June 2010


As most readers would know, I don’t roll in dough. However, I do make a point of budgeting in dance. Dance benefits me both physically and mentally, so I include it in my budget. That isn’t to say that dance can’t costly. Here are some of my tips to keep yourself moving while not going broke.

  • Look into work study or bartering. I currently do work-study at a huge dance studio to pay for my Middle Eastern dance classes. It’s a very good deal, one hour of office work for one dance class. At least one other studio in this area offers work-study; I’m sure there are other studios in the world that have work-study established. Bartering also may be something to explore; teachers need anything from professional helpers (seamstresses, website designers, etc.) to other kinds of help (childcare). Ask politely; you never know what kind of deal you could strike up.
  • Distinguish wants from needs. Particularly with the active internet communities, I think it’s easy to get caught up in the want part of dance. You see the costumes, the fancy practicewear, etc. But how much of it do you need? There are cheap options for practicewear (a lot of people favor leggings or yoga pants and a tank top). Costumes may or may not make sense for you to purchase; if you’re not planning on performing for awhile/at all, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to purchase a costume if you don’t have the money. If you are performing, that brings me to my next hint.
  • Find where the deals are! Costumes can be purchased for lesser costs. You may not end up with a designer costume, but plenty of dancers sell their used costumes for fair prices; some costumes have very minimal wear. They do this online (Bhuz, for instance) or in face to face trades. If you do a dance form that doesn’t have an online community or in person swap meets, you should ask your teacher. S/he may know of used deals. If you’re looking for shoes/practicewear, it’s always good to ask other people where to go; your particular teacher or school may have worked out a discount deal for students if they name drop at certain stores. There are also online stores, such as  Discount Dance Supply, where dance shoes, practice gear, etc. can be purchased for very reasonable prices.
  • Share studio space. If you and a friend are working on the same pieces and lack performance space, why not split the cost of a studio and practice together? I learned in the past few weeks that studios can rent for very fair prices. My classmates and I are splitting the cost of a studio to practice for 1.5 hours. Although we do not have a final head count, I don’t think I’m paying more than $4 for that practice.
  • Shop wisely. One of my favorite things to do with dance is take workshops. Those can indeed be costly. Although I encourage people who have time/money to check out everything, because you never know what you’ll like, it’s important to think about what you will learn at certain workshops. If you know, for instance, that tribal isn’t your thing, it probably isn’t worthwhile to attend a tribal workshop, particularly if there is another workshop coming up. I also am a big fan of asking around about teachers, workshop content, etc. People love sharing what they learned, so you can use their opinions to determine if the workshop is worth it to you. I also recommend checking local calendars, so you can really see what’s being offered and how to spend your money.

Anyone else have any other tips for saving money on dance?

Raqs sharqi dance snobbery is a rarity in my life. When I say dance snobbery, I mean  people being dismissive about Middle Eastern dance. Mainly because I choose not to mention it in most parts of my life. I’ve only recently become more comfortable discussing my dancing and luckily, the response has been pretty positive. The worst responses have been from people rather close to me.

Last night was my first experience with dance snobbery within a dance community. At Bharatanatyam, some of my classmates were chortling about non-present students who are, as they described themselves, “belly dancers” (I’ve heard of them in passing). I never felt inclined to share to much about myself; my class doesn’t have much community in it, and I’m really there to dance. Their attitude bothered me, because well, Middle Eastern dance is a huge part of my life. My classmates and I work ridiculously hard; I can’t attest to the students by whom my classmates were amused (I’ve heard excellent things about their troupe, though), but I can safely say that there are talented, hardworking Middle Eastern dancers in the Boston-area.

For who knows how long, I’ve been thinking about moving over to a domain with my own space for my blog/website. The main thing standing in my way is the domain name.

I’ve looked at other people’s domain names for ideas. Some of the ideas I liked are:

  • Make your own word (www.zaposa.com). I like the freedom that has.
  • Catchy phrase that doesn’t quite make sense (www.electricshimmy.com). I like that it does hint at dance and sounds cool, as well as being easily spelled.

I don’t want to go with something just dance-related or location-related, because my blog isn’t just dancing and location is likely to change. I thought about using my pseudonym, but I want something bit more exciting. There’s also the whole “subject to change” thing; this I think is my second dance name.

Any ideas? How did you pick your domain name?

One of the nicest things about being here this time is I feel like I’m finally settling down here. By that, I mean I’m talking to people, hanging out with them in some context, etc. Due to the hustle and bustle of grad school in Chicago, I did not really get to do that until the end, which was a shame. I was starting to meet really neat people in the dance community and/or get to know some people better. When I last lived in Boston, I tended to hang out with college friends. Since that time, however, they’ve moved away or we’ve grown apart.

I feel lucky to have dance in my life. One of the funny things about life is that it becomes harder to make friends. College was rather simple to make friends; a bunch of people who are mostly new to the area, living in dorms allows for making friends with some ease. Being part of the “grown up” world seems to limit options for making friends. I’m not much of a fan of mixers or the bar scene myself, so for me, I had either my  job or grad school to really meet people. Navigating work friends is difficult, since mixing professional and private life is not always advisable. In grad school, it seemed like people had well-established lives outside of the school. I’m in the age where people are starting to settle down even more; people I know are getting married, having babies, etc. I imagine making new friends is far on the list when you’ve stayed up late with your baby.

Dance has made it easier to make new friends wherever I go. Unlike mixers, where who knows who will show up, dance has given me at least base for talking to people; they share at least one important interest I have. I’m deeply biased, but I think there are a lot of interesting people in the dance community. They love dance, of course, but they also have other passions in the world and offer unique perspective. People still have their own lives going on, but it still is helping me make friends and regain somewhat of a social life. With time, I feel like I can become a part of the community here more.

Since I’m committed to my apartment for another year and I’m garden level (meaning I can move around without worrying about the neighbors below), I’ve decided to to start thinking about how to decorate the room that’ll serve as my dance studio. The room is private and a decent size.

I have been using it as a dance studio, but it isn’t ideal. There are no mirrors. I am not sure if it’s the best floor. I’ve been looking for ideas online and scouring Craig’s List for free/cheap things. Here’s what I’m thinking on investing in:

  • Mirrors
  • Place to sit if I have a guest to watch
  • Decorative tapestry for walls
  • iPod speakers

On my maybe list is flooring. I’ve been looking at cheap flooring options that won’t damage the floor I already have. When I finally get to it, I’ll start taking pics.

Does anyone have pics of their own home studio to share?

The details are updated.  It’ll be held in MIT Kresge Auditorium on October 10, 2010, 12 noon.

Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, and Odissi will be performed. I’ve never been or performed in this particular show, but I hear very positive things. I’m going to be in it with my class.

Working as an admin has been sort of relaxing, which is a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of teaching. There is work that needs to be done, of course, but nothing compared to teaching. On the flip side, teaching is largely something I can control. I make lessons plans and grade. That’s all in my control. With my admin work, it’s ensuring people fill out and submit forms, which is a little more difficult than I anticipated. I’m on the type A personality side of things, so it’s a little difficult for me to fathom why forms aren’t there on day one.

Every job has its trade offs.

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