This is what I would like to talk to you about when you first come to class if we
had a few more hours and you weren't so keen to get on with the dancing !) I will
always do posture with new students, but the rest I tend to drop in over the weeks.
If you have any questions then email is the best way to talk to me, or we can arrange
to have some extra time outside class.-
Posture is the first thing we need to work on and one of the hardest things to get
right. You can not get good posture without a teacher to look at you and correct
so don't try to learn this on your own-
* Some men find this hand position doesn't suit them and I would encourage them to try to imagine they are holding a pack of fanned cards longways between their thumb and other fingers, this seems to provide the right level of tension without being "pretty".
Feet a comfortable distance apart, knees soft, hips in neutral, tummy relaxed, ribs up, shoulders back, arms soft, interesting hands, chin up and smile !
Quick ways to Improve your Posture
If you know your posture is a problem then check these common but easy to solve problems :
*Do you carry a heavy bag on only one shoulder ? Get a two shouldered bag or
swap every few days-
*Do you carry a baby on just one hip-
*Do you try to hide or shrink ?, tall ladies often dip their chins or drop their
*How do you walk ?, try walking with the posture above (ok, you can drop the
pretty hands). At first it might seem odd, but it will help you strengthen up. Plus
people seem to be attracted to others with good posture-
*Start thinking about how you sit, walk up stairs, sleep.
*If you have a serious problem then invest in a trip to see a Chiropractor !
Breathing for every style of Middle Eastern Dance and Bellydance should be NORMAL-
Aching and Hurting
After your first lesson your may well find yourself aching. This is perfectly normal
and to be expected of any new activity. You have probably used muscles that haven't
been used for a while or in a way you are not used to using them. This is most common
for tummy muscles, which may feel like tummy cramps. A bath after class will help,
or you may want to re-
My groups know that I place a huge amount of importance on Freedance and Improvisation.
Middle Eastern dance is not generally a choreographed dance form, but a way of people
dancing together in a relaxed and casual way. Even American style Bellydance is
designed to be performed in restaurant settings where planning is only useful up
to a point and the dancer needs to change direction or movement quickly to fit the
setting. I teach the movements and then help you to learn how to arrange them to
fit the music, setting, mood and your body to give you the chance to create something
stunning and very personal to you. This is not an easy thing to do but I strongly
believe that starting early gives you the best chance to learn how to be creative
and enjoy dancing in this style. You can find out more about this later in this
section. Please practice your freedance right from the start by getting into the
habit of putting on some music when you get home and adlibbing-
Two Terms to Learn Two Things
One reason I like students to do 20 weeks in beginners and improvers (30 in a drop in) is that I strongly believe that this dance needs two very different skills, Technique and Self Expression. Most people who come to class are prepared for learning one, but rarely do they expect to have to learn both. For example when I teach a Figure 8 some of the class will get the movements, the muscles needed, the balance and the isolation, while others will understand the feelings behind it, the flow and the energy. By leaving the movement for a couple of months and then returning to it most students understand their strengths and weaknesses and can focus on the part of the move that they do not do naturally, giving us much more rounded dancers at the end of the two terms. If after 20 weeks or so , you don't feel you understand this concept then please come and chat with me.
*Students who like Technique
*Students who tend to find the technique side easier can be more aware of how their body works, their joints and muscles and how flexible they are. They can happily practice movements to almost any type of music or even without music on and find all my talk of energy, ebb and flow a load of hippy nonsense ! They learn best by having the move broken down to them and being able to see if they have it right.
*Students who like Self Expression
*These tend to hear the music and instantly want to dance. They tap their feet and want to move instinctively. They tell stories to themselves about the move and like the abstract ideas like a move being open or like water flowing. They find focusing on the muscles means they loose time with the music and its not so much fun. They can often copy a move having just seen it done once or twice and find describing what they are doing or making adjustments hard.
Please bring a water bottle to class and take a sip whenever you need some. I prefer
Using your Knees to dance
Put simply, please don't ! The more you use your knees to do this dance the less
you will be using your tummy, hips and bum. Try to focus on using the muscles round
your centre and your core rather than pumping your knees back and forth. Using your
knees is not only hard work it also wears them out. Although currently unpopular
Floor work is an important part of this dance and is a great example of why we don't
use our knees. If you want to check you are doing it right get a base cushion off
your sofa and kneel on it ( a yoga mat is probably too thin), now do your basic moves-
Levels of Difficulty
The first thing I hear at the end of a new class is that they didn't expect it to
be such hard work ! I personally think that has more to do with peoples expectations
than the actual class. Don't come thinking it will be a bit of jiggling around.
Making it Harder
To make the moves harder you don't necessarily want to go faster. Often the moves are harder to do slowly, because then you can focus on every muscle and how it is working. Try to keep control over the movements, keeping them smooth and even. Engage your pelvic floor and maintain the posture for the whole time. Adding in arms or travelling can make it harder and anything that takes the arms above the heart, or includes an undulation will give you more of a workout. If you love to work out then try the Drillz and Thrillz class on a Thursday.
Making it Easier
If you are finding it too hard then you can relax the pelvic floor and also check
you are not too tense over your shoulders. You don't have to add the arms to any
moves, but don't let your arms just hang-
A Valuable Class for those with Limited Range or Fitness
Bellydance is a fantastic class for anyone with limited range or who need to gently
get back into fitness. Because this is a very personal style of dance you can adapt
almost all the moves to fit in with your abilities. If you think that 45 minutes
or an hour of class would be too much for you then please come along for the warm
up. You can also join the class as a "chair dancer", doing what you can while remaining
seated (this time would not count towards your 20/30 weeks before moving up a group).
If you feel you have limited range or very low fitness please speak to your doctor
before coming to class-
Students with disabilities
Again students with disabilities should find the classes suit them with very few adaptations. If you have any questions and want to talk to me before taking the class please do so via email. I am keen to make everyone welcome and am an experienced teacher. Carers are welcome to join the class and the cost of student plus carer can be negotiated at most venues.
Finding your Style
There are many styles of Bellydance and Middle Eastern Dance and some will suit you
better than others. As you use your freedance time to explore your dancing you will
find certain styles appealing to you more than others. This is also influenced by
your dress style, lifestyle and past dance experience. I ask that all beginners
try out a variety of different styles before deciding what they do and don't like.
I also expect lots of people to change their mind over the years. Later in this
section is a list of dance heroes for you to look at so that you can see dancers
of many different styles and judge for yourself what you like and don't like. It
also helps if you can go to a Hafla (party/show) or a stage show. There is always
something to go and see each month and flyers are in class. Once you have learnt
the basics and have a good idea what to do with them then a personal style will start
to develop. As a general rule I say that you can't go wrong in this dance-
Health and Safety
Please make sure that you read and sign the green form I give out at the first lesson-
It is important that you confirm your place on a course with at least a week to spare.
This helps with planning, and also saves time on the first day of term . I also
need to know if you plan to take a few weeks off from a course, perhaps for a holiday,
or because of illness. Please arrive in good time, as the warm up is most important
to your general health, and be considerate to other students. If you are struggling
with a step, move to the edge of the room and ask for help from your teacher -
*You do not need to commit to any more time than the hour or two you take for lessons each week. Having said that the more you practice the better you will get.
*You should not need to spend any more money on this hobby above the cost of your class or course. If you should find yourself wanting a coin belt, big earrings, regular workshops, a veil, skirts in 15 difference colours, Orientalist paintings and an annual holiday to Egypt…. Non of that is my fault !
History of this Dance
This is such a huge section and I've not written it yet ! -
By attending my classes you are agreeing to respect my rights and copyrights regarding
my work. This means that nothing from this web site, nor any handout given in class
can be copied without my permission. It also means that choreographys that I teach
remain my property and can only be performed with my permission. This sounds very
mean, but the truth is I will always give permission if I can. An example of where
I wouldn't would be if I was intending to perform it at the same event. This agreement
continues even after you stop coming to class. I truly hope that, after a reasonable
amount of time in class, I will be able to teach you the key moves and how to use
them so that you can both dance in a freedance style and write your own choreographys-
If you go on to teach this dance at a later date I ask that you make sure you have insurance, PPL, are honest about your experience (its amazing how many teachers and dancers found Bellydance in master teacher’s classes and never seemed to do a beginners class in their life !) and remember to credit me as one of your teachers ! Please read my terms and conditions and make sure you agree to them before attending class.