Thursday, August 25, 2011

Get the Scoop for the Atlanta Belly Dance Scene

By the way, if you're ever interested in what's going on in the Atlanta belly dance scene, Barbara's Yalla Y'all is a GREAT blog for upcoming events. She's on the ball, whoo hoo!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Marketing Food For Thought

This past weekend I conducted a campaign-based marketing class at TribOriginal. The class went great, and I enjoyed our discussions! Here are the notes for anyone who wasn't able to attend or didn't get a copy.

1. It’s all about timing - Whether you are planning an event, wanting to increase the numbers in your classes, or book more gigs – timing is everything.

Time for participant prep
Might be longer or shorter in your area/ city/ student base
Are your students procrastinators or planners?
Document your success based on how far (or how close) to your event you advertise

Timelines: MAP IT OUT starting from the event going backwards (flyers, social, email, newsletter, etc)
This happens 8 weeks in advance
This happens 6 weeks in advance
This happens 4 weeks in advance
This happens 2 weeks in advance
This million and one pieces need to happen the week of

Seasons (Holiday and Industry specific)
Holiday seasons impact the general public’s willingness to participate in your event
Industry specific events can limit the disposable income of your target audience or current student base
Other festivals, workshops, etc
Touring groups
Adjacent industries that cross over – Burner events, burlesque, etc

2. Location, location, location - Sometimes you can only reach so far with your marketing efforts - literally. Be realistic as to who from your marketing base can attend an event based on travel.

GP Rule of Thumb - In today’s environment, belly dancers are EVERYWHERE. The general public won’t travel for more than 20 minutes to a class due to the current economy and gas prices. While we don’t always have the ability to get prime locations, clarification is key.

INCLUDE ADDRESSES - We live in a world of smart phones and GPS’s – don’t forget to add an address AND phone number to all marketing materials

3. Supply and Demand - Events happen every weekend. More events are happening in more localized areas. While the enthusiasm for dance is great, your marketing base will become jaded with too many events. Be aware of your community.

SUPPORT your fellow artists and guess what? They will probably support you too! Utilize other’s events as a means of networking and collaboration.

Don’t become insular – Event after workshop after event will eventually wear on your local student base. Broaden and vary your efforts for networking, performance, and event planning to broaden your base of ‘touches’.

4. Personas – Whom are you trying to reach? Everybody? No, not really. Putting bodies in your events or classes is always a concern, but inviting the right target market to your event is way more efficient. How do you define your target audience? Create the ideal persona of who you want to reach, and reach them in their channels of communication:

Demographics: Gender, Ages (what is your typical age spread in your classes/ events?), Location (are they near enough to care about the event?), Income (can they afford your classes?) , Mobility (are they willing to travel?)

Psychographics: College students looking to try something new?Housewives wanting to have fun for an hour? Fellow artists who want to try a new discipline? Other dance students looking to cross train?

Online/ Offline Digital Behavior: How is the best way to reach your persona? What is your persona’s digital communication of choice? (Social Networks? Email? Message boards? ) How often does your persona go online? Are there local hangouts where your persona frequents? Who influences your persona to engage with you? (Friends? Other dancers/ artists?)

5. Go forth and be social, digitally speaking – it’s free, everyone is doing it, and you should too. Here are some Facebook tips every starving artist should adhere to:

• Get a Facebook Fan Page
• Comment on photos
• Tag/ Untag your photos
• Comment
• Create events
• Tag other people
• Comment on others’ photos, statuses, and notes
• Offer advice, message, and

6. Degrees of Separation – Drip, drip, drip. To me, this is the most important aspect of marketing. I hear dancers/ sponsors say all the time – I posted a million Facebook statuses, flyers, emails, and still no one came! Ok great, you did everything right accept one small detail – did you make sure to extend beyond your close networking circle? If you are planning an event, want to fill your classes, or just have a rockin’ hafla – you have to make sure that not only does your close network know what is going on, but their friends understand, and their friends understand, and their friends understand…you get the picture.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sheet Music Resources - UPDATED 9/29/10

Updated this post on 9/29/10 with more resources.

I've taken it upon myself to get musicians in Atlanta to see my point of view - that Middle Eastern music is amazing and should be played often! In doing this, I've also taken it upon myself to collect a large amount of classical Arabic sheet music. Here is a list of sheet music resources that I've found to be very helpful: - UPDATED 9/29/10 Great resource for Balkan, Turkish, and SCA-type music
- UPDATED 9/29/10 Avatar's Early Music Books. His arrangements are well thought out, giving a little more ornamentation that your normal melody lines that are written out. I've only focused on the handful of Eastern music in his collection, but can't wait to dive into more.
- Jas's great percussion site, complete with midi sound clips - Jas's resource for some sheet music, in ABC notation and sheet music - Archive of Middle Eastern sheet music, amazing resource. - Great source book with lots of tunes + lyrics in Arabic.
- AMAZING site I stumbled across with stuff from all over the world - Has a great selection of free music, but you have to download scorch to see the music. - Carmine and Melissa's transcribing project, some free pieces and a lot for sale for about .99 cents each - Melissa's continuing project for sheet music
- For purchase sheet music, mostly Egyptian and Lebanese - Random blog with some cool stuff for free
- Mimi Spencer's and Mary Ellen Donald books - great song books, clear and organized, some with song lyrics.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Now Accepting Students for Private Sessions

I'm not currently offering weekly classes, but I would like to extend the opportunity for students to schedule private sessions with me. First lesson includes a 30 minute dance consultation - let's figure out what you want to do and how you want to do it - and then we'll dive into your hour session.

These sessions will help you get on the right track for your dance aspirations. I don't teach trends or tricks; I teach technique an...d theory - and I'll work you HARD. We'll take the sessions at a pace that is comfortable, yet challenging for you. If it's easy, you're not learning! Private sessions are for specific feedback to accelerate your dance growth, so constructive criticism is an essential part of these sessions.

Topics include:

- Musicality
- Music Theory
- Arabic Styling
- Drills
- Zills
- Spin Technique
- Veil Technique
- Shimmy technique
- Layering drills
- Choreography

I may have you work on other technique before we approach your topic of choice. This is a good thing. Great dancers build proper technique and then can easily extend that technique to their inspiration. Don't hurt yourself or compromise your dance integrity!

Please message me if you are interested and we can schedule your first session. $35 an hour or $60 for 2 hours, travel expenses apply to teach in your home.

You can also send an email to majda dot anwar at gmail dot com


Monday, April 5, 2010

The Integrity of Dance: Choreography and Expression

It's 6:45 PM on a Saturday and I'm getting ready for a show. We're at a local workshop show filled with local dancers performing. This is the first time we are performing one of our pieces with four dancers instead of three. The pinnacle of the piece involves a complicated Cross and Box pattern where we flip flop from one to the other. I'm not too worried about it since The back stage area is actually another ballroom that allows us plenty of space to rehearse our piece one more time before going on stage.

"Make sure to take small steps and make your shimmy bigger. The larger steps mess up the formation." Our director said, as we kept our zills quiet in respect to the other performers.

I practically make no steps to go into the formation, which gets hard when I get excited on stage. Ziah, Teejei, and Aziza remind me of this and I laugh it off.

"If I screw up on stage, I'll just make a joke of it" I said, knowing that a little touch of humor always saves me in a choreography. I've lost a shoe, ended up backwards on stage, and ripped a tear in one of my skirts, but some a performer's ability to get over the mess ups is key to a great performance. Humor works for me, and people seem to look forward to the expressive facial expressions I'll make when I do miss a step, ahem, or three like in our piece Dunje.

As we wrap up our mini-rehearsal, I think about what this choreography will look like in two years. It'll be beautiful and interesting to watch not because I'm about to run into Ziah and laugh about it, but because we'll be so comfortable in the music the audience will see the music for how we interpret it with our dance.

My dance company always has to rehearse before a show. Our choreographies are complicated, and need to be rehearsed in the space before we perform or we are very discombobulated! I love having that confident feeling of nailing a choreography, and I think this really boils down to an integrity of dance all of us strive for. It will take Awalim an average of 1.5 - 2 years until we feel a choreography is solid enough to emote the music in a way without worrying about the choreography itself. I LIVE for that feeling. By intense practice, rehearsal, and multiple performances of one piece, you're able to grow as a performer and listen to the music in ways you never heard before as you were worrying about your steps. Think about it this way, when you go to a concert to see your favorite band, do you go to see their new stuff or your old time favorite song?

The integrity of dance, for me, lies within your dedication to your movement. From the control of a choreography you are able to handle a degree of expressive freedom you don't always feel when improvising. You start to hear the music at a level of detail that will lend your expression to shape the music in a visual manner without worrying about which movement to do next. Its truly a beautiful experience.

"But I did that choreography last time!" Oh, what a slippery slope that statement is!

Don't throw away a choreography because you did it "last year" or even four years ago! It's still in its infancy as a piece. Years from now you will notice things about your dancing you didn't notice when you first created it. Think of choreography as an extension of your creative expression, why would you want to throw away what you've worked so hard on just after 1 or 2 performances?

Next Post - Dance Integrity: Ethics in Our Industry

Video: The performance from the workshop, Piece: Dunje

Sunday, February 28, 2010

TribalCon 2010

Another TribalCon successfully completed, and damn am I inspired. For me, this TribalCon was also a great reminder about my love of music, or really, my love of PLAYING music. I took a big step this year and performed a piece on violin for the student troupe's performance of Veselba. It's been a great path getting back into playing violin and Saturday's performance felt great along side the musicians Darbuka Dave, August Hoerr, and Teejei to bring the piece to life for the students. Thanks guys, that really meant a lot to play with you!

This year's Friday night hafla was a great chance to play with some of my favorite musicians. I loved range of music everyone brought to the party, including Balkan, Middle Eastern, and even the Tetris song (Thanks Joachim!). Of course, no hafla would be complete with out a total jam out with our davul line led by the amazing Nevik. That really gets everyone on their feet. ATS fun was had by all, and Denys led and taught folk line dances around the ballroom, yet another basis of dance that belly dancers rarely are able to access.

Every year at TribalCon I am regenerated by the drive, thoughts, knowledge, and artistic expression of the teachers AND attendees. It's great to see so many dancers and musicians taking care of our art form. TribalCon really isn't just about dance, but what the artist needs to complete their training and further their own expression of the art, whether its dance or music. I felt this firsthand for the first time this year through the classes, and it was truly an experience.

Donna's lecture on Thursday evening was invigorating. I love how she is not afraid to cover topics we as dancers need to address to overcome our still existing misnomers of the art form. The lecture bounced from hyper-sexuality, to religion, to history, and back to our practice in the industry today. She challenged us to be informed and take these matters to deep thought so we can be prepared to respond to these issues informed and well spoken to our audiences. Oh, and her reading list is absolutely a must for any aspiring belly dancer. Period.

I loved Asharah's presentation on the history of tribal belly dance, diving into the roots of from Jamilar Salimpour to Carolena to our modern interpretations. I think it's so important to know your history as tribal fusion dancers, and this was presented in such a way that was succinct, and very well thought out. Asharah's workshop made my inner history dork giddy with joy talking about my favorite subject of belly dance in the 60's and 70's in the U.S. She then took us through a series of particular dance moves of the Jamila Salimpour method and how those basics were changed overtime to morph into today's American Tribal Stye vocabulary.

Jen Speiden's anatomy for dancers class has been a TribalCon staple for a few years now. This year was the first time I was able to attend the class - and it was AMAZING. As dancers we need to take care of our bodies to elongate our ability to dance. Jen showed us proactive examples of ways to protect areas that tribal belly dancers use very often, namely our rotator cuffs, abdominals, iliopsoas, and our spine and how they correlate to dance movement. She also explained how our bodies move so that we can avoid injury from trying to torque our body in unsafe ways. It was a great class, and I truly look forward to next year's class.

Sunday also held the music and dance discussions. Both discussions centered around inspiration in music. The dance discussion also touched on the practice regimen of our teachers, how to handle burn out, and how to handle the post-event 'blah's. Across the board, the teachers agreed that cross training, finding new inspiration in and out of the dance form, and knowing your own tolerance limit was paramount to overcoming your dance obstacles, oh and yoga.

Its Sunday night, I'm home, and the hustle and bustle of classes, vendors, and music is still echoing in my head. I'll try not to get the post-event blues, but it'll be hard after this weekend. Gulf Wars is in two weeks, that is something to definitely look forward to. I plan to play music every night with my friends and exchange more inspiration and ideas, so I guess I should go practice now...

Oh, and if you want to know more of what happened this weekend, check out Aziza Nawal's Note on FB

Monday, June 15, 2009

Salons Update

We've been having a great time at the salons. This summer is the trial run for what I hope will turn into a weekly meeting of musicians working on all kinds of Middle Eastern and Balkan music. Here are photos and audio of some of our sessions:

May 10th Recording

May 10th Photos

May 31st Recording

May 31st Photos

If you would like to come to a salon, JUST SHOW UP! We work on a lot of stuff and no you don't have to know how to read music and no you don't even have to know how to play an instrument! Plenty of people come and grace us with their voices. I think the lyrics to these songs are very important, so come on down!

You can either join the Atlanta Gypsy meet-up or the Google group I started to keep up with dates and details: