How to Choose which Workshops to attend as a Dancer?
As a person who loves to dance and learn new things there comes a time when there are so many dance workshops available throughout any given year that it can become difficult which to choose to attend. This weeks blog will focus on providing some food for thought of how I decide which workshops, I want to attend and which ones I would suggest to different levels of dancers.
What is your Budget?
One of the main factors that influences any decision is whether or not you have placed a limit on your spending for all of your dance activities for the year. Items dancers will spend money throughout the year typically are:
- The price of the Workshop alone (make note if the taxes are shown in the workshop price or are separate)
- Competition entry fee (if you are doing a competition as part of a workshop, you often have to purchase the full package as well as pay a competition entry fee). The fees help pay for the rental of the facilities where the competition is being held along with the usual costs of running events (a discussion for another blog).
- Costumes – Whether you’re going to take workshops or not, often there is at least one time in a dancers’ life she wants to own a costume for a recital/show.
- Dance class attire – Most often the basic workout wear for any dance class is fine, but sometimes it’s nice to have a new hip scarf or outfit for a workshop and/or class so this shouldn’t be discounted.
- Travel costs – If the workshop is out of town you will need to take into consideration how much it will cost you to get there i.e. gas for the car, train and/or plane
- Lodging costs – Again, if the workshop is out of town and you don’t have someone to stay with in that city/town you’r going to take the workshop then hotel rooms (B&B, Air BnB etc.) costs will need to be added to the budget. If you can share a room with a dance friend that always help.
- Meals & Snacks – A dancer needs to keep her energy up, keep hydrated and eat enough to replenish all those calories they burn during the workshop(s). Even if the workshop is in your home town, buying drinks and snacks can add up fast and often we like to go out with the group to watch a dancer perform in a local restaurant which you will need to add the cost for that to your budget.
- Miscellaneous – This category will be for the extras not covered above. At many workshops there will be dance accessories for sale, like zills, veils, music and workshop memory gear (paraphernalia) you may want to buy to remember your awesome time you had, definitely put aside some extra money for that. There may even be workshops that will give your body pampering options for a great deal, check and maybe put a bit of money aside for that. At Masriyatt last year, I enjoyed a Fascial Release Stretch Therapy for 10 minutes for $10 dollars. If I had thought to have a little more for those type of expenses, I would have enjoyed more time on the table; my loss for longer but I felt it was $10 well spent.
Where is the Workshop?
The location of the workshop is important as noted above for cost, but can play into whether you like to travel far.
- How far is the workshop?
- Is it easy to get to by transit and/or are there parking fees involved. When I give and/or host a teacher for a workshop, I like to be able to rent a location that has free parking and is easily accessible by transit. Not all workshop will have as much successful due to cost of rental space and/or the location of the dance studio they own.
- If it’s an out of town workshop, I will ask, is this city I haven’t been and want to visit?
- Again, for out of town workshop, I will look at where I’m staying in relation to where the workshop is being held. If I’m not taking my car, I like to stay either on a good transit route (that won’t take more than 20 minutes) or in walking distance to the venue.
What Level of Dancer should attend a Workshop?
Not every workshop is suited for all levels of dancers. If you are a beginning and you want to be challenged then taking workshops are great way to improve and grow yourself a little faster than just your weekly class. However, some workshop may feel quite overwhelming for a beginning dancer and I would recommend asking either your teacher’s opinion as to whether or not your would benefit from the workshop or even email the workshop organizer to inquiry how they view the level of dancers that the workshop is aiming for. For example, the Princess vs. Village Workshop is a workshop being taught by Nada El-Masriya. The focus on the workshop will be learning the difference between folkloric style and oriental style in Belly dance on day 1 and then Baladi folkloric style on day 2. Would I recommend this workshop for beginning? No, I wouldn’t recommend this for brand new dancers because the focus isn’t really about learning the basics of the dance, it’s focused on the stylization and differences between folklore and oriental belly dance. I would recommend this workshop for those who have the basics of belly dance covered, so at minimum a dancer who has a few sessions of beginner to intermediate. What about the advanced dancers? Yes, I would recommend the workshop for advanced dancers because it’s always nice to refine and update the knowledge you have. At most workshops, you’ll always come away with something new or remember something you forgot.
Does the Topic of the workshop interest me?
Any type of dance will have topics you either love or try to avoid when looking at workshop content. Depending on what you want to learn and how you want to grow as a dancer the topic of a workshop is important. The basic question you need to ask: Are you interested in learning what the workshop’s topic is about at this time?
Do you want to learn from the Dance Instructor?
Every teacher is different in their style and what they are teaching in each workshop. The questions to ask yourself are:
- Do you like the way the teacher instructs? Not every teacher will strike a happy note with you. There are some teachers who will intimidate you, even if they are complete sweethearts to talk to. There will be teachers who you will avoid because their approach just rubs you the wrong way. And there will be teachers who will just inspire you and you’ll try to follow wherever you can because they are just that awesome.
- Are they well established and/or know their topic really well? This is important to know as you want to learn from them. If they are teaching a choreography they created and just really want to share with you, then you can decide whether or not you want to learn that choreography. So in this case they should know their choreography well. A teacher who is advertising advanced and/or master level workshops, well I would suggest doing your research and investigating their dance background and ensure you feel they would teach you at the level you’re expecting. Also check the instructor’s website and/or YouTube for videos to see if you like the instructor’s dance style.
- What kind of certification does the teacher have? Ok, this is kind of a trick question. There is not a world dance body that certifies Belly dance and Bollywood dance instructors, at least not what I have found so far online. There are teachers, such as Suhaila, Hadia and Nada El-Masriya that do offer teacher certifications for those who are interested in becoming teachers (another topic for another time). And there are style certifications like for Tribal belly dance that exist as well, offered by affiliated teachers/studios. I would default to point number 2 and use your judgement as to whether or not you feel the instructor will teach you something your want to learn.
To recap there are 5 items to consider before signing up for any workshop:
What is your budget?
Where is the workshop?
What level of dancer should attend a workshop?
Does the workshop topic interest me?
Do I want to learn from the dancer teacher?
If you consider those items, you will feel that any money and workshop you attend will have been worth the investment as a growing dancer and money well spent. Now, go find your inner dancer and let her shine.