Tips for Facilitators Bringing Movement to Festivals

Have you ever wanted to bring a dance workshop to larger groups of people but were unsure how to go about it? Does doing something outside your comfort zone like teaching at a festival scare you? After several years of bringing movement to the massive crowds of people in the crazy, dusty, chaos of Burning Man,  the moisture-filled beaches of Hawaii and every possible kind of environment in between, I've been presented with heaps of learning opportunities in the midst of some of the most magical & fulfilling moments I've ever experienced as a facilitator. I've harvested these lessons and compiled a handy list to help you dive in and experience the magic for yourself with a little extra support.

First and foremost, offering movement workshops at (transformational) festivals is an incredibly fun, empowering and magical way to grow & deepen as a facilitator. The people who show up for these kinds of events are often some of the most open & receptive people;  they are often so ready to dive in with you, surrender themselves fully to the dance floor and go DEEP. It's a HUGE gift and honor to be able to offer this work to people who are that ready for it! The spontaneous nature of these events will also keep you sharp & on your toes which keeps you on top of your game, constantly growing and evolving.

Let's not forget to address that pesky confidence issue that sometimes gets in our way...
Music festivals are an amazing way to share your work with larger groups of people in really dynamic environments but sometimes the unknown has a way of stirring up our biggest fears, worries, concerns and insecurities. Don't worry - all those things are coming up for the sole (soul) purpose of you HEALING and becoming a more deeply empowered, embodied YOU. Trust the process - you got this! 

We all have the same stories running around inside our heads that prevent us from moving forward, but thankfully that's all they are - just stories. The quickest way out of the fear & doubt trap is to simply get present, focus on the task at hand and take a simple action step forward - write that bio, send in that application, compile that playlist, design that flyer, etc. Keep showing up and don't worry about the rest - this is how you re-write those stories through direct action. If you wait until you feel confident or ready, you may not ever take that first step. You don't become confident by waiting until you have more confidence; you build confidence by doing the things that you really want to do but that scare the living daylights out of you. It's a practice, just like everything else but the exhilaration that accompanies doing it is so worth showing up for!

Each festival has it's own application process. Check out the sites of the festivals you feel drawn to & see what the different requirements are. Often you'll need the following: 

  • A clear, succinct bio - share the details of your background that are most relevant to the work you are currently offering. 
  • A good photograph of yourself (and logo if they allow more than one image)
  • A clear, simple description of your offering. Many festivals have different character limits, so I keep a few different versions on file - a short version, a longer more elaborate version & one that's somewhere in between. I keep them saved both on my computer and online in google docs because you never know when you'll need them.

Once you've been accepted:

  1. Trust Yourself. Many of you answered a deeper calling inside when you chose to pursue this path and you have all the tools inside you to do this. Just because the environment is a new one for you, doesn't change your desire to be of service and spread the medicine of dance, so trust that and focus on the message.
  2. Let go of any expectations of how it's going to be. It's completely different EVERY single time and the moment you are involved in is unique. 
  3. Don't waste energy worrying about things not going as planned, but be completely ready to improv in any given moment. Sound systems malfunction, dust gets into things, microphones fail, etc and it's all part of the learning to be present. You can't control what happens, but you can control your response so embrace it and go with it.
  4. Backup your music. Put all the music you plan to use on an extra flash drive just in case.
  5. The container is completely different than in a class setting. People will be coming and going throughout it and that's normal in this setting - it's not personal, so don't let it phase you. 
  6. Get to the workshop location early so you can check out the sound system & get setup. For me that also includes calling in the directions, allies and saying a prayer for me to get out of the way and allow Spirit to work through me. You won't always have time to do this because some festies schedule workshops back to back, but try. 
  7. Rally your friends to join the fun. It's always good to feel supported, and having a few familiar faces in the workshop can add some comfort to the situation and help you stay grounded & present. It's also a great idea to rally strangers you're just meeting & invite them to join you. A warm, receptive invitation is the start to helping someone crack themselves wide open.
  8. Play a really upbeat call in song (or 2) to gather crowds in before you begin.  Cheerful, uptempo or whatever bangers you've been saving that guarantee some booty shaking without facilitation. Then you can welcome everyone who comes.
  9. Keep it upbeat. At festivals, I tend to spend more time weaving in the upbeat rhythms that lift people up & keep them moving because the festival energy is so big and it's often good to meet it there. I still use the slower, more introspective music but for a shorter duration than I would in a more contained environment. But there are always exceptions, so as with everything else, feel it out and trust your intuition.
  10. Be fluid with your playlist. It's great to have your playlist worked out in advance but it's a good idea to have extra songs ready in case you need to change things on the fly based on the energy of the crowd. This happens A LOT. You get better at it over time, so don't stress about it.
  11. Microphones are your friend at loud, crazy events. But don't worry if you don't have one - speak from your core & project your voice into the space. Whether you're amplified or not, make sure to speak clearly and from an empowered place.
  12. Have fun. Don't be afraid to mess up in the process. It's ALL part of the growing as a facilitator. Be authentic. Laugh at your mistakes and make them part of the workshop if they apply. The only person who is holding onto 'mistakes' is you and humour goes a long way to diffuse that in the moment. Again, it's not about what happens, but your response to it. 
  13. Bring a way for people to sign up for your newsletter. At the end of your workshop, it's great to let people know you have a way for them to stay connected to you. It doesn't matter if it's a physical list on paper, or an app on your tablet (like Chimpadeedoo for Mailchimp) so long as it allows you to gather emails to stay in touch. Business cards & promotional materials are great too, but can easily be lost or forgotten about & I like to minimize my waste impact, so I've found gathering the information right away has been the most effective way to keep in touch about future offerings and share free goodies through my newsletter.
  14. Build relationships based on trust & integrity. The people who have already worked with you will remember that they can trust you to show up and will invite you back in the future. If you continue to show up consistently and build a reputation on integrity, over time you'll begin to get invited to offer your work at more events and different kinds of places. You never know where it might lead you, so do your best to honor yourself, your commitments and the people you're being of service too and have fun doing it!


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