Iana on Being an Artist AND Making Money as a Dancer – 045

Belly Dance Podcast iana

Find out how podcast host Iana Komarnytska made her passion for Middle Eastern dance into an abundant business, get tips for creating a clear website, and hear why it is so important for belly dancers to study folk dance styles.

I am very excited to feature fellow belly dance podcaster Iana today! Podcasters unite! In addition to hosting the podcast Belly Dance Life and the online Iana Dance Club, Iana is an award winning international performer and belly dance instructor.

She was the first choreographer to use triple isis wings, and she is a sought after Persian style dancer as well. That makes me miss dancing in the Persian dance troupe in my city. Iana teaches Persian Classical and Turkish Roma style too. Iana also lectures and writes on historical connections between belly dance and ballet. We’d love to hear more about that! Iana is originally from the Ukraine and currently based between Canada and Ukraine.

I follow Iana on Instagram because her photos are full of light and gorgeous. You can find her on Iana_dance on Instagram and ianadance.com. 

I am on her list serve because she keeps it really positive and practical.

When Iana sent out an email with Books For Entrepreneurial Dancers that included books that have changed so many of our lives like Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad Poor Dad” and Tony Robbin’s “Awaken the Giant Within”, I had to get her on A Little Lighter. Especially in 2020 when so many of us are in scarcity mode, we can still grow our abundance mindsets and help more and more people dance and feel good, starting with ourselves. 

Danceable Ritual: 3 Minute Morning Washroom Drills

Belly Dance Podcast 045 Danceable Ritual

When you are still sleepy and you walk into the bathroom in the morning, do your 2-5 minute drill. If you do it first thing, you will stay on track. Don’t leave the washroom until your drill is done. Decide what you want to improve and develop a drill you can do daily.

For example, you can do a sequence of 10 diaphragm and belly muscle drills. Upper belly, lower belly, together, diaphragm, up and down. Or use a timer and work on shimmies. One minute on one hip, then one minute on the other, then both at the same time. Do the same drill for a couple months so you see the difference in your dance.

You don’t necessarily need a mirror to see what you are doing. It’s more about using the space to keep you on track. You don’t need to dedicate an hour each day, but everyone has 4 minutes to practice each day.

Iana’s Danceable Song: Afghani song Yak Qadam Pesh

All of the featured songs are from previous episodes are also on the Belly Dance Body and Soul playlist 

It’s not a belly dance song, but it is upbeat and gets us dancing. If you are feeling unmotivated, dance to any music that is upbeat. It doesn’t need to be belly dance music.

Yak Qadam Pesh lyrics English translation from google translate:
One step forward, one step back
Nazanin gives you a dance
Raise your shoulders
The drunkenness in your eyes is a note
One step forward, one step back
Nazanin gives you a dance

Come on in, take a look and enjoy yourself!
Let's sing a couplet like a nightingale

This high height, God forbid
Sprinkle hair spray like lavender

One step forward, one step back
Nazanin gives you a dance

Another Afghani song by a singer that Alicia loves from the 1970s Ahmad Zahir:

Best Practices for Belly Dance Websites

Your website is not your biography. It is not a description of all of your activities. It does not need to tell everything about you. It serves a certain goal. Your website is a tool. If you have more than one goal, you may need more than one website. For example, the goal of your website may be to attract clients to hire you to belly dance at their event.

  1. Only include the information relevant to the goal of your website
  2. Do not confuse visitors
  3. You can acknowledge other services you offer, but think from the perspective of the visitor and keep it clear and clean
  4. If your website is confusing and has too much information, people will just close it. Structure your website conveniently for the user.
  5. There is no problem with having a lot of information on your website, but it should be organized and relevant information.
  6. For most of us, activities change and projects add up, so from time to time look at it from the start and remove things or start from scratch. Make it easy for the visitor.
  7. Make sure there is space for the visitors’ eyes to rest.

How to Make Money as a Belly Dancer

Alicia: So many of us dancers think we can’t make good money from teaching and performing. It’s a scarcity mindset. There aren’t enough gigs, customers, students, venues, etc. I feel that way with our band. When you recently shared links to Rich Dad Poor Dad, Tony Robbins, and other abundance mindset and business resources, I was thrilled. Tell us what books and/or teachers have helped you see the belly dance business as an opportunity rather than a struggle. 

Iana: The moment that you think someone else took your place, you are limiting ourself to think you only have that place. We are competing based on improving our skills or our services.

And you can learn so much about business for artists from podcasts like Don’t Keep Your Day Job.

It is about transforming passion into work. Anything can bring you abundance. Any idea can be transformed and there is space for everyone. To develop this abundance mindset, listen to the stories of others who have already done this. Don’t let your own scarcity barriers stop you.

This helped me see belly dance as an abundant business.

You cannot just stay in your dance studio and hope someone will discover you and come give you a bunch of money for staying in your studio. It’s not just about leaving your job and saying everything will be fun.

Some people dream about being a full time performer, but even if you get all of the gigs it’s not enough for a full time job. So be more creative. Add something more to your offerings. Create your own unique opportunities. We can support our competitors. We can refer gigs we cannot do to other dancers. We want the gigs to stay in the professional belly dance community. Other people also work hard to get gigs. Focus on improving our own skills and services.

Alicia mentioned the Blue Ocean Strategy Cirque du Soleil example and nurturing the desire for people to have belly dance at their restaurants and events.

About Iana’s Online Classes and Dance Club

It started with a Patreon account.

The Iana Dance Club added social exploration of belly dance to prerecorded classes that are available at any time. So we feel that we are dancing and learning in a group, rather than alone.

Every week you get a 20 minute technique video. It can be used as a daily workout, or as the beginning of training session to get you ready to dance.

When we start each training session, we can be confused about what is the most useful thing to do first. This takes away the decision making task that often stops us from starting a training session.

Every week you get an addition motivational message that makes the club more social. And club members share their videos and comment on each other’s videos. Some people just want access to videos. Some people need social support and the feeling like they are moving on in a group. Detailed individual feedback on participant videos is another option.

Photo by Pedro Bonatto. https://www.ianadance.com/photo

What Damn Sexy Dance Move would you like to share? 

There is no move that can be sexy without expression and emotion. Shoulder rolls are so close to your face. Bring attention to your face. Juicy slow motion shoulder rolls combined with emotion on your face is sexy.

Think Marilyn Monroe. The intention in the upper body, shoulders and face. And Samia Gamal. Her tiny but juicy shoulder rolls that bring you to her face and emotion.

You are a big proponent for learning folk dances. What are your favorite folk dance forms and why? 

Uzbek folk dances have a unique dance vocabulary. For example, in the Khorezm (a region in Uzbekistan) Lazgi (shiver) folkdance style there is legend of a woman who was picking cherries and she fell and broke her arms and legs. Her husband was a king. She was known for her dancing. When they had visitors, he asked her to dance for them. She danced with broken arms and broken limbs.

Yeah, I have broken arms and broken limbs. But I still dance. And I’m still playful.

(Here is a video that explains Khorezm Lazgi more)

Folklore teaches not only different dance vocabulary, but also character and acting skills. Each folkloric style has it’s own moods. It gets the mood into your body.

Some folkloric styles are  more moody, or focused on the people around the dancer, or more inward. You need to get into the character of this folkloric dance and mood. This teaches us acting skills that we can bring into our belly dance.

Vegan whole food to love: Black dates stuffed with fresh strawberries

Inspired by a Farmer’s Market vendor in Brazil. Black dates are more moist. They have a texture more like very thick jam. This is better than chocolate. They are different color than fresh dates. They are not white. They are dark wet dates, sometimes from Iran.

Belly Dance Costume Tip: Sew velcro onto your undies

Belly Dance Podcast 045 Costume Tip

You want your costume to be as secure as possible. Add hooks, snaps, and/or velcro so it all stays in place. You can even sew velcro onto your underwear and skirts/belts so they stick together and the skirt stays in place and does not go around you.

Your technique and connection to music is exceptional. What do you think has helped you the most on your journey to becoming the award winning performer you are now? 

The title “award-winning dancers” does not determine our dance journey and passion, but it can become great motivation to improve and grow. Competition is a tool. Use competition as a way to improve. Do not put too much emphasis on the results. Mistakes are opportunities to improve your dance and diagnose your weakness.

Feel-good-look-good habit: Put on some light make up and do an interesting hair style even if you are just at home. It can lift your mood. 

Dress up and put on makeup. Performers often are sparkling on stage but in pajamas at home. Do makeup for yourself. Do crazy experiments.

Something exciting coming up: Iana’s Business for Belly Dancers Course 

How to get belly dance gigs, prepare for gigs, etc.