Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Do I need to have a belly to do belly dancing?/
I think I have too much belly to do belly dancing!
Bellies of all sizes and shapes are welcome! There is no one belly dance body type the way there is in some dance forms, like ballet or Modern dance. Belly dance moves look uniquely beautiful on each woman who does them. I encourage a supportive, non-competetive atmosphere in my belly dance classes so that we each can discover our own inner and outer beauty and strength.
Do I have to show my belly?
Only if you want to! Bare bellies are welcomed, but not required. When in class, students generally wear a close fitting top and comfortable, stretchy pants so that range of motion can be seen. It is highly recommended that you bring a scarf or shawl to tie around your hips to help you to feel where your hips are and so you can clearly see your hip movements in the mirror.
Am I too old to belly dance?
No. My oldest student, so far, has been 89! A willingness to move and have fun at any age is all you really need. Belly dancing is low impact exercise that can be adjusted to suit a wide variety of fitness levels.
I’m afraid belly dance is sleazy or like stripping, and I don’t want to be associated with that kind of thing.
While these are common misconceptions about belly dancing, they are not true! For one thing, all clothes stay on! In actuality, belly dancing is one of the oldest dance forms in the world, and was originally done by women to express joy and celebration, often in all female groups.
Belly dance is derived from traditional dances of the Middle East and North Africa, and it is suitable for all ages and audiences. It is currently a vast and diverse dance form with a wide array of influences, including Turkish Roma (gypsy) dance, Flamenco, ballet, hip hop, and more. Many women feel empowered, sexy, and feminine as a result of doing belly dancing.
How can I know if your belly dance class is right for me?
You can try a drop-in class at the beginning of each new series for the price listed for each class on the Belly Dance Classes page before you commit to a series of classes. I do not allow observers, but you’ll know more about the class by taking it than by watching it. And you’ll have way more fun too!
What should I wear to belly dance class?
Students wear yoga pants or tights or other stretchy, comfortable pants and a close fitting top that allows range of motion to be seen. Bare bellies are welcomed, but not required!
I highly recommended that you bring a scarf or shawl to tie around your hips so that you can feel where your hips are and so that when you look in the mirror you can clearly see your hip movements.
Many students wear coin hip scarves to class. In addition to being fun, many students find the auditory feedback of the coins with their hip movements to be helpful in their learning. You can order coin hip scarves online by searching for “belly dance hip scarves.” I occasionally have some for sale as well.
How much do I have to practice?
That depends on what you want to get out of belly dance class. If you are coming to class for fun and exercise, no, you don’t have to practice unless you want to. However, if you want to see more rapid improvement, if you want to perform with student groups, or even become a professional belly dancer, yes, you will need to practice on your own, as well as take classes, and possibly private lessons. Depending on your goals, you may need to practice quite a bit!
Can I belly dance if I’m pregnant?
Generally, if you have already been belly dancing, you can continue doing it as long as your health care practitioner says it’s OK for you. Many women who have belly danced through their pregnancy have found that their pregnancy was more comfortable, and their labor and delivery were smooth and easy. That being said, many doctors and midwives suggest that women not take up new activities during pregnancy. So if you haven’t been belly dancing recently, it’s probably better to wait until after you give birth.
Once you have given birth, belly dance is an excellent way for you to get back into shape and get in touch with your pelvis and abdomen. Plus it’s fun to hang out with other women in class.
If I miss a class in a series, can I take a make-up class?
No. I don’t do make up classes. However, you don’t have to pay for classes on days that you know in advance that you will not be able to attend. When you sign up for a series, let me know the dates that you will be gone, and I will prorate the cost for you.
The reason I don’t do make-up classes is to help you make the commitment to yourself to come to class. You will get so much more benefit from belly dance class when you commit to it than if you were to just drop in occasionally. If you can make up a missed class any time, then there is no commitment.
How will I know if class is cancelled due to snowy weather or for another reason?
If I ever need to cancel class due to snow or for any other reason, I will let students know via email on the day of class. If possible, I will schedule a class at another time to make up the class I cancel. Otherwise, I will issue credit for the next belly dance session.
If the student misses any scheduled class for any reason, there are no make up classes, credits, or refunds. See the answer to the previous question for my reasoning on this issue.
How do I know if I am ready for the Advanced Belly Dance Class?
If you have been studying Belly Dance consistently for at least 5 years, are dancing at a high intermediate level or beyond, and are ready to take your dancing to high levels of skill, grace, and expression, the Advanced Belly dance class may be right for you. Due to the highly focused nature of this class, attendance is by permission. Contact Annya Ishtara by clicking here for specific requirements if you wish to be considered for this class.