Lessons (photo by Lauren Bartley)

With our current courses coming to an end and the start of our ‘Bellydance Essentials’ courses in Folkestone and Ashford I thought I would give some helpful tips for new students who are looking adventure into their first belly dance class.

Students are different and although some might be happy to jump feet first into a class others may feel more comfortable knowing what to expect and what to wear/bring. This post is for the latter although I am sure some of this advice will help regular students as well. So here are my 5 simple tips to prepare for a belly dance lessons.

 

1) Wear comfortable clothing

Comfortable Clothes

Wearing comfortable clothing in class means that you will feel comfortable taking the class as you will be able to do all the moves without restrictions.

Often I see new students who come to class wearing jeans and while they may be comfortable to walk to town or everyday activities they aren’t great for dance movement. When the teacher wants you to stretch out your legs by opening them wide you are going to struggle with the restrictions and won’t be able to get the full stretch that may be needed after a good dance class.

What you wear on your feet is also important. Heels (for lessons) are a big no no as you want to be as steady on your feet as possible and although trainers are comfortable you will find that not only do you feel less glamorous but when it comes to turns you are going to find the friction difficult. Bare feet can have the same problem which is why I tend to go for ballet or jazz shoes such as the Capezio brand ones.

Lastly I always get asked “Do I need to have my belly on show?” ‘Belly Dance’ is also known as ‘Raks Sharki’ and ‘Oriental Dance’ in other countries. In these names there are no mention of the word belly because this dances uses the whole body. You don’t need to have your belly out but instructors do appreciate tight clothing so that they can see all your moves and can instruct you better.

 

2) Dress Up

Dress Up

The great thing about Belly Dance class is that it isn’t gym. Okay we have already said that you need comfortable clothes that doesn’t mean you can’t dress up to get you in the mood to Belly Dance.

Grab those bracelets, earrings and a striking necklace so that you can sparkle and feel glamorous. All belly dancers love sparkly things and just because you don’t have a full costumes right now doesn’t mean you can’t stand out.

Why not try out some Arabic make up styles such as the winged eyeliner look if you want to make the class more than just about getting fit and working out. You will be surprised how much better you dance when you look the part.

Lastly you can always hear the sounds of coin scarves at belly dance lessons. They are great because they don’t only add more to the look but also help new dancers to hear if their moves are in time. I often have some for sale but you can always tie a scarf around your hips as a starter.

 

3) Pack a dance bag

Dance BagGrab a bag (it could be a fancy bag to continue with the belly dance image or just a plain one with some rhinestones sewn on) and put everything you will need for your dance class each week. This way you can be sure not to forget anything as it will always be in your special dance bag.

But what do you need to take to a class? For starters water is a must. You are going to work up a sweat with all that muscle work and shimmying and you don’t want to end up feeling dehydrated (especially in hot weather).

Can’t remember things well? Bring a notepad and pen to jot any important notes or tips you want to remember in the break. Sometimes it can be easier when you put information into your own words.

Lastly bring a cover up in case the studio is drafty. Sometimes when beginning a class you will feel cold and not want to take your warm jumper or coat off so having a cover up will get you through the warm up and after that I doubt you will want to wear it.

 

4) What to expect

Question Mark

So what happens at a Belly Dance class? If you are someone who likes to be prepared you will want to know the answer to this question. ‘Am I going to have to stand at the front?’, Will the teacher pull me forward or make me dance on my own?’ are just some of the worries that go on in new students heads.

Remember instructors don’t want to frighten you away so they are not going to put any pressure on you in your first few classes. If you want to hide at the back until you start feeling more confident then that is fine. Of course they will want to push you but never in a way that will make you embarrassed.

Classes will often start with a warm up and some light stretching to get your body ready and your mind focused. In most classes you will learn certain techniques such as good posture, isolations, musicality and of course choreographies because we want to dance to music (it is why we are here). At the end you will do a cool down with deep stretches so that your muscles won’t ache as much the next day.

 

5) HAVE FUN

Have Fun

If you are looking to start a Belly Dance lesson, chances are you want a new hobby and to have fun and that’s exactly what we as instructors want you to have as well. Yes you will need to listen to instructions and work hard to get better but we are always up for a bit of a laugh though funny ways of teaching moves to things maybe not going quite right.

Just relax into the class and take things at your own pace, this way you are more likely to have fun if you are not worrying about whether you are not good enough after one or two lessons. We all develop at our own pace and that’s what makes an instructors job interesting.

While you’re in class why not chat to other students and find out what they enjoy about the classes and how they felt on their first lesson. Belly dance lessons are a wonderful way to meet new friends and once you do you have even more reasons to motivate yourself to come along and have a dance and of course have FUN!

 

I hope this post inspires you to make the most out of your first lesson and gives you a bit more confidence to say ‘Yes I am going to go and do something for myself’. As I mentioned before Belly Dance instructors are there to introduce you to the dance, help build your technique and hopefully give you the encouragement you need to keep challenging yourself while feeling great and having fun.

You can get a less condensed version of these tips in this infographic that I created just for you. Click Here to view it

 

Ready to join a class? We have upcoming Taster Lessons this month on the 27th June in Folkestone and the 28th June in Ashford. We will then start our 7 week Bellydance Essentials course the following Monday and Tuesday. For more information and to book your place please visit our www.metabellydance.co.uk/bellydancelessons.

5 Simple Tips to Prepare for a Belly Dance Lesson