Once you move on from the beginners groups the classes tend to focus more on self expression than on dance moves.  We will be looking at technique, linking and layering moves, but the focus will be on creativity and finding the solutions yourself.  As you evolve as a dancer your personality and strengths start to effect your dancing and you should grow more confident as a result.  There will always be time in the class for freedance and all the groups will have the chance to listen to a wide range of music during these sessions.  September to December will probably include a Choreography while the rest of the year is unlikely to.


Improver Dancers : These students need to keep a list of the dance moves they know and that they wish to learn and drill their moves at least once a week outside class.  They are still mainly technique focused, both in class time and outside, and should be working on perfecting the key moves, using the correct muscles, undulating, travelling, pivoting and using arms.  They need to balance this practice with time to understand how music makes them feel and which movements come naturally to which phrases of music.  This is a great time to experiment with you own music collection, matching arms and hip moves and travelling as the music takes you.  To improve fitness I suggest attending the Drills class, using a Drills DVD or cross training with swimming, running, other dance classes, or whatever else you find fun.


Intermediate Dancers : These dancers need to start a dance folder and collect the handouts, as well as reading books and surfing the internet for information.  I strongly recommend reading www.shira.net at this stage and watching the list of dancers on YouTube.  From the Intermediate level dancers need to have structured practice at least twice a week, or attend more than an hour of class each week.  Structured practice would include using a video or DVD each week and now is the time to experience other teachers, either through DVDs or by attending workshops.  Dancers need to start a list of different dance styles and keep notes on those they have learnt, seen or are interested in.  From this level the dancers need to change their posture to the "alert", so that their body is fit and ready to dance any movement at a moments notice.  Intermediate dancers are invited to take part in a group dance each December, but should also be working on their own combinations and choreographies.  Dancers who are particularly interested in performing and improving their performance skills should join Nashida Abla, our performance troupe, who dance half a dozen times a year at Fetes and Haflas.  They should study performance skills, watch others perform regularly and be working towards a solo PPP (Premiere Performance Platform).  At this stage the movement vocabulary is still growing and the dancer is learning about her own performance persona.


Advanced Dancers :  Advanced dancers can't help but dance almost every day !, whether it be to practice a choreography or drill a favourite move.  It is often at this stage that the movements become sloppy, as enthusiasm competes with muscle, and Advanced dancers need to focus on drilling their key moves, with a mirror or a teacher, to help.  In performance the Advanced dancers are expected to lead and inspire the group, with their strong performance skills, and their knowledge of what to do if things go wrong.  Advanced dancers need to build a portfolio of dance styles and influential dance teachers, which may involve going to workshops each month or an annual dance weekend.  It is no longer enough to study with only one teacher.  Although they may have a favourite style they need to be adaptable and to know their styles of music, costuming and movements for all the major types of bellydance.  By this point the dancer will have performed at least once in a group and as a solo artist and discussed with their teacher their performance objectives.  Some dancers at this stage wish to study more, or take their interests towards costuming, teaching, choreographies or other topics and they need not perform again if its not for them.  All advanced dancers as expected to be confident in freedance, both with solo or group focus and to inspire and educate others in their class group with their knowledge and enthusiasm.  Please make the teacher aware of the workshops/books/dvds you are studying and use class time and/or chat groups to share your knowledge.


All levels of dancer need to re-enforce their foundations at least once a year.  In all other dance styles the dancers return to the basics time and time again, and for good reason.  Everyones dancing can be improved by learning again the hip lift and the hip rotation, be that by adding new arms, or connecting more with the core muscles involved.  Give yourself an annual assessment, and then spend a few weeks working on your weaker skills.


Its good to understand  how people learn at this time to explain why sometimes you feel very enthusiastic and other times you feel very down about dancing.  We tend to spend time consciously trying to learn a new skill and then want to move on, when we really need to consolidate that information, build muscle memory or add an emotional dimension to it.  At other times you might find that you might look like you understand something, but in your heart you know you just "don't get it", when this happens the class can move too quickly for you and you start to feel like a bit of a faker.  Both of these reactions are normal and to be expected at some stage of your learning.  I like to think of it as growing outwards sometimes and upwards at others--sometimes your brain is ahead of your body's skills, while other times your body can do something, but you have no idea how it happened.  Dancers become frustrated when they feel their skills aren't balanced, and they are not achieving what they have set out to do.  My advice is to have more than a little patience, and always return to the basics--good Posture and a Smile.  Set yourself short and long term achievable goals and focus on working towards them--pick your workshops to help and focus a section of your practice time.  And when you are really frustrated remember that its meant to be fun and enjoy the company of your class mates at your next lesson.

Improver, Intermediate and Advanced Dancers BEYOND THE BASICS