How Much Salary Does a Belly Dancer Make?

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Belly dancing is a time-honored art form that originated in the Middle East, predominantly performed by women. For those with an interest in this dynamic dance discipline, it's not just about learning the right moves. Those who want to make careers as belly dancers need to understand what rates they can charge, what considerations affect their pay and what sorts of incidental costs are required to stay on top of the art form's latest developments.

Average Pay

The rates belly dancers can charge clients vary dramatically. Fleur Estelle, a London-based professional belly dancer, told The Independent that beginning belly dancers can earn $160 or more at an event in London. Professionals with years of experience can charge hundreds of dollars for an event. The Independent also reported Ms. Estelle saying that dancers can typically earn $40 to $80 teaching an hour-long class at a gym, or $48 to $130 in a night dancing at a restaurant, not including tips.

Pay Considerations

While the above prices are industry insider estimates, the salary a belly dancer takes home can vary dramatically based on several factors. Belly dancers often charge clients a flat rate for a performance, then tack on fees for costumes, props and travel expenses. Belly dancers with a background in dance can also command higher rates (based on higher-quality performances) than amateurs who belly dance in their free time or have little experience in the industry.

Other Salary Concerns

Performing at events are not the only ways in which belly dancers can make money. Dancers can also earn a lucrative living performing at restaurants or teaching classes. Performing at restaurants typically earns belly dancers a flat rate, plus tips from diners. Classes, on the other hand, may pay less, but don't require the investment required to create a routine from scratch, purchase costumes and buy props.

Travel

While belly dancers may often charge clients to compensate for travel, keeping abreast of developments in the art form may require a more significant investment. Ms. Estelle tells The Independent that she travels to Cairo, Egypt twice a year to study the techniques of other professional belly dancers and to buy authentic costumes. Research trips like these, as well as classes to hone your skills, are additional expenses that may, in the short term, drain a belly dancer's finances, but produce long-term financial rewards as they can lead to being able to charge higher rates for a performances.