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Should You Take Belly Dancing Classes At Home or in the Studio?

Updated on March 21, 2017
Tricia Deed profile image

Tricia Deed enjoys writing about dance. She has had years instructing belly dancing in cabaret, ethnic and folkloric styles.

Dance Class in the Home

Young woman rehearsing her dance in the privacy of her bedroom.
Young woman rehearsing her dance in the privacy of her bedroom. | Source

Self-Instruction in the Home

Dance students have a choice between taking lessons in the privacy of their home or attending formal classes at dance studios, school and college campuses, women's organizations, and community centers.

Do you enjoy self-teaching? There are online belly dancing courses, DVDs, videos, and television dance instructions. Much can be learned with these tools. However, as you become a more serious student of Middle Eastern dancing you will prefer to take formal classes conducted by a reputable instructor. As you review different types of belly dancing with these technical aides you will be able to narrow your list and know exactly what style is suited to your interest.

Classroom opportunities include:

  1. Private Sessions in your home with an electronic instructor or hire a dance teacher.
  2. Electronic self-teaching with DVD’s or videos
  3. Public classrooms for group instructions at schools, community centers, belly dancing schools, dance clubs, and other dance studios.
  4. Belly dancing workshops and seminars.

Dance Studio

Performance in the dance studio to demonstrate what students have learned. You are never forced to perform; volunteers only.
Performance in the dance studio to demonstrate what students have learned. You are never forced to perform; volunteers only. | Source

Formal Belly Dancing Classes

Classes are normally divided into beginners, intermediate, advanced, and performing levels. Whenever starting with an instructor it is best to start in their beginners’ class, as each instructor has a different teaching style. However, after an instructor has spoken with you, it is not uncommon for the instructor to test your dancing skills in order to determine the appropriate class placement.

Classes in a dance studio are normally one hour in length. Fifteen minutes will be dedicated to general warm-up exercises such as Yoga or Pilates. The remaining forty-five minutes is reserved for learning one, two, or three steps depending on their ease or difficulty. Time is allotted between steps for any questions or clarification of movements.

Mirrors Line the Dance Studio Wall

Dance instructor walking across the studio floor.
Dance instructor walking across the studio floor. | Source

Why Dance Classes

The choice of taking private, public, or both is up to you. Here is a list of why a person should take formal belly dancing classes.

  1. Fun, entertainment, and learning about another culture
  2. A dance which feels feminine and it’s okay to be a woman
  3. Movements which can be accomplished by the female anatomy
  4. Free form moving floor patterns
  5. Easy and challenging muscle isolations
  6. Learning another culture’s music
  7. Meeting and acquiring new friends with a common interest
  8. Sharing with other women in the classroom
  9. Editing by the instructor for correctness of movements

Belly Dancing Instructor, Azizi

Dance instructor, Azizi, performing at a belly dancing seminar.
Dance instructor, Azizi, performing at a belly dancing seminar. | Source

Teacher Qualifications

For many years in America, women have been trying to structure this dance form in order that the schooling may be more uniform and formal. They have also been wanting teachers to be certified. There are so many facets to this dance that it has proven to be difficult to standardize.

The independence for unlimited creativity and imagination is like trying to bottle the wind. This freedom for freelance dancing which is captured in the art of belly dancing is what makes this dance fun and exciting.

Belly dancing was introduced in America in the 1950’s as entertainment for your husband. After a half century has passed American dancers have introduced their own variety of belly dancing known as American Tribal Dance, and Tribal Fusion. The traditional night club dancing and the various Middle Eastern cultural dances are still being learned and danced and are just as popular as the new versions.

Research and qualify teachers before taking classes. If you are in doubt as to where to start, it is still wise to learn Turkish style or Egyptian style of cabaret dancing first. Follow with Middle Eastern cultural dances, and then expose yourself to the newer forms. Specialize in one form at a time. Taking two or three different styles simultaneously will cause confusion.

Good Teachers

Good teachers are always in demand. Select the best teacher that you can find.
Good teachers are always in demand. Select the best teacher that you can find. | Source

Instructor Selection

If possible: take a sample class. Teaching styles will vary from lighthearted to serious teaching. Your sincerity of interest and practice schedule will have much to do with your decision. Ask others who are taking classes of their favorite teachers and why they liked their classes.

Instructors may provide their biographies in a brochure, on a website, or word-of-mouth advertising. The biography will include her knowledge of Middle Eastern dance and music, her styles of interest, performance experiences, and other highlights which help to acknowledge her qualifications to teach. As of this writing, there is no formal certification for anyone who teaches this dance.

If available in your hometown or nearby cities, attend belly dancing workshops and seminars as attending these events will allow you see teachers and their students dancing different styles. This is an opportunity to watch as well as meet with these teachers and students to help determine which teacher will be your chosen instructor.

Another outlet for locating an instructor is to visit Middle Eastern and Greek restaurants in your community and ask the performing dancers who they have studied with or perhaps the dancer is a teacher.

Bellydancing Workshops

Good teachers also attend workshops and seminars to stay current in this form of dance.
Good teachers also attend workshops and seminars to stay current in this form of dance. | Source

Characteristics of Good Teachers

Qualified instructors do know Middle Eastern dances, music, and musical instruments. They also have real experiences performing with or without bands and have worked Middle Eastern restaurants, or do show performances. Regardless of the instructor's age or her longevity in this field she does keep up with the changes and is constantly updating her information by taking private lessons from a celebrity belly dancer or attending workshops and seminars keeping her knowledge current.

Teacher Qualifications:

  1. Knowledge of her specialty and real dance experience
  2. Knowledge of Middle Eastern music rhythms and musical instruments
  3. Planned instructions for each class
  4. Communicates instructions accurately
  5. Ability to simply complex steps
  6. Ability to analyze the student’s difficulty and offer appropriate solutions
  7. Listens to the student
  8. Allows students to question if they do not understand
  9. Positive support for students’ efforts
  10. Have a uniform dress code for the classroom
  11. Onsite retail section for music, costumes, jewelry, and accessories
  12. Performance requirements for interested students
  13. Referrals to workshops and seminars
  14. Makes taking classes fun and interesting

Beginner Belly Dance Class in London - with Tara

Belly Dancing Classes

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    • RachaelLefler profile image

      Rachael Lefler 9 months ago from Illinois

      I prefer taking classes. For one, my teacher can see my motions and knows what to look for when watching me, so I get helpful feedback I can't get at home. The one DVD lesson I have is not that good, Kareena is a great teacher though. I'm lucky to have a belly dance and yoga studio within walking distance! The classes are fun and the time spent in class just flies by quickly! :)