Traincations: How to Find One!

Photo: Gena DuBose, via Instagram

As many of you may know, Cyndi and Sophia recently returned from the East Coast Aerial & Acrobatics Festival (ECAAF), hosted by AerialCLT in Charlotte, NC. It was an incredible opportunity to work with talented coaches from all over the world! We were particularly excited to train with Gena DuBose (@gena_marie_aerial), from SOAR Aerial Dance, and Jenny Tufts (@circlecirque), who came all the way from Ireland. In addition to picking up fancy new skills, we were also able to absorb some of their movement philosophies, coaching styles, and cueing techniques which we hope to incorporate into our aerial AND teaching practices!

How did we even find out about this opportunity, and how can you find out about the next one?

First, if there are artists you admire, keep an eye on their social media! Many of them will announce guest teaching gigs on social media. If there’s someone you really love or who’s on your aerial bucket list, see if they have a Patreon or similar mailing list that could get you early access to signups.

You can also follow host studios, retreat companies, and other venues to stay in the loop. Definitely keep an eye on studios within easy driving distance, or studios that frequently host guest artists. NECCA is a bit farther from us, but they regularly host events ranging from a weekend long trapeze meeting to multiple week intensives. And of course, there are always venues like Sweet Retreats (Mexico) and Airborne Arts (Costa Rica) as well as companies like Paper Doll Militia who feature retreats as part of their business model.

Some events, like ECAAF and even Monarca’s own C4 Weekend, are held annually. Obviously, covid and other events can throw a wrench in otherwise well laid plans, but if you hear about an annual festival, make note of who hosted it and what time of year it’s usually held, so you can stay on top of it!

If a traincation is on your 2022 or 2023 to-do list, make sure you give some thought to your own preferences. There’s a huge variety out there, so know what you’re looking for. Some things to consider:

  • What kind of vibe do you want: peaceful retreat or energetic workshop weekend – or something in between? Are you looking to go hard and focus on aerial, or maybe do a little sightseeing and relaxation? (There are even sailboat retreats where you sail around doing aerial with the ocean as your crash mat!)
  • What’s your budget and how much planning are you willing to do? Don’t forget transportation, lodging, and food if you’re going to travel. If you hate planning, try an all-inclusive retreat. If you love planning, you could even make your own itinerary by picking a city and dropping in on various studios.
  • How far are you willing to travel and for how long? ECAAF was just three days, but NECCA hosts 5-week summer intensives that require an audition. There are also a number of international retreats and festivals if you’re willing to go a bit farther! (The Irish and European Aerial Dance Festivals come to mind, and they’re often scheduled around the same time so you could make a whole summer of it!)
  • What do you want to learn and who do you want to train with? Many teacher trainings are a week long and while you may not learn any new tricks in the apparatus, they’re a traincation in their own right. And some aerialists headline their own intensives.

Last (but certainly not least), make sure you check the prerequisites for whatever you’re taking. Most organizers don’t validate prereqs, so nobody will stop you from signing up for a workshop that’s above your skill level. Use your best judgment – if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t mind sitting out advanced skills, watching and taking notes, then it might be ok for you to pick a workshop that might be a reach. But if you’re the nervous type who would feel really uncomfortable to be the least experienced person in a class, consider sticking to workshops where you comfortably meet or even exceed the prereqs. If in doubt, you should always reach out to the organizers.

Happy traincationing!

-Sophia Chen