Belly Dance Networking 101

January 10, 2011 , , Tina Kapp
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A useful tool to any dancer is networking. No matter where you live or where you dance, it’s always good to know other dancers, and make sure they know you. Your relationship with other dancers can lead to workshops, new classes, performances, teaching opportunities, or even just another friendly face in the crowd. Here’s how to cultivate relationships with other dancers.

* Start with your teacher. If she or her troupe is preforming, make it a point to go to the performance. You don’t have to see every show, but supporting your teacher or her troupe will show that you appreciate and respect your teacher, and that you are dedicated to belly dance.

* Develop friendships with your fellow dancers. Practice with them outside of class and support them during shows. Encourage them and share your knowledge!

* Take workshops and classes with other teachers. Bring a friend or a dance buddy if you can. Even the occasional workshop out of the area can boost your dance network.

* Take different kinds of dance, and see if you can encourage some of the students in your dance class or fellow dancers to go with you. If the studio doesn’t already have belly dance classes, this could open up teaching opportunities for you.

* Go to local belly dance performances and festivals. Shows give you the opportunity to meet and talk with other dancers, as well as see other dancers perform. Some festivals aren’t just about belly dance, but include belly dancers, such as Renaissance Faires or various Middle Eastern festivals—going to these can give you more performance opportunities.

* Develop relationships with vendors. Knowing someone who sells costuming, jewelry, props or music can give you an in for new releases or special items, especially if you can promote their wares on the stage or in class. If there’s a festival going on and you know a vendor will be there, volunteer to help them set up or watch their booth for a few hours.

* Learn about local dancers. Even if you’ve never met them, find their websites or their videos. If you meet them at a show or at a workshop, introduce yourself and tell them how much you liked their performance, style, talent, makeup, or anything else you spotted. Above all, be honest—don’t look like you’re just trying to butter them up.

* Remember that networking with other dancers isn’t just about you. Always give back to anyone who helps you out, and never make someone feel obligated to do you a favor in exchange.

– Erica Ruedas

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