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Richmond Adult Dance Camp (now Sun King) Survival Guide


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#1 Xena

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 05:25 AM

I have at last taken the plunge and taken all the useful bits out of the original seven pages of posts on this survival guide. I think there was a lot of good information, but it was lost amongst all the other posts.
I have copied the posts into here, so you may recognise them as your own. I have not had time to reference who asked what questions and answered what, but you know who you are :). I will keep this Sticky open for a few weeks, so if you want to contribute extra I can then paste that into the main document. Thank you for all your contributions, :D
Jeanette

Richmond Adult Dance Camp Survival Guide

We thought it might be a good idea to start posting some general thoughts on surviving a week of dance. Keep in mind, there's 8+ hours of dance or dance related activity every day. So here are a few things you might want to keep in mind to make things easier on yourself:

1)Start building up to the demand of all that time dancing. Add more classes to your schedule as the intensive nears. By the time I went to last years intensive, I was taking two classes a day four times a week, and on Saturday I was doing three classes. The more prepared you are the less likely you are to injure yourself and you'll handle the days better.
Building up your strength and endurance will help you to maximize your fun at summer camp. However, don't freak out if that doesn't work for you! I went to Richmond last year with zero classes for 2 weeks prior due to travel and work commitments. In fact, I had to take the red-eye arriving Sunday morning to even get there on time. Do what you can, but don't stress out if you can't.

2) Bring about every piece of dancewear you own. You'll find you may wish to change at lunch. It takes a long time to dry tights in a hotel shower, so you'll need lots of clothes.
We all know dance clothes wear out, so anticipate your next 6 months needs and buy in advance of going to Richmond. The more clothes you bring - the fewer evenings you'll spend laundering them. If you want to be really conservative, plan 2 sets of clothes per day. That is overkill, but having the option to change your clothes at lunch before going into pas de deux is wonderful for your partner. Don't forget your swimsuit if you want to participate in the hotel hot-tub "dancer stew" each evening.

3) Pack some dance clothes separately and carry them with you on the plane. God help us if our bags go to Vanouver.
One of my suitcases got lost in transit. Fortunately, it was the one with my civilian clothes in it. For 3 days, all I had to wear was dance clothes, the clothes I flew in, and Richmond Ballet sweat pants, sweat shirts, and t-shirts I purchased from the nice lady from the ballet auxillery. (United Airlines eventually reimbursed me for these). Come prepared for airline disasters. I shudder to think what would have happened if my dance clothes were lost instead of my normal stuff. Can you imagine trying to buy technique shoes or men's tights on a Sunday in a strange town?


4)I strongly suggest a cheap, throw away cooler for the room when you arrive. Keep it full of ice and take the free shuttle to the grocery store to stock up when you arrive. You'll want to take lots of things to snack on to class every day. They have a refrigerator we can use to keep things cool if you want to bring yogurt and such.
Because you will be expending so much energy, you'll need lots of nourishment to fuel your body. The in-room cooler idea is wonderful, because you are going to want drinks, yogurts, and so on. Hotels are not equipped to deal with hungry dancers. The camp does a pretty decent job of helping you with nutrition during the day. They stock a refrigerator with various items but also expect you to pay for what you eat (honor system). No objections to people bringing their own favourites.

5) Water, water and more water.
Drink, drink, drink. I live in Colorado, where everyone is used to the idea that water disappears from your body and everyone carries a water bottle. Get into the habit, because you need it.

6) Indulge. Eat like a pig. You'll be working very hard so don't deny your body. And don't even bother worrying about putting on weight. There is no way in the world you'll gain weight that week so don't even think about it.
When you go out to dinner, you'll probably want to "eat smart" because plie's the next morning may not feel too good on top of a half digested pork chop. But desserts rock! You can eat all you want and still keep that svelte dancer body.

7) Don't push, either. You'll be working harder than you're used to (unless you're a pro). Don't expect to handle 8 hours of dancing right away. Take a class off if you need to. They have videos. Relax. Enjoy. Make it home in one piece.
Remember that a full week of dance class is a marathon, not a sprint. If that means sitting out a class, or even going back to the hotel to take a nap, don't stress out on what you are missing. You want to get through the week happy and healthy. You know your body's limitations. Push them but don't exceed what you can do.

8) You're there to have fun. So have fun. The teachers don't put any pressure on you so don't put it on yourself.
This is adult summer camp, not an audition for NYCB! Have fun and take the time to meet your fellow campers.

9) Bring a camera.
Last year, we didn't have enough stills or video of the week. Heidi has promised a professional photographer to shoot the last day "performance", but be sure to bring your own camera and don't feel like you are imposing by asking another camper to shoot you in a pose. We found out the hard way that many of the new digital cameras have a serious lag time from the time you push the shutter until the time the picture gets taken. Lots of shots of the aftermath of a great movement!

10) Bring a journal for recording things you learn, teacher corrections, choreography etc.

Questions

I know there are character classes, what if I don't have character shoes or the skirt? Should I buy them?

Generally for character classes you will need both shoes and skirt. The latter is extremely easy to make (or you may be able to borrow one before you go--I would not plan on borrowing anything once you are at the program.)
Definitely you will need shoes. Black, probably, but call and make sure.
Character and special clothing needs will be covered in the schedules and additional information Heidi sends out a few weeks prior to the camp.
For the character class I took, I didn't bother spending money on special shoes. I figured I'd rarely if ever use them again so why bother. Many of the ladies did invest in shoes and skirts for character classes (it did make it much more fun to watch).

Is there a dress code?

There was a dress code for the final performance last year, but it was basic: black tights and white T's for guys, I think Black and pink for women. It wasn't anything that should have been out of the ordinary for anyone attending.

Were most things easily payable with plastic (food, etc)? Did you need to get cash constantly? It'd be nice to know how much cash I should try to bring with me initially?
I'd put in a goodly supply of travellerís cheques. They're useful by themselves or readily convert to cash. To take advantage of the honor system refrigerator, you'll need piles of one dollar bills (or else plop a twenty into the box the first day and keep track).
When you go out to dinner with a large group, sometimes settling the bill becomes a hassle. Watch out for dining companions who guess how much they owe, and always guess low. They are the reason most restaurants add an automatic service charge for large groups so the poor wait staff doesn't get stiffed.


Can I wear my normal ballet clothes/shoes? Or do I need anything specific?

Floors are all Marley so you don't need to worry about rosin or special shoes for wood floors. If you haven't been on Marley before, you might want to get a pair of technique shoes that don't have rosin on them so you won't stick to the floor.
Last year they had an arrangement with a local dance store to stay open late and to even be open the Sunday before the intensive began in case people needed to go buy anything last minute. They were able to offer intensive students a nice discount -- 10% I believe. I would imagine they would try the same arrangement again. Heidi doesn't miss much in her planning.
For those of you who want to save lots of money on dance clothes you can go to www.dannyswarehouse.com everything there is $10 or less. Tights are only $3. There website does not have much selection but for those of you who live near LA their warehouse caries tons of stuff. The only problem is that you have to look through tons of boxes to find what you want. But if you have the time it's worth it.
Other danceforms like jazz and character are offered just to expose students to something other than ballet. Don't feel like you need to buy special shoes for these classes, if you won't be using them again.
Be sure to bring some convertible or footless tights, or shorts for stretching class and other times you don't want to wear ballet shoes.
Nobody has ever lost anything from the locker rooms at Richmond Ballet (to the best of my knowledge), but you might want to bring a padlock and claim a locker.
Be sure to bring a stretching or yoga mat.

Do they have facilities for massage?
Heidi made arrangements with a massage place to come to the hotel and do massages for tired dancers. However, arrangements had to be made in advance of coming to Richmond. I'm a massage junkie, so I signed up for massage every other day and was glad I did. Others were scrambling for body work by the end of the week.
If massage is offered again this year, think seriously about reserving yours if it is something you've found beneficial in keeping your tired body moving.


What age range attends the Summer camp?

If I remember correctly there were a few dancers last summer that were 18 and under. I thought I would be the youngest one at 20 but there were a few younger than me. ADC was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to anyone who has a passion for ballet. What's nice about ADC is that although most of us will never be professionals the teachers treat us like serious dance students.


First of all, I read that there are four levels of ballet technique offered. Do you stay in one level once you/the teachers decide which best suits you, or can you take from a variety of levels (i.e. If you took level 3 or 4 for a few days then wanted an easier class, could you just take 1 or 2 or are you stuck where you started?) How advanced is Level 4...?

Level 4 is primarily dance teachers or people who've taken ballet for a long time. I've only taken for a year so I took Level 1, which was pretty ok for me. You place yourself. The instructors may make suggestions, if you ask for them, but usually they'll go by the number of years you've taken ballet. Nothing to stress over, trust me, no one stressed more about the "placement class" than I. But there was nothing to be afraid of, itís pretty much just a technique class like any other.
There are four varying levels for Technique, and two for pretty much everything else. Levels 3 and 4 are grouped together. 1 and 2's are grouped together. But the girlsí variation last year I thought was very difficult. I had to take the easier version for the sake of quality and not making an idiot of myself on stage and captured forever on video

Does the hotel shuttle really take you wherever you need to go? I take it you have to pay? How expensive?

The shuttle is available. I think it's free. (besides tip). Usually you will meet someone with a car. You can head out to the grocer and pick some stuff up. We had a hospitality suite last year. This year rooms come with fridges and microwaves. Lunch is provided. Lots' of different groups go out for dinner. Don't be shy, just ask if you can go if you don't know anyone.. That's what I did. Some people go out, some order pizza and stay in. It's whatever.


What sorts of non-technique classes are there? stretch? kinesiology/lectures?
Most of the classes are "dancing, dancing". It's great! There is a great stretching class at the end. I'm about as flexible as a board, but it was nice. Then there is kinesiology and history of ballet; they were great. There was modern and character; both were neat. But you are dancing most of the time, or engaging in some kind of physical activity. I suggest upping your fitness routine several months in advance to prepare. You will come home feeling stronger. Your teachers will notice improvements, but if you don't keep up the frequency, you will lose some of it. But it's great to know that you are indeed capable of rapid improvement if you are put in the right

I am pretty tall for a ballerina (5'10") and not sure if I would be able to do partnering class, is there a hight limit for girls?

I'm tall. (5'10") and I took the partnering class and was fine.. It was my favourite class.

Am I too old? Am I too injured? Am I too inexperienced?
Adults of all ages attend and are welcome at the Richmond dance camps. As far as levels, you choose your own, 1-4, 4 being the most advanced. As for injuries, no one pressures you to take every class every day, so you can pace yourself. There ARE some advantages for being an adult:).
The good thing is that at Richmond there is no pressure to participate in EVERY class that's offered. Last year I usually skipped the class immediately after lunch in order to go back to the hotel to rest and change practice clothes. You'll want to pace yourself, and you can always learn a lot by watching.
Yes, people do survive Richmond, even when they're not at 100%! You'll still have a wonderful time if you take it relatively easy, and "dance smart, not hard".


What if I don't have the shoes for the character class? Is it required? And does the local dance store have them?
I didn't have character shoes last year--I used some worn street shoes which looked just like character shoes. Since you'll only use the shoes for a couple classes at the most, I'd recommend borrowing a pair or buying a used pair.


I was thinking about buying new pointe shoes while I'll be in Richmond. Do you know if the dance store sells many brands?
The dance store, Ellman's, sells many brands of pointes including Freeds and Repettos. However, I don't think they sell Gaynor Mindens.

In my welcome packet, I just noticed that jazz shoes seem to be required for jazz classes. Does everybody wear them? Or can we wear our ballet slippers?

If you don't think you'll get your money's worth out of a new pair of jazz shoes, I'd just wear ballet slippers. Since ADC is primarily a ballet workshop, the other danceforms are included just to give you a taste. That means students approach them with a more casual attitude, both in terms of buying the right footwear or even sitting out the class entirely.
If you change your mind, Elman's is a pretty large store, so they could probably get you fitted at the last minute.

Can I read about the camp anywhere else?
First of all, the official website is adultdancecamps.com
Ed (2LeftFeet) kept a daily diary of the first camp 2 years ago that is still available online at Criticaldance.com
Criticaldance.com - Richmond Dance Camp

Finally, Pointe Magazine published a print article in December 2002 about last year's camp, again written by that prolific writer, Ed. Back issues may be available from them Pointe Magazine.com

What about hotels for the ADC?
I got hotel info from ADC, so here are some details :
- Most campers stay at the Crowne Plaza (just in front of the ADC dance studios)
- We get a special rate : 72$/night + taxes (single or double)
- We must make our reservation at least a month in advance
- There will be a meeting at the hotel on the first evening of the program to aquaint us with the facilities and services
- Amenities include whirlpool, indoor swimming pool, saunas , restaurant, bar
- Each room has a coffee maker
- ~Refrigerators and microwaves will be available (on request I think)
- The Crowne Plaza offers complimentary Shuttle Service to any downtown location (but not to the airport)
- Laundry service available for a few $.
- etc! --> http://www.richmondcrowneplaza.com

The Crowne Plaza has been renovated, so the rooms are much nicer now. Getting an in-room refrigerator is still a struggle. Apparently, they just don't own enough of them. Part of the Group rate at the Crowne Plaza is access to a "meet and greet" room, which turns into a combination of party central and late-night rehearsal space each evening. The hotel put a couple refrigerators there, but they were overloaded. They still need to look up the definition of "hot" as applied to "hot tub", which was lukewarm at best.
The hotel has an ATM ($3 fee!) and a business center with a computer, fax, and printer. I travel with my own laptop, so didn't investigate how expensive using their computer would be, but if you need to check e-mail, it's nice to know it is possible.
Hotels are famous for charging excessive fees for telephone access. I was glad to see my local calls to check e-mail were not charged for. You can avoid expensive long distance bills by using a calling card or your own cell phone.
One participant cashed in his frequent stayer points to stay at another hotel. That meant he had to rent a car, and missed some of the camaraderie of the "dancer's dorm", but he came out ahead economically.

I came into Richmond on Saturday, August 16. Heidi had rented a hospitality suite in the Plaza, where we all started to get to know our fellow dancers. From there, we all went down to a restaurant in Shockoe Slip. Very nice place, but a little on the high end, as are all of the restaurants in that area. Priced for the tourist trade, apparently.
For the most part later that week, if people were going to leave the hotel to eat, they would go to a neighborhood called Carytown, which is hip but more student-oriented than Shockoe Slip, so there are all sorts of restaurants in Carytown that won't break your personal bank.
Another advantage to Carytown is that it has a dancewear store. (The advantage is relative, since it only caters to women. However, I was able to buy stuff for my feet that got me through the rest of the week.)
Although Shockoe Slip is about a 20-25 minute walk from the hotel, Carytown is a good distance off, even by car. The hotel shuttle will take you just about anywhere you want to go, for free, though it is good form to tip the drivers, who are not otherwise well-paid for this service.
Every morning, I partook of the fixed price breakfast buffet at the hotel. One can order breakfast off the menu, but that would of course cost more, and the buffet was pretty good, as such things go, plus you can go back unlimited times for extra
As the week progressed, my enthusiasm to go to Carytown or Shockoe Slip for dinner rapidly declined. I missed the opportunities to socialize, but I really really really needed to get off my feet just as soon as classes were over for the day, so I hobbled back to the hotel to soak my aching gams in ice water. And then I ordered room service, and ended up paying much more for the privilege of dining in than if I had gone to one of the tie-and-jacket only restaurants in Shockoe Slip.
The hotel did not have a washer and drier for guest use, so I used the laundry service twice that week. My bill shows that I paid $28.95 the first time, and $29.05 the second time.
I also stayed an extra night, hoping to get in some tourist time for the brief remainder of my vacation. But because I had to catch the plane home, I didn't really have much time after all to see the city, (plus, my feet were still loudly protesting) so the extension of my stay turned out to be an impractical decision.
Anyhow, to make a long story short, my total bill from the Crowne Plaza that week came to $1,007.47.


What other amenities are there nearby?
There's a new super-sized grocery store just uphill from Havana 59, much closer than the Carytown markets.
Ellman's dancewear stayed open late 2 nights for ADC students, and gave us a 20% discount. They sold lots of shoes! Be aware their men's department is non-existent.
The nearest restaurants are in an area called Schockoe Slip - a neighbourhood of antebellum-vintage warehouses that have been rehabbed into trendy shops and eateries.

Are there any special events at the end of the dance camp?
The end-of-the-week party was held Saturday night, rather than Friday. This meant a more solid Saturday performance by dancers who didn't have to deal with hangovers. This is just one more great reason to plan to leave Richmond on Sunday, rather than running for a Saturday flight right after the performance ends.

How long does it take for the video of the performance to arrive?
The video you ordered will take several months to arrive.
The video guys spend a lot of energy putting the videos together, but their real clients come first, so there is a huge delay between the end of camp and the receipt of your tape.

I live less than and hour and a half from Richmond. Long drives don't really bother me, and I'd really like to save hotel and food money and just commute from home every day. With the activity level, would I just be shooting myself in the foot and overtiring myself to save $500 or so? Or should I just bite the bullet and reserve space in the hotel?

I know that I was so tired after classes that the prospect of an hour long drive definitely would NOT seem appealing! The rates at the Crowne Plaza are so good (last year $72/night single OR double occupancy - meaning only $36/night if you have a roommate!) and the accomodations are really very nice. Plus, I think there is something to be said about the bonding that goes on in the hotel. We had our "dancer stew" in the hot tub every night as well as a couple of ballet movie nights. If you can afford it, I would say go with the hotel!



How do I contact Heidi to get a roomate?
If you look at the tuition and enrolment section on the web site it will answer questions about dates and provide a link for downloading the application. There is a place on the application to indicate you would like them to find you a roommate.

#2 ashatNYU

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 10:42 AM

Yowzers Xena! That is an EXCELLENT resource for campers! I even went to camp last year, but still found all of the info helpful in jogging my memory. Kudos to you! :D

#3 Her Royall Highness

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 06:21 PM

Thanks for the info! It looks like I'll be going to one of their sessions this year.

But here's a new question: I live less than and hour and a half from Richmond. Long drives don't really bother me, and I'd really like to save hotel and food money and just commute from home every day. With the activity level, would I just be shooting myself in the foot and overtiring myself to save $500 or so? Or should I just bite the bullet and reserve space in the hotel?

Edited by Her Royall Highness, 24 March 2005 - 06:22 PM.


#4 ashatNYU

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 10:59 AM

HRH - I know that I was so tired after classes that the prospect of an hour long drive definitely would NOT seem appealing! The rates at the Crowne Plaza are so good (last year $72/night single OR double occupancy - meaning only $36/night if you have a roommate!) and the accomodations are really very nice. Plus, I think there is something to be said about the bonding that goes on in the hotel. We had our "dancer stew" in the hot tub every night as well as a couple of ballet movie nights. If you can afford it, I would say go with the hotel! :lol:

#5 Guest_Irene_*

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 12:02 PM

Wow, thanks so much for posting all of that info here! I'm looking to go to the Richmond camp next year and now I'm all excited about it and want to go this year! Can't afford it this year though. :grinning:

One thing I was wondering about the camp, what style do they usually teach in? I take classes in Vaganova.

Thanks again for the info! :wub:
Irene

#6 ashatNYU

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 03:04 PM

Irene,
The camp isn't taught in one particular style. The way the teachers were scheduled last year a class would pretty much alternate teachers every day for technique class (for pointe, variations, etc you will stay with the same teacher all week) thus exposing you to many different teaching styles. It's interesting to see some of the combinations that different teachers come up with!

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 07:00 AM

Ok, thanks for the info. :) I'm SO looking forward to going to this! I wish I could go this year but the wait will be good so I can improve more and get the most out of the week.

Thanks again! :thumbsup:
Irene

#8 BarreTalk

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 06:17 AM

Be sure to bring a checkbook, lots of cash, or travelers checks.

ADC doesn't accept credit cards for camp T-shirts, pictures, videos, etc. Instead of writing a check every time you decide you can't live without another souvenir, wait a couple days, then write one check for everything.
"a proud member of the barre association"