CARDINAL RULES OF
Excerpt from Anne Thomas
Soffee's book Snake Hips. Great info everyone's thinking but
dancers don't say enough to new dancers!
It is considered terribly, terribly
gauche to be seen in costume when one isnít in the throes of
performance. Put on your cover-up.
No dancing on the sidelines when
others are performing unless they invite you to join them.
Otherwise youíre competing for the audienceís attention, which is
Never do a backbend with your crotch
toward the audience.
Donít touch yourself lasciviously
while you dance.
Try to refrain from pulling faces
that look as if you are having a private moment. Not only is this
horribly lewd when done correctly, it is incredibly (and
unintentionally) amusing when done incorrectly.
Tattoos are iffy. If you are going
for ethnic authenticity, stick with the tribal face markings and
hennaed hands. If youíre going for cabaret glitz, a skull and
crossbones on your shoulder might be a wee bit detracting. If
youíre doing American Tribal style ŗ la Fat Chance or Gypsy
Caravan, well, break out the ink, sister, you are in luck.
Ditto navel piercing.
Tips are something else that is up
in the air--sometimes literally. Tips are often showered over the
dancerís head without any body contact. Some dancers donít mind
taking a tip discreetly in a shoulder strap or in the back of the
belt. If you want your customers stuffing tips down your bra or
the front of your belt, maybe youíre in the wrong line of work.
If you have been hired to perform at
a reception or other event where food is served, do not hang
around and have a plate after you dance. Youíre there to fulfill a
fantasy for the audience--a fantasy that will not withstand the
vision of you stuffing your face with greasy Buffalo wings. If the
hosts insist (and especially if itís yummy Middle Eastern
food--hey, it would be an insult to refuse, right?), ask if they
will wrap you up a plate to go. You can fib and say you have
Do not smoke, drink alcohol, curse,
behave lasciviously, or cuddle with sweethearts in public while in
Stay in character for the duration
of a gig, especially at Joe Public events. Remember, youíre being
paid to be a mysterious exotic belly dancer, not Cyndi from the
marketing department. Do not flirt, mingle, or reveal your real
name or day job. If you must change into civilian clothing, try
and do it out of sight of your erstwhile audience and make a quick
getaway. This doesnít hold true for ďjust usĒ events like student
shows or haflas where the attendees are mainly dancers. Feel free
to let your hair down, slip into something comfortable, and enjoy
the show at these events.
Shoulder shimmies are called
shoulder shimmies for a reason. If we wanted boob shimmies, we
would have called them boob shimmies. A word to the wise.
From Snake Hips, by Anne Thomas Soffee
Published by Chicago Review Press ISBN 1-55652-458-7
Publicity contact: Catherine Bosin, 312-337-0747 x 240