Many Hats to Wear – Juggling the Business With the Bellydance


As I sit here thinking about it, there are many skills I have learned over the years which I would never ever know if it weren’t for the reality that my dance career is a business; without a staff.  I have worked for companies with various departments (IT, HR, Payroll, etc..).  Now, however, I feel like a one woman show who has to be all aspects of a business rolled into one.  The reality is that anyone who wants to be successful enough to have support staff, might not be in the right business as a dancer.  We do this because our bodies, minds and souls need it; and we don’t expect to become rich doing it.  If we could afford graphic designers, video editors, web developers, photographers and accountants for every single thing we needed them for, we’d be in a very different position.  Is this a drawback or an unintended benefit?

Professionally designed flyer (thanks go to Jackie Granda)

Sometimes it pays to pay the pros.  Other times, we can get by on our limited skill set…to a point.  For instance, if my flyers look “home-made” it doesn’t reflect well on my business.  Should this matter when I’m a dancer??  Well, the reality is that bellydancers are savvy and motivated women and men who have set the bar high.  I now do my absolute best to create flyers that are worthy of a “re-pin” on Pinterest, shares on facebook and re-tweets.  It sounds like a foreign language to use words and phrases like re-pin and tweet but this is our new reality.  What’s a gal to do?  Well, I went and bought Photoshop and spent countless hours learning how to use it.  For the higher profile jobs, I still call a designer to help me.

Ahhh, video.  When I first started as a dancer, I would hire a videographer and then pay her to do professional edits.  The result was a very small number of performance clips and all of my earnings from a show would go towards the video. Now, I have an HD camera and am teaching myself i-movie.  Youtube uploads are not just a way to increase our web presence and lead to better rankings on search engines, but they are also sending messages to our colleagues and potential clients about who we are as dancers.  Sometimes the do-it-yourself approach won’t convey the level of professionalism I’m looking for so I pay the experts when it’s a show that counts.

In the clip below, I tried my best to create a montage from a 23 minute show.  It took me 4 hours.  It does not look like something that would take 4 hours.  Load time and processing time was a big chunk of that but breaking it up into clips that would accurately showcase the feel of the night; mixing joyful audience connections with some technique is -well- really darn hard for a non-videographer.  But it’s a skill I’m learning to put in my bag of tricks and I’ll get better with time.

Don’t even get me started on staying on top of my receipts, managing taxes, updating my website.  I think I smell a part II coming.

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