Wednesday, August 19, 2015

answering an "open call" post

Dancers Wanted! 

If you use social media you’ve probably seen posts from musicians, event organizers, or club owners stating that they need a dancer for such-and-such gig. When you see other dancers eagerly responding to these “looking for dancers” posts, do you wonder if you should reply too? After all, you dance; you’ve performed; you have pretty costumes; and people who’ve seen you dance say you are great!

If you perform with your class, as part of a troupe, or at local haflas, you may only have to show up on time, follow directions, dance, and go home. It’s all so much fun! But wait - do you know what goes on behind the scenes to make it all happen?

Before any dancer’s performance, many decisions, tasks, and preparations led up to the culminating experience of being onstage. If you respond to an open call for dancers, who will take care of all these duties? That’s right, YOU will! 

What Do Professional Dancers Do?

Here's a typical "open call" post on social media: in less than two days it received 63 comments! 
image of social media post
a typical "looking for dancers" post
Next time you see one of these Open Calls on social media, watch what the professional dancers do. First, they’ll probably comment that they’re interested, and then ask to converse with the original poster privately to work out the details. They won’t just “sign up” in the Comments section.

You can’t see their conversation now; so what could they be working out?
Before a professional commits to perform, here are a few things they’ll want to know:
  • client information
  • show location
  • type of venue
  • type of audience
  • show length
  • sound system
  • amenities (bathroom/changing room)
  • price; and when payment is due
That's just the starting point. All these variables can impact the show, the price, and whether the dancer even cares to pursue the gig at all.

Learn from Experience

If “experience is the best teacher” shouldn’t you try to perform as much as possible?

If you are fortunate enough to have a teacher or troupe leader who arranges performances for you, then YES. If not, be wary of jumping on these open call “opportunities” even though other dancers are rushing in ahead of you.

If you are a beginner on your own in the public arena and don’t know why any of those details listed above make a difference, then get a local mentor - a temporary coach in your corner to help you navigate through the pitfalls of public dancing.

Yes, you could ask your questions in an online belly dance group (it happens every day) but then you’ll have to weed out the random know-it-all’s opinion from solid professional advice. And because gig standards vary by area, getting advice from someone across the country isn’t really the best idea.

Last but not Least, the Contract 

When money’s involved, only work with a written contract. Without one, there’s a good chance that either you or your client will misunderstand something - and perhaps even feel fooled.

So yes, you can respond to these “dancers wanted” posts; but why make every possible mistake in order to learn? Learn from OTHER people’s experience. Like walking in the snow, it’s easier at first to follow someone else’s footprints until you’re big and strong enough to head out on your own.

(adapted from my column in Zaghareet! Magazine, Mar/Apr 2015) 

Yours in dance,
Anthea "Kawakib"
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