There is a major question to ask yourself if you want to become a professional belly dancer. Do you want to be a professional instructor or do you want to be a practicing artist of belly dancing? A professional instructor will have responsibilities for both teaching and performing. A professional belly dancing artist will focus on being a performer.
Which came first … the chicken or the egg? First and foremost knowledge and real experiences are critical. When professionals are interviewed most of them did not intend for this form of art to be a career. They were happy taking lessons and dancing for self, but life has its surprises.
If I may, it is my opinion that the teacher has much to do with students becoming future instructors or entertainers. Through my years of teaching I know of eight or ten of my students who became instructors and three others who became professional performers. Two of these people work in the United States and one is an international performer.
It is critical that you take belly dancing lessons from a knowledgeable and experienced instructor. She has to love this dance in order for you to combat negative feedback. Take time to learn traditional ethnic, cabaret, and the newer developments in this art.
Why would you do this?
- Traditional ethnic will give you the foundation of history, culture, myths, folklore, and basic knowledge and inspiration for this dance. It is not uncommon for many cabaret dancers to backtrack and take ethnic lessons.
- Know that your instructor is truly knowledgeable and experienced. His or her resume, activities, and referrals will help you with making your decision.
- Attend many seminars and workshops. I am sure that you heard that electronic instructions are not the same as attending live classrooms. Much is to be gained from mingling with other students and teachers, listening to comments and opinions, being a part of conversations, observing the elements of dance and teaching styles, and watching the teacher and other performers to gain unwritten or unspoken cues for teaching and performing.
- Participate in shows which your instructor sets up for students. A good teacher will allow for heavy participation on your part to contribute to the show. If a teacher is the center of attention and the students are in the background; find another instructor. Realizing the amount of personal practice, hours of rehearsal, choreography input, cost of costumes, strengths and weaknesses of performing before an audience will help your decision to becoming a performer.
When you exhibit your performance people in the audience will ask if you teach or would you perform at an event. The question most asked is usually an indicator of how people see you. It then becomes your decision where your heart leads you.
If teaching is being considered, start teaching private lessons in your home or teach a small group of ladies in a community setting to experience if you have the knowledge and the abilities to contribute to a student's success or to gather many more students. If you are not able to attract more students; teaching is not for you.
Do you like being the center of attention? Performing may be for you. Are you able to take criticism? Are you willing to work irregular hours? Are you open to dancing for a variety of audiences or are you being selective? If you are being selective, can you make an income within this specific niche?
Performers work hard to develop their skills and to offer exciting performances. They also understand public relations, advertising, and marketing. Show business is the business of making money. In addition to learning about this dance you will need to refine your theater and business skills.