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!
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