Studying with a real live bellydance teacher, in a real studio, with real corrections may be the best way to become a better dancer, but this option is not always open to all of us. With this in mind I wanted to suggest my top ten ways to study from home:
1, - Learn the Basics AND some Arabic with Zara
New dancers should focus on the basic moves, but the internet is full of lessons with "not very good dancers" who could do your technique more harm than good. Zara is an excellent dancer, who is currently employed to dance at all the top venues in Cairo. Her dance classes are aimed at home dancers and those who are new to belly dance. However, if you are an intermediate or advanced dancer you will know the importance of drilling your basics. I love these videos because she teaches in Arabic, with English subtitles, which means i'm picking up key phrases in Arabic as I drill. Zara is from the UK, so her Arabic has an English accent, which is super cute, and helps me better understand what she is saying. Learn to dance in Arabic and be ready for a workshop with an Arabic speaking teacher !
2, - Practice your Zill Playing with Sahira
Zill playing is one of those skills that needs constant practice. Its also perfect to practice if you ever need a few weeks off from dancing. Sahira is my favorite on-line teacher and her zill playing is beyond ! She has hundreds of great videos available on line, and I also recommend her technique and choreography videos. But for todays selection I want to recommend this video on building dexterity. No matter your level of dance experience, you will find on-line video lessons with Sahira that will meet your needs. Go ahead and explore her channel to find the perfect lesson that you need to take today !
3, - Up your Make up looks with Dawn Devine
One thing I never have time enough for is to improve my belly dance make up. I have a look I love, that I can complete in 10 minutes, and I'm out the door ! Dawn took on the challenge of 31 belly dance make up looks in 31 days, and the results are beyond inspiring ! She filmed up close, so you can see each look as it comes together. She is also **cough** my age.... I dont know about you, but I find it hard to be inspired by make up looks by teenagers, who have yet to experience age spots or laughter lines. Her 31 tutorials cover a HUGE range of different make up styles and looks from beginner first performance, to Goth and theatrical. There will be a look that is perfect for your next performance. But beyond that, who doesn't want an excuse to do a full on make up look today ?
4, - Go Looking for Little Egypt with Donna Carlton and Kalila Indivar
The Chicago World Fair of 1893 is a pivotal time in the history of Belly Dance in America (and many other parts of the "west"). The world fair was where our dance met promotion, mass media, new audiences and adopted its belly dance name. Donna Carltons book has long been essential reading for everyone interested in the history of belly dance at the fair. Its very light reading, so totally suitable for study while sick. Its such an adventure that I often share my copy with non belly dancers. I would also like to recommend Kalila Indivar's free lecture on the Belly Dance Business Academy as the perfect companion. Kalila is an expert in her field, and speaks with knowledge and warmth on this fascinating event.
5, - Set Yourself up to Teach Belly Dance with Me - Sara Shrapnell
Excuse me while I do a little bit of self promotion. But if you want to become a belly dance teacher, I have some amazing resources for you. I've been a belly dance teacher for 20 years and in that time I have taught well over 5,000 belly dance classes. I have honestly seen it all ! My first book "Teaching Belly Dance" was published in 2014 and has now become the standard text for those wanting to teach (or those who want to improve their teaching). Last year I also published the companion booklet "52 Lesson plans and how to write 5,000 more", in response to requests to provide lesson plans that are easy to use for all styles of belly dance. In addition I proved one on one mentoring and further support via the Belly Dance Business Academy. Teaching belly dance is the best job in the world and has provided me with an income for the last 20 years. I want to inspire others to take the same route and set them up for success ! if teaching is in your future, now is a great time to get the foundations in place.
6, - Get into FCBD style with Lisa Allred (and friends!)
This blog post was hugely inspired by Lisa's blog earlier this week where she shared soooo many resources for FCBD dancers (formerly ATS). Most of my students have only touched on this style with occasional drills and some group improvisation, but there is so much more to learn. Check out Lisa's blog post and follow her links to find drills, technique and take the opportunity to learn a new style of belly dance.
7, - Find your Super Power with Terri Allred
As part of the management team at the Belly Dance Business Academy, I get to take all the workshops, lectures and lessons. This one has to be my favorite ! No matter where you are in your belly dance career (or in life!), you need to recognize your own dreams, ambitions, abilities and, yes, super powers. This hour long workshop will shake your perception of yourself as a belly dancer, and give you tools to move forward in your dance in ways you never imagined. Terri is an amazing mentor, who has taught me so much. I would like to share a little drop of her inspiration in this $15 workshop. Take it today, and start working on your superpower.
8, - Learn about Arabic Music with Karim Nagi
Do you find yourself limited to dancing to pop songs ? Arabic music has depth, meaning and nuances that are hard for the new dancer to interpret in their performances. Karim is not only knowledgeable but also a world class teacher. He makes his subjects fun, and enjoyable. Learn about the key instruments, the rhythms, scales - and how to reflect them in our dancing. I love the lessons playlist, but also check out his performances and clips from his workshops. I picked out this video about Taqsim and Maqam because this is a great drill for dancers of all levels and all styles.
9, - Get your Drills Done with Victoria Teel
Drilling is essential for all belly dancers, but finding interesting drills can be a struggle. I try to dance for an hour most days, and its super easy to get into the habit of just reviewing my upcoming performance choreographys and technique that I'm struggling with for them. I love this video because it pushes me outside my comfort zone and makes me work on the tough stuff ! This video is labelled as "Beginner", and while I think it would be suitable for someone early in their belly dance journey, I would also suggest its a great video for everyone, no matter their level. Drills we do daily are easy for us - because we do them daily ! Other people's drills are always going to be a challenge. Victoria also has a great on-line studio, where you can take more of her classes, covering a wide range of topics. Check them out on her website:
10, - Make a Costume with Dawn Devine and Sparkly Belly
Yes, Dawn Devine (Davina), gets two shout outs - but that is just because she is such a great all round teacher ! If you are stuck at home for an extended period of time, its a great excuse to get your costumes fixed or design a new one. Dawn has dozens of books available on line that cover the creation of every style of belly dance costume, from the pants, to head wear and everything in between. I am a very poor seamstress and I have completed projects from her books ! When we were working together on our book "Becoming a Belly Dancer", we put together a dozen or so no sew and low sew projects perfect for troupe costumes. A couple of weekends ago, my troupe got together to make matching skirts and had so (sew!) much fun. Have an experiment with making something easy, and then invite your troupe over to make matching sets.
Sparkly Belly has a wide range of belly dance costume tutorials on-line. Aimed at the more advanced seamstress, her creations are exceptional and inspirational !
Like this blog post ? Here are some more for you to check out:
Sara Shrapnell is a belly dance writer, teacher and performer.
She has taught more than 5,000 belly dance classes, both in the UK and US. She now teaches in Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore in the SF bay area, as well as workshops world wide. Her classes are known for their humor, detailed breakdowns and cultural context. Students who have studied with Sara have gone on to teach and perform in all styles of belly dance and many have made their living through performance or teaching.
Sara’s first book “Teaching Belly Dance” was published in 2014. Her second "Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage", co- written with Dawn Devine, Alisha Westerfeld and Poppy Maya, is a stagecraft handbook. Both are available on Amazon.
She is the co-owner of the Belly Dance Business Academy with the aim of providing belly dancers world wide with the tools and training they need to make a business from their belly dancing.
Sara is available to teach workshops in the USA and the UK, in addition to teaching on-line through the Belly Dance Business Academy and through on-line one on one mentorship.
Sara Shrapnell is a belly dance writer, teacher and performer.
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