In last week’s blog post, I covered the teaching aspect of the bellydance business. This week, I will be delving into how to build a bellydance business performing. The two may seem the same and intertwined but they are vastly different. Once again, this is just a starter pack and there is loads to learn about building your business when it comes to bellydance performance.

  • Are you ready to be a performer? This is a hot-bed question. The first sign that you are ready is that your teacher is putting you out there. Usually when a student is ready, a teacher will help create performance opportunities for them. This doesn’t always happen but a safe bet would be to have an honest discussion with your teacher about your skillset. Ask their opinion. It doesn’t hurt to ask and it may give you an idea of what to work on next. Now that you’ve established that you are ready, there are a few other things that you need to have ready.


  • Promo materials. If you are out and about performing, people will ask you for a business card. You will need to have that at the very least. I’m not saying you have to go out and spend a ton of money and buy a thousand of them but at least get a few hundred to start. You can make them yourself online or see if a graphic designer will make you one. This also means you will need to have photos. Cell phone pics are ok but they are usually not good enough for business cards. Make sure you have a few high quality photos to use that showcase your talents. If you’re great with a veil, then make sure there is a picture of you with a veil.


  • Have a site to send them to. With the dominance of social media as the place where consumers search for goods, some dancers have opted out of having a website for having a Facebook Fanpage. This is a personal choice. I have both and I receive leads from both avenues so it behooves me to keep both going. I am not saying that you have to go out and spends thousands on a custom built website. You can build your own using WordPress or Wixx and maintain it yourself. It is simply a place to put photos, contact forms, rates, classes, and perhaps your schedule.

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  • Props. I know, I know, why do you need props to be a performer? Unfortunately not everyone is mesmerized by 20 min. of a dancer performing without any props. Props help add dimension to your show and also attract and keep the attention of a generation who can pull out a smartphone in 2 seconds. Make sure that you have at least 2 props that you can perform with well. These you can add into your sets.


  • Sets. You need to have pre-prepared sets of music. What do I mean by sets? (See blog post here) What I mean is that you need to have songs grouped together for a period of 15-25min that includes an entrance, a pop piece, a slow piece, drum solo, and an exit. These are not hard and fast but some variation of the previous. A set is your structured show in music format. You can choose to edit them into one long track or put the 4-6 tracks in order. The choice is yours. I do recommend that when dealing with a DJ you pre-edit your tracks together. I have had many bad experiences with single tracks being “remixed.”


  • Subbing opportunities. Similar to teaching, it is sometimes best to walk before you can run. It is not proper to walk up to any venue that already has dancing and try to get added to the schedule. Usually there is a dancer who handles the schedule and she is the one that you want to get a hold of. If the schedule is full then ask to be put on the sub list or to perhaps audition. If the person who puts the schedule together doesn’t know you are interested then they can’t add you. You could also ask for an audition to show your skills. There are cases where the owner is in charge of the schedule. But again, do your research. Ask around to local dancers.


  • Connect. (See this keeps coming up?) Connect with local dancers. Attend a few shows and haflas, ask them out for coffee. Put a face to your dance name and let them know that you exist and that you would like to perform. Even if they are not in charge of a venue they may know someone who is and can recommend you. It never hurts to ask. The worst they can say is No and then at least you have an answer and can plan your next steps.


  • Find your own venues. Maybe there aren’t any places that have bellydancers in your area. Make your own. Approach them (Yep, it’s on the blog) and see if they would be interested. You can also contact non- traditional locations such as beauty salons, art galleries, charities, and more. You never know who might like the idea of having a bellydance performer.


  • What are your packages? Packages are something that bellydancers offer to their clients. Some are only broken down by the amount of performance time. Others are whether it is a weekly, monthly or a one time performance. There are also those that break it down into specialty. For example, if you know how to perform with a shemadan, you may offer that as a separate package. It is a very specialized prop, not easy to master so you may want to give it it’s own category. The choice is yours but it allows you to be more professional and also to offer a range of options to your potential clients.


  • Rates. If you are unsure of what the going rates are in your area for performances, there is an online resource that you can check out and it is here: Rates Page. If your area isn’t listed, find the closest one to you and then adjust from there. Please make sure that you are charging somewhere within those ranges. For some areas, the restaurant rate as well as the private party rate is listed. If you don’t know, ask. Your teacher would be a great resource as well as other performers. You don’t want to sell yourself short and you don’t want to be undercuting the communit.


  • So to sum up, in order to create a bellydance business performing: hone your skillset, do your homework and most importantly Know your worth!