~ FAQ s ~
(Frequently Asked Questions)
What is belly dance?
Belly dance is the American word used to describe the art of Raks Sharki
also known as Oriental Dance or Middle Eastern Dance. Belly dance is
such an unfortunate name for our dance form but since it is the most
common, we use it. There are several reasons I say it is an unfortunate
1) It implies that it is the dance of the belly. There are stomach
movements in the dance but they are usually not the first movements
learned. This is a whole body dance. You will learn how to move each
part of your body and in many different ways.
2) Americans sometimes confuse belly dancers with stripping. This makes
people shy about trying this dance. Or sometimes someone worries about
what their employer, church, or significant other might say if they began
lessons for belly dance because people tend to confuse it. Belly dance is
actually a dance of life. (We talk about this a lot in class.) I educate
people about this on a daily basis. Overseas, people use this dance form
like we use our dance moves on the dance floor here in America.
Historically, the movements of this dance form have folkloric and
symbolic roots. So no worries....dance away. :)
3) It implies that there is only one dance. In fact, there are many
different regions of this art form. Which leads us to the next question...
What are the styles?
Including-but not limited to: Turkish Oriental, Turkish Romany,
Moroccan Berber, Saudi, Egyptian, Lebanese, American Cabaret,
Vintage Oriental, Greek, a multitude of folk dances and so many more!
(All of the styles I have listed above, I teach. )
What makes one style different from another? I have found five key
1) the music used, 2) how music is interpreted, 3) costuming, 4)
attitude/prescence/facial expressions, and 5) the movements used.
All of this may seem so overwhelming -leading to the next question....
What should I expect from lessons?
Fun! Challenge! Adventure! Bonding with other ladies! And,at times, a
little frustration. When anyone begins any new journey, they meet some
bumps along the way. Maybe your right side likes a move better than
your left. Maybe your neck just does not want to slide. Maybe your arms
won't flow as smoothly as you would like them too. But this dance form
is about discovery- self discovery. In time and with practice, you will be
moving as you though you may not have been able to before. And you
never have to stop learning. I have been doing this for 12 years and I
have still work toward continuing my belly dance education.
I like to share cultural information, history, and performance experiences
in my classes. I believe in a comprehensive learning environment.
This just means more for your money, even if you are there just for fun
and never intend on performing. So sign up and discover your divine
How do I find the right teacher for me?
This can be tricky. Everyone has different personalities. Some prefer
strict teachers, others warm and fuzzy, and yet another group may want
someone who is fun, fun, fun! Each teacher has their individual
Also, every instructor has a different approach to teaching. Another
point to consider is that each teacher may have studied a different region
of the dance or may have put their own spin on this ever changing art
form. Honestly, email or call the teacher you are considering. Ask them
questions. Do they have a website? Check it out. Are they performing
anywhere? Go see them in a show. Take a class with them.
Please be careful, there are a lot of people out there who call themselves
instructors but have very little experience or knowledge in this dance
I would love to perform. When would I be ready?
This depends on the person. 8 weeks worth of classes will not make you a
performer/entertainer. Realistically speaking, after about two to three
years, a student can expect to audition to participate in a student troupe.
Or, if the student is diligent and practices daily, they may begin doing
solos at student haflas. It takes many years before a dancer is paid
If you already have a background in another dance form, that is a great
start! However, all dance forms are different and belly dance is quite a
comprehensive dance form. Please give yourself time to adjust to this
dance form. After all, life itself is a journey, not a destination, and this is
the dance of life.
Have more questions? Please email Helena Zahra
Click Here to Email Helena Zahra