Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Why Open Stage?

I spent MINUTES working on this graphic, you bet I'm going to use it more than once!

Tomorrow is our monthly Open Stage at Sky Bar here in Tucson. Yep, we're having Open Stage even on 4th of July, because we like routine.

It's my opinion that every decent-sized dance community should have a regularly occurring open stage or hafla, whether it's monthly, every other month or quarterly. And let me tell you why: a dancer who has been bitten by the performance bug and has no appropriate performance outlets will start to make questionable decisions. We all know the logic: "I really need more practice performing so I'll go see if the manager at Chateau de Kebab will let me perform for free just for the experience" or "Sure I'll dance at your event, but since I'm just a student you only have to pay me $10."

The truth is, once a dancer has decided that she loves to perform, those once or twice a year student recitals don't cut it, especially for the dancer who wants to be a soloist but isn't given the opportunity to at recitals (because if everyone got to solo the recital would be 5 hours long!). If she hasn't been told about proper behavior and undercutting, she'll naturally start to have these thoughts (I know, because I did), and even if she has been told she might try to rationalize it by saying "Oh, it's OK because they don't normally have dancers so I'm not taking work from anyone..." etc etc etc.

Even if a dancer isn't directly taking work from someone, if she goes out performing on her own before she's ready, she can make a lot of mistake, get taken advantage of, and make the dance look bad. If the audience at Chateau de Kebab doesn't know that they're watching a student, they're going to think that they're watching a pro and they're not going to be impressed. They're not going to want to hire a bellydancer for their next big party.

Open stage and all-level haflas give those eager students an appropriate place to get their dance fix. And when the emcee says "Jill is a student who has been dancing for six months" and "Jane is a professional dancer with ten years of training" the audience can see the difference. They can see that Jill loves what she does but needs more work, and that Jane is a polished performer who would be ideal to dance at their company's New Year's Eve Soiree. Jill gets to dance, Jane gets to advertise, the audience gets to see what the city has to offer by way of dance (because in my perfect world, Open Stage spans the entire community, and tribal, Egyptian, and AmCab dancers perform, maybe with the occasional guest who does hula or tango or hip hop). Everybody wins at Open Stage!


  1. I love participating in open stages as much as I dislike participating in competitions.
    Have fun!
    -Sharon Mitzy Sheen

    1. Agreed! I can't imagine ever doing a dance competition. I really hate to lose at anything, so I'm just completely avoiding the idea of dance as a competitive endeavor.


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