When taking holidays – is it worth squeezing dance classes into your schedule? With flights accommodation and organising what sights to see, does adding dance classes to your itinerary just slow you down?
Recently I had the good fortune of travelling over to Bali with a friend. It was a short trip for leisure, sightseeing and shopping. I briefly toyed with the idea of offering my skills as a belly dance teacher for a workshop or 2 but decided against it. It would have been good to do for promotion etc. but one has to have some down time! I wanted to refill my cup and return refreshed.
That’s not to say I had a trip devoid of dance – of course not!!! I love dance!
When asked what was the highlight of my trip – it was the dance classes I took and the shows I saw.
It might be easy to think of this as a crazy response – e.g. the temples are incredible, the climate was perfect, the food inexpensive but I found dance as a way to experience the culture a little better. I took private classes in Balinese dance and even got invited back stage to a performance as a result. I took a great “Shakti” dance class (it’s a derivative of belly dance more on that in a post to come) and managed to catch both belly dance and Balinese performances.
While Bali was great
– anywhere you travel could potentially offer you unique and fulfilling ways to experience the place through dance.
Belly dance is so popular throughout the world that even some very small towns have a vibrant belly dance community. Most teachers are happy to have an enthusiastic dancer drop in. Don’t be shy to try a different dance style that takes your fancy too. If the locals have a dance style then taking a class is a great way to meet the real people and get off the tourist track. You may even come up with some great fusion ideas from the experience.
3 tips to incorporate dance into your holiday schedule with ease
Research ahead of time
It’s a pain in the bum to find out where and when everything is if your accommodation doesn’t offer free wifi or if the connection is not great. It can be really expensive to use your phone connection for data while overseas too. Try a simple Google search or having a look on facebook and save the findings in a note on your phone (include times addresses and phone numbers). Before I left I got in touch with some Balinese belly dancers via facebook to find out about classes etc. Thank you a million times over to Allison Mulroy who answered so many of my questions about the who, what, when and how of Bali belly dance. She is doing a great job of promoting the dance style for everyone and strengthening the sense of community.
Don’t do too much
It’s a holiday! Unless you are travelling with a bunch of equally enthusiastic dancers that don’t want to see the sights then it’s likely you won’t be able to experience everything on offer. If you are travelling with kids then definitely go easy. Pick classes they can join in on too or performances that you think they may enjoy as well. Doing too much will only wear you out and possible cause tension with your travel buddies as you rush from one class to another. Pick a class that fits in with your time schedule with the most ease and enjoy it.
Don’t worry about difficulty level
If you are a complete beginner then try and find easier classes for sure but if you are a bit more experienced then don’t stress if the only class available is an open or beginner one. Everyone teaches differently and chances are you will learn something new.
Why do it?
Get to meet the locals
Most classes are attended by locals and ex pats. Often when you are travelling you only get to meet those in the tourist industry and it can be hard making a connection with a ‘real’ person, not just someone trying to sell you stuff.
Learn new moves and /or teaching methods
There is so much variety in Middle Eastern dance- after 13 years I still am learning new moves and approaches to teaching. Different areas often have their own approach or style and it can be fun trying something new.
Make new friends with a common interest
You never know – you may make a lifelong friend!
Keep fit while you travel
When travelling it is great to break routine but some elements of routine are really good for you. Like exercise! The odd dance class can help keep your bod in tip top shape!
Support dancers the world over
There are very few dancers that have made a lot of money from dancing. Most teachers do it for the love. Supporting dancers by going to their performances and classes means you are supporting artistic and cultural pursuits and a flourishing dance scene helps us all.
So is it worth it?
It turned out to be the highlight of my trip. What are your thoughts? Would you take a class when on holidays? Would you like the occasional traveller dropping into your class? Please comment below.