With all my heart, I love to teach belly dance classes in Chicago. I love to watch my students grow, learn, and become more confident with each class. My students are wonderful people and I admire their positive attitudes towards learning. And, I appreciate their kind way of always telling me their honest opinion of the class and what they would like to see more or less of.
That said, we don't all start that way. What if you're new to belly dance classes and have no idea where to begin? What class is right for you? What should you expect? What is and isn't appropriate? While every instructor has their own 'ism's' and rules, There are some basics that ring true in most classes. Knowing these can help you pick a class that's right for you, walk in confidently, and help you feel more comfortable than you might otherwise be. So let's get to it...
1. Know what class is right for you.
What do you need or what are you looking for in a belly dance class? Do you want to learn the art of belly dance or do you simply want to get stronger or lose weight? If you want to get fit and lose weight or just want to go shake it with your girlfriends go check out a gym or recreation center. Look for a class that focuses on fitness or focuses on a more cardio-based program. If you want to learn more technique or the nuts and bolts of the dance. Find a belly dance school, smaller gym, college, or yoga/Pilates studio and you will often find a class that focuses more on technique. You can learn which type it is by the online description or just give them a call and ask.
2. What do you need to start?
You will need something comfortable to wear and I would suggest wearing something that makes you feel beautiful and good about yourself. Just be sure that it is stretchy or movable and won't keep you to warm. I generally suggest that you don't wear jeans, sweat pants, or sweatshirts. Generally, leggings, a comfortable top, and bring your scarf if you have one. If you are going to a fitness class then you won't need anything specific, just you and some comfortable clothing. If you are going to a technique class then there is a possibility that you may need zills or a veil... Though you will not generally need them immediately. Most instructors will give you some time or have them available for sale.
3. What should you expect?
Assuming that you are starting in a beginner-level class... You can expect a short warm-up, the 'meat' of the class, and a cool down. The 'meat' of the class in fitness classes will consist of non-stop movement with the goal of raising your heart rate. Or in a technique class, you can expect to focus on muscle isolation, steps, and musicality. These things will often be put together into combinations or choreography.
4. Be prepared.
ALWAYS come to class clean and wearing whatever deodorant you use but try not to wear much fragrance, if any, because you never know if one of your classmates will be allergic to the scent. Once you have joined a class the instructor will tell you what you need for class each week. Bring those things to class. Be early to class and don't forget to bring.... your comfortable clothes, a hip scarf, veil, zills, and water. You should always have these things ready for class because you never know when you will need them.
5. Don't forget you are paying the instructor to teach you.
Always remember you are there to learn the dance of another culture and as such... please be sensitive and aware of those cultural sensitivities Also, While it is fun to go and chit chat and giggle with your friends, when class is in session the teacher has the floor and talking over her or trying to 'help' teach your friend in class is disruptive to others and disrespectful to the instructor. Remember, you are paying them to teach for a reason, so give them the respect they deserve. If you or your friend have a question be sure to ask the instructor as it is likely that others have the same question. Doing so will help the whole class and let everyone feel included.
If you follow these 5 simple tips when attending your first set of belly dance classes then you should find yourself in a very fun and rewarding class situation. See you in class :)
Hugs and Happy Dancing,