It's A Business
Are you serious about starting a belly dance studio?
Are you restless and feel that opening a business in your next adventurous step in the world of Middle Eastern Dancing?
This is great! But, think before you leap. Are you qualified to do so?
One of the primary functions of being an owner is teaching and performing. Before you start, have you gained experiences so that students have confidence in your knowledge and expertise. Have you prepared lesson plans and scheduling for beginners, intermediate, and advanced levels?
Performing experience is important as students will want to attend your performances as a step in determining if they would like to attend your classes. It will also be important as students will want to. be featured in class recitals and shows. You will need to know where to locate both non-profit and profit shows for your students. Have you prepared contracts for these occasions?
It is exciting to take a big step into a commercial location. Research, think, and stop before leaping into the unknown.
Location and Target Marketing
The belly dance studio needs to be located in a safe and easily accessible location. Most belly dancing classes are held in the evenings and a well-lighted parking lot with security will be appreciated by the clientele.
If possible, locate your dance studio in a community that is open to international dancing. If you are not sure offer in-home classes or teach in other communities before making a decision to lease or purchase.
The building will need the dance area, bathrooms, dressing rooms, office, and waiting room. There are two options available. The first is to rent or purchase an established dance studio or rent or purchase an empty location and remodel.This is normally a financial decision. I have done both methods.
If you have decided on an empty room. Where are the bathrooms? The dance area will need wall mirrors and the flooring can be covered with carpet. Installing a wood floor is necessary for ballet, tap, and flamenco should you decide to add these other dance styles.
Set aside a convenient place for audio and video equipment with storage area to aid teaching.
Use your creativity to select a waiting section which can be partitioned with chairs which can be immediately recognized by visitors and parents as the waiting area. Ready-made room dividers do a wonderful job.
The bathroom may double as a dressing area, but if this is not possible, hire a handyman to build partitions and use curtains for privacy.
Decorate the dance studio to reflect the Egyptian, Moroccan, and other Middle Eastern countries. Help the students to step into another world which will add to the belly dancing mystique and fantasy.
Save one blank wall to set up as a stage. This wall has two uses. One reason is for photo and video shoots and the other is for students practicing in preparation for a real stage setting.
Licenses, Insurance, Attorney
This information is a necessity. Belly dancing is fun and so should operating and managing a business. You will need to have business knowledge and experience to build. Most of these studios are owned by one person who does it all. Regardless of whether you have a partner or not; it is to your benefit that you know everything that is happening with and to your business. As the owner you are responsible for everything.
The photo to the right is a contemporary Turkish style costume popular with professional entertainers.
The difference between a Turkish and an Egyptian style costume is that the Turkish costume is worn as a two-piece fashion exposing more flesh. The Egyptian costume is a full length fitted sheath style of apparel.
Dancers who wear the Turkish costume like the variety and accessories of this costume as it is needed to frame body movements
The hip belt constructed of coins, beads, or tassels help to show off the hip movements from slow to fast.
The bare midriff exposes abdominal movements of belly rolls, flutters, and undulations.
The bra area illustrates rib slides, circles, lifts and tucks.
Turkish style dancing has very active movements and the Egyptian style of costume cannot meet the demands of these movements.
The photo to the left is an economical version of the Turkish costume. This is favored by students, hobbyists, and professionals.
Other benefits of this costume:
Read more articles about belly dancing.
What is a professional performance?
Most dancers would define professional as an experienced dancer-entertainer who is paid for her show performance. After a few months or years of training you have decided that this is what you would like to do.
I would like to make a clarification. We hear of people who take a few months of belly dancing and they declare that they are professionals. Take a closer look at their resume as you will find that they have a history of dance. They usually mean that they have taken a few months of a specialty or have studied with a more professional instructor and have spent hours practicing the new techniques or style. .
Those who have been training for years have their schedules filled with other activities and when they are able to concentrate and practice to be professionals they will be ready to do so. .The training includes classroom and actual experiences dancing as a soloist or in a troupe for various types of functions.
If you wish to have longevity as a performer the skills and talents which are needed to be hired have to be refined and deserving of a pay check.
An amateur may do a show or two, but professionals will do hundreds of shows throughout their career.
This can be an excellent start or it can be a regular gig. The Greek, Lebanese, and Arabic restaurants and night clubs offer American dancers the opportunity to work.
Discuss business agreements before starting. Know exactly the dance style of interest, how many sets are to be danced and the length of each set. Exchange thoughts of the restaurant's pay policy, band requirements, and method of payment. Most of these restaurants have verbal policies.
Clients of the restaurant may request your performance at a private party. Discuss this matter with the restaurant and review their policy. .
The best experience that can be gained from working restaurants is the ability to change quickly with the different personalities of the customers, experience different cultural audiences, and gain referrals and requests for entertaining at other locations.
Belly dancing is an activity that involves the audience and audience participation is expected. The owners of the restaurant will point out customers who are celebrating a special event (birthdays are the most common) and they want the dancer to give them more attention.
Tips are a variable. It is an undetermined amount of money, but has much to do with the performer's talents and showmanship.
Cultural events, festivals, international shows, publicity and advertising of a product, schools,colleges, business programs, and churches. There are contracts or agreement forms for these types of outlets.
There are many outlets which need dancers for both education and entertainment of their members. Most of these organizations will have a contract and may or may not have entertainment insurance. If there is no insurance it is expected that "you" do.
Other organizations do have insurance and are also able to pay you. Some companies have a flat fee and others will ask what you charge.
Costuming and history is very important at these events. Be prepared wearing the correct costume and be prepared to give a history lesson of the dance, its people, and customs. You may be requested to give a speech or a lesson or an introduction before dancing to help the audience understand what country or peoples you are representing.
Read more about Professional Belly Dancing and performances.