Frequently Asked Questions
I'd like to learn bellydance -- how can I take classes with the Twisted Dance Collective?
How do I "sign up"? How much does it cost?
Since bellydance classes at Break'N' Out are ongoing, classes are available on a drop-in basis. The cost is $12 per class for drop in, or $60 for a six class passcard. you can pay with cash, check or credit card (make checks out to Break'N'Out Dance Studio).
No preregistration is required. On your first visit, be sure to arrive at the studio at least 10 minutes in advance of the class start time in order to check in and complete payment before class begins.
What do I wear / bring to class?
What you wear will be close, if not the same, as the clothing you wear when you work out. The best options are plain yoga pants and a close-fitting tank or t-shirt. A sports bra is advisable. Typically we dance barefoot, but you're welcome to wear dance paws or jazz shoes if you’d like.
Many dancers, especially new dancers, very much enjoy wearing coin scarves. We have a selection that you can borrow for class at the studio, or you can use any regular triangle scarf you might already own as a hip scarf. ATS® students may also like to wear a 25-yard skirt, but it’s not necessary.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to show your midriff. You can, and may want to do so eventually if not at first, but it's not required.
Can I do this? I have no dance experience and am not exactly a supermodel.
Previous dance experience in any dance style is helpful to new bellydancers (and continuing dancers), but for many of our students, their bellydance classes were the first dance classes they'd ever taken. This does not mean that bellydance isn't hard -- it's definitely a challenge for anyone -- but it DOES mean that anyone is capable of learning the movement, musicality, and expression that goes into "bellydancing," regardless of previous dance experience (or lack thereof).
The great thing about bellydance is that we’ve seen women and men of many ages, sizes, and backgrounds learn to bellydance. You do not have to have the goal of performing to want to learn. You do not have to be a "supermodel" to bellydance. You do, however, have to have a willingness and desire to try something new and want to have a good time.
What are the benefits of bellydance, health-wise? Will I lose weight?
Shira of Shira.net has a great list of articles regarding the health benefits of bellydance and there are indeed many benefits "health-wise." However, like many (and any) other form of exercise, weight loss is not guaranteed from the movement only. Overall health and well-being is also connected to diet, sleep habits, stress, and other factors. Bellydance can be one way (and a fun one) to get yourself moving and strong; it can also help relieve stress and contribute to a healthy body image. But it is not a magic cure-all for weight loss or for gaining "flat abs."
What age should I be?
Currently, we do not teach children's classes and typically prefer students to be at least 16 or older. Other than that, a person of any age, gender identity, or racial, ethnic, or cultural background can attend bellydance classes, learn bellydance, and have fun bellydancing. Most of our current students are cisgender women ages 20-70, if you find a general demographic helpful, but we are not limited to this at all.
What style of bellydance do you teach? I’ve heard there are different “types” of bellydance.
Bellydance styles differ depending on the Middle Eastern / North African region of origin (Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, and so on), ethnic group of origin (as with folkloric styles and certain folk dances), or versions of MENA dance conceived and developed in the West (U.S. / Europe). However, fundamental bellydance technique can often be tweaked and reshaped across styles. For a fairly exhaustive list, see Shems' primer on dance styles, should you be interested in learning more about different styles of bellydance in general.
Our Beginner classes focus on fundamental technique that can be the basis for learning a more specific style later on.
A quick guide to some of the bellydance styles performed by modern bellydancers:
American Cabaret: Sometimes referred to as “vintage orientale” or “restaurant / club style” bellydance, American Cabaret developed in the U.S. through the intermingling of cultural dance forms carried by Arab, Lebanese, Turkish, Armenian, Greek, and other Middle Eastern / North African immigrants to America in the early 20th century. Dancers in this style can be seen in costumes heavily sequined and sparkly or coin-laden, with skirts, harem pants, or pantaloons, and dance to popular and traditional music from various countries and regions of the Middle East / North Africa. Dancers may also use finger cymbals, swords, fan veils, and other instruments / props in their performance. Click to watch TDC dancers Rayah and Mahsarah performing an American Cabaret veil piece at the 6th Annual Project Shimmy.
Egyptian Cabaret: Often referred to as Raqs Sharqi (“oriental dance” in Egyptian Arabic), this style originates in Egypt and may refer to an older, “golden age” style (popularized in Egyptian films and nightclubs between 1920-50) or “Modern Egyptian,” which tends toward a more athletic style infused with elements of ballet / modern dance. Costumes are similar to that of American Cabaret, although the tendency is to wear sequined bedlah (costume) in either a two-piece or dress form. Click to watch TDC dancer Xavier Shadowdancer perform Egyptian Cabaret at the 3rd Annual Project Shimmy
ATS® (American Tribal Style) Belly Dance is a modern style of dance created by FatChanceBellyDance® director, Carolena Nericcio-Bohlman. It is an improvisational style that uses a vocabulary of moves that are performed in the moment of performance. Because ATS® uses a vocabulary that is constant around the world, dancers can come together at a moment's notice and have confidence that they will understand each other's dance language. It is exciting, challenging and builds a very strong dance community. Cues and formations are the brilliance of ATS®. Often unnoticed because of the elaborate costumes, fancy steps, exciting music, and sheer beauty of women dancing together, formations and cues are the anchor of improvisational choreography. Even occasional formal choreography is created around the logic of the formations and cues. For more information about American Tribal Style, visit FCBD.com Click here to watch Myristica (TDC Instructor Sara & dancer Azadi) performing ATS at Project Shimmy 2014.
Tribal Fusion: Tribal fusion is an style of bellydance that developed from ATS® bellydance, and often connects ATS® movement, as well as other styles of Middle Eastern / North African dance, with “other” dance forms (like hip hop, flamenco, Indian dance styles, and so on). Unlike ATS®, group movement is usually choreographed. Costuming reflects the ATS® aesthetic, with rich tapestries originating in the cultures it fuses, coins, skirts or split / bell-bottom-style pants. Costuming can be minimal or heavily ornate, and tribal fusion dancers often perform to a wide variety of world music as well as Western and electronic music. Click to watch TDC student troupe Fringe perform Tribal Fusion at TDC’s Zills & Veils for Paws and Tails Hafla
What's the history of bellydance? Is what you do "accurate" or "traditional"?
The "history of bellydance" question is a difficult question to answer. If you’re interested in the history and cultural background of bellydance, we highly recommend exploring the work of Shira, Morocco (referred to lovingly by bellydancers as “Aunt Rocky”), or perusing the archives of Habibi magazine. What we can say is that many of the popular myths surrounding bellydance (that it is a dance of seduction, for instance) are generally false. Here’s a great piece by Shira that addresses many of the myths held by the general public regarding bellydance.
As for the question of accuracy or being traditional: this is certainly a difficult question to answer, as many Western bellydancers have not had the opportunity to train with dancers from the countries that originated it. Accuracy is also hard to gauge because traditions, styles, and versions of bellydance vary across the countries, ethnic identities, and cultures that make up the Middle East / North Africa regions. They all, unfairly, get lumped together under the umbrella term of "bellydance" in the West. What is accurate, authentic, or traditional depends on who you talk to, unfortunately.
Twisted Dance Collective instructors, however, strive to learn as much as possible about commonalities and differences between dance styles and forms that we tend to blur together by calling them bellydance; we work hard to learn as much as we can about the cultures from which these dance forms developed; we try to learn as much as we can about the music, history of costuming, and the complexities inherent in the forms of this dance.
What is an ATS Sister Studio®?
Sister Studios are graduates of General Skills for ATS® and have completed ATS Teacher Training®. These teachers are dedicated to presenting ATS® as created and developed by FatChanceBellyDance director and master teacher Carolena Nericcio-Bohlman. They have agreed to follow the FCBD® format for teaching American Tribal Style classes.
Sister Studios® do not blend ATS® with other styles of dance, tribal or otherwise. They present ATS® only, or clearly separate ATS® from the other styles of dance they are presenting.
The FCBD® goal in establishing these guidelines is that you, the student, should be able to attend an FCBD ATS® class anywhere in the world and receive consistent, quality instruction.
I have other questions not addressed in your FAQ. What are the best ways to get in touch with you?
Twisted Dance Collective • Greensboro, NC • firstname.lastname@example.org