The use of a stage name is often a safety issue. I’ve been a professional belly dancer for 10 years, and during that time, I’ve had a man who used to make repeated inappropriate late night calls to my home phone, a woman I met once who imagined a deep friendship between us, and an unstable musician who would appear at my gigs uninvited. Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens frequently in the belly dance community. I am grateful none of these people had access to my legal name because I can only imagine how much worse it could have gotten. My stage name has been my authentic identity for 10 years. I’ve taught and performed with it. I’ve had articles published nationally under it. I’ve cashed checks made out to it.