This seems to be the subject of a lot of debate in the Belly Dance community here.
The definitions you find for “Professional” generally cover: 1. Engaged in a profession or engaging in as a profession or means of livelihood. 2. A professional is a member of a vocation founded upon specialised educational training. 3. master: an authority qualified to teach apprentices
I think that pretty much covers it on the technical side, if you are at least 2 out of the 3 you can count yourself a professional. After that it’s the magic that makes a good performance, unforgettable. It’s the way you reach out of yourself on stage and connect with someone who looks bored or grumpy and get them beam incredulously at what you can do with apparent ease and enjoyment.
If you don’t love what you do and think of it as a bore or something to rush through, it does carry over into your performance. It’s nuances like that, that make a performer someone you lock onto and want to watch the entire song over one who’s more of a moving venue or event decoration you glance over.
You have to remember you may be doing the same moves, stunts or songs over and over, but to that one guest it’ll probably be the only time they see it. You have to feel that anticipation and add drama, take a few more seconds to balance your sword on your head gingerly so that it looks even more amazing when you drop to the floor or shimmy across the room.
It’s the difference between knowing all the history of a specific style of belly dance or performing for people from that culture and having them adopt you because they feel the respect you have for it and them as individuals.
I read a Christian article called ‘Glamour or Glory’ which I think makes some excellent points:
Musical perfection is mathematical, but musical inspiration is divine.
The truly great performers make you forget they’re performing & make you forget their performance & even forget them, you’re so carried away with the emotion of their message & what they’re singing about or saying or portraying.
That’s called Charisma, a kind of a mystical charm, a divine anointing, a supernatural fascination.
That’s what it takes and it’s very hard to hang a lable on it. You should study as much as you can and practice all you can but when you get on stage, just love it and realise what a priviledge we have to be able to dance at all and that we can share this beautiful art form with the world. That’s something to smile about. 😉