How to Learn
We teach in sessions of a few weeks at a time, rather than ongoing classes. In each level, a choreography is taught which contains movements suitable to the level. It is recommended that all students begin with an introductory level class, regardless of prior dance training in belly dance or other forms. Because of the emphasis on correct posture and movement safety, the instructors must be satisfied that the basics of each level have been mastered before recommending moving up.
How long you stay in a level depends on a number of factors, such as coordination, strength, how much you practice. Most students do the introductory level for a few sessions, up to about a year. Others choose to study in two levels at the same time. Taking two classes per week is a recommended, as it allows for faster learning. Students wishing to continue into an returning beginner, intermediate or advanced level are urged to take at least one session of drumming classes, since the more complex music and finger cymbal playing used in the higher levels demands good rhythm literacy.
There is no requirement to buy any performance specific gear for class, but you may want to pick up something shiny to practice with. We have a variety of hip-scarves for sale in studio.
Shoes may also be worn for dance. Ballet slippers, foot undies, and other dance shoes are appropriate if you desire, although dancing barefoot is most popular.
Water bottles are also encouraged.
Dance is a performing art. At Haft Vadi we are committed to treating it that way. Many people come to the class looking for exercise, fun, etc., which you’ll get absolutely, but we don’t water down an authentic approach to belly dance as a performing art to suit the casual student. From the very first class you will be encouraged to keep facial expression and emotion in mind while learning movements, because this is an integral part of dance, which should be learned along with the technical skills. We find that most students end up appreciating the extra challenge.
Many beginners are very nervous about performing, thinking that they aren’t ready. While it’s true that beginners shouldn’t be taking jobs performing at weddings, a student recital is a perfect place to perform. You’ll never meet a more supportive, encouraging audience, and you are guaranteed to have a good time. Students often tell me they are scared of looking dumb, and my answer is, I have no patience for vanity! In learning anything, a dance, a language, cooking, anything, you are going to make mistakes and you are not going to look good at every stage of the learning process. Don’t let it stop you! As one of my favourite teachers, Ranya, says, “you have to suck, before you can succeed!”
Having said all that, our first priority is safe, strength-building technique, therefore every session has non-performing technique classes, so that students can work on technique and style without the stress of memorizing a choreography, while simultaneously preparing a performance in another class.