This is an old post I did on my cultural blog in spanish (www.raqsamar.blogspot.ae), the subject is simple: "The belly dancer and her work in theater and in a restaurant and also to talk about the way we look ourselves as performers".
So, I did try to translate at best of my abilities, this article was big success among my collegues in Mexico and beyond (spanish speakers) so I wanted to share it with english speakers; to get your opinion and share points of view.
A topic that cause lots of controversy among dancers., -If the restaurant BD* does whatever or, if the BD of theater looks too much mechanical,even some girls said : "Any dancer can perform in a restaurant" while the BD in restaurants says : "Girls that dance in theater aren't able to improvise"etc, etc,etc...
¿Why we attack to each other?
Each BD who call herself pro, pass through the phase of learning,later the phase of practice (dance in theaters, social events and other non paid shows),after you will get the phase of specialization in whatever style you like more (after experiment dance in both theater and Restaurant) then you will decide which place is better for you, but what happen? some theater BDs begin to feel that "Superiority"of technique and choreo., while the restaurant BDs believe to have that charisma and freedom that lack in the first ones.
To dance in theater as in restaurant are both rewarding experiences, each one fills you up as an artist but in different way. I hope you girls feel identified with the next!!
*I love the big space, the powerful lights that make my costumes look stunning!, I love to step a theater when I want to make an special performance with some proops I usually cannot do in close spaces, or when I want to dance into a strange or fusion song, also when I dance with my students.
Here I should clarify "Is not the same to perform for an arab audience than for a audience non arab"
a non arab public expect the same as in theater but in a very small space. The arab public expect to be entertain, and for that you must let yourself go by the mood of the night, by the music and it's words.
Ok, with this been said., To dance in restaurant is equal to get the skill of improvisation, to be ready for whatever happens during your show either good or bad, to have a big musical repertoire and choose the music with no time to waist.also a good connection with the audience is INDISPENSABLE!.
The pros and cons (in my opinion)
*the freedom to make your show as you wish.
*You will have opportunity of rehersals which minimize the margin of error
*it's a purely artistic expression
*It give you the chance to coexist and collaborate with your fellow dancers
*It gives you a good CV (especially if it is an important theater)
*It expose your work to people with certain knowledge on the belly dance and it's styles
*To prepare a show is really HARD work (it can take months to prepare a more or less decent show)
*It should be that the mistakes are less, but when error exist is much more evident.
*It take lots of hours and hard work,lots of costumes made and ¿payment? sometimes very less or even non existent!
*It gives you the power of improvisation and even interact with your audience.
*To dance in a regular basis enlarge your arabian music repertoire better than dance sometimes.
*It is a job, one you like and they pay you for it !
*it gives you good experience to be ready when you have to dance anywhere feel more selfconfident
*You have much more places where to perform
*It gives you a good CV
*Sometimes your show transform in a: "lets go people clap....yeahhhh !!! " cheerleader than a dancer
*Like any other job in the world, sometimes it can turn routine
*To expose your art infront of an open audience (meaning people who knows what belly dance is
and people who do not) sometimes leads to non ethical propousals.
*it is a job, so it does not matter if you are sick, if you have no mood to smile today or if your period
arrived 1 week before...the show must go on!
What normally happens is....
*The majority of the first clan will dance in restaurant as a good way to make a living.
The dancers that have few opportunities to dance in a huge stage will dance in theater to feel "sublime artist".
The ones like me who have the chance to dance in both, I tell you: - Dance, enjoy, earn money if posible and do not criticize the opposite side cause even to smile is hard work!