Below are answers to some of the questions I am often asked.  If you have any questions that aren't answered here, please feel free to contact me.



What should I wear?


You don’t need to invest in any special clothing (although as you progress in this beautiful art form, you may wish to).   Leggings or a long, full skirt with a t-shirt or strap top are ideal. I have spare hip scarves and veils which can be borrowed to begin with, until you feel ready to acquire your own.  We normally dance barefoot, but you can wear lightweight flat shoes with flexible non-slip soles (not trainers) or ‘dance paw’ type shoes if you wish. There is no requirement to bare your midriff if you prefer not to.



Is it an expensive hobby?


Like many hobbies, belly dancing can be as inexpensive, or as expensive, as you wish. No special equipment is necessary, although you may wish to acquire a coined or beaded hip scarf. Many students find that their collection of hip scarves, veils, swirly skirts etc. begins to expand rapidly after they have been dancing for a few months, but it’s entirely up to you. If, after you have been belly dancing for a while, you decide that you would like to perform at student Haflas (a Hafla is a special party for belly dancers) you may decide to invest in a beaded bra and belt set (known as a Bedlah) or perhaps a coin trimmed top to match your hip scarf for these occasions, but this is not required (and would not really be appropriate) for class wear.



What should I expect when I come to my first class?


All classes begin with a comprehensive warm-up to wake up our muscles and get them ready to move. We then concentrate on technique, learning a few new basic belly dance moves each week and re-capping on moves learned in previous weeks. These moves are then incorporated into short routines and before you know it, you’re belly dancing! All classes end with a cool down and the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.



Will belly dancing make me lose weight?


Belly dancing is a low to moderate intensity exercise. Some of the moves will leave you breathless, but many will not. It is unlikely you will lose weight just through belly dancing, however you will use muscles that you don’t normally use and the toning effect of this may well make you look slimmer.



I’ve not exercised for a long time – will I be able to keep up?


Belly dancing is a form of exercise which is suitable for all shapes, sizes and levels of fitness. Most dancers (however fit) find some moves more difficult than others and it is easy to adapt moves to suit your level of ability/fitness. There is no requirement to push yourself beyond what is comfortable for you.



Medical conditions


If you have any diagnosed medical conditions, or any symptoms which you are concerned about, it is recommended that you consult your GP or specialist for approval before starting to belly dance. However, in most cases there should be no need to avoid belly dancing completely. As mentioned above, the various movements can easily be adapted to suit your level of fitness.



What will I gain from Belly Dancing?


Confidence and Self Esteem


In addition to the health benefits obtained from exercise, belly dance has a wonderful effect on confidence and self esteem. Belly dance looks beautiful when performed by dancers of all shapes and sizes. Take a look around you in your first class and notice how the moves look different (but just as good) on people with different body shapes. At first, you may be a little shy and want to keep yourself covered, but it won’t be long before you’re baring your belly and jostling for a space where you can see yourself in the mirror as your body confidence grows.


Social Interaction


Belly dance is a very sociable form of exercise. Unlike many gym-based classes, where the emphasis is on getting a good ‘workout’ and burning off as many calories as possible (usually by adopting a follow-my-leader style), belly dance is far more interactive. My belly dance classes focus not only on learning how to move our bodies in certain ways, but also incorporate interpretation of the music, sometimes working with a partner or in a small group, and learning simple routines to specific pieces of music. There is also plenty of time for discussion and laughing (often at ourselves!)


Mental Wellbeing


Many studies have shown a link between physical exercise and an increased sense of mental wellbeing and dance is no exception. Recent studies have also shown that dance based activities which require us to (quite literally) ‘think on our feet’ rather than just following along with a routine, help us to retain our mental acuity as we grow older.