Monday, April 29, 2013

May Preview

May will be another big month in the metro Atlanta raqs community!  Check out spring showcases, Shimmy Mob, and the Second Dancer's Intensive.

Sunday, May 5
May Day Belly Dance Show with Inara
4:00 p.m., Elm Street Cultural Arts Village 8534 Main Street in Woodstock
Join Inara, Sandtrance, Lum'a as-Sahara, Hip Chicks, and other performers for this fun celebration of the season! There will also be a special performance by the Adult Beginning Ballet Class from The School at The Georgia Ballet. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to the Cherokee Family Violence Center and CASA for Children. Tickets at the door or from troupe members before the show.  Visit the Facebook event for more info.

Sunday, May 5
Belly Dance by Samora 5th Anniversary Showcase
6:30 p.m., Nicola's Restaurant, 1602 LaVista Road NE
Come celebrate with Samora and Amoraat Dance Ensemble in this showcase featuring  performances by Samora's students, members of Amoraat, and several special guests, including Aya of Istanbul! RSVP to the Facebook event for the latest news.  Click here for more info and to purchase tickets in advance.

Ziah & Aziza of Awalim
Sunday, May 5
Awalim Dance Company Spring Showcase
7:00 p.m., Smith's Olde Bar, 1578 Piedmont Ave.
Experience something new and different as Awalim and Banat Almeh team up with Balkan brass bad Black Sheep Ensemble!  This show will feature classic Oriental, Tribal fusion, improv, and theatrical performances by Ziah and Aziza's students and Awalim Dance Company.  Tickets are $12.  Doors at 7:00, show starts at 7:30.  RSVP to the Facebook event for details!.

Amani Jabril

Saturday, May 11
Shimmy Mob
Atlanta:  Buckhead Arts Festival
Athens:  Athens Farmer's Market
Metro Atlanta dancers will once again combine forces to celebrate World Belly Dance Day and participate in the worldwide Shimmy Mob, a flash mob event now in its third year.   Click here to learn more!

May 24-26
The Dancer's Intensive
Pera Dance & Events and Steve's Live Music
Amani Jabril presents the second annual Dancer's Intensive, featuring musicians George Sadak and Jonatan Gomez, plus Amani and Jaki Hawthorne.  Parties, workshops, discussions, and a gala show!  Click here for more details.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Preview: The Second Dancer's Intensive, May 24-26

Amani Jabril
Jaki Hawthorne Photography/Studio Jaki

A month from now, Amani Jabril brings us the second annual Dancer's Intensive.  This event will feature instruction in both dance and drumming, as well as a Friday night party at Steve's Live Music and a Saturday night gala show at Pera.  Amani has worked hard to pull this event together, combining live music, classic Oriental belly dance instruction, and a chance to experience several specific forms of dance.

Dance workshops will be held on Saturday, May 25 at Pera, and all will feature live music from George Sadak and Jonaton Gomez.  It's not often that we get the opportunity to dance-- let alone learn -- with live musicians!  Amani will be teaching three workshops, including a class in Iraqi Kawleeya (if you saw Amani perform in the Gems of the South show, you know how electrifying this dance style can be!).  Jaki Hawthorne of Jahara Phoenix will offer a Bollywood class.  On Sunday at Amani's home studio, George Sadak will teach a drumming class.

The Friday night party will celebrate the release of George and Jonaton's new CD, "Majaaz."  The Raqs Atlanta Awards of Dance will also be presented... and lots of other fun stuff!  Steve's Live Music is a great venue right on Roswell Road in Sandy Springs.

Super Saver rates are available through Wednesday, May 1 -- get all Saturday workshops plus a ticket to the Saturday night show for $175.  A la carte workshops are $50 each, and discounts are available for teachers, performers, and 2012 participants.  Click here to pre-register!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Four P's of Marketing for Belly Dance: Part 2

The Second "P":  PRICING
Once you develop your product – whether it’s a new class, a workshop, a show, a line of jewelry or costumes, etc. – you’ll need to figure out what it’s worth to your consumers. The business model behind it comes into play here, of course… the price has to have enough margin built in that you can make money on it! But from a marketing standpoint, the important part of pricing is understanding what price the market will bear, how to discount your offering – if you must – to achieve your revenue and profitability goals, and importantly, how to communicate your pricing clearly.

How do you know your pricing is right?
  • Again, pay attention to the market and do some research. Your best and easiest benchmark is what others are charging for similar products. But – (back to the objectivity issue) think carefully about whether your product is really the same as the ones to which you are comparing it. Are their earrings silver-plated and yours are sterling silver? Your product will be worth more to the customer. Are their workshop instructors nationally-known, while yours are more like “hidden treasures?” You may have to accept the fact that to the customer, your product is not worth quite as much.
Do you need to discount your product? 
  • A commonly-discussed concept in marketing is “training the consumer.” For many larger events, consumers have been trained to expect “early bird” discounts, and that’s something you may just have to deal with. This drives early registrations so you can get a sense of how well the market is responding, drives revenue so you can start covering costs, and generates word-of-mouth awareness. You will need to limit the discount by time, quantity, or both. Back to the business model – you just need to determine how much you can discount your product and still make a profit. 
Once you figure out your pricing strategy, it must be clearly communicated so it’s not confusing to the customer. Customers may give up if they go to your web site and get confused. At the very least, you will create work for yourself if you have to answer questions. Make it easy for customers to understand your pricing and easy for them to buy your product.

Ready for Part 3... PLACEMENT?  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Four “P's” of Marketing for Belly Dance: Part 1

E. Jerome McCarthy
The Four P's
In 1960, a marketing professor named E. Jerome McCarthy famously published a book called Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach. This book launched a concept that has outlived the “Mad Men” era in which it was published: the “Four P’s” of marketing. 

McCarthy defined the four key components of any marketing strategy: Product, Pricing, Placement, and Promotion. 

Once you understand this concept, you’ll see that almost any product or service succeeds or fails based on how well the company executes these four things. And none is less important than another – it’s the combination that determines success.

Of course, this principle is completely applicable to belly dance. If you do your best to optimize each of the four P’s when planning a new event, class, product, or service, you will be more successful. Even if your venture is not a resounding success, you will know that you did your best to help it win.

The Objectivity Challenge
I believe that in the arts, marketing can be a challenge because we are so close to the things we're offering to the customer. It's difficult to take an objective view... is this something people really want?  Does the pricing make it seem like a good value?  Is it at the right place and time?  Am I describing it in a way that makes sense?  Am I getting the word out enough, or just assuming that "if I build it, they will come?"  All of these things must be considered with the harsh objectivity that can be very difficult for people who are marketing an artistic product.

If I could offer one word of advice based on the many events and product offerings I've seen over the years, it's objectivity.  Try to step back and see your product -- and your marketing -- from the customer's perspective. 

The First "P":  PRODUCT
You’ve probably heard the common marketing expression, “don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle.” In marketing, this means "emphasize what's different and exciting about your product."  However, I maintain that if you serve an amazing steak, you don’t have to invent other reasons why someone would want to pay for it.

What this means is that having a great product makes the marketing part easier. The only way to win if you don’t start with a solid product is to try to make up the difference with marketing by selling the “sizzle.” And that takes a lot more work! Everything hinges on the quality of the product. The more exciting your product is to the market, the more they will be willing to pay and the farther they will be willing to drive.

Back to objectivity... the important thing is to take a very objective view of your product and do your best to see it through the eyes of the consumer.

So how do you know you have a great product?
  • Clearly identify the customers for whom you are designing the product. Hint: it’s probably not you. You may have a lot in common with your customers (e.g., you’re all belly dancers), but you’re most likely not designing a product for yourself.
  • Listen to your customers and give them something they want. Never forget that your opinion about what the market wants may not be accurate, and it’s really not relevant. All that matters is what your customers want and need. If you have an idea about something you think you can offer, talk about it with your students, friends, or associates and get their input.
  • Look at what else is available and give customers something no one else is offering. In marketing we call this the “white space.” Within the universe of what the market wants and needs, where are the gaps that you can potentially fill? 
Once you develop your product, you must clearly define it for yourself before you start communicating to your customers about it. I worked in marketing at Coca-Cola for nine years. The key question marketers at Coke ask themselves about every new offering is, “How is it different, better, and more special?” Define for yourself why your product is different, better, and more special – so you can clearly explain it to the customer.

Now check out part 2... Pricing!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April Preview

Lots of exciting events happening this month, including the first belly dance competition metro Atlanta has seen in quite some time.  Get out there and support your raqs community this April!

Saturday, April 6 2:30 p.m. & Sunday, April 7 at 7:00 p.m.
Jaki & Jahara Phoenix
Nazeem Allayl Spring Studio Show
King Plow Arts Center
Tickets $15 - 35
Enjoy teachers, troupe members, and students from Nazeem Allayl studios in their annual spring show!  Click to purchase tickets for Saturday or Sunday.

Saturday, April 6
10:30 - 12:30
Tribal Inspired Workshop with Jaki of Jahara Phoenix
Amani Jabril Middle Eastern & World Dance
$20 ($15 for Amani's students registered for class)
In this workshop, Jaki will break down some of the stylistic elements of contemporary Tribal style belly dance, including posture, arm positioning, shimmies, and turns. Participants are sure to gain some new tools for Tribal or any style of dance performance. Check out the Facebook event for more info.

Saturday, April 6
6:30 - 8:00
Bollywood Girls' Night Out in Athens
Floorspace Dance
$25 in advance (limited to 10 students)
Enjoy a fun Bollywood class with Jaki Hawthorne of Jahara Phoenix. No experience required. Be prepared to sweat and bring good dancing shoes. Hang out after class for snacks and wine! Limited to 10 students. Tickets are $25 in advance via cash, check or paypal. ($2 fee for credit cards).  Visit the Facebook event for more information.

Saturday, April 6
7:00 - 10:00
"The Happening" 
Hodgepodge Coffee House & Gallery
Local performers Kira and Balefire will perform at this "three-hour experience of art, friends, coffee, dance, fire, drumming, wine, reconnecting, spirit and ART!!!  Kerri Hirsch and Jon Skoglund are the featured artists.  Coffee and pastries available at the venue, Hodgepodge Coffeehouse & Gallery in East Atlanta.   Find out more at the Facebook event.

Saturday, April 20 - Sunday, April 21
Gems of the South Belly Dance Competition
Doubletree by Hilton Atlanta - Marietta

Gems of the South, presented by Mina and Dalloua Dance Company, celebrates performers of all types with multiple competitive categories.  Competition events and workshops will take place throughout the day on both Saturday and Sunday, with a gala show on Saturday night.  

Judges, instructors, and performers include Atlanta's Amani Jabril and Faaridah of Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance and Amoraat; North Carolina's Naima Sultana; Angel of San Francisco; Shakira al Fanninah of Columbus, OH; and Shoshanna, all the way from Arcata, CA. Visit the Gems web site for full details and to purchase tickets.

Saturday, April 20
Live Music & Dance with Suzanne
Laziza Mediterranean Restaurant

9:00 p.m. - 2:00 a.m.

Experience live music brought to life by one of Atlanta's most talented performers, Suzanne, at Laziza Mediterranean in Marietta.  Keyboard player Nabil El Anmari from DC and singer Youssef Chakrani will provide the music.  Ticket includes dinner buffet, dessert, and soft drink. Full bar and drink specials.  Regularly-priced tickets are $50, but Laziza is offering a $20 discount for dancers!  E-mail Suzanne at for the coupon code... then click here to purchase tickets in advance.

Sunday, April 21
Jahara Phoenix at Atlanta Dogwood Festival
Piedmont Park, International Stage
3:20 p.m. (approximately)
Come out and see Jahara Phoenix at the Dogwood Festival!

Saturday, April 27 Bollywood Mashup Choreography Workshop with Faaridah
Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance
2:30 - 5:00, $30
In this mixed-level workshop, Faaridah will teach a brand new choreography to a “mashup” of some of the hottest Indian dance hits.  This “Bellywood” performance piece will blend elements of Bollywood with classical Egyptian style belly dance! Bollywood Dance incorporates Hip Hop, Jazz, Salsa, East Indian Classical, Folk, and Bhangra dancing.  The end result is a dramatic, fun and lively choreography workshop is suitable for all skill levels. Click here to purchase tickets.

Saturday, April 27
Live Music & Dancing in Oakhurst
Awalim Dance Company, Students & Friends
3:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Harmony Park
Awalim Dance Company, Banat Almeh, and a group of excellent musicians will be performing as part of Sidewalk Saturdays, happening this spring in downtown Decatur and Harmony Park in Oakhurst. 
Saturday, April 27
Beats Antique (SOLD OUT)
With Zoe Jakes, Russ Liquid, and opening act Awalim Dance Company
Terminal West

Doors at 9:00; show starts at 10:00
Lucky folks who bought tickets to this show will experience Zoe Jakes and Beats Antique in their new Animale Mechanique" production.  Awalim Dance Company will open the show, along with members of Banat Almeh!