What Qualities do I Look for in a Student Performer?

Why Do Some Students Get Asked to Perform and not Others?


Every time I plan a show, I invite dancers based on whether I think they are reliable, easy to work with, and suitable for the event. Each event is different, and since I don't have a troupe with set membership, different dancers are asked to dance at different times. This is the method I've found works best for me.

Attending my classes practically guarantees the opportunity to perform at my Class Haflas and annual Recital.

The dance spots at all of the other events are filled either by open call or by invitation. Even the members of my PRISM Rehearsal Club are not guaranteed a performance spot in any show.
The PRISM Dancers functions differently than standard belly dance troupes. Any student of mine who performs in my show is considered a PRISM Dancer; no matter what level they are. I draw on my years of experience as a professional performer (over 25 years now) to match the right performers to each event.
I offer my students performance opportunities because I believe that performing is part of the art of belly dance; so my job as a teacher is to provide this, and not to play favorites with my students. That wouldn't be professional, fair, or ethical.

How Do I Decide?

When I am planning a show, I consider the venue, and how high the expectations are for the performers. Is it a paying show like a private party, corporate event, or school multicultural fair? Is it a show at a reduced rate, for instance at nursing homes, the Women’s Forum, or charity fundraisers?
After considering that, I decide whether it is an open call or invitation-only show. If it's by invitation, first I see whether that student follows the Performer’s Agreement. Then I consider how each student functions in class, at rehearsals, and shows.

These are the qualities that are important:

  • preparedness - do they come to class, rehearsals, shows, with what was asked for previously (costume, veil, etc.)?
  • punctuality - are they consistently late? This is often a daily and unconscious trait in someone’s life, and can be very difficult for other performers
  • reliability - do they show up when expected, or are they absent without giving notice?
  • improvement - in technique and understanding, signifying practice at home
  • good attitude - do they seem glad to be there or more like they’re granting a favor?
  • humility - do they take corrections well or do they bristle defensively, and offer long explanations?
  • inner light - can they perform with self-confidence; do they "give" to the audience, or does their dancing seem wooden and empty?
  • sociability - does their presence foster “a family feeling”, do they share themselves freely or are they closed off into their own world?
  • stability - do they evidence a calm joy in learning or performing; can they take corrections without “losing steam” & faltering? Do they distract others with erratic behavior or acting out?
You can see that I take performing very seriously, and I consider it a privilege, not a right. The audience deserves the best we can do.

I hope this helps you understand why I may ask certain dancers for certain shows;, and if you have any questions please let me know. If you don't understand why I judged someone appropriate for a show over someone else - remember the element of mercy may be involved.