Frequently Asked Questions
Interested in taking a class, but just need a little more info? We've got you covered! Use the menu below to jump to specific topics, read through it all, or use the contact info below to ask us directly.
Q. Do I need to be some sort of contortionist?
A. Actually the movements used in bellydance are totally natural to the human body. Many people are used to a very stiff posture where the torso is thought of as one immobile block, however it is not only natural to move this way, but healthy. (see "physical benefits")
Q. Is bellydance good exercise?
A. Yes, bellydance is most similar to resistance training. Shimmies are good cardio, but most of the benefits come from muscle toning. It is a very low impact, weight barring exercise, and it will keep you WANTING to do it, because it's FUN!
Q. What are the physical benefits to bellydance?
A. Strengthening the core muscles is essential to good posture and balance, which sure is helpful when walking around CNY in the winter! Flexibility and circulation often improve, and the movements themselves can feel almost like a hands-free massage.
Q. Am I too ____ to bellydance?
A. No! as a folk dance bellydance can be done by any body type, and at any age. It is very safe for most people, and an excellent way to tone core muscles which are important for posture and balance. For professional performance the dancer must be strong, but no specific body type is required. (As always, ask your doctor if you have an injury or health concern.)
Q. Are classes only or women?
A. Everyone who wants to learn to dance is welcome, regardless of your gender expression. Please ask your teacher for any differences in class-wear you might need.
Q. What are the mental/emotional benefits to bellydance?
A. There are many. From increased confidence, to an outlet for creative expression, to meeting new friends: everyone benefits differently. Bellydance allows the dancer to exercise a positive and healthy form of control of her body and can provide an atmosphere that encourages experiencing and expressing emotions.
What to Wear and Bring to Class
Q. Do I need to bring special equiptment to dance class?
A. Bring: a yoga mat or other stretching pad (a thick blanket works), water bottle, and notebook.
After your 16th class you’ll be given the option to try out finger cymbals, then you'll want to pick out a pair you like and bring them as well!
Q. What should I wear?
Wear on your…
Head: Please wear a well fitted mask to class, unless we are meeting outdoors. This is a required act of kindness to yourself, classmates, and teacher.
Torso: A relatively fitted shirt so the teacher can coach your movement, and chest support for your comfort. Shirts do not have to be skintight; you should feel mentally comfortable, crop tops are optional. Long sleeves or a sweater are good during winter warmups.
Hips: A hip scarf is a must! Loaners will be available at the studio, but any kind of scarf or fabric strip will work. You can use them to express your style ^_^
Legs: Wear leggings or yoga pants, really anything stretchy. Sweats are OK during warmups, but it’s better if the instructor can see your knees. Depending on your sex, you may need a dance belt.
Feet: In the summer, students may choose to go barefoot or wear foot undiez, but shoes are especially recommended when it is colder. Hanami flats (order 2 or 3 sizes larger than street shoes), ballet flats, or shoes designed for dancing with a pivot point are all good options! To protect your knees during turns, do not use street sneakers.
Class Logistic Questions
Q. What if I have to miss a class?
A. Although students will receive the most benefit from class by attending regularly, our teachers understand that life events sometimes take priority. If a student should need to miss class for any reason, please email or call your instructor in advance to let them know. Missed classes are non-refundable, however some make-up options are available, as detailed in the missed class policy below.
Q. Will this class turn me into a bellydancer extraordinaire?
A. As you can see from the levels of classes offered, becoming a professional bellydancer takes years of practice and study. As with any class, you get out what you put in. But, if becoming a professional is what you want, the material in classes provides the tools to build a solid foundation, and will help you enjoy doing it!
Q. What if I just want to cut loose and have fun an hour a week?
A. No problem! Bellydance should be fun at every level, and whether you prefer exercise or recreational dancing our teachers are happy to show you safe technique and to share information that will enhance your enjoyment.
Q. What style will I be learning?
A. You can learn more about each teacher on their profile pages. We recommend sampling all the styles you can, because you never know what will become your favorite. In fact, several of our teachers settled into styles different from the ones they started in!
Questions About Levels
Q. How long should I expect to take level one classes?
A. Lisa's level 1 class is 16 weeks long but, unless you're a prodigy or spend an unusual amount of time practicing each day, it's expected that you'll repeat it. The class is paced to keep introducing new material each week, but it takes time and practice to develop muscle control and comfort with the moves and concepts, and your teachers want students to develop that comfort to avoid feeling frustrated in level 2. The short answer is: probably a year or more.
Q. Instead of having students repeat it, why not just make the level one class slower?
A. A Few students come to level one with previous dance experience or pick things up unusually fast, but the main reason the class doesn't just wait for students to fully perfect a move in one class before moving on is twofold.
1: It takes time to develop the muscle pathways, much of which happens in the time between practicing while your body is rebuilding the muscles and neuro-links you worked. So, drilling the moves for much longer in one session won't speed up that process and only leads to frustration and boredom.
2: Many of the moves we do use small muscles that aren't always part of everyday movement, so drilling fewer moves for longer in class would lead to repetitive movement strain and pulling muscles before they get to develop. Be patient with yourself! With regular practice, you'll get it ^_^.
Q. Can I skip level one if I have previous dance experience?
A. Bellydance has many differences from Western dances, including posture, musicality, relationship to the audience, and aesthetics. If you have only practiced Western styles, like ballet, ballroom, or tap, you might make it through the level one class more quickly, but it is recommended you start there. If you have previous bellydance or other Middle Eastern dance experience, contact one of our teachers. They'll ask about your goals, make sure your technique is solid and good for your body, and check what you know against the skills that we build on top of during the next level of classes.
Q. How do I know if I'm ready to move onto the level two class?
A. Once you feel comfortable doing the movement vocabulary in level one, can find the one in a count of music, have the moves mentally organized in your head (for easier improvisation) or just a feeling of movement qualities, and are familiar with the idea of doing variations on your moves, you can join level two. There is no need to do every move "perfectly", we keep practicing the basic moves, and explore variations in level two, along with starting to learn more about transitions, rhythms, and musicality. In general, your teacher will let you know that a new semester of level 2 is coming up when she sees that you're ready.
Missed Class Policy
For classes where registration is handled through an outside entity (such as the YMCA or Cicero Rec), they will have their own policies. Here is the policy for Lisa's classes:
Please notify the teacher as soon as possible if you know you will not make it to class. We understand that important life events occur, and do not what that to be a barrier to your signing up for classes.
Missed classes are non-refundable. Your teacher books and pays for space and sets aside their time based on who has paid for class, and we thank you for your understanding.
Incase of emergency or weather related cancelations: Sessions based classes are extended by a week, all scheduled lessons shift back in accordance. Likewise, for ongoing/mixed level class cards, their "use by" dates are also extended.
Web-based classes are non-refundable and do not have makeups available. However a recording of the lesson is usually available for one week. Check with your teacher about this.
All private lessons must be canceled a minimum of 24 hours in advance or full payment is required.
If you need to miss class due to a serious injury, contact your teacher. Depending on the class topic and nature of your injury an exception to this policy may be granted. (EX: if you're in a cymbals class and need to sit, you can still attend class. But, if you're in a floorwork class and won't be able to bend your knee for the next month, we can work something out.)
Class cards are good for 10 classes or 12 calendar weeks, which ever occurs first. Weeks with no class scheduled or if class is canceled for weather do not count against the 12 weeks.
Some teachers allow you to attend a drills class as a makeup, check with your teacher ahead of time.
5 week session purchases are good for 5 classes or 6 calendar weeks, whichever occurs first. Weeks with no class scheduled or if class is canceled for weather do not count against the 5 weeks.
Material from missed classes must be understood before a student can advance to the next level. Further detail on this expectation will be covered in class.
Emerald Starlings and Fledglings
With Liz H.
Any student who has finished Level 1 classes with Liz can attend troupe rehearsals for her student troupe (lovingly referred to as the Emerald Fledglings). Any student in Level 3 can attend troupe rehearsals for the Emerald Starling Belly Dance troupe.
Please follow the same etiquette as in a class.
In order to participate in a performance, the student/troupe member must attend the majority of rehearsals, including at least the 2 rehearsals prior to the performance.
Students / troupe members performing with the troupe are responsible for the cost of their own costuming. Please practice in your costuming to ensure its fit while dancing! Costuming should follow the basic FatChanceStyle “uniform” (e.g., choli, pantaloons, 25-yard skirt, etc) unless discussed otherwise in rehearsal.
Nour Al Amar
with Lisa Lumina
Any student who has finished level 1 classes can come to troupe rehearsals.
- You are not required to perform just because you come to rehearsal.
- If you do wish to perform, say so and commit. People will be counting on you.
- In order to perform with the troupe, students must attend the majority of rehearsals, including the 3 directly before the performance.
- Students performing with the group are responsible for the cost of their own costume. It must fit and stay in place when dancing, and meet the group guidelines for style/colors.
- You are expected to follow the same etiquette as in class (IE: arrive on time, cell phones off, etc).