Wednesday, November 10, 2010

So... you want to perform...

You've been taking belly dance classes and want to do *something* with it... how do you go about that?

Ask around!
Most shows will have a 'call for performers' but sometimes there won't be. Back when I started doing solo work, actually, calls for performers were relatively rare. So I would ask the hostess if I could participate into the show. Yes, I was inviting myself. It feels odd at first but it gets easier the more you do it. Most importantly, just remember: what's the worst that they will say? They'll say no... that's it. No harm done. No worries.

Performance attached to workshops
Just know that there will be performances that are attached to workshops... so they will require you to take the workshops (either all of the workshops or a predetermined amount) for you to participate in the show. Apparently, it's not like that everywhere but it definitely is in the Midwest. So don't be surprised if you get a reply that states that.

Don't forget Haflas and World Music Nights!
Let your hair down haflas where people just show up and there's like a DJ or an iPod on random playing or you can bring your own music and dance are few and far between. But ISAMETD hosts them every now and then. And maybe Carenza will again once she's back in town (hint! hint!). ;) But those are excellent low pressure moments when you can perform.

Also, remember that we are very lucky to have il Troubadore who do the World Music Nights once a month. It's not a performance like being on a stage... it's actually better! You get the experience of dancing to a live band, in front of an audience that's right there. Most people around here seem to not realize it but, seriously, a lot of people I know would kill to have this opportunity. Anyway, it's another moment when you can hone your performance skills. Even though it's a different setting, it still very much counts.

Prepare for it... NOW!
If you've been contemplating performing, don't wait until you have an okay to start working on a piece. Chances are, you may get an okay closer to the date than you anticipated and then you will feel like you don't have enough time. Also, there are a number of events now that happen on an annual basis so it's getting increasingly easier to prepare ahead of time. (Note: I will write a separate post on tips and tricks that make preparation easier.) The more you do it, the easier it gets, though. ;)

Am I really ready?
If you are contemplating performing, generally, it means that you were ready to perform some time ago. Our sense of preservation and that negative voice are real good at putting doubt in our minds. My stance is that you hardly can start performing too early. As Tempest often points out, the key is doing the best that you can with what you've got. And I always bring up this example but there was one gal that I saw perform many years ago and she was obviously a beginner student and had a limited number of moves that she knew... but, damn, she did them well and had good stage presence. It was a great start.

Also remember that very few people are natural performers. So this will take time. So you may as well start now. ;)

Record performances
You will want to consider recording your actual performances for 2 main reasons: 1) to see how it actually went and analyze the performance to improve your performance skills; and 2) some shows will require you to submit a video of you performing in lieu of an audition. Since I have this quirk where people forget to take pictures or videos of my performances, I didn't have a video to show for the longest time. So for those performances that require a video, I was hosed.

That being said, one thing that you could do if you really want to put in a bid for such a performance is have someone record you dancing in full costume and all that as if it was a performance but it's in the dance studio or your living room or whatever. I mean, it's not the best, obviously, but it's better than not showing anything.

The dreaded bio/blurb
Once you're accepted in the show, they will often ask you for a bio/blurb that the MC will say or that will be in the program. I nearly guarantee that you will draw a blank. What should I write? Well, you don't have to write a whole lot. I've found over the years that short and sweet will do just fine. I typically write a simple sentence about me (it generally will be "Celeste is a dark belly dance and improvisational tribal style performer and instructor in Indianapolis.") and then add a sentence or two about the piece. That can contain like the name of the song, the artist, etc. or just be about the piece per se. If you need to put something in to bring context to the piece, you can. My stance is that I want the dance to do the talking. ;)

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