What is Project Band?

Internationally renowned professional belly dance instructor, Karen Barbee, founded Project Band to provide students the foundational techniques and experience to become better belly dancers through the use of live music.

Her unique curriculum uses live music as a tool to help dancers of all levels grow their dance vocabulary, develop musicality in its many forms, and become fluent in their craft.

The Project Band program is packaged to meet your unique performance goals and includes opportunities to:

  • Dance to live music in San Antonio and Houston
  • Perform at GBDAC2021
  • Enjoy free access to Karavan Online and even Karen's MasterClass “Lessons of Live Music”
  • Attend live/online Drills classes
  • Have private lessons with Karen

And our classes are available to dancers in the Karavan geographic area and beyond through the power of technology!

We even have an opportunity for you to try out Project Band this semester to build the skills for the full year program as well as remote participation.

Sign-up today to be a Project Band student!!

Project Band Lite students can start at any time.

Deadline for Classic and Remote Packages: 

11:59pm CDT Monday, March 15, 2021

Need more information about Project Band before you decide?

Find out everything you need, from getting Karen's Project Band Sampler to other FAQs.

Some Special Notes from Karen regarding Project Band for 2020-2021

It’s time for a new school year and yet the “interesting times” continue.

In light of this reality, and with regards to Project Band, a few clarifications need to be made.

The number of Performance Opportunities to Live Music, as outlined in the packages, are based on 20 or more participants in the Project Band Curriculum for the year.

  • If there are only 10 people in Project Band, then only ½ of the performances will take place.
  • If there are only 5 people in Project Band, then only ¼ of the performances will take place.

Performances are likely to be outdoors for a while. 

  • There are several restaurants and venues that have let me know that they are interested in being a part of things.  But we’re based in Texas.  So anyone in Project Band needs to know that “outdoors” will likely be all that is available to us – at least for a few months.

Previous Project Band Package descriptions outlined where “virtual, Skype, or Zoom options” existed.  Now – THEY ALWAYS EXIST!   

  • After the surprising success of Skypers rehearsing with the Ghafour Brothers in Houston, I see no reason why we can’t have this option available for every class and performance opportunity.  It’s not the same, of course.  But it is still SO much better than recorded music for performances or missing classes.

Modules for more online easy learning have been developed.

  • Skype and Zoom and limited class size will be with us for a while.  I need to make sure that whatever we do in the 30 minutes following each Project Band Drills class is something that can be digested in any learning environment.
  • I have tons of ideas – don’t worry.  😊

As much as I have enjoyed the structure and clarification that time has given to the Project Band Curriculum, I am/PB veterans are going to have to remain flexible. The odds of this next year running like previous years is absolutely zero. 

Improvisation!  It’s a good idea to get good at it.


It’s time to be a part of Project Band!

This year, we have MORE opportunities to perform to live music. 


$ 135 / month

Designed for Project Band students who want to continue to expand their experience of dancing to live music.  Available to dancers in the Karavan geographic area and beyond!

NOTE:  You MUST be a prior Project Band Lite member to qualify for this semester only offering.

As a Classic Project Band student, you will:

  • Perform at GBDAC2021 to live music
  • Enjoy free access to Karavan Online – including the Masterclass Series
  • Dance to live music in San Antonio and Houston

Learning Opportunities include:

  • 1 Private lesson hour per month
  • Up to 4 Drills classes per month

  • Up to 4 Live Music Performances (with various bands) of which ONE (1) is with the Ghafour Brothers Band of Houston


$ 135 / month

For new and prior Project Band students, living outside of the San Antonio area, who want to tap into Project Band tools, exercises, and experiences to improve their dance.

NOTE:  You MUST be a prior Project Band Lite member to qualify for this semester only offering.

As a Remote Project Band student, you will:

  • Perform at GBDAC2021 to live music
  • Enjoy free access to Karavan Online – including the Masterclass Series
  • Dance to live music in San Antonio and Houston via Skype or Zoom

Learning Opportunities include:

  • 1 Private lesson hour per month via Skype or Zoom
  • Up to 4 Drills classes per month via Karavan Online OR Skype or Zoom
  • Up to 4 Live Music Performances (with various bands) of which ONE (1) is with the Ghafour Brothers Band of Houston via Skype or Zoom


$ 97 / month

Project Band Lite gives belly dance students the opportunity to test the process on themselves, their schedule, their psyche, and their body - for just a few months - to see if the full Project Band experience is something they might want to do in the future! 

Project Band Lite is also a way for veteran Project Banders to take a breather and stay in the mix. 

Available to dancers in the Karavan geographic area and beyond!

As a Project Band Lite student, you will:

  • Attend live music performances in San Antonio – live or virtually
  • Enjoy free access to Karavan Online (Masterclass NOT included)

Learning Opportunities include:

  • 1 Private lesson hour per month to develop and advance your plan.  The lesson can be
    once for an hour or twice for 30 minutes -- live or virtually
  • Up to 4 Drills classes per month -- live or virtually
  • Quarterly performances to live music with local musicians -- live or virtually

For Current Project Band Students

Enrollment for these packages is now closed


$ 250 / month

For Project Band students who want to dig deeper into the program and who wish to accelerate the rewards of dancing to live music.

As a Devotee Project Band student, you will:

  • Perform at GBDAC2021 with the NAO Takht Ensemble and other musicians
  • Enjoy free access to Karavan Online – including the Masterclass Series
  • Dance to live music in San Antonio and Houston

Learning Opportunities include:

  • 2 Private lesson hours per month
  • Up to 8 Drills classes per month
  • 9 Live Music Performances (with various bands) of which THREE (3) are with the Ghafour
    Brothers Band of Houston


$ 300 / month

For Project Band students who want to maximize every aspect of their Project Band experience.

As an Elite Project Band student, you will:

  • Perform at GBDAC2021 with the NAO Takht Ensemble and other musicians
  • Enjoy free access to Karavan Online – including the Masterclass series
  • Dance to live music in San Antonio and Houston

Learning Opportunities include:

  • Weekly one-hour Private lessons
  • Up to 8 Drills classes per month
  • Monthly Live Music Performances of which FOUR (4) are with the Ghafour Brothers Band. (3 in Houston, 1 in San Antonio)

What People are Saying about Project Band

"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 somthing like 10 years of lessons"

- Sue, Karavan Student, Florida

"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, Owner, Austin Bellydance Studio

"Hey seeing your post today reminded me of something I was thinking and wanted to share with you. I think your program sounds really awesome. San Antonio and so many online folks are so lucky to have such a program. Because of the low availability and access to live music, you really have created and filled a void for dancers that wish to experience and grow in this area. I was lucky "growing up" in Seattle. I was able to get lots of experience with live music, as I know you did here in Houston. And to be honest, I wish my students could access such invaluable experience that I know dancing to live music offers. I really admire what you have created. I think its really cool!!! Just wanted to share a "you go girl"  😊"

- Anna, Founder and Lead Instructor, Ahlam Academy of Middle Eastern Dance, Houston, Texas

"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, Texas


Isn’t this for Advanced dancers only?

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 really sure what all of 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 have to 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”.

The History Of Project Band

Do private lessons have to be in hour blocks?

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

What is Project Band?

What about remote dancers?

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

There is a package just for remote dancers. 

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! 

To get the full benefit of being a Remote Project Band participant, however, you MUST plan to get to San Antonio for the annual show! 

But, trust me, you want to do that anyway! 😊

What is the make-up policy for missed classes?

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 GBDAC 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 have to recover for 6 weeks or if you have to leave town for some emergency, I’ll work with you.

Do I get to pick my music?

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.

Can I use props?

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!  😊

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?

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.  😉 

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?  

One word: Scorecards. 

I’ve kept them in the past, abandoned them, and now I realize that I DO have to keep them.

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.

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

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.

How do the trips to Houston work?

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 – Demo’s, other 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!

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

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!!

Why is this so expensive?

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.  

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

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 have the opportunity to sign up and convert to FULL Project Band after 6 months or stay in the Lite package.


How can you do this and charge so little?

This is how I express my form of insanity. 

We are all a little crazy. 😊

Can I do Project Band Lite one semester then join Project Band?

Yes. You can do Project Band Lite one semester than join – but only at the “Classic” level.

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

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

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.

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

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 of 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. 

Hey, I have a question that isn’t answered here. 

How can I ask it?

Email me! And I’ll add it to the list. [email protected] 

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

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

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.

Need more information about the

Project Band experience?