When you think of finding a belly dance teacher, there is one very simple rule that separates good teachers from bad ones.
A good teacher will go through basic, achievable movements step-by-step. I call it 'demystifying' the moves. You can spot a bad teacher if you think that a move looks very complicated and you can’t understand how to achieve it.
So you’re looking for someone who is careful and patient and clear.
Some belly dance teachers will wear exactly what you’re wearing – leggings and a t-shirt, with a hip scarf. Other times, depending on the class, we might teach in full costume, and begin by spraying the studio with a mist of rose water, just to change the atmosphere and get you really in the mood.
This level of care isn’t always seen in most other dance classes. If you go to a ballet class for beginners, you won't find the teacher wearing a tutu and full stage make-up!
But belly dance teachers do look the part and take great trouble with the image they present.
This is instantly engaging to the pupils and has a very positive effect on the class.
The teacher will have your attention from the moment they walk into the room.
In full regalia with chiming, tinkling jewelry making these beautiful movements come alive - you won't be able to take your eyes off her.
Belly dance classes are predominantly attended by women, though men can and do sometimes attend.
If it’s important for you to be in a women-only class, just ask ahead of signing up if there are any male pupils. Most times, there won’t be.
Belly dance classes have a real mix of ages and backgrounds. I have an advanced class with a young mom and also a lady in her mid-seventies. I’ve taught students, teachers, lawyers, stay-at-home moms, care workers, retirees, other dance teachers, and anybody else you can think of!
The belly dance community has become known for being very accepting of different body shapes and sizes. This means that if you feel self-conscious about your body you may feel particularly welcome at your local belly dance class.
And that's the very best thing about these lessons.
Since it is all women – and a beautiful mix of all types of women – there is very little potential embarrassment factor.
This dance form seems to attract women who take a totally non-competitive attitude to their dancing. Such a relief.
These are the dance classes where the atmosphere is safe, warm, comfortable, secure.
A haven where you can celebrate your curves, body, allure and femininity.
In fact, you'll be concentrating on these elements of your class so much, you probably won't notice just what a gentle yet effective workout this dance is.
The fact that it's good exercise is a bonus - it's the uplifting mood and the rush of good feeling where these classes really win people over.
If you feel shy about your body, about dancing or about any type of exercising in public, a belly dance class could be just the confidence boost you're after.
And don’t forget that if you are really shy, or just want a bit of individual attention, most teachers also offer private tuition, which is a great way to help speed up your progress and get you past any tricky moves you might be struggling with.
To sum up, belly dance teachers are some of the most inspirational, caring teachers you can find and belly dance pupils are some of the most relaxed and happy pupils we've ever seen.
Now, follow the link to find out more about the classes themselves...