Congratulations! You are about to enter into one of the most fascinating, beautiful, and challenging art forms in the world. Well, at least I think so. You must have a sense of that as well if you are coming to your first belly dance class. Whether you are looking for a good workout, to make some new friends, or to learn something truly unique, here are a few things that will help you prepare for your first class.
1. What to wear. One of my favorite aspects of bellydance is that we dance in bare feet! That means no expensive shoes to invest in and no pinched toes. If you have ankle or knee issues, a pair of foot undies might help to allow for more slip on the wood floor. The majority of dancers are fine with bare feet – especially in the beginning where our focus is on hip technique rather than spins and turns. Yoga pants and a form-fitting top are best for seeing the movement on the body. It’s not necessary to show your belly, but a scarf to mark the hips will really help you and I to see the movement clearly. I have scarves to borrow in class and inexpensive ones for purchase as well.
2. What to expect. My classes begin with a simple yoga warm-up and end with a cool-down. Don’t worry, you do not need to be a full time yogini to follow along. The aim is to get the joints and big muscles prepared for dance. Belly dance is a very accessible dance for all body types. This is my favorite aspect of the dance and I love seeing all shapes and sizes of women in my class. Basic footwork is introduced, as well as basic hip work. Over time, we add complexity to the movements and also talk about the music and history of belly dance. If you are inclined to, please bring a notebook. If you have never taken a dance class before, you might find that you mix up your right and left sides of the body, or feel your body weight shifting into uncomfortable places. Don’t worry! This is all part of learning and I can vividly recall this in my own experience. I respond to the pace of the students in my class. Sometimes I add complexity or speed up if it looks like everyone is ready, or slow it down to refine technique. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions. Chances are – if you have a question, so does someone else in the class.
3. Personal practice. Many of my students, both new and established, ask me how they should be practicing outside of class. This is where your notes will assist you! The information may be overwhelming in the beginning, so I encourage you to choose one or two simple things to work on. Even 5 minutes a day of simple hip work will be more beneficial than one solid hour per week. We want your body to believe that this new movement is here to stay, that it’s becoming a part of the body’s necessary functioning vocabulary. So the more you do it, the easier it will be. Pick up some music and immerse yourself in the soundscapes of Middle Eastern music. The rhythms and instruments are quite different for the western ear, so becoming familiar with these sounds will deepen your understanding of the dance.
Any other questions? Email me and we can talk about it!
Try a class any time by dropping in. My full class schedule is here: http://hennadances.com/classes/classes-in-oregon