The Business of Egyptian Dance - Part 1 (by Joana Saahirah)

The Business of Egyptian Dance -  Part 1 (by Joana Saahirah)

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hello everybody welcome to a new journal live session this is me juan assada trying to figure out how i'm going to go through the entire live session with this hair that is wild and free and impossible to tame and i want to welcome you to a very exciting live q a where i'm gonna answer some of the most interesting questions around the business of egyptian dance what it takes to be a professional what it takes to build a career in this field and a lot of things that i have been asked in so many years more than 20 years of career in the field of egyptian dance in egypt and then in my work around the world and more recently in my online platforms and schools when i say this world and when i say this online dance school i have gathered some of the questions that i am sure you want to know about and i'm here to answer them okay so first things first um i'm gonna present myself as i have to do i'm gonna hold my hair because i cannot focus with my hair all over the place and i'm going to present myself as it is the protocol my name is rena saeeda right but that you already know i'm here with my double expresso double not single because that's what the moment requires and i'm a world renowned oriental dancer teacher choreographer and author i'm also the creator of the pioneering joanna sadis online dance school and joanna saeeda's world's delivering authentic egyptian dance personal discovery and empowerment and for the ones who are not in our platform yet feel welcome to join us join our free newsletter and be the first to receive our news gifts and inspirations i'm gonna share the link for you to do so either in the comments to this video or in the description box below the video if you're going to watch the replay of this session at chuenaceta's youtube channel now let's dive into the business of egyptian dance i will invite you to um share your questions if you're watching me live let me know what you're curious about what you would like me to answer and i promise you if i know the answer i will deliver it okay if i don't know i will tell you i don't know okay normally so what is the first question that i have selected and i'm gonna read from my notes because there were a lot of questions around this theme i think we're gonna have to do a second usual live session in order to answer them all but let's start and see how it goes so how did you become a professional oriental dancer in egypt this is perhaps the question i've been asked the most at least in the beginning of my career my students other dancers people who were related with egyptian dance were fascinated by the the path that one has to take in order to start building a career in egypt as a foreigner okay so i started traveling to egypt very early on even before i dreamed about working in egyptian dance and and moving to egypt all right that means that when i decided to move to egypt to start my career i already knew egypt quite well all right and i already um knew the best teachers the best the news to watch oriental dance there was like a preparation um path if you if you can call it before i ever decided to start building my career there now how did i become a professional oriental dancer in egypt i'm gonna try to be short and clear all right first of all um i became a professional oriental dancer in egypt because i decided so and it all starts with a decision not every dancer will want to work in egypt not every dancer will be able to work in egypt not every dancer will have the resources the talent and the skills and the perseverance and the qualities personal qualities like patience like strength like courage that are required in order to um to allow for a career there now there are many ways of starting a career in egypt there is not one way i can only speak for myself and the way i used all right but there are other ways usually dancers will have a manager an impresario a contact a buffer a middle person between them and a possible contract all right many dancers never get a contract in egypt so they do gigs they are paid miserably and they never really have a venue for their performances and many of them don't even have an orchestra so that's another thing you have to consider what does it mean to build a career in egypt for me it meant that i had to have my own orchestra the highest quality musicians i could find that i had to perform at the best venues of cairo in my own terms that was the base of my desire and that was what i pursued for many dances that's not the case i know students of mine who are now in cairo for instance who claim to be building a career in egypt but they don't have a contract they don't have an orchestra they do gigs here and there in discotheques and bars and whatever and that is okay if that's what they want but that was not what i wanted so the first thing i would tell you in regards to this question how did i become a professional oriental dancer in egypt is you really have to decide what you want for yourself and pursue it all right now how did i pursue it how did i become a professional dancer in cairo in egypt not only in cairo first of all i did the preparation work what was the preparation work i traveled to egypt as i already mentioned to study to research to know a little bit of the language to know a little bit of the culture to get acquainted with places and the news and teachers and people who could guide me and i also prepared myself financially let's get real all right let's get real if you are a dancer who leaves off your dance work and i know this is not the case for a lot of dancers okay a lot of dancers see dance as a hobby they have it as a side hustle a lot of dancers are supported financially by other people either by parents or partners or whatever that was not my case so then again it really depends on your particular case i was not financially supported by anyone except myself and i supported myself from my dance that meant that when i moved to egypt to start my career i needed to make sure that i was financially covered because i did not know what i would find i did not know how long it would take me to get a contract i did not know how long it would take me to be well paid i did not know how much does a flat cost the rental of a flag i did not know what it meant to live in egypt because living in egypt is not the same as traveling to egypt okay as a student as a tourist you have a specific image and experience of egypt as someone who moves there to live there and work there and earn your box there and put bread on the table there from egyptian market that's a very different reality so i prepared myself by traveling there knowing the country before i moved and i prepared myself financially okay for one year and a half i literally killed myself working in my homeland portugal i went back and forth egypt and portugal i did shows i did conferences i did workshops i was working as an actress as well on television so i saved all my money i put all my money aside i um created a little savings account that would allow me to move to egypt safely without depending on anyone because it was my dream so i don't think others have to pay for your dream all right um you have to pay for your dream if you're willing to take this big risk whatever the risk is you gotta own it and you gotta pay for it that's my opinion so i saved this money and i knew that i had savings to live comfortably at least one year in egypt without getting paid and that meant enough money for food for for a flat for clothing for transportation i did all of that preparation before i moved also i had very clear what was it that i wanted to do okay so if what drives you to egypt or to anywhere else is just fame you want to be famous you're in for a rough ride and you're in for a rough awakening because that in my opinion then again guys should not be the reason why behind a big move such as this all right so i had a big why i knew i wanted to go to egypt to really get to know the source the roots of egyptians from the inside out i did not want any intermediaries i did not want a theory of course i had studied a lot and read everything about egyptian dance but i wanted to see it with my own eyes i also wanted to have the experience of performing with egyptians for egyptians because i knew that would give me an insight into the culture and into the dance that otherwise i would not have all right so it is important to understand that the reason that takes you to a certain place the reason why the motivation your motive for action defines a lot of what you're gonna find i became an oriental dancer in egypt because i decided that's what i needed to do because i prepared for it as i've already mentioned and also because i knew it was in a way my destiny it was my path it was more than a professional ambition i knew that i was gonna find myself there okay also on a personal level so that's what made me go there that's what made me become a professional oriental dancer there now there are practicalities right what do you do when you arrive to egypt or to any any other place and you want to perform i went knocking on doors literally i had no agent i had no impresario the teachers that i knew at the time told me either to go away or to marry a rich adam guy not kidding uh or they simply bluntly told me you ain't never gonna amount to anything because you're two this you're to that the same people that later on hired me for their own festivals told me that okay hired me for their own festivals in cairo the same people that later on came to my shows in cairo they told me go away it will never happen okay which comes to show that you should never allow others to kill your dreams all right they're entitled to their opinion you're entitled to yours you say thank you very much and you keep on believing in yourself and acting upon your dreams all right i knocked on doors i went directly to the places where i wanted to perform and i started auditioning and i started getting to know the environment getting to know the players in the egyptian scene dance scene getting to know the rules of the game and deciding how i wanted to play that game all right so i knew i was not gonna go out with anyone for work i knew i was not gonna get married with anyone for work i knew i was not gonna prostitute myself for work i knew that because that was part of my character values but i also knew that i was willing to audition to work harder than anyone else and to give it my best and i did so eventually i got my first contract after many auditions and sexual harassment and stories that i'm not gonna tell you right now because we'd be here forever and after i auditioned and got my first contract everything hit off because then i had a venue i had my own first orchestra a little one in the beginning and then it grew and i had my own steady payment and i had my own structure that kept growing and work growing and growing and growing i have never worked with managers or so-called improsarios because the ones i met were not honest and they were not the kind of people i wanted to associate with okay their way of working was not my way of working i was as i still am very straightforward very honest and i don't like um monkey business not in my business all right so i always said no and i kept the deals and the business the every side of the business to myself obviously having more dominion over my work but also being more over uh drained let's call it because i was performing i was orchestrating my musicians i was hiring musicians i was firing musicians i was taking care of technicians new dance contracts everything was on me so i had full power to manage the career but i also had a lot of work on my back and no help so that prepared me for life actually all right basically that's how i became a professional oriental dancer in egypt in a in a nutshell all right how did you get your first contracts in lisbon in lebanon and in egypt okay so before i even launched myself in egypt i went working in oman with an egyptian uh troop and i also went to lebanon to beirut uh for my first dance contract with an orchestra that was my first dance contract how did i get those contracts i got them in very different ways so the contract of lebanon i got very randomly um through a contact of a designer a beveler designer that was doing my dance dresses in cairo she mentioned a big shot um businessman who was also a musical and a dance producer in beirut very famous he had produced and launched a lot of famous dancers and singers and actors and she put me in contact with him i auditioned i showed him what i could do in a show we did some rehearsals with an orchestra and eventually i was hired to open up his big place in beirut this was the way i got the first contract in lebanon and then there is a big story there but then again i'm not going to tell it now because we wouldn't leave and the contract in egypt as i've already told you i got through a series of auditions that i did all right in different places so i went to the places where i wanted to perform i presented myself i said here i am this is what i do i'm willing to um show you what i can do in the show i have musicians of course i had not musicians at the time but i lied to them and then i had to get musicians from the street and i'm ready to audition if you wanna give me a shot and they did some of them some of them came with strings attached and i did not want to go that route and some of them gave me a fair shot and by some i mean one of them mr chaudhry an indian manager who was working at the place where i first worked in egypt and the most wonderful person the most respectful person and the only one who gave me a fair shot i must have um i must have that that honesty of telling you the only one that gave me a fair shot and asked for nothing in return except full house every night so this is how i got my contracts in lebanon and also in egypt what else uh how have you managed your work as a performer and as a teacher in egypt i think i've already told you that it is overwhelming and it is not for everyone all right throughout the years i had students of mine coming to visit me in egypt um colleagues coming watching my show taking classes with me and they were asking me how do you manage everything right how do you do all of this by yourself and the first thing i would tell them is that this is not for everyone this is not for everyone honestly it is not you need to have a very uh tough skin you need to have a little bit of thug in you to defend yourself and to be smart street smart and to know where to go and how to go and with whom you need to be obviously talented otherwise you will need to play the game so if you're not playing the game and if you are holding yourself to a spot of new where they will give you work continuously year after year after year for me was eight years until i said enough not for me anymore you gotta show the goodies it's not enough dude to date the producer or to date the manager it's not enough to have connections you really gotta hold uh yourself together and you really gotta show something otherwise you will disappear very quickly you will be given the chance but the chance will be taken away from you in a second all right so i would say that talent is very important if you're not playing the game if you're doing it the right way talent is very important preparation technical preparation you need a lot of dance knowledge and dense expertise and you need to be able to learn very fast on the job so i would say that when i moved to egypt and i started performing i was not a very well prepared dancer yet i became so working so in every show that i did i learned i developed i challenged myself i took classes while i was performing i was studying with mahmoud radha with aza sharif with nago fued with mona saeed i was studying with the ones that really knew the craft not the trendy ones but the ones who really knew the craft that could give me leverage that could give me knowledge and prepare me to create shows that people wanted to come to and come back to consistently um [Music] how have i managed the work in general i do think that you need to have a multi-tasking ability that means you need to be able to negotiate a deal you need to be able to hire a musician you need to be able to manage an orchestra you need to be able to choose your clothing and and build your show your dance performance programs and you need to be able to do all of this stuff at a very fast speed and in a very uh tense hyper competitive threatening environment if it sounds like going to war it's because it is like going to war this is why i say it's not for everyone so i think that managing my career in cairo in a way required different skills and different abilities and different work tasks that i had to take willingly but at the expense of my own time my own health and also my own family all the time i was performing in egypt i saw my family once per year if i was lucky i had no time for anything else so my life was my work i was either performing rehearsing hiring musicians rehearsing performing checking new bedloves for the show building new program or sleeping to recover that's it so it is a very specific lifestyle you gotta love it um you gotta be obsessed with it in a way you gotta be so focused and you gotta have the skills that will allow you to tackle all of those different sides of the business okay this is why i say it's not for everyone all right at the same time you got to be very strong because a lot of weird invitations will come your way a lot of attacks from other dancers and their managers will come your way and you cannot allow them to shake you you gotta be strong you gotta be focused and say ah sod off i don't care what you do i'm gonna keep on doing my thing and doing the best work ever yes so if you don't have that strength and that impermeability if you're not impermeable to the attacks of the of the outside world it's it's nearly impossible i would say all right what else uh how do you deal with the overwhelm of managing your own career okay so this question is not referring to egypt per se it's referring to the career right so i may have started my career in egypt but then i started traveling the world going to festivals to teach to perform and to lecture all right so i divide my career very clearly into different phases that was the starting point in in portugal where i was just um putting the seed in the sand okay it was just the beginning of everything the dream then egypt and then the world all right and nowadays the world and even at a wider scale because i'm working online so the people that i reached on a physical material uh world i am reaching a hundred times more online right because it is a limitless market i don't have to go to united states to teach a workshop in united states i i'm doing it in my platform without leaving my studio all right so it is a revolution in my career it is a revolution in our life in case you haven't noticed and it's something that i consider a new chapter in my career now how do i manage the overwhelm this is a very specific word and a very specific feeling that i believe most of us are are experiencing especially lately overall there are two words that i tell my friends when i when they ask me how are you doing two words that i hear myself saying all the time one of them is excited the other one is overwhelmed yeah always excited and overwhelmed the other day i i saw a comment from an interesting entrepreneur and positioning overwhelm in a way that i've never seen it before he was positioning overwhelm as something positive consider overwhelm something that you feel when you're expanding when you're getting things done when you're uh out of your comfort zone right i have never looked at overwhelmed that way because for me overwhelm is feeling anxious it's feeling like you cannot be present at everything and things are out of hand that you are losing the grip upon yourself and upon your life that's my concept of overwhelm how do i deal with overwhelm and rest assured if you're a professional dancer i don't mean in egypt or in china anywhere okay anywhere if you're a professional dancer who lives from her or his dance work and i'm stressing this because it makes a big difference if you don't leave from this work if you don't need the money from the work you have a very different experience okay so let's be very clear when we're speaking about professional oriental dancers we're speaking about dancers who live exclusively from their dance work yeah and they're not a lot who can do that all right um i've been doing it for for 23 24 years now and i tell you it's tough you know it's not easy so there is um this overwhelm this this sense of being charged with too much work and too many tasks i believe anywhere you are if you're a professional dancer in japan if you're a professional dancer in portugal if you're a professional dancer in usa you will feel overwhelmed if you leave from your dance work and if you're making things happen yeah because being a professional dancer depending on what you are investing in means many things you have to be the dancer you have to be the producer you have to be the marketing manager you have to be um the one who makes the contacts you have to be the one who makes all the little tasks okay around the dance that allows you to be paid for your dance and i remember when i started my career right before i traveled to egypt that i was shocked because i thought okay here i am leaving from my dance and at the time as i told you i was also performing on television and in the theater because i was studying to be an actress in the conservatoire and i was already working in television and theater and i remember thinking dance is the least of my jobs i'm not dancing much although i'm performing and i'm teaching and i'm making conferences and i'm making a lot of stuff but i felt like most of my time was taken with the producing part answering emails sending foxes at the time the fox he existed if you can believe it there was something called fox you sent a fax to a company you know um i was the one taking care of the venues the technicians i was not dancing at all i only danced on stage practically or in the classroom i danced so little because most of my time was taken with all the jobs that i had to do in order to leave from my dance and this is something most dancers are not prepared for they think that leaving from their dance means they're gonna dance all day i wish no it's not it's not true when you leave from your dance when you pay your bills from your dance work when you are really a professional you're gonna find out that dancing is the least of your work it's the list of your jobs dancing becomes almost like vacation you know because the rest of the time you're doing everything else that needs to be done then again guys some dancers may be privileged they may have people helping them right maybe you have an assistant now i have an assistant i didn't have one for a long time and i know the difference they may have technical support they may have someone helping them with the marketing or whatever but still if you want to build something that is strong and long-lasting you gotta have your hands on everything and even when you delegate functions when you can afford to pay someone to help you in any aspect of the work you still have to know how to delegate and you still have to know how to follow up with the people and you still have to have your hand on it otherwise you lose track of what's happening otherwise your brand your dance your identity your business loses identity remember that dance is a personal thing it's an identity thing and when you make it professionally either as a performer or as a teacher you're putting your character your soul into it if you hire a team but you don't know what they're doing and why they're doing it and how they're doing it you lose track of your own brand you lose track of the of the direction of your work so even if you can afford to pay people to help you and this is a minority of people who can do that after more than 20 years i can do that and in egypt i could do that at a certain level i had two assistants right that was help i had technicians that was help i did not do the sound but you know but that was it other than that i could not afford to hire you know a marketing team or you know a producing team it's not realistic and it's not what most dancers can do so you got to be prepared to do all of that parallel work and the dance work which eventually will feel like vacation really i remember that every time i performed and every time i thought even today when i'm teaching i feel like i'm on vacation this is the easy part you know the dance is the easy part everything else that makes the dance possible on a professional level that's the hard part and that's what takes most of the time of a professional dancer unless she or he is privileged enough to have paid help all right what else um what is the biggest challenge or challenges you've encountered as a performer and how did you deal with it okay i do believe this is a very personal question and also a very universal question because there are different challenges depending on where you're performing and who you are okay in egypt for instance i had certain challenges as a performer and at the top of that list comes dealing with sexual harassment from the environment this is why i say it is very personal it really depends on where you're performing so dealing with sexual harassment and being able to do my job without being bothered by crazy offers and crazy proposals and and managers trying to marry me for business and rich adam guys coming and offering money all that kind of noise was very annoying to me very distracting and very draining so those um offers those sexual harassment um proposals were my number one challenge as a performer in cairo it's a very personal thing some other dancers like it some other dancers take advantage of it and it's their decision it's their choice it's their values i did not like it and i was not there to go out with a rich arab guy or to make a fortune out of a reach manager or that was not my thing i'm an artist i am an artist i am not there to sell myself as a woman i'm there to sell my art so it really depends on who you are and it really depends on what you're willing to do also in order to um accomplish your goal of being a successful oriental dancer aside from sexual harassment i always felt that i had to be 100 feet and i have to be honest with you although i've always practiced sports and i've always taken care of my body i am not the kind of person who diets i am not the kind of person who kills herself exercising to to be seen um i like to live life and i like to be relaxed and i like to have a healthy body but i always felt that a certain image was expected of me even in kaido if you can believe it and why do i say kaido because in cairo um the beauty standard is not so much the the standard of a skinny body it's not but along the years and through the influence of the western world the reality is dancers are getting thinner and thinner and thinner all right and there is a new beauty standard being um imposed upon dancers so aside from sexual harassment the pressure to look a certain way was hard as a performer because i was performing every night you gotta you gotta remember this it's not like you're preparing and then you perform and then you're relaxed no you are on every night year after year that means you have to be spotless year after year my body had to be fit every single day my skin had to be amazing every single day my hair had to be perfect every single day my manicure my pedicure everything had to be perfect and that is a huge pressure to have for me okay then again some women may like that pressure and they may may have that pressure even if they're not performing that's not me i like to live life okay and i don't like dieting i love eating i love enjoying the pleasures of life and i don't like to feel that my body has to look a certain way in order to be accepted i reject that so that was my second biggest challenge then this combination between what the market wants and what you want to do and i think most oriental dancers independently of their zone if they're in egypt if they're in france if they're in china in england they have doubt or they will deal with this conflict the art i want to present and what the market is asking for nowadays that's very clear in my school for instance at joanna stato's online dance school that is very clear very often the courses that sell the most are the ones that are the least interesting for me on an artistic level okay sometimes there is a course that i find so interesting so good so deep so transformational so interesting and it doesn't sell well because that's not what the market wants and why this is hard because it harms my livelihood right if you're doing things that make sense for you artistically creatively but the market does not want them how are you gonna pay your bills then again we're coming from a place of being a professional and being a professional is not making it as a hobby sorry okay that's not being a professional not yet you are a professional oriental dancer when you have the skills the education the experience for it and also when you live from it if you do it as a side hustle as a hobby you will not feel the pressures of being a professional dancer all right so i'm talking from a place of living from your dance work all right if you leave from your dance work you're certainly going to find moments when a client asks you for something that you don't want to do or someone asks you to dance something that you don't want to dance while i was in egypt for instance there were a lot of requests for me to dance khalidi in my show i i always said no because i did not like to dance khalid in my show it was not part of my program but it was very trendy and every other dancer was doing it so there was a clash between what i wanted to do and what the market wanted there have been surprises as well so very often people will tell you that is never gonna work that is never gonna sell and you go with your instinct and you make it work i have gone through that as well all right so there are situations when you feel this is the best thing on earth and nobody is interested there are circumstances when you do something that you don't really put much effort into because you don't find it that important and people love it and it sells like hell and there are moments when everyone around you will tell you that is never gonna sell that is never gonna work and you say you know what okay but i'm gonna do it anyway and then it works okay i also think you have to be flexible but not compromise your vision all right there is a little bit of flexibility i allow myself to have in my career and in the yes and in the know that i deliver proposals and there is a vision that i never abandoned never so if someone asks me to do something that is far-fetched very distant from what i want to do with my career i will kindly think the invitation the proposal and say no that's it and people get upset if you say no but it's still something that i believe you gotta do for yourself you gotta do for you say no when you mean no and say yes when you mean yes and deliver the goodies okay deliver the quality now aside from that i feel like the biggest challenge of all and it is not directly connected to performing in egypt or around the world or anywhere you know in the moon whatever is the resilience you need to have and the ability to reinvent yourself throughout time because people get tired of seeing the same face they get tired of the same voice they get tired of long-lasting success i have learned this that if you are successful for a short amount of time people love you but if you are successful for a long time and you're going and you keep on going a lot of folks will get so annoyed and they will hate you and wish that you were dead this is something i didn't know i thought oh if i have long lasting success people will respect me they will see that i have done something good they will gather me on this discovery journey you know they will be excited for me they will um admire the ability to to build a long lasting success successful career but what i found out is that if you are successful for a long time you will have a lot of enemies not because you're a bad person or not because you're doing something bad you may be the best oriental answer in the world and you're gonna have a lot of haters and enemies because long-lasting success annoys a lot of people for some reason i don't understand so being resilient and reinventing yourself and understanding there are trends and sometimes you're fashionable and sometimes you're not you know and you gotta keep on doing and you gotta keep on finding ways to be up to date with the world but also in tune with your vision and find new ways of dancing new ways of teaching new ways of presenting yourself and your work that keep you alive keep you thriving keep you meaningful keep you necessary in the dance market right it this reinvention ability this update on your work and the way you do things will allow you to become more alive throughout time you're gonna die and be reborn many times in your career and you're gonna present different sides of yourself and different um different skills and different ways of communicating your work that is a big challenge um the multitasking is a big challenge nowadays if you want to be a successful oriental dancer you have to be an incredible dancer an incredible choreographer an incredible teacher an incredible communicator and incredible everything and what happens is a lot of dancers are great performers but they're not good teachers or they're great teachers but they are lousy performers and most dancers cannot talk about their work to save their life they don't have the communicational skills that allow them to reach more people to reach other markets to expand their work to communicate and sell their work so the challenges that i have faced as a performer you know there are so many and they keep on changing they keep on upgrading there is a quote that i heard recently that i really love it says new levels new devils isn't it great new levels new devils which means you may find challenges right now that you will not find later on later on as you have grown you will find new challenges because the more you grow the more you upgrade your work and your craft the newer and the harder the challenges will be all right two years ago my biggest challenge was how do i put an online school out there in the world how do i make this happen that was my devil right that was my challenge my biggest difficulty because i'm not a technological person i am not a virtual person i don't have the skills of marketing and technology that having an online school required so that was two years ago my biggest devil nowadays i have those skills and the school is up and running smoothly beautifully i have new devils how do i launch my podcast how do i expand the school and get more teachers into the school how do i do this new levels new devils the challenges never stop coming and having the mindset to have fun with the challenges and say this is just part of the adventure it's like an adventure you go on this boat to this treasure island right and on the way you're gonna sink you're gonna come up you're gonna have a disaster you're gonna find a new island you can it's an adventure all right so challenges are adventures and challenges are just opportunities for you to grow even if growing is unpleasant and it is unpleasant it's very tiring and it is unpleasant but it is exciting all right so challenges are something that you have to embrace as a professional dancer really embrace them and say this is part of it you know just like mistakes mistakes and challenges are part of a professional oriental dance career embrace them all right what else what else um what did you do in order to be hired at the biggest oriental dance festivals in the world okay so i did not do anything in particular i think that being hired by oriental dance festivals from around the world was a consequence of my work in egypt the first gig i took outside of egypt was with mahmoud that was the first time i traveled abroad to teach and to perform and that opened up a door so in a way i think mahmoud opened up that door because a lot of people got to know me through mahmoud and also through my work in cairo so sponsors would come to cairo as they usually do and they would see me perform and they would get to know me through my shows in kairo and say i want to take you to my country are you free this is how it happened to me for me it's not necessarily how it always happens all right because then again different dancers are in different places i don't know what it would have happened if i had been in china or or in bali or i i don't know i don't know how i would have opened that door but as i was performing in cairo and working with mahmoud i had two big doors there one was mahmoud himself he recommended me to a lot of people okay and also the fact that i was on a big big shelf in egypt i was at the vast venues of cairo working daily so people knew i was there and they were coming to see me and if they liked what they saw they would hire me that's it it was very straightforward very simple and also a reward for all the work and all the effort and sacrifice i've done in egypt because i started being hired to perform around the world when i when i have been performing without anyone knowing me except in cairo for six years for six years straight non-stop working every night so you know it was a good um ripping of the fruits of the seeds that i had been uh putting under the earth right what else uh who helped your career and how okay who helped my career and how i think we have to define what we mean by help right i think that help comes in many different ways sometimes help comes through a teacher who really gives you important keys to the dance in that sense i have to talk about mahmoud radha of course with whom i studied egyptian folklore i had to talk about suhair zeki naga fled moana saeed aza sharif and shakri muhammad especially this these teachers these dancers gave me keys they gave me um the answers i needed to have within the craft of egyptian dance in order to become the oriental dancer i became they also gave me something that i believe is a big big big help in your career which is confidence not all of them gave me confidence as a sharif was was very critical of me and she was very tough on me but mahmoud gave me a lot of confidence and naga fued gave me a lot of confidence i will never forget what these dancers did for me what they told me not only what they showed me in terms of dance what they told me that i could do when someone like mahudrid or nagothwad or suharzaki tells you you got it in you you know what you're doing you're gonna be something you believe them and it shapes your your vision of yourself when your teacher approaches you and tells you you're going to be known all over the world you're going to be big in this business you believe it and it's something that stays with you and carries you through so i think that teachers that teach you good dance and that give you confidence are perhaps the biggest help any oriental dancer could ask for now in terms of practical practical help i did not have much help that that is true as i've already mentioned i had to prepare before i moved to egypt i prepared in terms of knowing the dance knowing the country knowing the culture and also financially so that i could have a buffer to sustain myself a buffer of of money of resources to sustain myself while i was chasing a contract okay and i could say that the the number one person responsible for me being here today aside from my teachers that i already mentioned was someone that i've already mentioned in this session called chaudhry chaudhry was the manager of the oberoi hotels in egypt and he was the manager of a place the first place where i danced under contract called the pharaohs of the nile chaudhary was and he's an indian manager a gentleman and he was the responsible for me being here right now because although he did not help me per se did not do anything extra but he gave me a fair chance he was the only one who sat down with me and told me i'm gonna give you an audition you're gonna bring your musicians and do your thing if the audience likes you if we can fill the house with you we will sign a contract and we will schedule your shows according to the requests that your name is gonna receive from now on he did not help me in the sense of making it easy for me but at least he gave me a fair chance and i remember as i sat with him discussing the terms of my first contract i told him mr chaudhary don't worry i'm gonna work so hard and i'm gonna work for my heart in one month you will have to stop people from asking my name i will fill this house with people every single night as far as i'm here as long as i'm here and i did it i did it and my musicians did it of course because i mobilized a team of musicians that loved me and respected me musicians with whom i am still in contact today that became part of my family that had deep respect for me and gave me them all their all they they made the show with me and they made a success with me so if i had to pinpoint the biggest helps that i had aside from my teachers who gave me the the knowledge and the confidence in me and in my talent and in my skills and in my vision i would say mr chaudhary the honest manager the only honest manager i met in egypt if you can believe it and also my musicians my musicians my first orchestra and then the orchestra that i had in the last years they were the biggest biggest supporters of my work aside from that every sponsor whoever hired me in china in japan in argentina in colombia and france in england in ireland in cyprus in russia in ukraine in usa everywhere that i have traveled to work everyone who has given me a fair chance to show my work and to do my work i owe them and i'm grateful to them i never take those opportunities for granted never never never even if you're the best in the world at what you do never take help for granted have the humbleness to say thank you to the ones who give you a hand all right and i do i do so those are the biggest supporters of my career for sure what else what else how much do you charge for your work and how do you negotiate ah the gigs okay so how much do i charge for my work naturally i'm not going to tell you how much i charge for my work because that's a personal thing that's a personal thing in my private coaching in my private classes i train several professional dancers okay and dancers who are on the way to become professionals as well and sooner or later the question of charging how much do i charge for a show how much do i charge for a workshop comes up right joanna how much should i charge for this and i tell them that's a decision that is so private it's so personal nobody else can give it can do it for you why because it really depends on how much you're willing to deliver the quality of your work all right because the quality of the dancer is not necessarily the quality of another dancer if you bring two dancers doing a performance of 20 minutes let's say one will deliver something the other one will deliver uh something else both are dancing for 20 minutes but do both deserve the same payment no naturally no they will deserve the payment in my opinion that reflects the quality of what they deliver okay i can deliver a lousy mediocre 20-minute performance or i can deliver a masterpiece in 20 minutes they don't deserve the same payment so payment and and pricing your work i believe is a very unique personal thing and it's something that you have to reevaluate constantly okay i'm gonna give you the example of pricing workshops and classes for instance if you are teaching a subject that nobody else is teaching for instance as i do in my school journalists online dance school i do authentic egyptian dance oriental and folkloric personal discovery and empowerment i know nobody else is doing this how do i know that because i know the market and because i was the first one to do it you know so nobody else is doing what i'm doing and what i'm doing actually changes people's lives they it changes the person that studies so i know i'm fully aware of the value of what i do so i'm gonna price my courses accordingly the number one critic that i receive perhaps the only one that i receive in my school is it is the the most expensive school in the world i mean the most expensive egyptian dance school in the world and i say yes it is for sure but you're here and you're here for a reason and many students they leave the school they go for cheaper courses cheaper classes and then they come back and they say you know what it's not expensive it's cheap the value that you deliver is so superior to the value that you charge keep on going they discover for themselves that the price for the workshops this the price for the courses is not expensive it's not expensive because it's all related to the value you deliver if i am doing superficial mediocre um non-transformational work then i will probably go for the cheapest price right i'm gonna price my work as if i was doing a big sale 24 7 every day of the year but that's an option each dancer has to take i think you gotta see what you're delivering and what is the value you're delivering to your clients and then you gotta price it accordingly in regards to shows for instance when i started in portugal i charged for a set of 20 minutes i charged more than 20 years ago 800 euros 800 euros for 20 minutes i did it at weddings conferences different things i had a manager at the time who hired me and also took a commission from it so the clients were not paying 800 euros they were paying more for sure because they were paying me and they were paying my manager but i can assure you that nobody ever complained that is too much that is too little and at the same time there are dancers today today in portugal and everywhere some of them i know them personally who charge 100 euros 50 euros no euros zero euros who work for free my position on that is that you're devaluing the market you're ruining the market and you're ruining your chances of becoming a professional for real and having a comfortable life delivering excellent work but that's just my position and i am no one to price the work of other people i can only price my own work it's a question of self-worth and self-value and knowing what my work delivers what value does it deliver it's not about me it's about my clients it's about my students it's about my audience it's about the people who are going to receive i always ask what are they going to receive and i prize the work according to what they're going to receive it's not because it's me because i'm known or they know me or i'm a star who cares come on let's get real who cares in the end of the day we pay for value as a consumer i pay for value i don't care if you were if you are well known if you are a diva or not a diva i want value for what i'm paying so if i do that as a consumer i have to do that as a professional who sells her work what do i deliver what are my clients going to receive of benefit from what i'm about to deliver and according to the answer i'm gonna price my work obviously pricing also has to do with curriculum right i am in a position of of of marketing and selling my work today that i was not when i started right because i did not have experience i did not have curriculum i did not have proof of my value as a dancer when i started so obviously when i presented a show or when i presented a conference or when i presented a workshop to a client and i said this is what it will cost i did not have much argument to negotiate all i could say was this is what i'm gonna deliver and i'm i'm the best that's it and they had to trust me nowadays they don't have to trust me they just have to look at more than 20 years of career and everything i've done in egypt around the world in my school two books published i have worked with the best of the best in this field i have taught thousands of students around the world in my private coaching in my school i mean there is proof of the work and the value delivered i'm not starting anymore so my leverage to negotiate prices is bigger it's wider i don't have to convince anyone anymore okay and that comes with delivering work consistently at a certain point you have something to show for it's called curriculum okay and i know nowadays curriculum is not trendy not in oriental dance but it is trendy if you're working in in the real world and if you're working with professional people doing real work the curriculum matters what have you done with whom where how it matters it's a matter of credibility and proof that you have been doing this for a long time and if you have been doing this for a long time you must be good sorry you must be doing something right all right so pricing is a very delicate subject i would never dare price somebody else's work and i don't allow others to price my work as well all right um in regards to working for free which is something that comes up eventually um recently i received an offer to work for free and every once in a while it comes okay and my position is this unless it is for a cause that you believe in or for your own work if you decide to offer something and i offer a lot of free content in my platform if you go into joanna saga's youtube channel if you're going to our official website if you check my social media i deliver free content of high quality constantly because i want to because it's a way of sharing of giving back of connecting with my audience and of growing my brand as well all right but i don't work for free and i don't work for you know shows or workshops where they tell me yeah you're gonna do that for the publicity i said no no sorry no i don't need the publicity thank you i'm not a beginner you know there is there is a past on my shoulders come on it's a matter of respect it's a matter of respect for myself it's a matter of respect for my craft and it's also a matter of respect for the dancers will come after me because if we promote a market where people work for free nobody will take it professionally because you cannot pay the bills for free you cannot pay the bills with publicity you cannot pay the bills with you were amazing you cannot pay the bills with views or likes or followers that does not pay the bills so if we promote a market where everyone is working for free and we're friends and we're happy we are devaluing ourselves devaluing our work and not allowing future generations to become professionals and to do this for real as a professional and make it alive all right now as i mentioned if there is a cause that i believe in that i want to give my time to and my my skills to i will do so and i have done so one of the most beautiful works i've ever done was a pro bono work was a free work that i delivered i did an intensive training in a shelter for uh teenage pregnant moms in portugal uh the person who asked me for this was a student of mine he's a she's a psychologist she works at the shelter and she approached me carefully a little bit afraid she told me juana don't take it bad i i understand if you refuse it but i work at this shelter for teenage moms coming from underprivileged environments a lot of them were raped abandoned beaten coming from very harsh environments would you consider doing an intensive training for them and absolutely my immediate answer was yes yes because it is a cause i believe in it is something that gives me so much pleasure it is a group of women that i know cannot afford for a workshop and it is big pleasure to help and to give back to people into causes that i believe in and women's empowerment have has always been one of my passions so absolutely yes then again the works you take for free you accept doing for free i think relate so much to your values and what you believe is relevant uh causes related to women children animals are causes that touch my heart so i say yes to if it's working for free just because it's convenient my answer is no okay i'm a professional and that means i have to leave from my work it's only fair i serve i deserve it's one of my mottos okay i serve i deserve so working for free in my world is a no-no with the exceptions i mentioned now i have many many questions guys and as i previewed it's not gonna be possible to deliver all the answers in one session so we're gonna do a second session i'm gonna divide um the questions i have selected and i'm gonna answer the rest in our upcoming live session i'm gonna just answer one more question for this one one more and then we're gonna wrap and i'm gonna announce the second part of this session around the business of egyptian dance okay because it's a very rich um subject and i know a lot of questions will come after this session is released also so um how do you sell your work how do you sell your work all right this is a big question also and it depends on what you're doing and where you're doing it in egypt i did not have to sell my work because it is a very small environment very small market people know who is dancing under contract because there there aren't many places where you can be hired very few places so it's very easy to know who's dancing and the publicity at least from my experience comes very much through word of mouth right they know there is a new dancer in town they come to see and by they i mean locals egyptians all right and foreigners who pop by other dancers tourists it's a mix but mostly if you're doing it right you're gonna dance for egyptians which is the biggest pleasure on earth if i may end so it was very much a marketing of word of mouth automatic marketing i did not have time or or the skills to promote myself any further i know that if i had accepted invitations of cinema and television my work had been published publicized yes marketed in a very wide way in a bigger way but the proposals i had to go for the cinema and the television always came with a catch and i always said no okay so i closed big doors in regards to marketing in egypt because i i said no i'm not willing to go out with the producer of the movie just to have the role or i'm not willing to go out with the director to have the role i'm not willing to sleep with someone to have a role sorry so i closed many doors that way and those were in my opinion the most efficient doors of marketing yourself in egypt because the the amount of people who can watch you live at those venues is is small at least the venues where i danced were expensive so you would not have a lot of of people who could afford it television and cinema makes the dancer known by everybody because cinnamon television are accessible to everybody okay so that is the marketing tool in egypt that i did not use for the reasons i mentioned and i marketed my work without marketing it because as i also mentioned it once people know you're dancing they're coming to see you if they like you they will speak about you and they will bring your name you know they will bring your name to other people at a certain point when i was performing at the pharaohs of the nile the first spot where i performed under contract there was a famous football uh trainer coach who knew me in my family manuel jose uh was his name and he called to book make a booking for my show that night when the egyptians knew manuel jose was coming to watch me perform when the staff knew they went crazy and the next month months plural i'm not pronouncing it right i had full house and i'm sure it was related with manuel jose coming to see me so it it's very random and it's it's very much through word of mouth unless you have a manager who pays off people to put your name you know ahead of other dancers for weddings and stuff but i never had that manager so i never had someone paying to promote me all right now around the world and currently online how do i promote my school my online platform i think it's also very much through word of mouth we receive new students at our school every single week we receive new people insid

2022-01-23 17:39

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