Is going pro realistic?

Madeline

New member
Hello fellow dancers!

I want to become a “world-famous professional oriental dancer”, as I would love to become known throughout the world for my performances, but I’m not sure if this goal is realistic enough. (Please assume that my dancing is good enough for the purposes of this discussion. I merely want to determine if there’s enough of a market to pursue my goal.) Your advice is very much appreciated!

-Is it possible to make a living solely from oriental dance? If so,

-Where would you have to live? Is there a wide enough audience in the U.S. for raks sharki? Who would that audience be?

-What about performing in the Middle East?

-Do any western dancers working in the Middle East live off of dancing alone? If not, did they have to save up enough money beforehand to live off of while pursuing their dancing careers?

-What sort of venues would you perform at?

Thank you!
Madeline :D
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
Hello fellow dancers!

I want to become a “world-famous professional oriental dancer”, as I would love to become known throughout the world for my performances, but I’m not sure if this goal is realistic enough. (Please assume that my dancing is good enough for the purposes of this discussion. I merely want to determine if there’s enough of a market to pursue my goal.) Your advice is very much appreciated!

-Is it possible to make a living solely from oriental dance? If so,

-Where would you have to live? Is there a wide enough audience in the U.S. for raks sharki? Who would that audience be?

-What about performing in the Middle East?

It is cool to have dreams but you have to have a few things in place to make them a reality.

First take things step by step. You have to work hard to become known locally, nationally and then internationally.

It will cost you alot so you have to be finacially prepared to spend on training, costumes and travel and this will cost a huge amount.

Training with masterclasses and travel will set you back quite a bit. I think you also have to have a 'stable' personality and prepred to take some knocks.

It is not the best time to launch a world wide career in dance but there is nothing to stop you going for it, there is just no guaruntee that after spending all this money and energy you will reach your goal. You also have to be happy and content with what you achieve and proud no matter what.

It has to be based on what others think of you. You cannot set up a great website and tell people how good you are as this only works on a local level and for a limited time.

You will also need to work hard on some Arabic language to be able to deal with lyrics etc.

If you plan to work in the Middle East you have to travel there alot before doing so. It is also really difficult and you have to be very 'streetwise' to survive what you will encounter.

Again..step by step.

I hope this helps?
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Professional

Dear Madeline,
So you will know that I am not just talking to hear myself talk, I will tell you that I have made a living solely from dancing for about the last 17 years. It is not a lavish living and I would have to live frugally if I was not married to a man who believes that dance is my life's calling. I will try to respond to your questions and ask a few myself.

Hello fellow dancers!
I want to become a “world-famous professional oriental dancer”, as I would love to become known throughout the world for my performances, but I’m not sure if this goal is realistic enough. (Please assume that my dancing is good enough for the purposes of this discussion. I merely want to determine if there’s enough of a market to pursue my goal.) Your advice is very much appreciated!

WHY? Why do you want to become a world-famous professional oriental dancer? What motivates you?

Why should we assume you are good enough? We have been told that by a bazillion other dancers who say they are good enough, too, and they turned out to be really just mediocre and often just downright bad.

Let's start there because this is the kind of skepticism you will be dealing with in reality. This is a job where you will have to prove yourself over and over and over and over and over again.... The glamour of dance is about 20 minutes on the stage and the rest is real........ work.

-Is it possible to make a living solely from oriental dance? If so,
Yes. Some dancers even make a very livable wage, but not many. Those who do the best are often those who have great marketing skills or a great agent as opposed to those who have the most talent for the dance. This fact is the same for dance as it is for any other area of life.

-Where would you have to live? Is there a wide enough audience in the U.S. for raks sharki? Who would that audience be?
It is best to live in a big city because dance opportunities and prospective customers are more abundant. Also people tend to take entertainers more seriously if they claim to be from New York City or Los Angeles rather than, say Kerrywood, Idaho. There seems to be a wide enough audience in the United States, but it is definitely a niche audience, and very affected by economics and politics and other issues. Your audience will mostly be dancers and their families and friends. As I stated, this is a niche market.

-What about performing in the Middle East?
There are others here who are more qualified to speak to this issue. But, you need a really strong, honest agent from over there, from what I hear. They take care of you. Do NOT attempt to just go over and get work on your own. I work in the U.S. and Canada and have not attempted to go to the Middle East to work even when I was young enough to do so, because I did not want the headaches.

-Do any western dancers working in the Middle East live off of dancing alone? If not, did they have to save up enough money beforehand to live off of while pursuing their dancing careers?
There are a lot of dancers over there who live on their dance money, but I would certainly not go over with an empty purse because the competition is stiff. I know of one woman who went over and assumed that her dance friends who worked over there would help her get work. She failed to realize that they have to work hard to make their money and do not want to share their venues, either. This can be a VERY cut throat business, no matter where you are trying to work.

-What sort of venues would you perform at?
Well, that I know of there are private parties, the cruise boats, clubs in the hotels and clubs not in the hotels, some really nice places and some dangerous dives. What are you willing to do to work? Who are you willing to have sex with? Who are you willing to pay to find you work? What kind of effort are you willing to invest in? These are all questions you will have to end up asking yourself.

For me, my most important question to you would still be WHY do you want to be a dancer? With the right answer to this question, you may some day be able to be a really wonderful dancer. With the wrong answer, you are wasting your time.

Regards,
A'isha
 
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Aisha Azar

New member
Sex and dance

I sincerely hope you aren't implying that you have to have sex with anyone at all to become a famous oriental dancer.
Dear Samira,
The reality is that if you are looking for work in the Middle East, you had better learn to effectively fend off unwanted advances and STILL get the job.
This is where a good, honest agent comes in very handy. Many times, if you want the job, you will find yourself in the position of either having sex with someone, or NOT working. Yeah, I wish I was making it up,too. I am not saying this happens EVERY time one looks for work, but it happens often enough so that most women I know who have worked in Turkey or Egypt or Lebanon have talked about it. It happens often enough so that it is considered one of the pitfalls to working in the Middle East as a dancer.
Regards,
A'isha

PS: I should add to this that the same situation happens often enough in western countries, too. The "casting couch" is a reality of the business. I have been fortunate enough to only have it happen a couple of time that I had to let people know I am married and don't sleep around, but then I have usually worked with people who know me well. to my knowledge I have not lost work because of it, but I know women who have.
 
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Shanazel

Super Moderator
I have never made my entire living dancing or teaching, but for several years it was an important source of supplementary income. I spent a sunstantial part of my non-working time practicing and sewing costumes, not to mention lining up jobs. A'siha and Caroline give good counsel. I suggest reading the following at least once a day for the rest of your dancing life:

Those who do the best are often those who have great marketing skills or a great agent as opposed to those who have the most talent for the dance.
 
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Samira_dncr

New member
Aisha, thanks for expanding on your comment. I do agree that there is probably a fair amount of unsavory behavior out there that one might have to deal with in terms of getting work as a dancer. I danced professionally for many years in Las Vegas and was lucky to never run into the whole "casting couch" issue. {Talent + Work Ethic - Drug Use} was enough to keep me busy and working full-time. Even though my own experience did not include these approaches, your words are fair and useful for one aspiring to be a well-known dancer.
 

shiradotnet

Well-known member
-What about performing in the Middle East?

-Do any western dancers working in the Middle East live off of dancing alone? If not, did they have to save up enough money beforehand to live off of while pursuing their dancing careers?
Hi Madeline! Regarding your questions about working in the Middle East, you may find it useful to go to this link and scroll down to the article titled "Working in the Middle East" by Sabriye Tekbilek:

Suhaila Unveiled, April 1, 2007
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
Yasmina also has a film 'Journey of a foriegn dancer'.

However, it does not really touch on the sexual side and how to cope. There is no easy answer.

I cant go into detail as it involves friends, but it is not just about saying 'no' to sexual advances, you have to live with the backlash of this. and this can often be the most uncomfortable part.

The Cairo dance scene will be a different experience from your local experiences in Vegas I am sure.

Outi reads this forum regularly so perhaps she can fill you in on this more than we can.
 

Samira_dncr

New member
The Cairo dance scene will be a different experience from your local experiences in Vegas I am sure.
Well, certainly. Dance scenes vary all around the globe. I only offered my own experience to qualify my own perspective. I didn't get the impression that she was only asking for information on Cairo.
 

Amulya

Moderator
Madeline, you probably really love dancing and think it would be great to have dance as your full time job, but it will become like a job like any other with lots of aspects that are not so nice. I'd rather suggest you have dance as second job and keep enjoying it. If it all goes really well, you can always decide to have it as full time job.
 

Salome

Administrator
Is it realistic? Not really. Is it possible? Yes

Hello fellow dancers!

I want to become a “world-famous professional oriental dancer”, as I would love to become known throughout the world for my performances, but I’m not sure if this goal is realistic enough. (Please assume that my dancing is good enough for the purposes of this discussion. I merely want to determine if there’s enough of a market to pursue my goal.) Your advice is very much appreciated!

-Is it possible to make a living solely from oriental dance? If so,

-Where would you have to live? Is there a wide enough audience in the U.S. for raks sharki? Who would that audience be?

-What about performing in the Middle East?

-Do any western dancers working in the Middle East live off of dancing alone? If not, did they have to save up enough money beforehand to live off of while pursuing their dancing careers?

-What sort of venues would you perform at?

Thank you!
Madeline :D
I know more dancers who are free to pursue dance as a career because they have a significant other, parent, trust fund or part time job etc. to cushion them financially. And only know a few who truly make a living by dance alone. But yes, it’s possible, if all the ingredients are there.

If you looked at the number of people who consider themselves professional dancers only a teeny tiny number of them probably truly make a living by dance alone and an even smaller number of those people are world-famous dancers. And you’ll notice that even the well known dancers often supplement - it’s not just performance, they sell merchandise, have clothing lines, do workshops/teaching, etc.

Your questions are all good. I’d figure out what “world famous” means to you, what does that look like? Knowing that will help you make choices about where to go and what to do. Because there are different ways in which an Oriental dancer might make a living and be well known. Your goals may change as you progress but it’s good to start with a defined vision of where you want to end up.
 
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da Sage

New member
Hello fellow dancers!

I want to become a “world-famous professional oriental dancer”, as I would love to become known throughout the world for my performances, but I’m not sure if this goal is realistic enough. (Please assume that my dancing is good enough for the purposes of this discussion. I merely want to determine if there’s enough of a market to pursue my goal.) Your advice is very much appreciated!
Of course there is enough of a market! There are world-famous professional oriental dancers already...eventually there will be room in the public's mind for more, especially as the older ones retire.

But really, your dancing would need to be extremely good. You would need to be better than most teachers and most regionally-well-respected dancers, you would need stage presence and charisma, you would need a commercially acceptable body, you would need to know the right people, and you would need to be in the right places at the right times, being seen, working hard, and making it all look easy for you!

You really can't put the dancing last. Thousands of dancers have had the same idea as you, but there are not thousands of world-famous dancers, and there's a good reason for that. Most dancers are not good enough to become world-famous, even if they are in the right place at the right time with the right people.
 

Samira_dncr

New member
Not to mention the business-savvy and marketing skills that a true professional needs to develop. Fame is usually a combination of some talent, some luck, and one heck of a lot of marketing.
 

Madeline

New member
Thanks everyone! I’m very confident in my dancing – I simply wanted to use this thread to research the market to help put together my business plan. Your input is most helpful, as it gives me a lot to think about. Any further advice is welcome!

One more question: how much do the venues in the Middle East differ from those in the U.S.?
 

Shara

New member
In the Middle East

I recently took a workshop with a lovely lady that has worked in the Middle East. It seems that she mentioned having to have a license to dance in the high end places and that you had to meet certain qualifications. I would definitely find out all about that before even considering going there.
 

lizaj

New member
Get hold of Yasmina's DVD "Journey of Desire" and read the blogs of Lorna Gow. The road to dancing as a pro seems to me to one of pitfalls to be avoided and a very very clear head.

yas cd dvd video



I also believe it all depends on who has told you that are good enough to have a full-time career as a dancer.
I also believe in following dreams...with a very clear head.
 
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