I've finally decided to do it! I am going to take belly dance lessons!Congratulations! Belly dance is a fun and exciting hobby. Even if you are shy and never perform for an audience, you'll find there are many benefits to learning how to belly dance. Belly dance is based on movements that are natural to the human body. People of all ages, body types and levels of fitness are welcome to participate. Those who haven't enjoyed traditional fitness routines may find new passion for physical activity when it's accompanied by exotic music, colorful veils, and tinkling finger cymbals. And for those who are already physically fit, belly dance provides a new physical and mental challenge as you learn to move your body in new ways.
OK, so belly dancing is fun and it's good for me. I want to come to class! What can I expect?Expect to work hard, learn a lot, and have fun! Here are some specifics:
What to wear: Belly dance classes are similar to other dance classes in many ways. Students are encouraged to wear athletic clothing or dancewear, and may be barefoot or may choose to wear dance footwear (lyrical sandals, half-soled sandalets, ballet slippers, or even ballroom shoes or jazz sneakers are all acceptable). Please wear clothing in which your torso and legs can easily be seen (examples include yoga pants and a sports bra or other crop top, leotard and tights or athletic pants (pants may need to be rolled down to the hipline) or a close-fitting tank top with yoga pants, athletic pants, sweats, or bike shorts.
You will want to have a scarf of some kind to tie at your hips. A hipscarf will accentuate the hip area, and help you to see the new movements you are learning. A hipscarf can be as simple as an oblong or triangular piece of fabric long enough to tie around your hips, or you can purchase a fancier hipscarf with beads and/or coins. Your instructor can give you more information on where to purchase a hip scarf.
You are also going to need a veil and a set of finger cymbals. A veil is an oblong piece of lightweight fabric such as chiffon or silk that is approximately 3 yards in length and 45" wide. Finger cymbals are small bells that are fitted to the thumb and middle finger of each hand. Since you are a beginner, you may not want to invest a lot of money in these items. Your instructor can give you information on where to purchase these items inexpensively.
How long will it take me to learn how to belly dance?Everyone is different, and rates of learning are highly individual. You can expect to introduced to the basic posture, isolations, steps, and concepts in a beginner-level class, but keep in mind that it takes practice and patience to master any new skill. How quickly you progress is determined partially by your own learning rate, and partially by how much time and attention you are able to devote to practicing outside of class. Please remember that any beginning belly dance class is just that, a beginning - an introduction into a new world of music, dance, and culture, and there is much to be learned before mastery of the form. That is one of the most fascinating aspects of the art!
Don't be discouraged if you don't feel like you're getting the steps right away. There is no timeline that says how long each movement or concept will take to master, and belly dance is an activity that can be enjoyed by anyone at any age. The most important thing right now is that you enjoy your new found sense of connection with your body and with the music, that you are learning to execute the movments correctly, and that you are having fun!
But I really want to perform! I've seen belly dancers at restaurants before, and I think I can do that. When can I turn pro?If you're keen to hit the stage, slow down, but don't worry! There are many performance opportunities available for student dancers, and I will happily assist students in preparing for public performance and finding appropriate places to develop performance skills. Please keep in mind that professional dancers study and prepare for at least a couple of years before they perform at restaurants and other venues. If that is your goal, please give yourself the time you need to develop your skills before attempting to turn professional. Most belly dancers in fact remain hobbyists, and there are many opportunities to perform at that level, once you have mastered the fundamentals of the dance. Until then, there will be opportunities for you to demonstrate your new skills in class before your peers, and we may also have a student recital once or twice a year to showcase what you have learned in front of family and friends. Respect the art form, your fellow dancers, and yourself by taking your development step by step.
If you know that you would someday like to earn at least part of your living through belly dance, it is even more important to learn all you can before making that step, including how to do business in your area. Through not understanding the business of professional belly dance, you set yourself up for all kinds of problems, including being taken advantage of by restaurant owners and other potential clients, as well as creating problems within the professional dance community by "undercutting," that is, charging less than the going rates for performances and classes, thereby depressing wages for all professional dancers in the area.
Do you have any more questions? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll be happy to help!
Ready to sign up for classes today? Visit http://bellydancemesquite.eventbrite.com to register for the new session starting in December in Mesquite!