regards,
A'isha
Well, I suspect that the idea is catching on. I am pretty sure that Brad Dosland and crew also pay all dancers who are involved with Tribal Throwdown too. And I know that Aradia compensated all of her dancers who performed in the "Essence of Arabia" show she did earlier this month with headliner Aziza of Montreal.

I just believe strongly that when everyone in the show is getting "paid" (whether it is cash or something else) that they give it a more polished and professional effort. It creates a sense of obligation to the organizer. If you aren't getting anything out of it...it's too easy to not care. Plus, it certainly doesn't speak well of an organizer if they don't value the artists they put in their shows.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Compensation

Well, I suspect that the idea is catching on. I am pretty sure that Brad Dosland and crew also pay all dancers who are involved with Tribal Throwdown too. And I know that Aradia compensated all of her dancers who performed in the "Essence of Arabia" show she did earlier this month with headliner Aziza of Montreal.

I just believe strongly that when everyone in the show is getting "paid" (whether it is cash or something else) that they give it a more polished and professional effort. It creates a sense of obligation to the organizer. If you aren't getting anything out of it...it's too easy to not care. Plus, it certainly doesn't speak well of an organizer if they don't value the artists they put in their shows.


Dear Samira,
It may be catching on, bu I don't know. I am still hearing mostly about people who are either dancing for free, or in some cases actually paying to dance, even in the case of professional shows. Dancers have actually been amazed that I am going to pay them to perform, and when we discuss it, they tell me some pretty weird stories. I hope that you are correct and that it does become the trend. As that guy who sells oatmeal says, "It's the right thing to do."
Regards,
A'isha
 

shiradotnet

Well-known member
Dear Samira,
It may be catching on, bu I don't know. I am still hearing mostly about people who are either dancing for free, or in some cases actually paying to dance, even in the case of professional shows. Dancers have actually been amazed that I am going to pay them to perform, and when we discuss it, they tell me some pretty weird stories.
Although I think the number of people who pay the dancers in their shows is slowly increasing, I don't think there are enough yet to generate a snowball effect.

I do believe that discussions such as this one will enlighten the broader dance community on professional behavior. As dancers learn that *some* events pay their performers, they'll start to ask other organizers why they don't pay. Also, as organizers read comments like the ones you made, they'll become increasingly aware that they may have to change their practices in order to attract top talent to their shows.

I believe that there is much the belly dance community as a whole needs to learn about operating in a businesslike manner. I have an MBA, and I also have worked in the high tech industry since 1982, so I have a perspective on business practices that is quite different from many members of the dance community. I've been scratching my head over how to bring more of a perspective of "the business of belly dance" to the community. I have developed an "Artistic Marketing" 2-hour workshop for dancers which draws from my 26 years of work experience in professional sales and marketing, and I have presented this in environments that include not only belly dancers but also dancers of other disciplines (tap, tango, etc.) and yoga teachers. That's only one tiny aspect of business management, but hey, a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Business ethics

Although I think the number of people who pay the dancers in their shows is slowly increasing, I don't think there are enough yet to generate a snowball effect.

I do believe that discussions such as this one will enlighten the broader dance community on professional behavior. As dancers learn that *some* events pay their performers, they'll start to ask other organizers why they don't pay. Also, as organizers read comments like the ones you made, they'll become increasingly aware that they may have to change their practices in order to attract top talent to their shows.

I believe that there is much the belly dance community as a whole needs to learn about operating in a businesslike manner. I have an MBA, and I also have worked in the high tech industry since 1982, so I have a perspective on business practices that is quite different from many members of the dance community. I've been scratching my head over how to bring more of a perspective of "the business of belly dance" to the community. I have developed an "Artistic Marketing" 2-hour workshop for dancers which draws from my 26 years of work experience in professional sales and marketing, and I have presented this in environments that include not only belly dancers but also dancers of other disciplines (tap, tango, etc.) and yoga teachers. That's only one tiny aspect of business management, but hey, a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.


Dear Shira,
I think that you are definitely filling a need! I did take business courses, including marketing and management, in order to try to be a better business person. I do not have your life experience in business and mostly have just needed to apply it to my dance life. But I fear if I was really good at it, I would not be paying all those dancers so that I could keep the $$ myself!! (LOL) But, ethically I can not do that. Both you and Taaj out of Virginia should both be applauded for your contributions to educating dancers about how to do business.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Samira_dncr

New member
Yes, kudos to you Shira, for helping bring some business sense to the belly world. My own background is in the ballroom dance industry...and although there are aspects of that world that I wouldn't applaud, they also have a much better handle on marketing and business. I learned a lot while running a franchised dance studio.

I do agree that there certainly aren't enough organizers paying their performers, but honestly...there are so few business-minded organizers in the belly world. And more often than not, they get burned in the process.

Shira, I know you remember the "Broken Dance Economy" thread on tribe. There were a lot of good points in that thread about how difficult it is to make a workshops and/or event profitable....and how the belly world discourages professional promoters while complaining about the amateur ones. It's a double edged sword.

Sigh...one step at a time.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Business

The computer won't let me post unless I put something here. Message below.

Yes, kudos to you Shira, for helping bring some business sense to the belly world. My own background is in the ballroom dance industry...and although there are aspects of that world that I wouldn't applaud, they also have a much better handle on marketing and business. I learned a lot while running a franchised dance studio.

I do agree that there certainly aren't enough organizers paying their performers, but honestly...there are so few business-minded organizers in the belly world. And more often than not, they get burned in the process.

Shira, I know you remember the "Broken Dance Economy" thread on tribe. There were a lot of good points in that thread about how difficult it is to make a workshops and/or event profitable....and how the belly world discourages professional promoters while complaining about the amateur ones. It's a double edged sword.


Dear Samira,
I believe that in order for a professional promoter to promote Middle Eastern dance, they must first know what it is...... and promote what they are actually doing as opposed to using the term "belly dance" to promote stuff that is not. I have had it out with Miles Copeland big time, both on forums and in person about this. He said he would to try to do better, but he obviously forgot about that. When I find a professional promoter that is interested in really promoting authentic dance, then I will gladly stand in line to support him or her.
I find that many of the promoters who are dancers just do not realize that there are ways to bring good entertainment and instruction to their areas and still not break the bank. It does require a little financial cooperation from the big stars on down.
Regards,
A'isha
 
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Samira_dncr

New member
Your response is rather ironic to me because I wasn't suggesting that we need professional promoters from "outside" the bellydance world. What I was really referring to was the lack of quality promoters on the "inside". I've done a fair amount of event organizing outside the belly world, but I've also been a bellydancer for nearly 20 years. I would absolutely LOVE to make a living producing shows and events for belly dancers, but given the expectations of the headliners all the way down to what the market will bear...it's is darn near impossible to do so.

There are so many people out there that are willing to sponsor headliners and are either satisfied making nothing for their time except getting a little bit of special attention from the visiting artists, or they don't have enough business sense to plan a budget that is fair AND profitable. Our community gets irate and frustrated at newbie dancers undercutting the professional...and yet this happens all the time with baby organizers who are happy to agree to ridiculous terms just to rub elbows with Rachel Brice (or equivalent) regardless of time or money invested in the venture. They often inadvertently keep the prices low and undercut the possiblity of a profit for so many others out there who are struggling to pay fair wages, produce a quality experience, and make a profit for their time invested.

I am not suggesting that Miles Copeland is the answer. But I would suggest that our industry needs more business minded individuals that can produce QUALITY events and still pay everyone fairly. This means we need a business model that is sustainable. My personal thought is that the 70/30 split that is so common is ridiculous. I completely agree that "are ways to bring good entertainment and instruction to their areas and still not break the bank", but unfortunately...so few dancers who are jumping into the production arena even understand that.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
{rp,pters

Dear Samira,
Your response is rather ironic to me because I wasn't suggesting that we need professional promoters from "outside" the bellydance world. What I was really referring to was the lack of quality promoters on the "inside".
Sorry, I didn't get that. I agree that there is a lack of quality promotion from inside, but also a huge market glut that is really making things difficult for everyone, along with a lot of the stuff being taught being poor quality.

I've done a fair amount of event organizing outside the belly world, but I've also been a bellydancer for nearly 20 years. I would absolutely LOVE to make a living producing shows and events for belly dancers, but given the expectations of the headliners all the way down to what the market will bear...it's is darn near impossible to do so.
I think it would be difficult or even impossible, at least right now. There is also the issue of this being a niche market and if a person tried to have too many events in their area they would cut their own throats by giving their customer base too much of a good thing and attendance would drop. Right back to market glut, making it impossible to make a living as a promoter for just Middle Eastern dance events, for sure. Now, as a general events promoter, that's another thing all together!

There are so many people out there that are willing to sponsor headliners and are either satisfied making nothing for their time except getting a little bit of special attention from the visiting artists, or they don't have enough business sense to plan a budget that is fair AND profitable. Our community gets irate and frustrated at newbie dancers undercutting the professional...and yet this happens all the time with baby organizers who are happy to agree to ridiculous terms just to rub elbows with Rachel Brice (or equivalent) regardless of time or money invested in the venture. They often inadvertently keep the prices low and undercut the possiblity of a profit for so many others out there who are struggling to pay fair wages, produce a quality experience, and make a profit for their time invested.
Well, my experience with baby promoters is not so much that they keep the prices low at all, but agree to ridiculously high wages to their visiting artists, and get themselves into financial trouble that way. They also do not put a cap on the amount of money the Star can make, or the number of students attending the workshops, making it a damn miserable experience a lot of times with no room to take a deep breath, never mind dance. I have stopped attending such classes for the most part.

I am not suggesting that Miles Copeland is the answer. But I would suggest that our industry needs more business minded individuals that can produce QUALITY events and still pay everyone fairly. This means we need a business model that is sustainable.
I agree and that would be something different from region to region and coty to city, but with the same basic plan.

My personal thought is that the 70/30 split that is so common is ridiculous.
I agree and do not use it.


I completely agree that "are ways to bring good entertainment and instruction to their areas and still not break the bank", but unfortunately...so few dancers who are jumping into the production arena even understand that.
When they are star struck and inexperienced, they often fall prey to people who charge them way too much for everything from room rental to plane tickets to the price of the workshop, to what they pay the star to appear in a show. I agree that they seem to think being a "Near Friend of the Near Great" somehow means losing their shirt, and they think its worth it.
Regards,
A'isha
 
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