Welcome to the word of Belly Dancing! The Middle-Eastern term for belly dance is Raqs Sharqi. It's origins are believed to be in fertility and childbirth, and that this form of dance was passed down from mother to daughter. Originally, Raqs Sharqi was danced only for women by women, strengthening the body. In class, we will concentrate on the fundamental movements that are basic to all varieties of the dance.
Are there different class levels to consider?
Currently, this class covers Belly Dance Basics (isolation movements, drills, and choreography). We will be using veils, zills and practicing sword dancing. If you are an absolute beginner, come join us and see for yourself how quickly you can pick up the fundamentals! This is a fun class and you are welcome to come and learn with us. You will be learning at your own pace.
What do I wear to class?
Wear whatever you feel comfortable in, with the exception of sweatpants and/or sweatshirts. Most dancewear is fine; however, you and I need to be able to see, feel and hear how your body is moving. Leggings or yoga pants and a tee or sports bra/top will work fine. Many belly dancers dance barefoot; some dance in heels or sandals which can be a safety necessity when performing in restaurants or other public venues. We usually dance barefoot in class, but if your feet get cold or if you do not like your feet to be bare, feel free to wear socks or footsies with "grip" on the soles. Socks can be slippery, so use caution when wearing them in class. Ballet slippers are fine, but please do not wear athletic shoes while dancing.
What do I need to bring to class?
You will want to bring a hand towel and a bottle of water. If you have a coin belt, or hip-sized square scarf with fringy edges, please bring it to wear in class. At some point, we will be doing veil work. A veil is simply 2.5-3yards of sheer opaque fabric (like chiffon or silk) that drapes nicely. Most fabric stores have a nice selection of chiffon colors to choose from; however, silk can be pricey. I recommend chiffon to start with. You can either get your veil at a fabric store (and finish the edges yourself) or buy a finished veil online from a belly dance store or on Amazon. Coin belts can be purchased online as well. You can either get your veil and coin belt now or wait until later, as I will have veils and belts available to borrow during class until you can get your own. Belts can cost as little as $5 and go into the hundreds of dollars! If you are creative, you can make your own belt with beads, coins, and tassels and have a one-of-a-kind original! All your dance items can go into a "ditty bag" or small duffle so everything is in one place.
Do I need to practice at home?
It's easy to practice some of your belly dance moves when you're not at the dance studio. Listen to a CD or music on your smartphone while you're doing the dishes or standing in line at the grocery store; you can even practice shimmying...well use your own judgment on shimmying in public while running errands! While you're in your car, place your hands at 10:00 and 2:00 and practice your rib-cage lifts and breathing. If you're challenged at finding time away from the studio to practice, be creative with practicing in cracks of time. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how strong your body will become over time.
What about Costuming?
The clothing that you dance in greatly influences how you look and feel when you dance and in turn, directly impacts your audience. Experiment with different colors and textures of gypsy-style circle skirts in different lengths, wrap-around pants, and soft harem pants. You can attach medallions, coins, beads, fringe, and tassels to a store-bought belt and create one-of-a-kind hip sashes that sound and look fantastic when you dance. A basic black (or other color) under-wire bra can be turned into a work of art when covered in bright fabric or when beaded fringe is sewn over the bottom edge or across the cups of the bra. Anklets, bracelets and necklaces add sound and beauty to your dance. Be warned, however, that while comfort is paramount while you dance, so is knowing that your garments fit you securely! Having your top come undone or your skirt slide down your hips while you're dancing can be embarrassing, to say the least. Always keep safety pins with you among your supplies. Before you know it, you will have a collection of beautiful veils, coin belts, clothing and belly dancing accessories that you will find occasions to wear outside of classes and performances. The Goddess in you will demand it! Experiment and have fun!