Should You Take Belly Dancing Classes At Home or in the Studio?
Belly Dance Class at 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:
- Private Sessions in your home with an electronic instructor or hire a dance teacher.
- Electronic self-teaching with DVD’s or videos
- Public classrooms for group instructions at schools, community centers, belly dancing schools, dance clubs, and other dance studios.
- Belly dancing workshops and seminars.
Classes are 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 to test your dancing skills in order to determine the appropriate class placement.
Classes in a dance studio are 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.
Formal Instruction Benefits
- Fun, entertainment, and learning about another culture
- A dance which feels feminine and it’s okay to be a woman
- Movements which can be accomplished by the female anatomy
- Free form moving floor patterns
- Easy and challenging muscle isolation movements
- Learning another culture’s music
- Meeting and acquiring new friends with a common interest
- Sharing with other women in the classroom
- Editing by the instructor for correctness of movements
For many years in America, women have been trying to structure this dance form in order that instructors and lesson plans 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.
Register for a few classes to evaluate the teacher. Ask others who are taking classes of their favorite teachers and why they like 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 and meet with these teachers and students to help determine the type of instructor and dance style that interests you...
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 herself is a teacher.
Teacher Qualifications and Skills
Qualified instructors do know Middle Eastern dances, music, and musical instruments. They also have real experiences performing with or without bands and work in Middle Eastern restaurants, or do stage performances. Regardless of the instructor's age or her longevity in this field she does keep up with changes and is constantly updating her information by taking private lessons from a celebrity belly dancer or attending workshops and seminars keeping her knowledge fresh and current.
- Knowledge of her specialty and real dance experience
- Knowledge of Middle Eastern music rhythms and musical instruments
- Planned instructions for each class
- Communicates instructions accurately
- Ability to simplify complex steps
- Ability to analyze the student’s difficulty and offer appropriate solutions
- Listens to the student
- Allows students to question if they do not understand
- Positive support for students’ efforts
- Have a uniform dress code for the classroom
- Onsite retail section for music, costumes, jewelry, and accessories
- Performance requirements for interested students
- Referrals to workshops and seminars
- Makes taking classes fun and interesting