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.