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 asĀ  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?

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?

I’m using a tote bag for now, but I’m really desperate need of a dance bag. It’s a lot of strain on the bag, and nothing is sorted nicely. Perhaps I should just suck it up for now, since after August, I don’t know if I’ll need to carry around one thobe, pair of fan veils, snacks, shoes, and workout gear. However, it would be a good investment for performing and knowing me, this investment will take a long time to decide on. It took about 6 months for me to decide how I wanted to store my dance things (solution: plastic drawers).

Anyone have any good solutions? I don’t want a small suitcase but a bag/backpack that’s reasonably priced, will fit something as big as fan staves, and has compartments so I can easily find everything.

One of the most difficult parts of studying a dance from a country not your own is familiarizing yourself with your music. I wrote an entry a while back aboutĀ  how to build a good music collection. This entry is more about how to get yourself adjusted to the music, since understanding the music is very important for dancing to it.

The best way to get used to it is to listen to the music as much as possible. If you drive or take public transit, play your music in your car or through your headphones. Play it while you clean. And certainly play your music while you dance.

Also, when you’re buying new music, try to pick up different artists and types. Not all artists in the same category are the same sounding and there is definitely variation among region to region. Buying online is usually a good way to pick your music, since you can hear a little sample before actually purchasing. Another good way to find leads on who you like is buying a sampler or compilation. You’ll probably determine what you like and dislike quickly.

For some people, they love the music and dance simultaneously. Others- they take a little while to warm up to the music. I’d be patient and try to really absorb the music. It’ll make dancing easier, and you’ll have a deeper understanding of the dance you’re studying. Even if you intend on not using the traditional music and are going for more of an ethnic styling, you should really familiarize yourself with the originals. You don’t know what you like until you try it, and it’s almost always better to break the rules once you know them instead of wantonly breaking out of tradition.

Although the state of the economy (and my personal thriftiness) doesn’t allow for much back to school shopping, I began inventorying what I need or would like to have for the school year. My budget isn’t as tight as many grad students across the country (I receive an external scholarship, which pays for pretty much everything, plus TAing pays), but I don’t want to go spend-happy. I’d like to save some money for my future, and there are some trips coming. However, I do need some things. Besides the obvious (my textbooks, which I ordered last night), there are some other things for the school year.

  • Binders, pencils, and loose leaf. A lot of my binders are being used for archival purposes. I like to take my notes on loose leaf paper, and I’m out. Through loaning, I have very few pencils left and anticipate not having many by the quarter’s end.
  • Grading pens. I think I may try to get the physics department to pay for them. I like to grade in Sakura glitter Gellyroll pens. I had been buying them for years and didn’t use them much. Now that I have to grade, they come in handy. I don’t like the look of red pens, and black or blue blend in too much.
  • Winter coat. My winter coat survived 2 MA winters and one brutal winter in Chicago. It’s showing signs of wear. I also plan on getting a new one because last winter I desperately wished for a longer coat.
  • Yoga pants. I haven’t really bought exercise wear in a year or two. I do wear them a lot in winter, underneath jeans or skirts/dresses. They’re remarkably warm and aren’t too bulky under jeans.
  • Gaucho pants. I included a photo to the right in case people don’t know what they look like (no, that is not me). I know they aren’t the best looking pants, but layering them over a pair of yoga pants then putting a skirt on top of them kept me so warm this past winter. My other gaucho pants have been worn for two years frequently (they’re great summer/spring pants) and look like it. But at ten dollars a pair, I can’t complain.
  • Skirts. I wear skirts in winter primarily because I hate when the bottoms of my jeans get wet. I have never been comfortable with tucking them into boots, so I choose skirts. The yoga pants/gaucho pants/skirt thing is surprisingly warm and comfortable, albeit not particularly fashionable.
  • Flat shoes. I used to wear a lot of heels, but I decided to switch over to mostly wearing flats, because my toes were beginning to look unhappy from the heel wearing.

It’s hard to believe summer has gone by already :). I am looking forward to school, though.