Hosting a Guest Bellydancer: How It Really Works

So every now and then on Facebook, I’ll see a dancer post a thank you note to so-and-so from such-and-such state for hosting them for a workshop and/or performance.  A couple weeks ago it occurred to me that I didn’t really know what hosting a guest artist fully entailed, so I’ve been asking around, and here’s what I’ve discovered.

  1. Hosts are fully or at least partially responsible for the guest artist’s transportation.
  2. Hosts are fully responsible for the guest artist’s lodgings sometimes resulting in the host putting up their guest in their own home.
  3. Hosts are responsible for booking the workshop, finding an appropriate venue in which to hold the workshop, and promoting the workshop in the local bellydance community.
  4. The dancer and host usually split the profits from the workshop.
  5. If there is a performance following a workshop, the guest artist is fully paid for his or her work.
  6. All of the above are generally laid down in a formal contract so both sides are fully aware of what to expect and to eliminate the chances of any nasty surprises.

As you can see, this format puts the financial burden entirely on the host so that the dancer faces minimal financial risk.  However, this can potentially mean that the guest artist isn’t earning very much money for a substantial chunk of time and effort.  But then again, this seems like an ideal way to travel and get to know people in diverse bellydance communities.  Generally, I’ve seen that bellydancers and hosts tend to become good friends and those kinds of connections are invaluable in our tiny community.

As I continued to ponder this arrangement, it also occurred to me that if bellydancers never take on the financial risk of traveling and hosting their own workshops, they may never get to do much traveling at all.  It seems to me that a fully hosted workshop weekend is not something one comes by easily.  More likely, they are few and far between.

So what do you all think?  If you were a well-known bellydancer (let’s say you’d taught at Tribal Fest but aren’t a name brand bellydancer like Zoe Jakes or Rachel Brice just yet), do you think it would be financially responsible to host a workshop in a major city where you might sell out but you also might not?  Is traveling via hosts really the best option?

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7 thoughts on “Hosting a Guest Bellydancer: How It Really Works

      1. Do you think NYC/the Tri-State is really that over-saturated though? Workshops on the West Coast seem to do just fine and there are 10x more bellydancers over there. I don’t know what it is about NYC. There is this bizarre culture of sticking to one’s own teacher/studio/whatever at the expense of all others. Teachers don’t want you in their shows unless you study exclusively with them, and I think it makes students afraid to try something new. They feel as though studying with any other teacher constitutes some sort of betrayal and puts their professional aspirations at risk. It’s a very self limiting attitude in the NYC community. Has that been your experience?

  1. A lot to consider…I’ve been toying around with the idea of hosting a few dancers who I’ve been wanting to study with but who don’t make it out to this coast very often, but as you well mentioned, it is a big financial stress upfront, and a bit of a gamble

    1. I feel the same way. There are so many AMAZING dancers out on the West Coast, but the dancers here aren’t always educated enough to know who they are and that can put you at a huge financial risk. For example, Rose Harden came out to NYC (hosted by Sarah Locke) just a few weeks ago, and no one had any idea who she was. I can’t stand people who pat themselves on the back for knowing who Zoe Jakes and Rachel Brice are, but they don’t know anyone else from the West Coast Tribal community. Like, hello? Rose Harden is IN Zoe Jakes company, and she’s worked with Jill Parker for Ultra Gypsy. That DEFINITELY makes her a notable. *slaps forehead*

      But if you ever do decide to bring someone out, I’m happy to help your promote the pants off your event. It’s time that NYC got into the swing of things and became real rest stop for bellydancers/troupes that go on tour. We’re so out of the loop! Any thoughts on who you’d like to bring?

  2. Interesting article. My sense in reading this, both from the perspective of the host and the traveling dancer, is that this is a very time-consuming and risky endeavor. It cost a fair sum of money that may or may not be recoup’ed in the end. There may be a few perks for each side (chance for traveling dancer to see a new city, chance for host to learn from her idol, etc.), but I can’t imagine this is a great money-maker for either party. So why do it? The only reason I can think of is that both the host and the traveling dancer are passionate about the same thing- the art. I guess it’s worth it when you consider how important it is to connect ‘experts in the field’ with students. Very cool!

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