Friday, February 1, 2019

Traveling For Dance


Two of my loves in life: travel and belly dance. So what could be better than putting them together and traveling for belly dance, am I right? But before you grab your hip scarf and zills, and run out to sign up for the next out of town dance workshop or retreat, it’s best to make sure you know exactly what you’re signing up. That way you can ensure that you have the best possible experience.

I’ve traveled twice out of the country for week-long belly dance retreats. One was great: well-managed, organized, and excellent instruction. The other was not so great: disorganized, failed to provide all elements paid for, and overall left a great deal to be desired.

So how can you avoid the pitfalls of poorly managed and executed dance retreats and instead find your way to the retreat of your dreams? Research. Yup, I’d say your number one key to secure a great experience is investing the time up front to investigate what you’re getting into. The data you are able to gather in advance will be a great indicator of what kind of experience you’re signing up for.

Here are my recommendations of what to check out and what questions to ask before you hit that submit payment button:

  • What is the reputation of the instructor? Is she well-known within the dance community? A good instructor should have strong ties and be on “good terms” with the dance community at large. Things to check out is whether or not the instructor is a member of popular dance related Facebook groups and if she is friends with a majority of other well-known dancers. Check out her teaching schedule and see if she is sponsored by other dancers and travels regularly for teaching gigs. Also try searching the discussion threads of online forums and groups to see if any complaints or negative feedback have been shared.
  •  Can the person actually teach? Just because someone is a good dancer doesn’t necessarily mean they can teach. If possible, check out the instructor’s DVDs (if she has them), try to attend a local workshop, or check out any instructional YouTube videos she might have uploaded and see if her teaching style is coherent, logical, and appealing to you.
  • Read and solicit reviews. Are there any online reviews posted about the event? Or have you had any friends that have attended in the past? Word of mouth and reviews from past attendees will be one of the strongest indicators of how enjoyable the experience will end up being.
  •  How long has the camp / workshop been running? A successfully run camp will have a good history and will run annually. Newer events might be a bit more iffy, as they have not yet stood the test of time.
  • What does the website look like? If the instructor is running a professional operation, they will also invest time and money into the website. A cheap website might be an indicator that the instructor is just trying to make a quick profit and not really investing anything into the experience.  Additionally, how well organized and laid out the website is may also be an indicator of how well organized and laid out the retreat will be.
  • What is the response time on emails? Try sending an email asking some questions about the retreat and see how long it takes to receive a response. An organized event organizer should get back to you within 24 hours, or I’d say 48 hours tops. Longer response times might indicator poor service both now and during the event.
  •  Make sure you understand what’s included. Read the fine print. Maybe the price is cheap because you will be expected to pay for your own meals. Or maybe you won’t have a private room (if that’s important to you). So be sure you know what you are paying for.
  • Can they accommodate any special needs? If you have food allergies or intolerances, can they cater to this? If there are any other special health needs or accommodations will need make sure you inquire about these in advance.
Okay, there you have it! Those are my top items to look for and investigate before signing up.

Hope you have a marvelous, fabulous, and magical time on your journeys. Bon voyage and break a zill!

Photo Credit: http://www.mgtdesign.co.uk

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Happy & Healthy 2019



It's that time of year again. A time of new beginnings and fresh starts. Shiny resolutions and crisp, juicy goals, ripe for the picking. And oh man, am I on the band wagon. My 2018 was a rough one (which you can read about here if you like). Thus, I am more than ready to leave the old year behind and start anew. A clean slate, a fresh page, a new me.

As part of the new year, I always pick a word or theme for the year. This year I've chosen 2019 to be the year of "happy and healthy". Yeah, it's perhaps not as eloquent or clever as some of my previous themes, but it gets right to the point. Happy and healthy: that's exactly what I want for 2019. No more struggles, no more sadness. No more fears or resentments. Rather, feeling joyful, grateful, and excited for what's ahead. Waking up energized and looking forward to what the day will bring. That's what I want to embody in the year ahead.

Once I pick my theme for the year, I always pick what my goals are going to be that support that theme (as well as goals that align back to my overall core values, which remain consistent year to year). Thus for 2019, my main goals are:
  1. Participate in and complete the Love Sweat Fitness 5-Day Detox and 21-Day Challenge.
  2. Vacation with Ketanga Fitness for a fitness retreat in Barbados, followed by a week exploring the island of the Dominican Republic.
  3. Join Bozenka for her belly dance retreat on the island of Crete in September.
  4. Try out water-skiing for the first time
  5. Compete in the La Dance Orientale belly dance competition
  6. Try the Daily OM 21-Day Goddess Workout
  7. Take a tap dance class
  8. Join The Community run by Maxie McCoy
  9. Stay at the Orondo Earth House B&B
Overall, I want to focus on optimizing wellness, prioritizing self-care, exploring my passions, and just generally having fun.

2019, I'm ready, let's do this!

Photo by Eric Green