How long is your show?

Most bellydancers perform for about 20 minutes. A longer or shorter show is certainly an option depending on the venue, the guests, and the occasion. I always have a variety of music and content packages to suit various crowds and situations. Just ask!

At what point during my event will you perform?

If you’re having a sit-down dinner, my show is best placed between dinner and dessert. This setup eliminates the “after dinner lull” and keeps the energy of the party moving. Most of your guests are already gathered in one place, and those who may have to depart early won’t miss the show.

If you have another event format planned, I will work with you (or your event planner) to coordinate the best time for my show. Typically, about an hour after the latest arrivals have appeared is best. Often, the bellydance show is a transitional element that helps to segue your event into a more festive mood, something you’ll want to keep in mind when planning your party.

Why should I choose to have a bellydancer entertain at my event? And what can I expect once he/she arrives?

In a word … glamour! Within a few seconds, your party will liven up with festivity as the dancer (or dancers!) sweeps into the room accompanied by fun and energetic music. Your guests will be taken on a musical and dynamic journey from grand entrance through the sensuous and dramatic, continuing with the fun and humorous, and winding up with lively festivity. Oriental dance is artistic entertainment that can suit a wide variety of occasions and situations. My show is always classy and family-friendly in both costuming and content, suitable for all ages.

Other important considerations are that you have enough room for the dancer to move and that there is some kind of sound system available. He/she will also need a place to keep their things while they perform and do brief, last-minute preparations before going on.

Unless it’s an educational presentation, your show is far less than an hour. Why can’t you dance for an hour or more at my event?

Professional entertainers are very sensitive to the needs of any situation in which they find themselves performing. If you’re sitting in a theater watching a concert, an hour or more can be quite appropriate. At a nightclub or private event, however, an audience’s needs and expectations will be quite different. Guests in the middle of a fun celebration won’t want to stop what they’re doing for any extended period of time. My job as an entertainer is to rev up the energy of the party, highlight and focus on the guest of honor, and then leave while the festivity level is at its highest.

The cost of a bellydance show (or any other live entertainment) isn’t calculated on a “per-hour” basis; you are not just paying for the duration of the show, you are paying for all the things that makes it possible for your entertainer to bring their show to you. This includes the day’s preparation, transportation, costumes, rehearsals, general business expenses, and usually many years of dedicated study.

How far in advance do I need to book an Oriental dancer?

Late Friday and Saturday nights and holiday seasons are especially busy times for belly dancers. Whatever your plans are, if you’ve got your heart set on an Oriental show for your party, call and arrange it as soon as you can.

Do you bring your own music? What kind of music do you use?

I bring everything I need for my performance; all you need to supply is an adequate sound system. Because Arabic music is as much a part of the dance as the steps themselves, I choose music that is traditional for Oriental dance and closely follows the dynamics of my performance. The bellydance movement vocabulary is founded upon the fundamental rhythms and melodic content of Middle Eastern music; a dancer’s choice of movement is always a response to these components of music as he or she internalizes them. If you have hired a band for your event, I still dance to my own music, unless, of course, it is a band that performs Middle Eastern music and works with dancers frequently. Using my own music keeps my show up to a consistent high quality, and minimizes the chances of any unfortunate surprises that may detract from the quality of my dancing.

Okay, I’m ready to book a show. What do I do next?

Call or e-mail me right away. We’ll discuss the time and date, the number of guests you expect, the occasion, the venue, and payment details. I’ll then move forward with plans for your show.

Does it take a long time to learn to dance? Where can I take lessons?

All of the movements in Oriental dance are natural and derived from folk dances of the Middle East that originated centuries ago. Almost anyone can do this dance! The refinements of technique and professional polish you see in the stage performer, however, require a significant investment of time, money, focus, and training, just as with any other dance form. For most professionals, dance is a lifelong vocation.

Although I am not teaching regularly, there are many fine teachers here in the New York City area. I would be happy to point you in the right direction.

Bellydance is excellent core-driven low-impact exercise for anyone, male or female, young or old. Because dance classes use music and rhythm, they engage many more areas of the brain than conventional forms of exercise. You can increase your body awareness, general fitness, and brain power, and have fun all at the same time!

What is the history of Oriental Dance?

Wow, what a big topic! Okay, here’s an extremely short synopsis …

Although the dance has been performed socially for many hundreds of years, Middle Eastern Dance was first seen by the public at large in North America and Europe during the late 1900s. Over the next century, it developed into the presentational dance form we know today, retaining its Oriental essence but nevertheless influenced by other dance techniques and forms of entertainment as well. Although most dancers take great care in preserving the Arabic style in both movement and choreography, Oriental Dance is a living, breathing art form, constantly evolving as dancers, audiences, music, technology, and society changes.

One common misconception is that bellydance was originally developed in the harem for the entertainment of the sultan in a “XXX-rated” fashion. The Orientalist genre in art and literature, in which much of the subject matter is fantasy of this type, further assisted in entrenching this tale. Although this is certainly an appealing fantasy for some, it simply isn’t true; it is late-19th century advertising hype, sensationalizing the dance for a Victorian-era audience. Unfortunately, this tale was repeated so often for so long that this reputation has become “common knowledge.” There are even some dancers today who are unaware of the true origins of Oriental Dance and–shockingly–there are even noted anthropologists and historians who have not bothered to verify this tale and have put forth this idea as historical truth.

If you’d like to learn more, there are a number of good sources on the web. It’s a fascinating subject.

Do you perform at bachelor parties? I've heard that some dancers will not! Why is this and what is your policy?

Many Oriental dancers steer clear of all-male events because–unfortunately–some folks confuse bellydancers with strippers or other adult-themed performers. Although it can certainly be fluid and sensual, Oriental dance originally wasn’t intended to entertain men or to have an erotic or lascivious intent. Most professional dancers want to avoid being considered “adult” entertainment and prefer to cater to audiences who will appreciate the subtle artistry and cultural heritage of this dance form. That being said, a bellydancer may be an appropriate choice of entertainment in an all-male situation if your event calls for a show that is flirty and fun, but not potentially offensive to some of your more conservative guests.

What is a Drum Solo?

The drum solo is an essential feature of any bellydance show. Most instruments in a live band will have a section in which they are featured as a soloist, but the drummer gets his own special interlude. During this exciting 2- to 3-minute segment, the dancer and drummer playfully interact musically; the dancer interprets the various Middle Eastern rhythmic patterns and the accents the drummer plays, often showing off her expert hip work and other isolations; both musician and dancer demonstrate their mastery of technique and musicality in a rhythmic context. With live musicians, the drum solo is commonly improvised, but with recorded music it may be either choreographed or improvised.

In the past few years, some musicians have used the drum solo concept as a platform to compose pieces that are longer and much more dynamically complex and instrumentally involved while still retaining the essential Arabic flavor of the traditional drum solo. Conceiving drum and percussion pieces that are compositions in their own right, these types of works can be staged and choreographed–not as part of a larger show–but as stand-alone entities.