Belly dance workshops and intensives can be, well, INTENSE! Here are a few things that you can do in advance to leave you feeling well-prepared.
- Get to know your instructors. Whether you’re studying under one teacher or taking a handful of workshops with a different instructor in each one, it is helpful to know a little bit about each person. Knowing their name, where they are based out of, what style(s) of belly dance they teach, who their teachers were, etc. gives you a greater picture of who they are and what they are about. Tip: Google their name (if they have a common name, include the words “belly dance” in the search too) to find their website and read their bio. A step further: When I first started attending belly dance workshops, I didn’t know much about the instructors, so I created Pinterest boards to help me put faces with the names. After finding their websites, I pinned a picture of ALL of the instructors at the event (not just the ones that I was studying with), including a short synopsis of their bio in the pin description. You can check out my Pinterest boards here.
- Prepare your notebook. If your learning style involves writing, note taking is a critical skill in belly dance workshops. In between listening to the explanation, watching the demonstration, and trying the move out, you might find it difficult to find time to take notes. Tip: Before you leave home, sit down with your notebook, a writing utensil, and your computer and read the description of each workshop on the event page. Many times, the instructor will list the moves and concepts that they will cover. Write the name of your first workshop, the instructor name, and the date at the top center of the first page in your notebook. Write the name of the first move/concept in that workshop just below the workshop name, slightly to the left. Turn the page and write the name of the second move/concept. Continue this process until you have listed all of them. Now, go back to the first page and write down any questions that you have about that subject. Now your notebook is ready! If any of the questions that you wrote down aren’t addressed by the time that the instructor is done with that subject, ask them. A step further: I like to color code my notes! I use colored markers when I’m writing the names of the moves down. For example, I am an American Tribal Style® dancer and I use purple for Level 1/1+ ATS®, blue for Level 2/2+ ATS®, green for Level 3/3+ ATS®, and red for ATS® movement dialect. I also label moves with an F for fast or S for slow. I could also label moves as Classic or Modern ATS® and/or list which family the move belongs to (Shimmy family, Turn family, etc.).
- Prepare yourself mentally and physically. Most of us aren’t used to dancing for hours on end each day for multiple days in a row and then socializing all night. It’s important that we recognize that no matter how much fun we are having, this challenging physical and mental activity causes our body stress. In order to minimize the effects of this stress on our bodies and minds, it’s critical that we make self-care a priority before the event. Tip: Ensure that you eat well, drink enough water, and get enough sleep in the days leading up to the event. If you are traveling to an area that has a timezone different from the one that you’re used to and you’re able to do so without severely affecting your everyday responsibilities, slowly switch over to the new time a week or so in advance. If you anticipate having sleep/wake issues while you are away, brainstorm ways in which you can alleviate these problems, such as packing sleepy-time tea. If you know that you will be working your body a lot harder than you normally do, consider doing some strength/endurance training in advance and be sure to pack items that you use to deal with things like sore muscles and preexisting injuries. Consider packing protein-rich snacks (think humus, jerky, nut butter, trail mix, etc.) that can be eaten quickly and easily if you need an energy boost. Don’t forget a refillable water bottle to keep you hydrated! Finally, Have a little conversation with yourself in advance, telling yourself that it is going to be a wonderful event, reminding yourself to be gentle with yourself, and allowing yourself to take the best care of yourself even if that means taking a break from dancing or socializing. A step further: I like to put the event itinerary in my phone before I go so that I know exactly when I have to be where and where my free time lies. If you know where you’ll have any of your meals, enter that info in your phone too so that you don’t have to worry about Googling addresses and such while you’re at the event.
I hope that you have found these tips helpful! Do you have any additional tips to share regarding preparing for multi-day belly dance events? Please share!