#5

Most Common Belly Dance Questions


Q. How can I begin belly dancing? What do I need? How much will it cost?

A. To begin: Register for a local belly dancing class and /or buy a few home instructional belly dance video or DVDs.

Recorded video or DVD programs

The videos are cheaper than live classes when you figure how many times you can watch and work out with them. Until you begin and get really hooked on belly dance, you may be challenged by scheduling. Videos and DVDs fit nicely into the convenience of your lifestyle so they help remove any procrastinating tendencies. You can work with things as slowly as you want by slowing down or rewinding the program. This makes it easy to begin belly dancing!

Sometimes dancers get self-conscious and frazzled in live classes. Beginning belly dancing videos and DVDs can help a dancer feel more self-confident because they offer great homework resources for studying between classes. If you spend $20 for 50 minutes worth of instructional video and you work out with it once a week for a year, it comes to 45 cents an hour. That's a pretty good deal. There’s a lot to choose from on the belly dance video/DVD market. In 2003, there are more than 350 bellydance programs to be enjoyed, according to Donna Carlton’s Middle East Dance Resource Guide.

Local Classes:

  • Group belly dancing classes range from $5 to $15, each running usually 60 minutes. Prices vary depending on who is teaching, where the classes are held (influenced by neighborhood rents) and promotional expenses. Senior citizen classes are often very affordable.
  • Private belly dancing classes are priced between $40 and $75 and range between 60 and 90 minutes — comparable to a massage or a therapy session. Any level of dancer may seek private classes.
Reasons to take private classes:
  • Individual attention in the very beginning,
  • For belly dance therapy,
  • Evaluation and goal setting,
  • To fit a busy schedule,
  • For help with advanced techniques such as floorwork, belly rolls or performance skills,
  • Just for a fun workout with a famous instructor and the chance to catch some of her sparks!
What you’ll need:

You will want to invest in some costume supplies. You can have fun and make yourself some costumes. You also can buy them used at thrift stores sometimes or from other dancers in class, at festivals and at workshops, or on the Internet.

  • To begin, you’ll want a new coin or beaded hip scarf, which can run about $50. If you make one yourself, it’ll cost about the same, so they are worth purchasing new. You want their weight, sound effects, durability and beauty.

    Nice coin belts can be found from Middle East import stores for $79 or as much as $300 for a real heavy duty one (I love my Magic Circle Belts). The heavy duty ones are cool and you can resell them if you ever want to.

    Note: A real belly dancer wouldn’t be caught dead in an already made costume from Fredricks of Hollywood or some other catalog that does not know anything about belly dancers.

  • A 3-yard veil, 45 inches wide (tricot, poly chiffon or silk); turn under a 1/8 inch hem or serge the ends

  • Finger cymbals (a set should include 4 bells) $10 to $60 (remember, cheap sets sound cheap)

  • Skirt or stretch pants for practice and a leotard or sports bra

  • Coin bra top is also nice to practice in. The sound lets you know if you are isolating your upper body.

  • Videos range from $20 to $50

  • Music CDs cost $15 to $20. Most likely your teacher will have a selection or you can buy them on the Internet or at festivals. See Belly Dance Links..

  • Belly dance magazine subscriptions run about $20 . . . You’ll want to know where the community is and what's going on. You'll want something that comes out regularly and dependably to keep you abreast of events. Try Zaghareet!, Jareeda, Cymbal, Bennu, The Chronicles, and Eastern Wind.

  • Find a local belly dance web site with a calander of events and check it once in a while or get on an e-mail or mailing list.

  • Delilah’s really cool tip:
    A weight belt for improving music memory, strengthening and speeding up the learning curve. Belly Dancing with Delilah; Weight belt page

Workshops

Workshops with teachers from other locales are often offered in major cities as well as in those out-back towns where dancers don’t have many teachers to choose from. The workshop is usually 4 to 5 hours on Saturday and/or Sunday. For the student, prices range from $40 a day to $100 a day, per person, again, depending on the guest and the cost of plane tickets, space rental, whats included and publicity.

Retreats

These are combination get-a-ways and study plans that last 3 to 14 days. A great opportunity to focus on dance without interruption. Some of the most famous retreats include Cassandra’s in Michigan, Washington and Florida, Delilah’s Annual Visionary Belly Dance Retreat in Hawaii, and the Mendocino Middle Eastern Dance Camp in California. There are many other retreats, as this method of studying has become quite popular. Usually, you don’t have to have any experience, but you do want to make sure before attending. Some retreats feature live music, which is especially enriching.

Conferences

International Belly Dance Conference at Orange Coast College organized by Angelika Nemeth