Many bloggers (including me) write primarily about how to be a good dancer, how to improve yourself, how to stretch and reach for the stars. But not too many write on how to be a good audience member, especially if you are a dancer. We think, hey, I’m a dancer, and I know how I want an audience to behave. But what might be acceptable to you may not be to another dancer. Here are some tips for being a good audience member.
- Never show up in costume to another performer’s gig. This is just about as rude as you can get. If you want to see another dancer perform, and you have a gig afterwards, show up in your street clothes (or dressy clothes, whatever is appropriate for the venue) and change once you get to your gig (and not in the dressing room of the other dancer)
- Even if you are capable of this or this, DO NOT zill through another dancer’s set, unless she has specifically asked you to. It’s great that you know how to zill, and it’s wonderful that you want to participate in the show, but keep it to your own set. You may distract the dancer (and the audience) or cover up the accents she is trying to hit, or, horrors, not be playing the right rhythm! I’ve had this happen to me too much, ruining sets and video because someone was zilling through my set.
- If you do not like the dancer, don’t bad mouth her before, during, or after her set, especially in the hearing of other audience members. When she is performing, it is her stage, her moment, no matter how much you don’t like her. Let her have her time on the stage. And, to be fair, if you don’t like a dancer, you shouldn’t bad mouth her ever. Keep it to yourself.
- If you do not like a performer’s set, song, style, or skill level, also keep it to yourself. Clap politely (or not) at the end. Please do not loudly proclaim how you can do so much better, or wave your hands wildly in dismissal, or cluck unappreciatively. I’ve seen all three of those from other belly dancers, and it is so rude. This is childish behavior and will reflect more on you than on the dancer.
- Please do help get a dead crowd going. Most Americans are taught to sit quietly and politely through a performance, and this can kill the energy of a belly dance show. Help a girl out and show the audience that it is okay to clap, make noise, and tip the dancer. The dancer should be the one to handle this, but there are some crowds that need more help than others.
- And finally, the best thing you can do to be a good audience member is…show up! If you have no intention of going, don’t reply with a “yes” on Facebook (this can give the dancer higher expectations and when no one comes, be a big disappointment). Support other dancers in your community by going to their events, even if you are not performing.
It’s Monday! This week’s challenge is going to be a bit different.
Watching other dancers
I’m going to be completely honest here, and toot my own horn. If you haven’t been following my website or my Facebook, you might not know that I have a big performance this weekend (actually…two big performances…). A REALLY big performance. It’s a big deal, and I’m very grateful to those who are paying their hard-earned money to come and see me dance. (If you’re in Tucson, and want to come, check out my website for information on how to buy tickets.)
This, of course, has influenced my thoughts about what this week’s challenge should be. Many of us dancers, once we get to the point where we want to perform, try to perform at every restaurant, hafla, show, street fair, Renaissance festival, or other event we can jam our little toes into. In a close-knit or small community, it gets to the point where dancers all see the same dancers over and over, with the same costumes, the same songs, the same moves. Newer dancers may not get a chance, because the experienced dancers have all of the connections to the event organizers and fill up all the available spaces before anyone else has a chance to try it. That’s not always the best thing for experienced dancers, newer dancers, or the general public. We get caught up in me, me, me, I want to dance and forget to help nurture and support other dancers–new or experienced.
What’s the solution to this? One dancer I know is in a troupe that has a really awesome requirement: once a month, go to a belly dance show where you are NOT dancing. When you are dancing at an event, it’s hard to watch other dancers. Either you are backstage primping or frantically changing costumes, or in the audience being too nervous to watch or focus on anything other than your own upcoming performance (or even worrying about whether to eat now or later so you don’t throw up on your first belly roll or get too hungry to perform…). And then don’t get me started on the dancers that waltz in just before their number (even though the event organizer asked all dancers to arrive at a specific time), stay backstage with headphones on, dance, and then leave… Of course, some dancers may have gigs before and after, and that’s fine, but that’s a different story. Ahem. Sorry. Anyway…it’s difficult to be supportive of other dancers if you are focusing on your own performance. I think it’s fantastic that some troupes require dancers to support other dancers by going to a show and only being an audience member.
So, what’s this week’s challenge?
Support a dancer!! Easy, right!? If there is a show this week, just go and watch. Don’t bring your cards (rude!), don’t bring a costume just in case…just go watch a fellow dancer perform and actually sit and enjoy the performance. Watch her (him!), don’t critique or think about how you might dance to that song. Just enjoy it.
The rest of the week (and especially if there are no shows for you to attend this week), be a YouTube audience member. Show support by liking or commenting on a video (please be nice…and if you can’t be nice, move on!)
Of course, if you do follow my blog, you know that I do not like comparing ourselves to other dancers. It’s not helpful. So don’t start it this week. Don’t sit there and think, “I’ll never be able to do that!” or “Wow, what was she thinking…I’d never wear that costume.” Just enjoy the performance, and know that you are helping another dancer and creating a stronger community!