TIPS AND TRICKS TO BOOK THE PERFECT BELLY DANCER
So, you have a special event that you’re organising: it can be a birthday party, a wedding, a baby shower, a corporate event, a hen night, a product launch, a promotional event, a restaurant looking for a dancer for a specific night, themed nights, christening, the list goes on!
Everything is ready and in place and you want a belly dancer to bring your day to life and be the cherry on the top!
Off you go on the Internet and your search comes up with all sorts of pages, names, pictures, videos, and everything and anything bellydance related…
How do you choose??
Well, luckily for you here’s a comprehensive list of tricks and tools to help you find the best dancer for the job and make all your friends wonder: Where did you find her?!
1) First things first: find a local dancer.
Looking for a local agency/performer will keep your expenses down and your precious pennies in your pocket, where they belong!
2) Speak to a real person.
In this technologic era it can be sooo tempting to just send off an email asking for a certain dancer and be done with it, but should they fail to ask specific follow up questions (or you just got an inspired afterthought and it’s a bit late in the day to send another email) you could end up not having everything you hoped for, so making a phone call can make all the difference on your special day.
3) Word of mouth and recommendations.
If you have a friend who had a belly dancer at a certain party a few months back and you thought she was great, using her can sound like the most obvious and timesaving option. It’s true that it would save you a couple of hour’s hassle on the computer, but it’s still worth having a little look at the agency she came from (just to make sure)! You never know, there might be someone out there who is everything you need for your event, and you don’t want to miss out!
4) Think of your event.
If it’s a birthday, a hen party, a wedding, a corporate event, or you’re simply planning a dinner party and want to start the night off with a dazzling performance to break the ice, let the performer/agency know so they can plan the ”show” accordingly. You don’t want to book a dancer for a traditional wedding and hear the dulcet tones of an R&B fusion track!
5) Do you have specific requirements?
If your night is extra special and your want a specific piece of music played, or you would like the dancer to wear a certain colour, or indeed want her to wear a less revealing outfit than the one you’ve seen her in on the website/video/pictures, don’t forget to mention it! When planning your perfect day don’t be afraid of being a bit demanding (within reason), in the end the worst they can say is “No”.
6) Useful words to search for the right kind of performer.
When surfing the net for the jewel of your night you may be faced with unfamiliar words like zeffa, shamadan, galabaya, mehndi, sagat or tabla. To save you the hassle of opening yet another tab on your browser to look up the meaning of these words we are going to do it right here for you! (Aren’t we nice?)
A zeffa is an Arabic tradition by which one or more dancers lead the first steps of the new couple playing music and dancing ahead of the newlyweds. A lovely way to make the couple feel even more special!
The shamadan is a candelabra worn as a head-piece which holds several lit candles while the belly dancer is dancing. The candles symbolise light and prosperity in the new stage of the couple’s life. It’s an entrancing and thrilling performance to watch!
A galabaya is a traditional and less revealing gown, worn in Arabic countries with a hip-belt to emphasise the movements without making them too erotic. A great way to appreciate the dance without feeling embarrassed or insulting the elders!
Mehndi is what is often referred to as a “henna party”. Generally, these are events for the bridal party only and is part of the extensive preparations leading to the wedding. Always lots of fun and full of energy!
Sagat or zills are the “finger cymbals’ a belly dancer will use to dance to, or add to the music, which can be very fun to watch and quite amazing, considering the dancer has already a lot to think of during a performance. Not many dancers use them, so if you find a dancer that can you know you’re on to something good.
Tabla is a percussion instrument used in traditional Middle Eastern performances and can be a great addition to a dancer as they complement each other so well!
7) Booking more than one dancer.
If your event is quite big (or you want it to be big!), booking more than one dancer can be just what you need! Yes, it probably means it’s more expensive, but it can beso worth it! Especially if the venue is rather large, the dancers will be able to fill the room and get every side involved rather than a few people seeing the show up-close and others just seeing it from far away!
Just remember to ask the agent if they have danced together before, so you know they have good chemistry and that this won’t be the first time they meet!
8) Do your research on the agency/ performer you’re going to use.
It might sound obvious, but bellydance is spreading like wildfire and so are the agencies that represent the dancers. Naturally, you only want the best for your show, so you want the best agency you can find! Look for an agency that is well established, because they know what the clients need and have done for some time. A good place to start is finding out if they’re part of any main professional body, like The Agents Asscociation UK. What this means is that the agents abide by professional laws, so their dancer are protected under contract, and most of the dancers will have Public Liability Insurance (PLI) so that they are insured to perform in public spaces. Also, chances are that their performers are as well-established as the agency and valued because of the name that represents them. Of course, it’s all up to you and it might take some time, so maybe looking at some videos of their performers is the best and easiest option! If you see someone you like and feel they’re what you’re looking for, go for it!
In belly dance there are several props that can be used: swords, shamadans, veils, zills, snakes, cane, candle-trays or isis wings.
The sword dance is a mysterious and earthy dance that is very dramatic and of great impact. Great for stage or ‘dance floor’ areas where the audience isn’t too close to the performer.
Shamadans are used in traditional weddings to light the steps of the newly wed couple. Joyous and lively, it’s a great addition to weddings.
Veils are all about mystery and have an ethereal feel to them. They can be used for a whole performance or as an introduction to a stronger show and are beautiful to look at!
Zills are a fun way of adding ‘zing’ to a performance. They fill out the music and make the audience feel more engrossed as the sounds are surrounding them, coming from the dancer as well as the PA system, or musicians.
The snake dance is an amazing show! Having a live animal in any performance has that extra ‘WOW’ factor and combining it with belly dance and you’re sure to have a hit!
The cane is fun and energetic and paired with a good Saiidi beat it just turns everything into ‘party-time’ plain and simple!
The candle-tray dance is delicate and thrilling, yet full of energy. The dancer performs with a tray of lit candles balanced over their head. It’ll have you at the edge of your seat!
Isis wings are full of drama and look fantastic in any environment (providing there’s enough space)! They make for a great talking point, even after the show is over!
10) Give as much information as you can.
When booking a performer give the agent as much information as you can. In these cases ‘more IS better’. Tell them exactly what your event is about and what your expectations are. If you want more than one set, if you want costume changes, if you want a specific prop, if you want the performer to get people up to dance, if you want the performer to simply perform and not interact with the audience (like a stage show), etc. The agency can only go on the information that you provide them, so to have everything you hoped for tell them exactly what you’re hoping for.
11) Make sure you’re ready for the dancer.
Once the dancer arrives at your venue you need to remember to set a room aside for them to get changed in and prepare. Don’t forget to make it’s a room that can lock, or one where nobody will walk into: you don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone and you don’t want a dancer with rattled nerves!
Ensure you know what kind of music system the dancer needs. If they bring a CD and you only have and iPod dock, you might have a problem!
Also, let her know if you’re going to announce her entrance or if you just want her to walk on as the music begins, so you’re both on the same page.
12) Plan your event.
This doesn’t mean that you haven’t, it’s just another pointer, so humour us on this one, you’ll get what we mean in a minute.
Say, for example, your event starts at 8pm and your guests are meant to arrive between 8 and 8.30 and then there’s the meal at 9pm.
If you want the dancer to be ready to perform half-way through the meal and then after the meal, don’t have her arrive at 8.30 because you shall then incur in extra charges for making her wait, as chances are they’ll be performing their first set at least at half 9.
What we’re saying is to think about how long it might take for some guests to arrive, as there are always latecomers and to be ready to be flexible as sometimes a performer may have more than one gig lined up for an evening so they may not have any time to wait. On the other hand sometimes a dancer can be as free as a bird and not mind waiting the extra 15minutes, but for everyone’s ease it makes things a lot smoother if everything runs on time and the show starts when it’s meant to.
Human error is always taken into consideration, but sometimes things can get a bit stressful, so to make things easier for everyone make sure you are realistic and tell the dancer to arrive 15-30minutes prior to her set and let her know when she is meant to be dancing, so she can relax and knows exactly what the score is. Ultimately, this means that you will have peace of mind because you have done everything in your power and that the dancer will be at ease and ready to give you the best performance she can.
We hope this helps you in your search for the Jewel of your night, and if you have any questions we’re just one click away!