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DANCER'S SPOTLIGHT
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Tayanan M
Amateur Dancer
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Ballroom Dance Camps

By Maya

December 29, 2008

Ballroom dance camps are a great chance to get away, make new friends, and spend days at a time immersed in ballroom dancing! They can also be great ways to get in some intense training and really improve your dance skills!

Dance camps generally involve various classes during the day and social dancing in the evenings. They can be elaborate jaunts on board a Caribbean cruise, or smaller affairs at local hotel or University where your studio is holding a weekend camp. Whichever way you go, make sure you thoroughly evaluate a camp before committing any money to a reservation. Even if you’re familiar with the instructors or the studio that’s sponsoring the camp, there are some essential things you need to know in order to find a camp that provides the right experience for you.

• Who will be attending?

Many dance camps cater to different groups of people: singles, couples, students, amateurs, professionals, etc… Even if this isn’t a requirement, some camps are themed in such a way that they attract a certain group. If you find yourself the lone single person in a camp you didn’t realize was positioned as a fun, romantic getaway, you’re not going to be getting the most for your money! Similarly, if it’s a kid-friendly family-style camp and you want more serious instruction and adult-friendly activities, you’re going to be frustrated with your experience.

• What are the Pre-Requisites?

Some dance camps require attendees to have a certain skill level in some or all of the major ballroom dances, while others are open to students, amateurs and professionals alike.

•    What are the Classes?

Not only do you want to know which ballroom dances are being taught at which skill levels, you also need to know how often a class is being held. Camps will list the dance and skill level being taught; this is considered a dance workshop. Within that workshop are a varying number of dance classes. If you want to brush up on your East Coast Swing, one or two classes in a week won’t help much. However, if the Swing classes are held every day for six days, you can be more certain that you’ll leave the camp with heightened Swing dancing skills! Almost all camps publish a syllabus on their website during the registration period. Be sure to check it out!

• Who are the instructors?

This is more important to those at a higher level of ballroom dance. Some dancers are attracted to the opportunity to learn from widely known ballroom dancers. For someone at a beginner’s level, as long as the instructors are accredited, you’re probably still get the most from your dance camp experience.

• How many attendees are there?

Beware of dance camps that don’t limit the number of attendees. Be sure to ask what the average class size will be, they should know without hesitation.

• What’s the cost?

Ballroom dance camps can range anywhere from $100 to $400 per day or more depending on what is included in the price, the prestige of the instructors, and the overall facilities of the event. Some camps feature widely known “guest artists” who attend classes, dances or both. These are usually dancers at the national championship level of ballroom competition. When you register in advance you’ll need to pay a small non-refundable registration fee. Be aware that if you cancel too close to the date of the camp, you may receive only a partial refund. If a camp is a bit beyond your budget, stay on the lookout for special opportunities. Many studios let eager ballroom dancers compete for camp scholarships that defray some or all of the costs.

• What’s included in the cost?

This is important and can vary widely. Some camps seem incredibly affordable until you realize that they charge per class, which really lets you only pay for what you use. In other camps you pay a blanket price and are welcome to take as many classes as you like. Food may or may not be included, or you may have the option of purchasing meal tickets. Lodging may or may not be included. If the organizers don’t book rooms for you, they should at least provide a breakdown of nearby accommodations and negotiate a discounted rate for attendees. They should also provide thorough travel directions and other pertinent information such as public transportation, parking instructions, and additional activities, which can be anything from local interests to a pool or gym in the hotel.

• What extras are available?

All dance camps will give you the opportunity to purchase more stuff. Additional purchases may include private dance lessons, DVDs or other instructional materials, filmed DVDs of your dance classes, lodging upgrades, and meal tickets. Some camps offer repertoire classes, where students are given the opportunity to choreograph a small performance for the evening dance.

• What do I wear?

Many first time dance campers overlook this question, but it’s important to know the expected etiquette in regard to attire. Some request or even require certain dancewear for classes and some social dances can be quite formal. Make sure you understand the expectations in advance.

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