The entrance to the school where the retreat was held
I am back from Bisbee! I had a wonderful weekend down there. Aside from all the dancing stuff that I'll get to in a minute, Bisbee itself is a cute town, the weather was perfect, and I had fun exploring, shopping, and eating at local restaurants. While a normal person might buy a t-shirts as a souvenir, or perhaps even spring for some Bisbee turquoise, I came home with tea and a vintage dragon bracelet. But enough about that, let's talk about the retreat itself!
Location: Bisbee is not only cute, but the downtown area is very compact, so everything was within walking distance. We parked on Friday and didn't get in our car again until it was time to leave. Very convenient! The school was just around the corner from Hotel San Ramon where I was staying. It's a pretty neat building, although our "classroom" was kind of more of a hallway and didn't have much by way of mirrors. The show was also held here, in an adorable little theater. There was a huge pile of cushions to make the hard wooden chairs comfy.
Workshops: At only $5 for each 1 hour workshop, this was a really affordable event. I took Dawn's shimmy workshop, where we went over some basic shimmies, learned a quick drum solo just for fun, and did walking shimmy drills. Later, I took Mahin's bellydance anatomy workshop, where I learned some great new-to-me stretches. On Sunday morning, I attended Rajani's face and hands lecture, which was held during the mimosa breakfast. I learned some good tips on emoting, and also which hand gestures might be offensive depending on the culture of your audience.
Shopping: There was a small selection of vendors from across AZ. Just enough to provide a nice selection, but few enough that I didn't break the budget shopping. There were costumes, props, jewelry, accessories, soap, costuming supplies and more. Because the vendors were located in the main lobby, it was really easy to shop during the break between workshops.
Show: A great variety of performers! Things ran pretty much on time despite a major problem with the sound system which lead to difficulties making sure that everyone performed to the right music. A couple of dancers ended up performing improv to each other's music before things got straightened out. Because it was a small event with a casual atmosphere, the performers were allowed to be in the audience when they weren't on stage, so I was able to enjoy the entire show -- a rare treat! I really enjoyed the chance to see some old and new favorite dancers on stage.
Food: Lunch on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday were provided for all attendees (and there was enough food that we could even bring spouses along). I was concerned that lunch might be puny sandwiches or something, but it turned out to be fresh-baked pita, home-made hummus in two flavors, and a mini salad bar. Top it all off with fruit waters and home-made cookies. YUM! Breakfast was a dessert bar and mimosa fixings.
Over all: For a first year event organized by two people in two different towns, this went really smoothly. The whole thing had a really fun, relaxed vibe, like we were all just hanging out but there happened to be workshops, vending and a show going on, too. There's already talk of having it again next year, with a few changes, and I'm looking forward to going back.