…or why Workshops are Good Things
I spent last weekend at the beach. Well. Sort of. Despite the picture at the beginning I did NOT stop at Farmville… Either the real town (LOL!) OR the computer game. 😛
I spent last weekend at Beach Blanket Beledi, which is a lovely and FUN (1st rule of BBB – Have Fun!!!) bellydance workshop that takes one day, (well, three if you count travel time from my house!) and features three wonderful teachers every year. This year was Dalia Carella, one of my favorite dancer/teachers of all time. I could watch that woman dance for hours. Class is to die for, sometimes I think literally… keeping up is always hard work. But I wish I could take class from her at least once a week… I know I’d be in better shape at the end of a month! The workshop she taught is available online as a download in two classes. It was the Ghanalli choreography. Also teaching were Riskallah Riyad from Connecticut, and Chelydra, who taught us a “Dash of Debke”. Apparently our troupe choreographies from last year were well received, as they kept being referenced all day by the teachers, much to our embarrassment. I came home with a notebook full of new ways of putting steps together into combinations, ways of integrating my modern and jazz dance background with my raks sharki, and some great ideas for getting my students to be themselves when dancing.
So from a learning standpoint, workshops are great, no matter what your level is. Saqra of Washington state once said to me that if you don’t remember everything in a workshop, it’s all right, because you’ll remember it when you need it — it will bubble up over time, so don’t worry about getting overwhelmed. She’s been right, although I find that writing down combinations as I learn them helps immensely in the remembering arena!
Needlework workshops are the same way… you learn new techniques for things you thought you already knew how to do! And sometimes you can share a tip with an instructor as well.
But the most important thing about workshops to me is that they inevitably remind me that I’m not alone in whatever endeavor I’m doing. Both needlework and dance can be very solitary pursuits, especially if you find yourself dancing in your living room because of a lack of classes at your level that are convenient! Going to a workshop is a way to find new friends that you already have at least one thing in common with – it’s an icebreaker.
I never had good experiences at summer camp growing up. But now, going to Beach Blanket in particular, I start to understand the girls who loved it. Leaving is bittersweet. “Drive home safely. Have a good flight” (people come from everywhere), and most importantly “see you next year!” ring. As we come back year after year, we start to see the same women, and slowly learn names. We start to communicate by email and get invited to their hometowns for workshops. Workshops in the arts are how we build community and learn from each other. It’s neat. (Oh, and there’s usually partying at night, too. :P)