Photo by Gill Moore Photography.
Frequently Asked Questions about our classes
Do I need to book?
No, because our classes are run in community venues and we want to make them as accessible as possible, we don't operate a booking system. All you need to do is turn up at class a few minutes before the start time and introduce yourself to your teacher.
Do I need to commit to a term or a year?
No, we know that our students have busy lives and can't always commit to attending a class every week so we operate on a drop in system. You pay the teacher for each class that you attend. Some teachers (Katy C in particular) offer discounts if you do book a series of classes in advance - have a look at what it says on each class page.
Do your classes run as courses and do I have to start at a particular date?
No, courses don't work well with belly dance especially when teaching adults who have many demands on their lives. Belly dance is like yoga in that you get better and better by practicing the foundations of the dance and that is what makes you a better dancer. All of our beginners classes are suitable for novice dancers and all are designed so that new students can join in straight away. So join when you want to!
I am a complete novice does it matter?
No, we were all complete novices once! Because all but the Intermediate class are beginners classes, they are designed to enable all students to join in from the beginning. Belly dance is more like yoga than say, salsa, in that respect as it is about regular practice of the foundation movements that increases your ability and, in fact, many students can become very proficient just from attending beginners classes.
Are men allowed at your classes?
No. We decided to exclude all men from our classes because we want all women to feel comfortable at class. Most men who would like to attend are very respectful of women and their desire to feel comfortable at class, however, many women have cultural or religious restrictions on dancing in front of any men and many other women simply don't feel comfortable with men in the room. Unlike many western dance forms, belly dance is a dance that has been developed by and for women so it can feel very personal when you dance. We do invite men to come along to our parties and shows and some of our workshops are available to mixed groups, especially styles like Saidi.
Do you allow spectators?
Generally no but there are some exceptions to this. If you are unable to take part (for example for health reasons) but you want to bring your daughter or granddaughter to class then of course you are welcome to sit and watch the class. Or where children come along with mum and sit happily reading or doing homework at the side of the class. If we have people watching as an audience it becomes uncomfortable for the students. You are welcome to come along to meet the teacher and the class before you decide whether to join in but the only way to know whether it is for you is to kick your shoes off and join in!
What style do you teach?
Essentially our dance style is based in Egyptian folk dance - especially for beginners - but we include all sorts of other styles such as Turkish, North African (especially Tunisian and Algerian) and some Egyptian Oriental style (often called Raqs Sharqi) and American Tribal. As a general rule, belly dance at beginners level is pretty similar but at the intermediate level there is more distinction between the styles taught.
Do you have set holiday times?
None of our classes run on Bank Holidays and all of our teachers take a well earned rest around Christmas and New Year (for 2 or 3 weeks generally) but otherwise classes run throughout the year. We find that many people only have the time to attend when they are freed up from the pressures of termtime activities. Any cancellations or additional holidays that the teacher can't find cover for are listed on the cancellations and holiday dates page. We keep the website up to date so this should always be accurate.
I've done other forms of dancing, do I need to attend beginners' classes before the intermediate class?
Yes, absolutely. Even if you have done belly dance before it is worth attending a beginners' class with Katy C before attending her intermediate level class because you may have learned very differently and it will give you an idea of how she teaches. All new students of belly dance should attend a beginners' class for at least a few weeks before moving onto the intermediate class as belly dance is very different in many ways from western dance styles and you will need to understand the foundations of the dance before trying to build on these. If you have studied dance for some time you may find that this both helpful and unhelpful as you will have conditioned your body a certain way which may need to be repatterned but you will understand about balance, posture, timing etc which mean you will be able to learn more quickly.
I think I might be too old for belly dance - is there an age limit?
No, absolutely not! As long as you can move you can dance! Belly dance is a low impact activity though it is aerobic. It's one of those things that you can take to the level that suits you. We are on our feet moving about for an hour so if you have problems with joints then you can talk to the teacher beforehand about how to protect knees, ankles etc from too much stress. If you have health issues (including diabetes, epilepsy, heart or breathing conditions, high or low blood pressure etc) or any injuries that you are concerned about, it is up to you to tell your teacher. It doesn't mean that you can't dance, but she has trained to understand the way our bodies work so will be able to offer alternatives that you may want to try. It's important to remember though that your teacher is not a medical practitioner so do talk to your doctor or specialist nurse if you have any concerns.
What's the youngest age that a student can join the class?
We don't specify a lower age for children to join the class because it can depend on the child and the class. We are all members of and insured by the Foundation for Community Dance which covers us to teach all ages. Generally, girls over 12 are welcome to attend our beginners classes without an adult accompanying them. Under 12, we would generally discuss with parents or carers if a child wanted to attend but for whatever reason an adult couldn't stay with them. We often find that younger children want to attend the class but get bored before the end (after all the class is intended for adults) and want to sit out. At most of our venues that's fine as there are tables, chairs or lots of space around the edge where they can read or just watch the rest of the class. Remember you are responsible for your child when they are not within the class, even when sitting out.
What should I wear to class?
This is the most regular question, if you are unsure then have a look at our What to Wear page.