Continuing Ed On a Limited Budget
So we’ve established how important it is for belly dancers to continue learning… new choreographies, new combinations, new exercises, new ideas…
- What happens if you can’t afford to attend workshops or retreats?
- What if your work schedule is crazy, and you can’t find any belly dance classes available when you have time to take them?
- What if you’re injured and want to dance, but can’t do so until you’ve fully recovered?
- What if you only have a 15-20 minutes a day to devote to your practice?
Nearly every dancer has run into times when they simply cannot continue their studies as much as they want/need to. When I had my C-section, I wasn’t able to dance for months. There will be times when you may need to take a break from classes. So what to do?
Here’s a quick list of ways to continue your studies when time/money/health are an issue. Videos and books are no substitution for in-person study with a properly-trained belly dance instructor… but they’re better than doing nothing!
- Buy a block of classes for a discount (most studios and instructors offer this)
- Swap instructional videos with a fellow dancer or rent for FREE from the public library (they can often order a copy of something special, if you tell them what you want)
- Take advantage of Groupon/Social Living/etc. to try new classes at a huge discount
- Barter something with a local instructor in exchange for private lessons or group classes. PLEASE NOTE: Not all instructors are comfortable doing this, or are even able to do this… so don’t take it personally if somebody says “no”. In the past, I’ve traded lessons for costuming, belly dance props, and other services… but it only worked when I needed those things and when the student wanted to learn something I was able/willing to teach. And of course, never offer to barter if there’s even a tiny chance that you won’t be able to reciprocate!
- Get together with another dancer for brainstorming/drill sessions. This is a great option if you’re both teachers; both students; or in different belly dance styles. There’s often no money involved, because you can meet in your homes!
- Review notes from workshops you’ve attended in the past. You’d be surprised what’s lurking in those notes from 3 years ago!
- Take a 1-hour or 2-hour workshop with a local instructor, when offered. This saves money on lodging and transportation, and you can take off less time from work to attend.
- Take one workshop instead of an entire weekend. If there’s a workshop you’d like to attend, but it’s bundled in a workshop retreat weekend, contact the organizer/sponsor and ask if it’s possible to pay for the one class you can afford.
- Read belly dance books (FREE from the library) to get better acquainted with our dance’s rich history.
- Take advantage of time recovering by reading books, watching videos and writing out combinations to try when you’re well enough to dance again. Visualize yourself dancing! You can also still attend workshops & classes… just because you’re not physically up to dancing, doesn’t mean you won’t learn something.
- Ask a local instructor to teach a specialized workshop to you and some friends, or to your troupe. Most instructors have an hourly rate, so if you split these charges with several dancers, it lowers your individual cost.
- Create a few combinations yourself, and drill those for short periods throughout your day. This “quickie” gives you something that’s uniquely yours… and you’ll have something new to add to your dancing when you have more time.
- Conditioning “Quickie” – exercise during TV commercial breaks. Crunches, push-ups, floorwork drills, plank… they’re all effective, even in short sessions.
- GO ONLINE! There are several instructors teaching online courses, including the amazing Suhaila Salimpour!
This list should give you plenty of ideas for continuing your studies in belly dance. Do what you can afford… when you can do it… and you’ll be amazed at how quickly those efforts add up for you!