Frequently Asked Questions
What is Belly Dance?
Belly dancing is considered to be one of the oldest forms of dance by many historical experts, and roots of the dance have been traced to the Middle East, Mediterranean, and Africa. There are conflicting theories about the origins of belly dance, but the first belly dancers were thought to be a group of traveling dancers known as the ghawazee. These women were considered gypsies in Egypt in the 18th century, and were banished from Cairo during the 1830s, but went on to perform in Upper Egypt and later in the Middle East and Europe. From the ghawazee troupe, the raqs sharqi genre of belly dancing began to develop. More urban than the purest dance forms in earlier belly dancing history, it quickly became popular and took cues from not only the ghawazee but also various folk dance styles, ballet, and latin dances.
It is believed that belly dance first came to America in 1893 when a dancer known as "Little Egypt" performed at the Chicago World's Fair. Fascinated by the dance and the music, Americans became very interested in the exotic dances and rhythms of the orient. Feeling the approaching craze. Hollywood over-sexualized the dance, created glamorous, colorful costumes, popularizing an exotic dance. Dancers today continue to fight this stigma that was created through the cinema that belly dance is a sexual dance for men when in reality it is a dance of self-expression which helps dancers feel empowered and gain a sense of self discovery.
Who can Belly Dance?
You can! It does not matter your gender, identity or physical ability. All movements and costumes can be modified to the comfort of the individual dancer. Dance is expression of the soul and Anam Cara appreciates all expressions.
Do I have to show my Belly?
No. Showing your belly is not a requirement. It is Lindsey's goal that every student eventually learn to love their bellies and bodies. Anam Cara also acknowledges that students may have specific personal or religious beliefs regarding baring of skin. We honor and respect those beliefs and can suggest costume modifications as necessary.
What do we wear?
- Please wear comfortable dance clothes. No jeans please. Yoga pants and belly dance pants are acceptable. You do not have to show your belly, but please wear a tight fitting shirt to allow the movements to be seen. It is difficult to determine what your hips and belly are doing if you cannot see them.
- Hip scarf. If you do not have one, you can find them online or Tracy will have some on the first day of class for purchase. Lindsey will also have some to borrow.
- Footwear. Please do not dance in socks. They are slippery and it's dangerous. If you do not have callouses built up on your feet, I recommend some sort of dance paw (Examples here, here and here), ballet shoes, lyrical shoes, etc. You want something that will provide you some padding and allow you to turn without sticking to the floor.
Where can I get class wear, costumes and props?
- Amazon - Be careful ordering items that come from China as they are usually significantly smaller than the sizing suggests
- Magpie's Treasures for Veils
- Kult of Athena for Swords
Can I check out a class before signing up?
Yes, drop ins are allowed at a rate of $12/class for the first 2 classes only for 12 week sessions. Otherwise it becomes too difficult to catch up late joiners and is not fair to the other students, as the class is progressive and builds week to week.
What happens if I miss class?
Due to the progressive nature of the classes, we cannot offer you an individual make-up class, nor credit for any missed classes. However, Lindsey will go over the previous material at the beginning of each session as a refresher. Further, detailed choreography notes and video are available for registered students, and Lindsey can help you find supplemental videos to help you with material you may have missed.
What happens if the instructor cancels class?
Unfortunately we are all human and things happen in life (sickness, snow, emergencies). If for any reason Lindsey has to cancel class, she will attempt a makeup class. If a makeup class is unavailable, she will refund the cost of that class ($10). Lindsey will post notices of cancelled classes on the class facebook page and will attempt to email everyone. It is always a good idea to get into the habit of checking the Facebook page prior to class just in case.
Is there an age limit to start Belly Dancing?
Definitely not! It's always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program, but when it comes to dancing, age is just a number!
Can I Belly Dance while pregnant?
Absolutely. Belly Dance is very safe to do while pregnant. Lindsey has had several pregnant dancers in her classes. Again, always a good idea to check with your doctor first. Check out the lovely Zoe Jakes dancing while pregnant
What are the health benefits of Belly Dancing?
Belly dance can have many benefits just as regular exercise benefits the body and mind. It can include:
- Improved self esteem
- Increased bone density
- Reduction in joint and back pain
- Low impact exercise
- Can assist in burning calories and losing weight
- Greater acceptance of your body as whole
- Reduction in stress
- Strengthening of abdominal, leg and arm musculature
- Mood boosting
- Improves posture
- and many more!
This information is not to be construed as medical advice. If in doubt about anything regards your own health and belly dance, please consult your a doctor or medical professional.
Do I have to perform in the Student Recital?
No, students are never required to perform, however it is highly encouraged. It might seem scary at first, but if you talk to returning dancers you will find that anything that can go wrong, has and it wasn't a big deal :)
If you do not perform, please come to the recital and support your fellow dancers. They are always a really good time!
Lindsey tries to create and find a plethora of performing opportunities for her students. So if performing is your thing, you will have ample opportunity!