At Sparkly Belly, I like to talk about the Business of Belly Dance from time to time to share exciting things that will inspire new ideas for your belly dance business!
To kick off this year’s series, Business of Belly Dance Part 2, I have an exciting guest post 😀
You know, a learning opportunity with a celebrity artist is really special for your students and dance community. 🙂
If you’re an instructor and/or someone in charge of organizing haflas and special workshops, you’ve probably thought about hosting an event with a famous, non-local dancer. How exciting it would be!
But if you’ve never done it, it can be very intimidating!
So today I have Georgia Michelle here. She is a professional performance artist, instructor, and choreographer currently living in Boulder, CO. She’s been teaching dance since her teen years, and she’s been a guest instructor herself.
But what’s really cool about her is that she’s been hosting events with celebrity dancers like Sadie, Nourhan Sharif, Lebanese Simon, and a costume workshop with Lana Couture.
And in this post, you’ll get a very comprehensive guide to hosting events with celebrity dancers by Georgia. It’s packed with great tips and stuff you can’t easily ask someone about! (PLUS she’s giving away a free cost vs profit calculator!!)
Now, let me introduce you to Georgia Michelle!
Hosting Haflas and Dance Artists
By Georgia Michelle
Hosting a hafla and or a celebrity dance artist can be a lot of fun and a great way to create performance opportunities in your dance community. Inviting a dance artist to teach in your area can bring new techniques and genres of dance to students, also raising the level of education and awareness to the public.
It entails choosing your instructor, classes and performance venues, how to price it all out, plus marketing and planning. It can be a creative and fun process, or a bundle of overwhelming stress.
I’ve put together this guide for you to help alleviate the guesswork and achieve all the success and joy from your event.
Choosing your instructor
Hosting a dance artist can be very exciting. When you are hosting an event in your area, selecting the appropriate instructor for your community is what sets the stage for a successful experience.
Here are a few things to consider when planning an affair that is profitable and fun:
- Who do you like and why do you like them?
- What is their specialty and how would it serve the dancers in your area?
- What level of interest is there for that instructor in your area?
- What are your goals for your students and dance community and how will this instructor help you achieve them?
Sending out a poll to your students is also a great way to find out who your community will show up for. You can do this through sites like www.surveymonkey.com. I use the site www.WIX.com for my website, they include a survey app within my subscription at no extra charge.
With Lana Couture
Contacting your instructor and fees
Getting in touch with the person you are hoping to host should be pretty easy. A well seasoned and professional instructor will have direct contact info for you listed on their website and or social media etc.
Once you have contacted your instructor be sure to introduce yourself in a professional manner. Tell them who you are, what you do, where you live, and what you are planning to do.
After your initial introductions, you’ll want to discuss fees. Each instructor will vary as they are running their own business, however like any other industry, there are general rates you can use as a guide. Some instructors will already have a set fee, for example $250 per hour with an 8 hr minimum plus an additional fee for performances. This means you pay for airfare, food, lodging, and venues, plus $2000 for your instructor. If you plan to have a performance or hafla there may also be a venue charge for anywhere from $100-$500.
Another option is to offer the instructor a percentage split. Usually 60-70% to the instructor after the costs (airfare, lodging, food, transportation, venues, & marketing) are paid for. This is your lowest risk plan, and as I mentioned before these numbers can sometimes be negotiable depending on the instructor.
So, as you can see, the numbers can add up quickly, and here’s the good news, in general (and I use that term VERY loosely here) you can usually cover your costs with around 20-25 students per class, this is of course depending on what you charge for workshops and your show.
I like to use an Excel spreadsheet to estimate costs vs. profit. Sign up for my newsletter to receive a free copy of the calculator template I use. You can use it to estimate how many participants you need to attend and at what price in order for you to break even, though hopefully you be will lucrative on both sides. You can also try to cut costs by using points to pay for airfare and use alternate lodging and venues.
Selecting dates and creating workshops
Unless you are the only person hosting events in your area, you will want to contact other hosts in your area so that you can do your best not to book your workshops on the same weekend.
In my dance community we have an online calendar through www.bravenet.com (web tools option) that is convenient and easy to use.
Once you have dates in place, you can begin putting the workshops together. Your instructor will have a list of which workshops they offer, and will usually know which ones are most popular. You can also reach out to your dancers again and take a poll of what they would like to learn.
Timing is everything so when scheduling your workshops, be sure to keep in mind your dancers coming in from out of town (don’t plan class too early in the morning) and breaks and lunchtime (give your dance sisters time to say hello and get their bonding in!). Ask yourself, is your venue near a selection of restaurants? If not, be sure to remind others to bring a lunch.
Most events are held over a weekend. If you’re planning a hafla or show with your event, a Saturday is your best option as most dancers work Friday eves and many students may need their Sunday evenings for family, travel, life etc.
Here’s a sample from the event I hosted with Nourhan Sharif:
FRIDAY Feb. 17
Master Class, 5-8pm
LIMIT 15 STUDENTS!!
BOULDER @ Kinesis Dance
An intimate evening w/ Nourhan, 1 hr. Q&A w/ discussion on all things Middle Eastern Dance, plus 2hrs. combos and individualized instruction and critique.
SATURDAY Feb. 18 ~ BOULDER @ Kinesis Dance
Egyptian Combos- 10am-12pm
Asaya (cane)- 1-3pm
Fashion show & Performance- 7:00-10pm
SUNDAY Feb. 19 ~ DENVER @ Gravity Dance
Dancing to Um Kalthoum- 10am-12pm
Sagat (zills)- 1pm-3pm
Master class- $55
Individual class- $45
Early bird (until Dec. 31st)- $160
Regular package (after Jan 1st)- $175
Fashion Show & Performance- $15, $10 w/ package purchase
PACKAGES DO NOT INCLUDE MASTER CLASS
SORRY NO REFUNDS
The show is open for duets or groups, please contact Georgia Michelle for details.
Have fun creating an exotic Middle Eastern mood for your halfa or show by artfully draped veils, colored carpets and lanterns with battery operated candles.
With Nourhan Sharif
Marketing your event
Now that you’ve got all of the pieces in place, you can begin marketing your event. It’s wise but not necessary to send out a save the date when you know your event is happening, people have very busy lives and 3-4 months in advance is not too early.
The following are ideas and tips I have used in the past and have had success with:
- Local papers and newspapers– this is a great way to reach outside of your regular dance community. Rates can be high to free. You can also contact an editor and offer a story for their dance, culture or any other related section of news. These avenues should be reached at least one month prior to your event.
- Schools and children’s centers– I often have children performing in my show so I like to offer free tickets to the show at the schools that the children attend. (Offering free tickets usually brings in additional paying customers and also provides for those who otherwise could not afford to participate in the arts). This will also usually allow you to post a flyer for the event in the teacher’s lounge.
- Partnering with dance studios- be sure to have other local schools invited to perform and attend the workshops, their support is unmatched.
- Local public radio- Offering free tickets to the show gets your event air time to many people that may be beyond your usual reach. This can be done a week or two before your event.
- FB and other social media- definitely create a FB event page. Here you can post all of the details of your event and invite everyone you know. You can use this space to post pictures and video of your guest artist. I also like to highlight each of the dancers or groups that are performing in the show at least 3 times per week at least 2 weeks before the show.
- Industry mailing lists- if you are planning an event that you want people to fly in from out of town for, you may consider advertising is a belly dance magazine or email list. Check out Shira’s article for a great list of magazines in our industry. I have also advertised through Mahin’s mailing list since many of her readers are near my area.
- Flyers– create a professional flyer to advertise your event and highlight your dance artist. Who, what, why, where, and when is all the info you need there. Paper versions can be distributed on community boards throughout your town, 5X7 and postcard size are easiest to work with, you may want a few 11X17 posters for the dance studios.
Here’s a sample flyer from our Nourhan event, it was created for a small fee by my friend Kadri of Lifted Entertainment. I have also created flyers on my own at www.Canva.com, which is extremely easy to use, and is free. I have also wrestled with iPhoto but find it really difficult to use if you are not skilled and trained to use it
- Highlight your guest-Don’t forget to let your community know how great the artist is! This will be your biggest selling point! Here’s how we did with Simon Sarkis:
Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to train with someone from the source!! Lebanese Simon Sarkis offers both traditional and modern techniques, stylization and of course a totally fresh, unique, innovative interpretation that has made him one of the hottest rising stars on the scene today!!!! Check out this impressive bio.
Born and raised in northern Lebanon with a natural passion for cultural arts, he found himself drawn closer to the dance. Traveling internationally to teach, perform and learn, he has had the privilege to study with the legendary Amani of Lebanon, Yousry Sharif, Lubna Emam and Inspiring Caracalla Folklore Dance Teachers Sammy Khoury and Francois Rahme. His style of Lebanese Folk Dabke is described as strong and captivating, deep from the heart. Teaching oriental dance, Simon reveals his personal creative approach He drills the combinations with focus on technique and rhythms; and most importantly he focuses on executing the moves yet staying emotionally connected to the melody and the story line.His versatility in dance has brought him very close to the heart of a wide range of audience and followers around the world. Simon says, “It’s connecting with the music and letting it flow and radiate outwardly coming from deep within…. I feel the ground beneath me, dim the light in my eyes, and let the wind play…. my favorite musical instrument is the Nay.”Simon is the artistic director and manager for the Al Awtar Zaffa Group based in Houston Texas (since 2010), He is also the executive director of the yearly Houston Oriental Dance Festival (since 2012) . Settled in Houston, Texas, Simon is a Structural Engineer and enjoys horse back riding, and great long walks in nature.
With Lebanese Simon
Notes for your timeline
The amount of time it can take to plan a guest artist workshop has so many variables. For example, in my town I have two venues I like to work with. One of them I need to book 3 months in advance, the other I can wait till 4 weeks before my event. Some instructors may be booked for summer, with nothing the rest of the year. So if you’re looking for a summer date you may need a year in advance, but if you’re willing to have a fall or winter event you could have an event much sooner.
Given all of the info I have given in this article, I can safely say to give yourself a minimum of six months to plan until you get a better idea of how you can manage things in your community.
Treat your artist well. Before my guest arrives, I always like to ask for their favorite foods and any allergies. This way I can have great foods on hand for their morning and afternoon meals.
With Sadie & Simon (photo credit: Lifted Entertainment)
Set boundaries for your event. I always add somewhere in writing that there are no refunds, but allow dancers to sell there space to another dancer at the same price.
Ask for help! This is a huge undertaking, loyal students are usually happy to help with posting flyers, checking people in at the door, retail sales (most guests will have music etc. for sale) and coffee runs.
Don’t forget a photographer and video for the show!
After your event, be sure to send out big thanks for everyone’s participation. Let them know you couldn’t do it without them! In a private forum, ask what they loved and what can be done better for next time.
That’s it! Good luck! Have Fun!
We want to hear from you! What questions do you have and what would you add to the list?
Tell us about your experiences with guest teachers!
Thanks for this super awesome post, Georgia!
Again, you can sign up for her newsletter and get her event cost & profit calculator for FREE!
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Thanks for reading, and keep sparkling! 🙂