Tips and hints for hiring a belly dancer


So you decided to hire a belly dancer for a party or event. You found an experienced performer who will wow your guests with beautiful costumes, music and moves. You are spending money on this show, so you want to make it enjoyable and memorable. What else should you do (or avoid doing) to make the most of the performance you are investing in? 


Even if the show is taking place in a space that is not designed for performing, such as your living room or a marquee in your garden, there are some very easy tips that you can apply to maximise its impact. 


Provide a suitable changing space. Belly dance costumes are expensive and sometimes difficult to wear (for example they might require safety pins); trying to get changed in a hurry - for example in a bathroom with a queue of guests outside the door - can be stressful and even result in costume malfunctions. Ideally you should be able to provide a dedicated and locked room for the dancer to get changed and leave her bags, clothes, costumes and props. If this is impossible, let the belly dancer know in advance, so she can arrive already wearing her costume underneath a caftan, long coat or other cover-up. In any case, ensure you can provide at least a safe place to lock up the dancer's valuables, so she can concentrate on the performance without having to worry.


Think about how the belly dancer will enter the performance space. First impressions count and the way a belly dancer enters her 'stage' is very important - even if there isn't a stage as such... it's all about the surprise effect, so ideally nobody should see the belly dancer until that moment! Think about how the dancer will arrive at the venue (do you have a back door that she can use to arrive discreetly?), where she will get changed and where she will wait for the music to start (preferably a place where she cannot be seen by the audience but she can hear the music clearly, so she can enter at the right time).


Test the sound system. There is nothing worse than having to perform to music that you can barely hear: the performance will lose its impact and it will be very difficult to engage the audience. Technical faults do happen but some situations are avoidable: for example, I was once asked to perform on the patio of a house while the music was playing in the living room and was barely audible outside. If you have a small sound system, plan for the performance to take place in one room. 


Provide an even performance surface. Hard floors are preferable but an experienced belly dancer will be able to adapt her moves and her footwear to dance on other surfaces, for example a carpet or a marquee which has been laid directly on the grass, as long as you tell her upfront. And of course try to keep the area clean and free from objects that could cause injuries or simply distraction to the dancer (those times when I performed in Greek restaurants during or after the traditional 'plates smashing' come to mind!)


Keep pets and small children away from the performance area. An experienced belly dancer will be used to interacting with people and adapting her performance to what happens around her, however too many distractions will reduce the impact of the dance. I remember a house party where I had to dance the whole set while being followed around by a huge German shepherd... luckily I am not afraid of dogs and he was not aggressive! The first 30 seconds were actually quite funny, but then it became a distraction for the audience and I was limiting my movements to avoid hitting the dog or stepping on his paws. Same goes for small children running or playing in the space dedicated to the performance.

Elisa belly dance posing for pictures with client after performing at a 40th birthday party in Ascot