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Project Band inspires and challenges dancers beyond their natural limitations by using the energy of live music and the shared appreciation and vulnerability of its participants. 

What is Project Band?

The History of

Project Band

When you have developed the ability to hear an 8 count phrase of music 10 different ways, you will never struggle with a piece of music again!

Refined Listening Skills

There's just something about surviving improvised music, then rolling with improvised music, then NAILING improvised music that helps you know your real power!!

Enhanced Confidence

The energy, dynamics, and team spirit of being on stage with musicians will cause you to move in ways you never imagined. Every time!

Broader
Movement Vocabulary

No, really! LIFE is improvisation! You will be amazed at how the lessons of Project Band regarding adapting to the unexpected, smoothing over errors, and choices about when to hit the brakes become a way of life for you and actually enhance your day to day existence. 

Tools
for Life

Benefits

I'm Karen Barbee and I have been a dancer for 55 years; a belly dancer for 50. And I'm still at it. More importantly, I'm more excited than ever!!!

I've had several growth spurts over the course of my dance journey such as when I became a teacher and when I became a gym rat; but BY FAR my biggest growth spurt came when I had the chance to work to live music on a frequent, recurring basis.  

As a studio owner for over 30 years, I wanted to find a way to simulate this growth opportunity for my students - not easy in these days of mp3s. But it's done. That's Project Band.

- Karen Barbee

"Karen's Project Band was a wonderful experience in every way; pairing world-class live Arab music with thoughtful instruction, and encouraging personal feedback is just the start. Karen's approach allows for individual expression of technique and style while developing a more complete iteration of the music.

The icing on the cake is the positive and supportive group atmosphere with fellow students and musicians, alike. There's really nothing else like it!"

- Bahaia
          Austin Bellydance Studio

"I can't express how grateful I am for your Project Band classes. They are so totally beneficial towards improving my dancing.

Even if I'm not participating fully, so much information is sinking into my brain. I feel in the 6-9 months that I have been Skyping into Project Band, it's worth something like 10 years of lessons"

- Sue
          Karavan Student, Florida

"I've been dancing for 3 years with Karavan. Prior to that I had no dance experience, and this is my first semester as a Project Band member. Karen puts together creative and unique weekly workshops for Project Band students.

The structure and focus are improvisation; crafted in equal parts fun and challenge. I've also gained so much more in music appreciation and theory with a healthy dose of support and camaraderie! I absolutely love it and it completely supports my evolution as a dancer."

- Cameron
          Karavan Student, San Antonio

Testamonials

For dancers at any level, the excitement of knowing that you will be able to work with live music on a recurring basis for a solid year – and take the time to reflect and learn from the experiences as they happen – serves as a reason to FOCUS. The result is accelerated growth and a deeper assimilation of your dance training. 

Additionally, any sustained learning experience presents its plateaus. Generally, those who find the tools, the reasons, the patience, and the motivation to move through them excel; and those who don’t remain stalemated - and eventually quit.

The recurring, themed nature of the classes, exercises, workshops, and performance opportunities in Project Band will provide a tangible, everlasting shift in the way you match movement to music. You WILL grow. You WILL move forward from the experience.  

I wouldn’t say that. I WOULD say that it’s not for Beginners. But in this dance form where self-classification reigns supreme, I’m not sure what all that means anyway.

I would also say that it is NOT for someone who has never performed before. This is meant to build on your experience, not just be it. Think of it as grad school. You must have your undergraduate degree first.

To continue the higher education analogy, please remember that successful performance improvisation is – in many ways - a different skill set from successful execution of a learned – or even a self-created – choreography. So, chances are that some of what makes someone label themselves as Advanced might not fully “transfer”.

01.  Isn’t this for Advanced dancers only?

No. But no less than ½ hour and no more than 2, please. 

o2.  Do private lessons have to be in hour blocks?

I really want to do this, but I don’t live anywhere near you!!

You can do it.

Yes, of course, some of the pieces cannot be the same. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t use this as it is intended to be used – as a tool to advance your dance!

HOWEVER – depending on your proximity to me – there is a possibility of arranging a “Project Band Community” in your area if we can get a large enough group to participate. That would mean that I could periodically come to your area for workshops AND we could hire musicians to play for you LIVE so that your experience is maximized. If you want to know more about that, contact me.

3. What about remote dancers? 

To be reasonable. That’s all.

I realize that this is a significant allocation of resources for people. But it is spread out over a year because the intent is for you to WORK on this throughout the year. If you save up your privates until 1 month before the End of the Year Showcase and try to fit them all in, you will get nowhere near the benefit that you could have gotten!

A lot of the work to be done here is in assimilation and organization of things that you know AS they multiply and expand over the year. You can’t compress that and be successful.

Of course, if you break a bone and must recover for 6 weeks or if you must leave town for some emergency, I’ll work with you.

04. What is the make-up policy for missed classes?

Depends. On a million things!

You’ll see what I mean. If you are brand new, then chances are that you will get to pick a piece of music early in the process.

Please realize that one of the benefits of Project Band is a better understanding and connection with the music of the Arab world. Oftentimes our inexperience with it causes us to say that “we don’t like that music.” I certainly did that before I had a chance to work with live music.

Trust me. I’ll make sure you don’t hate the music that you have to take onto a stage, and you be willing to expand your preferences.

Deal? Deal.

05. Do I get to pick my music?

As a weaning tool, yes.

But if you are on stage with a musician who is pouring his soul into a taksim, I don’t believe that you can express that to me by twirling your batons in a soulful manner.
I want to see YOU. Everyone wants to see YOU - and how the solid mass of flesh that is YOU chooses to express that soulful sound.

So, if you are a baton-aholic, I might let you use your batons for your first live performance; maybe 1 baton for the second live performance, maybe just use 1 baton as an entrance for 30 seconds on the third one, etc.

You know what I mean! 😊

06. Can I use props?

THIS is fantastic!! In grad school, a professor LOVES to banter with their students, right? That’s what I recall from my attempts at 3 different master’s degrees – none of which I stayed in long enough to finish. LOL.

But I digress. I saw the superstar Jillina last year at an event and she said, “I use that quote you gave me all of the time, Karen.” And while I was super-flattered, I had to ask, “What quote?” (heh) “Metal sharpens metal.”

Be ready. I think about this A LOT.

I will be. 😉

07.  I want to dance to live music more often, but I have a different philosophy about it all. I really don’t agree with your stringent methods. I’m interested, but now what?

One word: Scorecards.

I’ve kept them in the past, abandoned them, and now I realize that I DO have to keep them. Thankfully this year, we have an app that will facilitate this.

If you don’t complete 80% of what you signed up to do, then “No. You won’t dance with the band even if you’ve paid all of your money.”

Your peers deserve better.

The musicians deserve better.

This dance deserves better.
Here’s the truth: You WILL benefit from the time spent in drills classes, Project Band exercises, and private lessons. Period.

You’ll be thinking about it. I’ll know you are thinking about it. I’ll be thinking about you and what can make your performance better, etc.

08.  What if I just pay my money and don’t do any classes or private lessons?
Can I just dance with the band in the big show?  

a. Welcome to live music!!! I have no idea how much time you will get! Here’s what I DO know:

If you are brand new, I don’t want you out there for 15 minutes and I will tell that to the band – although they pretty much know this now.

If you listen to and connect with those musicians, things can go on longer.

If the AUDIENCE gets into your music, or even just the way the musicians are playing it, things can go on longer.

If you bitch about how much time you spent on stage with those amazing musicians, I will wish I didn’t think badly of you – but I will and I will never forget it. 😊

See "Can I start this program later in the “school year”?" below. (No. 13)

09.  How much time will I get on stage with the band in the big show?

We generally rehearse in Houston at 2:00pm on a Saturday.

Most people leave San Antonio on Saturday morning and go straight to rehearsal.

We always discuss travel plans and carpool, share rooms where needed. We often don’t start rehearsal on time. LOL. But we still shoot to be ready by 2:00pm.

I film the rehearsal, we review the film at your next private lesson, and tweak our plan from there. (Which is done, btw, at ANY of the performances –SA venues, etc.)

Some dancers come straight back to San Antonio after rehearsal. Others stay the night – usually to go hear more live music on that Saturday night. The more live music soaked up, the better! Staying to hear the band play accelerates much of the understanding of Project Band principles for you - for sure!

10.  How do the trips to Houston work?

Up to 2 months, then you just stop making your payments and everyone goes on with their life.

After 2 months, if you quit, there is a penalty of one month’s payment. Sorry – but this is an expensive endeavor and plans are made very early in the year based on participation numbers. I don’t want anyone else’s opportunities affected by one person’s decision.

If you feel like you have to quit due to life circumstances – but you really don’t want to – please talk to me. So very often – where there’s a will, there’s a way!!

11. What if I get a few months into it and need to quit?

a. You can get CDs and DVDs replicated at a place called “Dub King” here in San Antonio. When you walk in, there is a sign that says “Good. Cheap. Fast” Pick 2.

For music at GBDAC, the sign would say “Virtuoso. Niche. Live.” Pick 2 if you don’t want to spend $10,000 or more. But I continue to pick all 3.

And then we use live music for rehearsal throughout the year.

I charge $90/hour for private lessons and $12.50/hr for group classes.

Do the math. This isn’t expensive for what you get unless you don’t plan to use what you get.

12. Why is this so expensive?

You may start anywhere in the first official month of the program – but every Project Band term is set up for the school year and all participants participate throughout and for the entire year.

If you are not sure about the full year, Project Band Lite students can sign up and convert to FULL Project Band after 6 months or stay in the Lite package.

13. Can I start this program later in the “school year”?

This is how I express my form of insanity.

We are all a little crazy. 😊

14. How can you do this and charge so little?

Yes. You can do Project Band Lite for six months than join – but only at the “Classic” level.

You will be given the opportunity to dance in the End of the Year Showcase– not as a soloist (yet) – but as a group with other Project Band Lite dancers who converted to Classic.

15. Can I do Project Band Lite then join Project Band?

There is a maximum to the number of participants at the higher levels just because it starts to put a greater demand on mine and the musicians’ time.

There is some flexibility if you want to move downward. But there are no refunds. Your monthly payment is simply adjusted moving forward.

16.  What if I want to change levels after a few months?

Project Banders can tell you that we have some of our most illuminative moments about listening when we can draw comparisons between music with which we are extremely familiar and music with which we are not so familiar. We do it in class all the time.

It’s time to take that concept to the stage – where studio understanding gets put to the test.

This might not be for everyone. But it will be for most, for sure!

Personally, I can’t get enough of this piece.

17.  What is with the performance opportunities to “Top 40, Classic Rock Cover Bands” that I keep hearing about????!!!!

No. You can’t pause payments.

However, you CAN accumulate hours of classes and private lessons and use them later when your life returns to normal. We can always devise a plan to ensure that you use your accumulated hours as best you can given our respective schedules.

Project Band performance opportunities are planned and budgeted based on attendees and participation levels. It absolutely will not work for participants to pay sporadically.

19.  Can I pause my project band payments if I get busy with other things during the year?

a. Falling behind in payments by more than 1 month will result in the       suspension of participation in any live music events.

b. Participation in the components of your package at a level of at             least 75% is necessary to perform in the end of year showcase.

c. Performahearsals

      i.  I Will be scheduled during the first two weeks (on the                                  weekend) of each month. That’s about all of the planning  that                can be done with musicians for a year!

      ii.  Will be assigned and spread evenly over the course of the year.

          1. Classic Participants will be assigned odd or even numbered                       months.

          2. Lite Participants will be assigned designated events.

      iii. Unexcused No Shows or Cancellations within 24 hours of a                      Performahearsal for which you were scheduled to perform will              result in a forfeit of that opportunity and will not be reset for a              later time.

d. Additional private lessons or Drills classes may be purchased at            the standard rates; performahearsal opportunities, however, are          set by package.

e. Similar to c.i. above – the make-up of musicians for the End-of-               Year  Showcase will not be determined until we get closer to the           event; however, you can assume that the usual GBDAC musicians         will be a part of the mix PLUS members of the National Arab                     Orchestra.

f. Project Band is always evolving – even within a school year.                      Flexibility and open-mindedness is key for all participants.



20. Are there certain things that I need to make sure I understand before I embark on this journey?

please click on the box with the FAQ and the Answer will come up on the right

frequently asked questions

frequently asked questions

I wouldn’t say that. I WOULD say that it’s not for Beginners. But in this dance form where self-classification reigns supreme, I’m not sure what all that means anyway.

I would also say that it is NOT for someone who has never performed before. This is meant to build on your experience, not just be it. Think of it as grad school. You must have your undergraduate degree first.

To continue the higher education analogy, please remember that successful performance improvisation is – in many ways - a different skill set from successful execution of a learned – or even a self-created – choreography. So, chances are that some of what makes someone label themselves as Advanced might not fully “transfer”.

 No. But no less than ½ hour and no more than 2, please.

I really want to do this, but I don’t live anywhere near you!!

You can do it.

Yes, of course, some of the pieces cannot be the same. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t use this as it is intended to be used – as a tool to advance your dance!

HOWEVER – depending on your proximity to me – there is a possibility of arranging a “Project Band Community” in your area if we can get a large enough group to participate. That would mean that I could periodically come to your area for workshops AND we could hire musicians to play for you LIVE so that your experience is maximized. If you want to know more about that, contact me.


To be reasonable. That’s all.

I realize that this is a significant allocation of resources for people. But it is spread out over a year because the intent is for you to WORK on this throughout the year. If you save up your privates until 1 month before the End of the Year Showcase and try to fit them all in, you will get nowhere near the benefit that you could have gotten!

A lot of the work to be done here is in assimilation and organization of things that you know AS they multiply and expand over the year. You can’t compress that and be successful.

Of course, if you break a bone and must recover for 6 weeks or if you must leave town for some emergency, I’ll work with you.


Depends. On a million things!

You’ll see what I mean. If you are brand new, then chances are that you will get to pick a piece of music early in the process.

Please realize that one of the benefits of Project Band is a better understanding and connection with the music of the Arab world. Oftentimes our inexperience with it causes us to say that “we don’t like that music.” I certainly did that before I had a chance to work with live music.

Trust me. I’ll make sure you don’t hate the music that you have to take onto a stage, and you be willing to expand your preferences.

Deal? Deal.

As a weaning tool, yes.

But if you are on stage with a musician who is pouring his soul into a taksim, I don’t believe that you can express that to me by twirling your batons in a soulful manner.

I want to see YOU. Everyone wants to see YOU - and how the solid mass of flesh that is YOU chooses to express that soulful sound.

So, if you are a baton-aholic, I might let you use your batons for your first live performance; maybe 1 baton for the second live performance, maybe just use 1 baton as an entrance for 30 seconds on the third one, etc.

You know what I mean! 😊


THIS is fantastic!! In grad school, a professor LOVES to banter with their students, right? That’s what I recall from my attempts at 3 different master’s degrees – none of which I stayed in long enough to finish. LOL.

But I digress. I saw the superstar Jillina last year at an event and she said, “I use that quote you gave me all of the time, Karen.” And while I was super-flattered, I had to ask, “What quote?” (heh) “Metal sharpens metal.”

Be ready. I think about this A LOT.

I will be. 😉


One word: Scorecards.

I’ve kept them in the past, abandoned them, and now I realize that I DO have to keep them. Thankfully this year, we have an app that will facilitate this.

If you don’t complete 80% of what you signed up to do, then “No. You won’t dance with the band even if you’ve paid all of your money.”

Your peers deserve better.

The musicians deserve better.

This dance deserves better.
Here’s the truth: You WILL benefit from the time spent in drills classes, Project Band exercises, and private lessons. Period.

You’ll be thinking about it. I’ll know you are thinking about it. I’ll be thinking about you and what can make your performance better, etc.



Welcome to live music!!! I have no idea how much time you will get! Here’s what I DO know:

If you are brand new, I don’t want you out there for 15 minutes and I will tell that to the band – although they pretty much know this now.

If you listen to and connect with those musicians, things can go on longer.

If the AUDIENCE gets into your music, or even just the way the musicians are playing it, things can go on longer.

If you bitch about how much time you spent on stage with those amazing musicians, I will wish I didn’t think badly of you – but I will and I will never forget it. 😊

See "Can I start this program later in the “school year”?" below. ( # 13)


We generally rehearse in Houston at 2:00pm on a Saturday.

Most people leave San Antonio on Saturday morning and go straight to rehearsal.

We always discuss travel plans and carpool, share rooms where needed. We often don’t start rehearsal on time. LOL. But we still shoot to be ready by 2:00pm.

I film the rehearsal, we review the film at your next private lesson, and tweak our plan from there. (Which is done, btw, at ANY of the performances –SA venues, etc.)

Some dancers come straight back to San Antonio after rehearsal. Others stay the night – usually to go hear more live music on that Saturday night. The more live music soaked up, the better! Staying to hear the band play accelerates much of the understanding of Project Band principles for you - for sure!


Up to 2 months, then you just stop making your payments and everyone goes on with their life.

After 2 months, if you quit, there is a penalty of one month’s payment. Sorry – but this is an expensive endeavor and plans are made very early in the year based on participation numbers. I don’t want anyone else’s opportunities affected by one person’s decision.

If you feel like you have to quit due to life circumstances – but you really don’t want to – please talk to me. So very often – where there’s a will, there’s a way!!


a. You can get CDs and DVDs replicated at a place called “Dub King” here in San Antonio. When you walk in, there is a sign that says “Good. Cheap. Fast” Pick 2.

For music at GBDAC, the sign would say “Virtuoso. Niche. Live.” Pick 2 if you don’t want to spend $10,000 or more. But I continue to pick all 3.

And then we use live music for rehearsal throughout the year.

I charge $90/hour for private lessons and $12.50/hr for group classes.

Do the math. This isn’t expensive for what you get unless you don’t plan to use what you get.


You may start anywhere in the first official month of the program – but every Project Band term is set up for the school year and all participants participate throughout and for the entire year.

If you are not sure about the full year, Project Band Lite students can sign up and convert to FULL Project Band after 6 months or stay in the Lite package.


This is how I express my form of insanity.

We are all a little crazy. 😊


Yes. You can do Project Band Lite for six months than join – but only at the “Classic” level.

You will be given the opportunity to dance in the End of the Year Showcase– not as a soloist (yet) – but as a group with other Project Band Lite dancers who converted to Classic.


There is a maximum to the number of participants at the higher levels just because it starts to put a greater demand on mine and the musicians’ time.

There is some flexibility if you want to move downward. But there are no refunds. Your monthly payment is simply adjusted moving forward.

Project Banders can tell you that we have some of our most illuminative moments about listening when we can draw comparisons between music with which we are extremely familiar and music with which we are not so familiar. We do it in class all the time.

It’s time to take that concept to the stage – where studio understanding gets put to the test.

This might not be for everyone. But it will be for most, for sure!

Personally, I can’t get enough of this piece.

Email me! And I’ll add it to the list. karen@karavansa.com

Also, if you would prefer to pay by check, whether monthly or in full, email me so we can make the appropriate arrangements.


No. You can’t pause payments.

However, you CAN accumulate hours of classes and private lessons and use them later when your life returns to normal. We can always devise a plan to ensure that you use your accumulated hours as best you can given our respective schedules.

Project Band performance opportunities are planned and budgeted based on attendees and participation levels. It absolutely will not work for participants to pay sporadically.


a. Falling behind in payments by more than 1 month will result in the suspension of participation in any live music events.

b. Participation in the components of your package at a level of at least 75% is necessary to perform in the end of year showcase.

c. Performahearsals

      i. I Will be scheduled during the first two weeks (on the weekend) of each month. That’s about all of the planning that can be done with musicians for a year!

      ii. Will be assigned and spread evenly over the course of the year.

          1. Classic Participants will be assigned odd or even numbered months.

          2. Lite Participants will be assigned designated events.

      iii. Unexcused No Shows or Cancellations within 24 hours of a Performahearsal for which you were scheduled to perform will result in a forfeit of that opportunity and will not be reset for a later time.

d. Additional private lessons or Drills classes may be purchased at the standard rates; performahearsal opportunities, however, are set by package.

e. Similar to c.i. above – the make-up of musicians for the End-of- Year Showcase will not be determined until we get closer to the event; however, you can assume that the usual GBDAC musicians will be a part of the mix PLUS members of the National Arab Orchestra.

f. Project Band is always evolving – even within a school year. Flexibility and open-mindedness is key for all participants.


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