Let us at Shimmy Support be the first to say Welcome to the belly dance community! The belly dance community is a vibrant, diverse, accepting community who is excited that you are taking the first step to join the community by viewing our beginner belly dance guide. You can find a variety of people from all walks of life, who have one major thing in common; a love of belly dance. The most important thing is the family bond you will encounter.
While belly dance is spread worldwide, it maintains a smaller community feel where we all support and grow together like a family. Belly dance also is for everyone; age, size, and gender do not matter. What matters is the sense of community and family you will build with your studio and the large belly dance community, and the love you have to dance. This beginner belly dance guide will show you how to get started and what to learn before you do. We at Shimmy Support want to help and guide you on the first steps to take to become a belly dancer.
Find a Class
The first thing you will need to do is find a class. You can go to our teacher section to find what teachers and classes are available in your area. We suggest trying a variety of classes and belly dance styles that are available in your area. There are many styles of belly dance and you will find what styles fits you best, but it is best to try a class or two in many styles to find what you like. You can also get an overview of the different styles of belly dance available in our styles of belly dance section.
If you are not sure if you are ready for a live class you can always start with an online class. You can find a listing of online belly dance classes under our online classes resource. YouTube also has a variety of materials showing some free tutorials of belly dance basics.
Another options is to check out the many belly dance DVDs that are available to for purchase. Search through the selection to see all types of belly dance DVDs and books available.
What to Wear
Once you have decided to take a live belly dance class, you might be uncertain of what to wear. For the most part you just need to wear work out clothes. Suggestions are leggings, yoga pants, belly dance pants such as Melodias paired with a tight tank top, tight shirt, crop tops. Also it is suggested that you bring a hip scarf. Some teachers will have extras at their studios, but if you are taking a class at a gym or college they might not. However there are a few easy ways to get or have a hip scarf. The easiest is to use or buy a scarf from a store such as Target or Walmart. If you want to get a more unique one, there are many online stores, and ebay has many hip scarves for sale. The last suggestion is if you want to try to make your own practice hip scarf from fabric.
It is very important to note that most teachers do not like noisy hip scarves. It is a class courtesy to the teacher and your other students since noisy coin belts can become annoying and make the teacher hard to hear. However coin belts are great and fun for a performance.
Also with class there are a few tips to keep in mind to find success. While your first class will not be really intense, it is good to still bring a water with you. Another thing is to not be self-conscious, you are most likely in a beginners class with others who are in the same situation. If you are in a mixed levels class, just keep in mind that everyone in that class started in the same position as you and they are all still students learning. One of the most important things you can do is ask questions. If something feels wrong or your not sure about what was explained, do not be afraid to ask questions. Also if you have that question, there is probably someone else in class thinking the same thing.
Pay special attention to the feet positions and posture. They are the base for all that you do, and often over looked while trying to make the rest look right. Focus on keeping good posture and the correct feet placement, it will help you down the road when you get to more complicated moves. Another thing to remember is to have fun and get to know your fellow students. Often your beginner class will progress with you through the levels and you will dance with them. Get to know them since you will see them, and often they become some of your good friends sharing this love of belly dance. As you grow as a dancer you will become more involved in the culture and community of belly dance. Your dance sisters will share in all of this culture with you, as well as strengthen your dance performances due to your bonds.
Now that you have taken a few classes, you might want to start practicing on your own. For some styles of belly dance this will be required just to keep up and participate in class. Other styles this will just aid you to improve and move to the next level more quickly. Either way it is a good idea to practice on your own, and spend about an 1 hour a week practicing.
If possible try to have a lot of space and have a mirror set up so you can watch yourself as you do the moves. If you do not have a lot of space, that is okay. You can practice outside, at a gym, or practice with some of your fellow dancers. If you do not have a large mirror you can always practice and tape yourself for a few minutes in the middle and the end. You will be able to sit and watch your moves, and see what you need to work on.
It is a good idea to set a few goals for each practice session to work on. Focus on these areas while you practice and tape yourself each time you practice to watch yourself improve. Whatever your goal is, make sure that structure your class around your goal. For example if you are trying to learn a move that you had difficult with in class, you need to keep drilling that move. If you are looking to learn a choreography, you will want to break it down and learn 30 seconds each week.
Do not judge yourself harshly, everyone has room to improve and started by doing the same thing. Everyone has areas that gives them more than others. Love and appreciate your body for what it can do, and work on improving the areas that you struggle with.
Belly dance is a wonderful form of dance that can help you discover movement and your body, make friends, and express yourself. The belly dance community is excited you have decided to join us. We hope this beginner belly dance guide has helped you decide to join, and showed you the path to become a successful belly dancer. If you would like to add something to this guide or have questions, just contact us to share. We can only grow as a community by supporting and learning from each other.