How can you make the most out of taking belly dance classes and workshops, especially if you’re new to the world of Oriental dance? Some time-tested tips and tricks to walk out of class a confident dancer:
1. Be present: Half the battle is own when you walk into class, because the only belly dance practice wasted is the one you don’t show up to! Leave your work headaches, your kids’ schoolwork, and the rest of the world at the door when you come to belly dance class and choose to be present and focused on he now. For this golden hour, you are a dancer. You become the instrument the Arabic music is played on, and that requires total focus and looseness. You will sweat, learn new moves and surprise yourself with the better technique, the cleaner shimmies and flawless arms you’ll develop every week.
2. Lean on other dancers: Learning anything new requires a certain willingness to screw up, try and try again. All professional belly dancers started off as awkward dancers in their first class, and most longtime dancers continue to invest in their Oriental and belly dance education as lifelong students. Every dancer in class is at a different place on her path, and you can show support with humor and respect to others in class. Some may be coping with physical limitations, some have been only belly dancing for ten minutes, and others for ten years. Lean on your teacher if you need more explanation. Ask questions! A good dance teacher will always be willing to offer clarity and direction through words, demonstration and gentle body correction to show you how to best execute a move. A dance teacher should also be able to explain the context to the move, where it comes from physically and culturally, and how it can be built upon and modified. Other dancers too are great sources of information.
3. Take notes: To build upon the muscle memory you gain every week, jot down notes from class, such as choreography so you can practice at home or song titles if you want to find good belly dance music. Your teacher should also be able to give you class notes or choreography notations upon request. Additionally, you can ask to film your teacher performing combinations or choreography so you can reference the video afterward.
4. Be adventurous: Belly dance will challenge you physically as you learn to move your body in new ways, but it can also challenge you emotionally as you begin to master the steps and then add emotional expression to your dance. Seize opportunities to try out new instructors, other forms of Oriental and Middle Eastern dance such as Turkish Romany or Lebanese folkloric, and chances to perform for family and friends.
5. Have fun: This is a joyful art form! Celebrate your body, the feminine energy of this dance and the happy, healthy side effects. You can shimmy while doing the dishes, in the shower, and at the club with your girlfriends. Find a song you love and when no one is looki, belly dance around your living room like a lunatic. Your joyful dancing is infectious, inside and outside of class.
Welcome to the belly dancer sisterhood. We look forward to dancing with you! Living in Lusaka and want to try out belly dance? Take a class with Elisabeth today!