What is the class structure of a belly dance lesson?
Short version ~
Long version ~
It is fair to say that belly dancing classes are a bit different.
A great many dance classes out there can feel very similar. Same atmosphere, same format – warm up then learn a short routine. So far, so familiar.
Not so here.
Although it is true that you will first warm up your body and then learn steps to combine into a routine, the whole atmosphere of one of these classes is totally different.
Egyptian dance teachers often sound cymbals and bells, or spray the room with a fine mist of rose water prior to the class.
All this helps to change the atmosphere of the studio.
It clears the air and certainly in the case of the rose water, does a great job of masking the smell of the sweaty feet of the previous dance lesson.
It is very refreshing to see teachers take such good care of things like the way the studio smells, and it certainly helps to focus the pupils.
Perhaps because the popularity of belly dancing classes is still on the increase, we have generally found that the dance is very well explained by most of its teachers.
This clear instruction will help you pick up the moves quickly.
Great emphasis is put on breathing patterns and how to use your breath rhythm.
Again, it isn't often that you'll get useful information on breathing techniques in other dance forms.
You will be encouraged to breathe through your solar plexus and to let go of any congestion or stress you're holding in your diaphragm.
Find a deep, natural breathing pattern – it'll help your dancing and your focus greatly.
A clever technique in these lessons is to use 'watered down' full belly dancing moves as the warm up.
This makes the classes flow very smoothly – and you'll feel as though you are making good progress. You are learning the moves straight away.
So pay close attention from the very start and you'll be picking up the moves well by the time you dance your routine.
The look of the moves is important – and it's the attitude you communicate that's almost as important as the steps themselves.
You can really lose yourself in this dance – it's bliss.
Although you could be moving the hips, arms and hands all at the same time, the moves are so small and simple that it is really easy to get right.
You will probably dance your routine fairly slowly to begin with.
The moves can be tiny, so it is important to be precise and make them look and feel as intense and meaningful as possible.
That's the thing; it is as important to feel these moves as to dance them.
So to do these moves slowly really is the best idea – you get the opportunity to dance them rather than just go through the motions.
Be patient at this stage – it's likely to be a lot of instruction and not much music.
But when the music does kick off and the routine is danced faster, the rhythm and the sound of the hip and arm jewelry is fantastic.
Dancing these routines, even at a beginners level, is incredibly satisfying.
Right at the end, you may get a chance to dance with a veil (usually about 3 yards of chiffon), the addition of which makes the moves ever more graceful.
Everyone dances in a huge circle and simply follows the lead from the person in front. As the teacher is part of the circle, not many people mess this up.
It is a colorful carnival procession.
There is lots of spinning, dipping and undulating. At the very end of the routine everyone drops their veils – Ooooh this is seductive!
There probably won't be a huge long cool down at the end of the class but belly dancing classes are so gentle and the moves so natural, a few stretches is all you'll need.
Next, what you’ve been waiting for, your first video class...