FAQ - New Students

by Friday, January 05, 2001
New Students - Classes - Performance - Tribal Style Bellydance - All FAQ Topics

New Students FAQ
Below are the most common questions I get from new students. If you would like to learn even more, click on any section of the Extended FAQ menu above, where I have expanded on some common questions and added more detailed topics.

What should I wear to class?

Comfortable clothes that you can move in, such as yoga pants and a fitted tank top or tee shirt, are a great combination for first-time students. Avoid any garments that restrict movement in any way, such as jeans, narrow skirts, etc. Avoid voluminous tops as they make it difficult to see how your body's movement and posture alignment.

Other common options include pantaloons, full skirt and choli.

A hip sash or hip scarf is recommended and is great for being able to really see how your hips are moving. Please no "noisy" scarves, such as ones with loud coins or bangles, as it can make it hard to hear the instructor and distract other students.

Bare feet is the norm, though any soft dance shoe would be fine as well if you so choose. Street shoes are not allowed in the studio.

Do I need to bring anything?

There is no requirement to do so, but I encourage students to put together a "dance bag", which includes a water bottle and a small notebook and pen for notes, finger cymbals, a spare hip scarf, and perhaps a small towel if you wish. Then everything you need to run off to class is in one place!

What time should I plan to arrive to class?

I suggest planning to be to the classroom, dressed and ready to dance, by 10 minutes before the hour. This not only gives you some breathing room should you have unexpected delays, but it will give you some time to get settled in, say hi to your fellow students, and get into a head-space where you are prepared to dance. Rushing in last minute is a sure way to start off on the wrong foot for both your brain and your body! You are able to enter the room 5 minutes before the hour. Please sign in on the attendance sheet as soon as you arrive.

Please, out of respect for your fellow dancers, and for your body which needs a proper warm-up, do not join in if more than 10 minutes late. See missed-class make-up policies on the registration page.

Where can I purchase finger cymbals? What kind should I get?

Students will need to purchase high quality student finger cymbals (also called zills), which can be found at Saroyan Mastercrafts--either Afghanis or Grecians are recommended. I know of no local shops which carry quality finger cymbals, so you must plan ahead and purchase them online in time to use in class the third week of the session.

If you do choose to go with another brand of finger cymbals, make sure you purchase good quality ones. If you buy cheaply produced finger cymbals, they will be difficult to play, and the sound will not be pleasing to you and you won't want to practice! Do not go to "ethnic" shops or similar import stores to purchase them--you will be disappointed! Those are prop pieces and are not appropriate instruments for serious playing. Most important, make sure your chosen style has two slots for the elastic, and can accommodate 1/4" elastic. Finger cymbals with two wide slots and good quality elastic will stay on your fingers better, which helps you play more confidently. All Saroyan finger cymbals share this quality and are well worth the money spent.

What are classes like, exactly?

If this is your first bellydance class, or even your first dance class, then I extend an extra warm welcome to you! It takes a bit of courage to try something new, and we will do our best to show you a good time!

Level 1 classes will begin with a gentle warm-up, to get our blood pumping and muscles limber and prepared for dancing. Then we will learn one slow move and one fast move each week, drilling them, and answering any questions you may have. Then we finish by working on these skills with our fellow dancers, getting a chance to put them together into short combinations to practice the individual skills within the context of group improvisational dancing.

Do I have to have a bare belly to participate?

Not at all! A fitted top is at least required, for me to be able to see your posture and form. But while a bare belly is not required, keep in mind that in bellydance class, it is entirely appropriate and in context. Click here to read more about baring your belly in class, and belly-covering options for class.

Have more questions? Check out the Extended FAQ! See the menu at the top left for more topic categories.

FAQ - Classes

by Thursday, January 04, 2001
New Students - Classes - Performance - Tribal Style Bellydance - All FAQ Topics

Extended Classes FAQ

Categories on this page include:
Class Content & Expectations - Progress/Advancing in Class

Below are the most common questions I get from new students about class content and progression. These FAQ's push beyond the most basic inquiries, and delve a little further into some questions which students may have when first coming into my class, as well as on an ongoing basis as a student of mine. Some questions won't always make sense to a brand new student, and are tied to experiences you may have later down the line as you study with me. I encourage you to return to the Extended FAQ throughout your dance studies to see what new information you can learn. And I am always interested in expanding the information I share with you, my students, so if you have any questions you think would be a good addition to this section, please write me.

What style of dance do you teach?

The style I teach is "Tribal Fusion Bellydance". It is a blending of both group improvisational bellydance and choreographed world dance stylings. In performance, it appears to be choreographed, but is in fact primarily or entirely being created purely in the moment improvisationally. This is made possible by a developed system of simple and subtle nonverbal communication, which "cues" the dancers to perform individual moves in limitless combinations, right there on the spot.

Our style is rooted in both American Tribal Style (ATS), as created and codified by Carolena Nericcio and FatChance Bellydance in San Francisco, CA; and the format of Gypsy Caravan as developed by Paulette Rees-Denis in Portland, OR. I have been personally trained by each of these amazing dance artists, and have been officially certified by each to teach their specific styles. I have gratefully blended elements of each format to create a style unique to us.

Read More to see more of the Classes FAQ.

What does each class level cover?

Level 1: Foundations is an introduction to the foundation vocabulary and skills used in American Tribal Style Bellydance (ATS), as developed by Carolena Nericcio of FatChance Bellydance in San Francisco, CA. Students will learn correct posture and isolations of hip, chest, and arm movements. Each week we will explore one slow step and one fast step. We will also begin to introduce basic partnering skills and the concepts of group improvisation. While this class is focused for the first-time student, the skills we study in this class form a vital base for all learning at the higher levels, and are important for all levels on a continuing basis for refinement.

Level 2: Foundations Plus builds extensively on the skills learned in Level 1, so is best after several sessions of Level 1 and/or taken concurrently with Level 1. We will expand our movement vocabulary with more steps and combinations, and will explore various group formations, learning to more confidently lead and follow when dancing together. At this level we begin to branch out from the ATS foundation movements and further explore the influences of many different groups and styles which lay the groundwork for dancing in the inFusion Tribal style.

Level 3: Combos & Concepts starts to really put the skills learned in Levels 1 & 2 into practice with more group dancing, including dynamic duets, trios, and quads, chorus concepts, and mock performance preparation. Emphasis is on technique refinement, advanced steps and formations, and more complex group concepts. We will explore the dance at a deeper level, working together to problem solve and develop individual creativity within the improvisational format.

In addition to tribal improvisation, specialty classes and sessions will introduce a broader skill set encompassed by the art of bellydance, including precision isolations, traveling and layering, and more detailed combos and choreographies. This work, in tandem with tribal improvisational skills, is the foundation of Tribal Fusion Bellydance. Tribal Fusion is a challenging and exciting discipline, combining the artistic possibilities of choreography with the unique connectedness and spontaneity of improvisational dance. Students will have the opportunity to develop both group and solo performance skills, whether or not their goal is to perform in the future.

For these classes to be beneficial to all involved, students must have studied with Shay/Double Take Bellydance through the full course of levels 1 and 2 and have a mastery of the foundation vocabulary and skills before moving into this level. This class requires instructor permission to join. If you are a visiting dancer or feel you have a special need, please contact Shay before attending the class, as we will not be able to negotiate special requests in the few minutes between classes.

Do I have to have a bare belly to participate?

Not at all! Wearing what you are comfortable in, which will also allow me to see your posture, is more important than having a bare belly. But do keep this in mind--in class, your bare belly is in context. I, personally, would not take a stroll down the street with a crop top on--it just wouldn't look or feel right to me *personally*. But in class, nothing feels more natural than to have my belly bared and shimmy for all I'm worth. I am among trusted friends in class (and if you don't feel that way on your first night, you will very soon!), and baring my belly is appropriate for the activity I am doing. It also allows me to better see my posture and alignment, and as your teacher it is easier for me to see it to help guide you in correct posture and movement.

Again, let me reiterate that you do NOT have to bare your belly for bellydance. Not now, not ever. There are costuming options for all levels of modesty and all preferences for style. In class, so long as you are not wearing baggy tee shirts, which obscure your body line, then anything you feel comfortable in will do--fitted tee shirts, tank tops, leotards, etc. Bared or not, your belly is a beautiful thing--a seat of power which bellydance draws from. Feel free to show it off or keep it covered at any time in my classes!

Ready to take that first step to baring your belly, and want a little support? Try SugarPetals. They make these fantastic body suits with PowerMesh tummies which are not only a good modesty option, but are SOOOOO comfortable! I wear them all the time, as do many of my students. Great for class wear, stretchy, comfy, washable, and a ton of colors to choose from. If I sound like a saleswoman, it's only because I love them so much! For maximum versatility, I recommend the "Mesh Middle Unitard" in black cotton/lycra with tank-styled top and tan or black colored PowerMesh middle, but really any color you like best will work great.

I am pregnant, and wondered if I can still take bellydance classes?

The first answer I must give is "check with your doctor"! Everyone's bodies are different, every pregnancy is different, and only a doctor can give you the official go-ahead.

That said, I have had dozens of pregnant bellies in my classes over the years, some women happily dancing right into their 9th month. I personally find a pregnant bellydancer to be one of the most beautiful images on earth! Like everything else with regard to your body and physical activity, pregnant or not, you should take it at your own pace--listen to signals your body is sending you, and adjust accordingly. Tribal bellydance can be as gentle or as aerobic as you want it to be, so join us and have fun!

Am I too old/too young to bellydance?

There is absolutely NO age limit, high or low, to enjoying bellydance. Misconceptions abound, from the idea that one must be that Hollywoodized 20-something with the flat tummy and long exotic black hair, to the idea that bellydance is somehow "too sexy" for young women (like the grossly misrepresented MTV images of "bellydance"), to the idea that bellydance is only for old housewives trying to seduce their husbands. None of these images or ideas accurately portrays the amazing eclectic mix of women from all walks of life who enjoy bellydance in their lives. I have had girls as young as 7 in class, and women over 70 (though they aren't telling ;)!

Girls and Young Women

It is a particular privilege to be able to give the gift to dance to a young woman before she enters her teens--to help her love, own, and respect her body before she reaches that delicate age range. This dance is good for the body, and more than that, it is amazing for your mind and spirit. For young women, it is a rare opportunity to be surrounded by female role models who love their bodies, in all shapes and sizes, and celebrate their space in the world through their dance. To see so many women moving and sharing and appreciating the body they have been given is a (sadly) rare thing, and it is powerful to be surrounded by this experience; as an adult surely, but even moreso as a young woman who is being sent so many opposing messages about her worth and her body.

My only considerations about young girls taking my class is that so long as they are attentive and non-disruptive, they are welcome in class. You may choose to accompany your daughter or granddaughter--this is a fantastic activity to share in together, and I have a lot of mommy-daughter pairs in class every week, in all age ranges! If you choose not to participate, then I ask that for children 10 and under a parent or guardian be present in the hall throughout the class. For 11 and up, you may choose to drop your daughter off for the duration of class. You are welcome and encouraged to observe the first night of class regardless, though subsequent classes observers are not allowed, out of respect for new dancers struggling with new concepts who may feel uncomfortable being watched. Please come and introduce yourself the first night of class, so you can get to know me a little. Parents should be aware that the occasional racy comment or curse word does slip out now and again in class--my classes are primarily adult women, and the environment is treated as such. Surely I am no Dennis Leary! LOL But I want to make sure I mention this so that if that makes you uncomfortable, this class may not be for you and yours.

Women of "A Certain Age"
For older women, too, this is a fantastic dance form to undertake. Your range of movement, flexibility, and stamina is built gently but surely over each week. And we all need some affirmation now and again as to our undeniable sensuality and strength--at no age are we immune from negative self-talk and the harsh messages of the media. Bellydance is a cure for the sickness of allowing the commercial world determine our beauty and worth!

No matter if you have danced before or not, or how long it has been since you last challenged yourself physically on a regular basis, you will find that bellydance is suited to all women. It is a dance which honors and celebrates diversity in our bodies and abilities, while uniting us in purpose and aesthetics. Unlike other dance forms, which demand that our bodies conform to the ideals of the dance form, bellydance is an art which instead conforms to and compliments our bodies, just as they are.

In my classroom, we celebrate the matriarchal lineage that this dance follows back through history, and I consider it an honor to be able to share this dance with women of wisdom and experience beyond mine.

All Ages in Between
I strive to make my classes accessible for all ages, all women. There is a place for everyone, from 12 to 22 to 42...and beyond! The only way you can know for sure is to come and see for yourself. That's why I offer your first class for free--so you don't have to take my word for it.

I have taken classes with other teachers before. Can I join the Level 2 or 3 class?

Try not to think of the levels as only skill or experience based, but also as collections of information. If you skip 1 and/or 2, you won't get the chance to adequately explore the concepts encompassed in those levels. While these levels may contain more or less information, or move faster or slower, being familiar with the concepts we cover in each is vital to being successful at the next level.

So I invite all new students to come to Level 1 classes to start their exploration of tribal bellydance. While my classes in tribal bellydance are based in "traditional" forms of bellydance, you will find it is very different from anything you have studied before. The skills required in my classes depend on a specific and specialized vocabulary of movement, including very particular body alignment and layering, which you can only learn by studying the style from the ground up. If you have studied FatChance style ATS specifically, please feel free to contact me to discuss your appropriate level.

All that aside, different teachers have very different approaches to the dance, which are important to be familiar with before moving up in their classes. If you have studied other forms of bellydance, you may progress very quickly; or you may find Tribal and/or my classes are so different that it will take more time than you imagined to master the many nuances of this unique art form. Every student is different, and I encourage you to be patient and enjoy the journey!

I feel like I am not progressing as fast as I thought I would/as fast as those around me. This is hard! Any advice?

You are not alone! A lot of students come in with certain expectations about their class experience, and specifically how they will advance in the dance, and they find in a short time that it isn't entirely what they expected. There is a LOT of information to absorb in each and every level of this art form! And it can be self-defeating to expect yourself to learn at the same pace or in the same way as the person next to you. We all need to pay close attention to our own progress and give our studies its due time to seep into our consciousness and our bodies.

Most students spend three sessions to a year in Level 1. Most students stay at the Level 2 level for more than a year or two, as there is a lot of new information to absorb at this level. Many students choose to take the first two class levels in conjunction--refining the previous level while taking on the challenge of the new level. Some may take less time to advance, and some may take longer. My advice, not only with my class but in any class, is to always start at the beginning and take your time. Don't rush the process of learning, strengthening, refinement, and above all getting "into your body", bonding with your classmates, and absorbing the skills at each level before pushing yourself to move up.

For my part, even after dancing for as many years as I have, I love taking foundation level classes from other teachers, for the chance to learn their unique style, and to refine my own skills and see the movement from a new perspective. It is not a sign of being "lesser" or "lower" to be a Level 1 student. Instead, it is the mark of a serious and respectful student to consider each class and each teacher a unique opportunity to revise and refine our skills. All of us, no matter where we are in our dance, benefit from revisiting the foundations often.

What should I expect to know before moving from Level 1 to Level 2?

Goals of a Level 1 Dancer:
  • have FUN! Smile and laugh often
  • get "into" your body and in touch with new muscles and ways of moving
  • attain greater grace, strength, and physical control
  • understand that your personal development will be in your own time in your own way - never compare yourself to others, only to how you are progressing each day, week, or year
  • learn to isolate and smoothly execute foundation movements
  • begin to refine transitions, advancing from individual movements to "dancing"
  • develop a "tribal mind" - to be able to organize and access individual movement information
  • connect with other dancers and together create an environment of joy and safety
  • learn that dance is a journey of many challenging and rewarding steps, not a goal to be chased
  • ask questions as they come up, and did I mention "Have fun!"

What should I expect to be learning in Level 2?

Goals of a Level 2 Dancer
In addition to Level 1 goals, a Level 2 dancer strives to...
  • keep having fun! Never take yourself or the dance too seriously. It should always be a source of joy first and foremost.
  • further develop grace, strength, physical control, and increase endurance
  • refine foundations through continued classes and study in Level 1 material
  • develop greater confidence in leading and following
  • integrate new Level 2 concepts with courage and patience with yourself as you learn new things. Sometimes going up a level feels like "starting all over again"; but accept this challenge with an open mind and you will grow exponentially in your dance
  • learn to hear the music and respond to the phrasing and emotional pulse through appropriate movement and staging choices
  • learn to really "see" your fellow dancers and connect in the moment--be fully present both physically and mentally, and learn to share in that with your fellow dancers
  • develop deeper connections with your fellow dancers through mutual kindness and encouragement
  • understand that determination, humility, enthusiasm, and patience are the hallmarks of a strong student, and we are all of us students throughout all our lives. Never rush the journey.

Also important, a committed Level 2 dancer should consider the following...
  • develop a home practice, with as much discipline and regularity as you feel capable of
  • start a dance journal with class notes, thoughts, ideas, etc. If you have never done one before, ask your teacher for ideas on how to begin.
  • explore the history of the dance, past and present. The internet is an amazing tool--use it! Your teacher is also a great resource, so ask questions when they arise for you.
  • explore other styles of dance, through classes, workshops, and online research such as YouTube (but a strong tribal dancer must keep their movement within their chosen format pure - a unique challenge!)
  • become more actively involved in the dance community through attending workshops and shows
  • understand that confidence paired with simplicity is a powerful combination in a dance and a dancer. Less truly is more.

Are there any videos you recommend for home practice?

There are many many MANY bellydance videos on the market, but only a handful are really relevant to the work you will do in class with me. The most vital videos I can recommend for a new student are the beginning level videos from FatChance Bellydance and Gypsy Caravan.

Our Level 1 class coincides most closely with the FatChance "Tribal Basics: Volume 1", and will provide an excellent companion to your studies as the movements on the video and in class will be nearly identical.

You will definitely gain skills faster and have better retention with a little practice time at home each week between classes. It need not be incredibly formal or lengthy. Just revisiting the concepts for a short time a few days after class will reinforce both your mental memory and your muscle memory.

How do I know when I'm ready for the next level?

Different students learn at different paces, is the short answer. Regardless of the length of time it takes, moving to the next level is based on the student's familiarity and comfort with the information at each previous level. And that takes time! Can you name all the moves at that level on sight, and lead and follow them with proper posture and body alignment? Some level of confidence in this knowledge (not necessarily 100%) is the key to being ready to take on more at the next level.

There is a frequent misconception that if one takes a Level 1 series, the next step is to start taking the Level 2 series, and so on. The truth is, a dancer new to this dance and format can expect to take Level 1 for a AT LEAST few sessions (three or more) times before moving up to Level 2 comfortably, which moves faster and demands a familiarity with the movement vocabulary taught in Level 1.

Some students find that a longer period of time spent at a particular level is beneficial before moving forward, and I encourage you to take it at your own pace, and consult me for recommendations if you like. I do allow students to make the decision to move from Level 1 to Level 2 for themselves, so if you want to try Level 2, you are welcome to try it. For Level 3, moving up is allowed by instructor permission only. The best way to know is by communicating to me your interest in moving up, and I can let you know if the time is right.

Here is a link to shira.net (a fantastic online bellydance resource!), which is a little Q&A on the subject of moving forward in classes. While it is talking about a non-Tribal bellydance class, the same good advice applies!:


Once I have progressed to the next level in class, why would I want to continue taking the previous level class?

Everything we do in an earlier level is built upon by the next, so in many ways we are only as strong as our strongest basic skills. We never truly "move beyond" a given level, but instead are better prepared to deepen our understanding and build upon that foundation with new information. We are able to see the dance in a new light, from a stronger, more confident, more knowledgeable place. And in continuing to study and drill these foundations we refine our vocabulary and partnering skills to enrich our dance experience and make us a better dancer overall.

Sandi of FCBD put it in excellent perspective:
"For me, its kind of like going to yoga classes for a long time. You do the same poses and hear the same words, but you're always able to get better at the poses each time through that verbal guidance. That's what happens with constant practice too. I find that I'm not always successful doing yoga at home on my own because I don't have the guidance and the energy of the other students around me to push me to do it correctly or motivate me to keep the pose for longer.

With ATS, I would always go into a class to not only understand what the teacher is saying, but to get into my body more and try to work on my problem areas."

Additionally, dancing with students who have not reached the same skill level as you will make you a stronger leader and follower. There is no question that dancing with an equally experienced dancer is easier and makes you look good, but by dancing with someone at a different skill level, your strengths as a lead or follow are put to the test. You can learn a lot from these mixed level dance experiences, and they in turn will learn a lot from you!

I offer discounts on multiple classes per week to reinforce this fact. I really encourage any student who wants to strengthen their dance to attend classes more than once a week, and to be humble enough to know that taking "lower level" classes is not "going backward", but is instead a key component to moving forward.

What if I want to take classes from multiple teachers/in other styles?

I heartily encourage my students to explore as many classes with as many teachers as they have time and resources for! Taking classes and workshops in diverse styles will make you a more well-rounded dancer, and can only help you in your advancement in your dance. Seattle has a wealth of instructors and resources, so avail yourself of them!

That said, when and if you decide to perform tribal group improvisation, it can be helpful to narrow your regular weekly studies to one format with one instructor. Tribal group improv demands the ability to recall a very specific set of movements, executed in a very specific way, and requires split-second response times. When trying to develop this muscle memory and swift recall, it can be difficult to be trying to sort through and keep separate information from multiple formats in your head and body.

My advice is to take your time exploring as many teachers and formats as you have available to you, and when and if you decide to pursue group improvisation as a personal style, choose the teacher, class environment, and format that resonates the most with you to focus your time and energies with. If that is me, that would be wonderful! And if it isn't, that's just fine, too. I want my students to pursue their personal bliss, and in dance that is guided most by their trusted teacher and the fellow students they dance with.

FAQ - Performance

by Wednesday, January 03, 2001
New Students - Classes - Performance - Tribal Style Bellydance - All FAQ Topics

Performance FAQ

Categories on this page include:
Performance philosophy - Student and pro troupes

These FAQ's push beyond the most basic inquiries, and delve a little further into some questions which students may have when first coming into my class, as well as on an ongoing basis as a student of mine. Some questions won't always make sense to a brand new student, and are tied to experiences you may have later down the line as you study with me. I encourage you to return to the Extended FAQ throughout your dance studies to see what new information you can learn. And I am always interested in expanding the information I share with you, my students, so if you have any questions you think would be a good addition to this section, please write me.

When do I get to perform?
Performing is an exciting way to bring the joy you feel in dancing to an audience--I have been a performer all my life and can definitely vouch for what a rewarding experience it can be to take to the stage. However, it is by no means a requirement, nor is it even a "natural progression" that every dancer should one day perform. Many students are quite happy to confine their dancing to class and/or their living room, and never perform for the public, and that is absolutely fine.

Read More to see more of the Extended Performance FAQ.

Patience, Persistence and Practice!
For those who do want to perform, it is important to know that the skills one must develop to become a strong performer is a process that takes years. No matter how eager or well-intentioned, one cannot simply "take a few classes" and be adequately prepared to present this art form to an audience. Would you take a few ballet classes and do Swan Lake? Would you take a few painting classes and have a gallery opening? Would you take a few months of piano lessons and put on a concert? No, it takes years of thoughtful study and dedication to reach that point. Any art deserves time and guided development before it is ready to be presented to the public. And you deserve the time to enjoy being a pure student, enjoying the exploration of movement and community, free from the responsibilities that performing demands. Students should consider carefully before accepting an opportunity to perform without the guidance of a trusted mentor/instructor. It's a responsibility that deserves preparation and respect. Please feel free to talk to me if you have any thoughts or questions about performance ethics and preparation.

Hafla Durga 2006
Student level performances, under the guidance of your teacher, are a good way to see if performing is for you, and to learn some basic and vital performance skills. For a student performance, careful choice of the appropriate venue, music, and costuming is something your instructor can guide you in, and are details that should not be taken lightly. A trusted mentor or teacher can help you sidestep common pitfalls, and make sure that you represent yourself beautifully and confidently on stage. Remember, when you perform, you represent not only yourself, but your fellow dancers, your teacher, and the art form in general. Don't you think it's important that you put your best foot forward by being adequately prepared and guided by someone who is experienced in performance of this art? Check out the next section about our student troupe, Nomaditude, to see if it's something you'd like to try!

Bottom line, concentrating on your personal development, dedicating your energies to improving your dance skills and expanding your knowledge of tribal bellydance, may guide you down the road to performing one day. Don't rush the process. Enjoy the work of being a student, and make regular study/classes your highest priority in pursuing a future in performance. Trust me--your dedication and commitment will be well worth it, wherever it leads you.

Can you tell me more about your student troupe?
Our student troupe, Nomaditude, is an invitation-only student level troupe. Members must be Level 3 students, and attend both Level 3 classes and Tribal Fusion Performance Prep classes each week. The opportunities chosen for Nomaditude's participation are specifically geared toward student dancers, and are an appropriate atmosphere for beginning performers to get their feet wet with public performance. Nomaditude is a great way to get a taste of what commitment and time it takes to present a polished show. We generally participate in several events per year.

How does one get to perform with your professional troupe, Double Take Bellydance?

If one were seriously interested in one day being a part of Double Take Bellydance, my classes teach the format which our style is based on. Regular study with me is the way to develop the improvisational skills, movement vocabulary, and diverse elements of tribal fusion bellydance which make up Double Take's format and stylings. While there are no guarantees or promises of an invitation, advanced students in my class and Nomaditude members would have a distinct advantage in consideration for future troupe additions. My greatest advice is to be dedicated and patient--focus on your personal development, setting goals for your own physical and mental growth in the dance, independent of any troupe affiliation expectations. Should you reach Level 3 and are interested in being considered for other performance opportunities, please feel free to talk to me about it.

FAQ - Tribal Bellydance

by Tuesday, January 02, 2001
New Students - Classes - Performance - Tribal Style Bellydance - All FAQ Topics

Tribal Style Bellydance FAQ
Note: This FAQ is currently incomplete.
My apologies, but my archived data is currently lost, and I had to take information from a very old FAQ of mine and try to reconstruct it. Watch this space for an updated Tribal Bellydance FAQ coming soon. Hopefully this will at least answer a few questions while I try to recompile the data.

How is Tribal belly dance different from other forms of belly dance?

The quick answer is threefold:

Group Improvisation - Tribal appears to be choreographed, but, using a common vocabulary of moves and non-verbal communication, the dancers are actually making it up on the spot! This creates a unique energy between the dancers that is tangible to both the performers and the audience.

Costuming - The costumes are an eclectic mix of influences from all along the Romany Trail. The overall look is more "ethnic-flavored", tending to incorporate lots of layers of bold colors, rich fabrics, detailed embroidery, and heavy jewelry.

Attitude - Also called "mood and 'tude" by yours truly, there is a way of carrying oneself as we dance which is widely recognized as the "Tribal posture". Regal and proud, with an even, penetrating gaze or a smile of inward joy and playfulness. Overall, a queenly posture emoting an air of confidence and power.

Tribal is just as serious and technique oriented as any other form of belly dance, or dance for that matter. It takes dedication and time to improve, but the learning process is unique in that it always involves others. True Tribal is NOT a solo dance, though there can be solo portions to a performance. Think about it: TRIBAL. A tribe is a group that shares a common bond. Dancing Tribal is about connecting with other dancers as you express yourself. You may practice at home alone, but to perform Tribal dance involves working in harmony with other dancers.

Read More to see more in the Tribal Bellydance FAQ.

Kajira Djoumahna, author of "The Tribal Bible" has this to say about Tribal versus other belly dance forms:

"Tribal Style favors celebration of strength, mystery and power. Since we are always dancing with at least one other dancer, this style is also characterized by much more interaction between dancers than in other group styles that must rely on choreography, and less interaction with members of the audience than in traditional or solo forms. Because of these fundamental differences, the Tribal Style excels in development of self confidence, strength, camaraderie, awareness of self and others and being in the moment."

Here is copy of some flyers that Carolena Nericcio, the creator of American Tribal Style Bellydance, hands out at her studio, giving a brief history of the style.

What is ATS Part 1
What is ATS part 2

Isn't tribal the same moves as cabaret, just different presentation? I already know all these moves. Why do I need to learn them any certain way? Isn't a figure 8 just a figure 8?

Not really. The way moves are generated, and the very specific body and arm posture associated with each move, is really vital to the pursuit of tribal improv. In cabaret, for instance, when doing a taqsim (figure 8), you can move your arms anyplace you like. Whatever feels right. You face whatever direction you want and just dance it. In tribal, depending on the style you choose to pursue, you will have some very specific positioning and arm accompaniment. And to change the move, you may have other indicators you need to learn to express through the movement you are doing, such as when you want to do a level change, a tempo change, a stylistic variation.

For instance, in the Gypsy Caravan style, for an up figure 8 (called a "taqsim") dancers face straight forward, and the move is accompanied by a snake arm which mirrors the hipwork (when the hip is down, that elbow is down). If I want to indicate a maya (down figure 8) next, my arms resume the tabletop position, and is now accompanied by outward wrist circles. This is important to know, because if someone at the back of the group can't see my hips well, or can't determine what I am doing without looking down at them, they need these other physical cues to indicate what we are doing. If they see me go from a snake arm to an outward wrist circle, then they have an idea that I am going to do a maya.

Similarly, if I switch my body position from straight forward to a 3/4 profile, and my upstage arm raises up into an "L" arm with my right extended palm down, then they know I am going into a hip bump. And in the inFusion style vocabulary, if that extended hand flips up, it is a cue for yet another variation on the move. If the wrist lifts briefly, then it is cueing an inside turn, which has a specific arm movement accompanying it. If it curls at the elbow and my palms rotate out, then it is an outside turn.

And these are only a tiny number of countless examples. Basic Egyptians are different across styles, and various arm and hand variations can indicate turns, travels, or signal combos. So if you just do the Egyptian how you were taught in your cabaret style classes, you may not be able to lead or follow anyone else who studied another style. Getting the idea yet?

I know it can feel frustrating to start back at "square one" when moving to a new style of belly dance, but ultimately, to be able to pursue tribal style, you do need to start from the beginning and get all the moves down very specifically at each level--especially the basic level. It may seem like it will be boring and repetitive, but I can't tell you how many "advanced" belly dance students walked into a Level I class, and afterward remarked how different it was, and how difficult even the simplest moves became when they changed to fit the tribal format. I can't emphasize enough how important it is that you study the nuance of what you are doing at every level, basics through advanced, and learn how those subtleties affect your tribal lead/follow experience.

Do you teach authentic, traditional, or period belly dance?

Depends on what you mean by "traditional" dancing. There is really no such thing, in the literal sense. Even the most "authentic" of belly dance we do today is all based on speculation, piecing together of scattered facts, and the watering down of oral traditions long since adapted and altered through geo-political and religious upheaval over centuries. While much can be traced some distance back, "period dancing" (if by that you mean SCA period of 600-1600) is not something that one can really study or teach with any authority. The best I could suggest is find a teacher and a class you enjoy, with a style that resonates with you. Then take that dancing, add costuming you have researched to your satisfaction as appropriate for your period and geographical area, and you will be as close to period as one can truly be. Read below for more information on the historical authenticity of Tribal.

Is tribal belly dance a historical dance? I have heard that tribal is more authentic than other forms of belly dance. Is this true, and if so, how?

Tribal belly dance traces itself back through the same roots as many of the traditional dances found today in the Middle East, Spain, North Africa, Turkey, and India. These are also the same roots that modern cabaret belly dancers can trace their "lineage" through; only the chosen moves, styling, presentation and implementation is very different. Both Tribal and Raks Sharki are the product of fused cultural elements combined through shifts in borders, political and religious leadership, and migration over time; though I admit fully that Tribal relies heavily on the modern, purposeful fusion of these elements, while Raks Sharki's blendings are more deeply entrenched in historical changes we today have no control over. But I digress! Bottom line: No, Tribal belly dance, from a strictly scholarly angle, is no more authentic or tied to history than any other modern form of belly dance. That's the very short answer. If that is all you want to know, then you can stop reading here or {back to top} and find other questions you might be interested in. Those who want to read my ramblings, read on!

All the above said, I find that the *spirit and focus* behind Tribal belly dance is somewhat more closely tied to history than some other forms you may find in modern day. For an extreme example, from my studies, when Shakira 'shakes it' on stage, this is about as far removed from the original intent and presentation of the dance the further back you follow belly dance through history (please see my full article with more detail on this topic, coming soon). That is not to say that this dancing is wrong, lesser, or does not have its place. I am a strong believer in moving forward and adapting art to feed new audiences--I am a fusion artist myself, after all, and very much enjoy belly dance in all its beautiful forms. But from a strictly historical standpoint, this presentation doesn't quite accurately portray the dance in it's native historical setting.

A common thread found when one researches belly dance origins is the fact that dances such as these were more often private displays, performed only in the company of family or tribe, and was rarely viewed by the eyes of outsiders. In many examples, the dance was only performed and shared among the women, sequestered from the men. The focus of the dance was therefore turned inward, on one another, for one another. The dances were not choreographed or planned--it was a spontaneous expression of the dancer's feelings in the moment. They did, however, know a common vocabulary of movement among their family or tribe, and sometimes would come together in larger displays of synchronicity, while at other times they would just dance alone with abandon. An audience was not a consideration, as there really wasn't one. It was one big gathering of women to share, to heal, to laugh, to celebrate, to mourn...to dance.

I find this to be the same focus of Tribal belly dance today. Dancers are finding a connectedness with other dancers--their "sisters"--through the dance. The format of the dance demands a focus on one another that performing solo or a choreography does not. Many women seek out Tribal because they do not have aspirations to perform publicly or dance solo, but instead want to find a level of joy and fulfillment in sharing the dance among trusted friends. Many people are seeking a sense of community that the world of fast cars, "im-personal" computers, and MTV doesn't seem to afford them. Coming to class is joining their tribe for an hour or more a week, and encourages them to simply share of themselves on a different level than the rest of their life might allow. "Come on, it's just a dance class," you might say. And this is true. One should always remember that ultimately, we are in a class, learning a dance. But the side-benefits of studying Tribal belly dance are numerous and rewarding, and, I believe, links this dance to a long thread of history in a unique way.

This has already gotten much longer than I had planned (this is how it usually works with me, be warned! ;), but the long answer made short comes down to this: while the dance itself is no more historically relevant than other forms of belly dance, the spirit of the gathering of Tribal belly dancers draws on a long line of traditional gatherings going back through centuries of dance. This doesn't make it better or more accurate than other forms of belly dance, but it does make it unique.

I heard that Tribal belly dancers really just dance for each other, and don't worry about whether the audience likes it or not. Is this true?

This is a common misconception about Tribal as a performance art; which differs from Tribal as a personal expression, in my opinion. Both of which are perfectly valid pursuits!

While the overall effect of Tribal is to connect the dancers and turn their attention inward, when performing Tribal belly dance for the public, the focus and intent of the dance MUST shift. As a performer, one has a responsibility to their audience that differs from what is demanded casually in class or at parties. So while the spirit of connectedness and energy projected inward to your "tribe" is vital to maintaining the unique energy and presentation of Tribal, one must learn to divide their attention and energy to share with the audience. Much effort must be made to project yourselves outward to those who have come to watch, honoring their presence while still maintaining the synergy of the group on stage. This skill is one that only develops over much time and concentrated study of this art. And learning some other forms of dance, belly dance or otherwise, on the side helps a lot in developing stage presence, as well as having the side benefit of cross-training your body and providing you new inspiration to incorporate into your dancing!

Where can I learn more about tribal belly dance?

Coming to class and giving it a try is the best way to learn more about Tribal. It is really something to be experienced in order to best understand it. Your first class is free, so it's no risk to check it out.

Instructor Bio - Shay Moore

by Monday, January 01, 2001
Dance Training - Career Highlights - Beyond Dance

"The most essential thing in dance discipline is devotion, the steadfast and willing devotion to the labor that makes the classwork not a gymnastic hour and a half, or at the lowest level, a daily drudgery, but a devotion that allows the classroom discipline to become moments of dancing too."
~ Merce Cunningham

Shay Moore
"The simple truth: I love this dance, and I love the community that grows around it"

The reason I chose to teach this dance was because I wanted to be part of building a community here in Seattle around this beautiful, powerful, transformative art form that is tribal bellydance. And with the help and enthusiasm of students and fellow teachers alike, we have created just that together, and have reached far beyond the geography of one city to reach people around the world with the joy and empowerment this dance brings to our lives. I believe the core of tribal bellydance is not only based in our strength and technique as dancers, but also in our creative spirit and sense of connectedness with fellow dancers in our community and around the globe. I am excited by opportunities to help to guide other women on a path to their own artistic expression. I hope you will be inspired to join us.

Click here to read more about my training...

Shay Moore
"One of my greatest joys is traveling to other cities and sharing my passion for this dance with others through teaching workshops and performing."

I have had the honor of being hosted as a featured instructor and performer at some of the largest tribal bellydance festivals in the world, including Tribal Fest, Tribal Quest Northwest, and 3rd Coast Tribal. In 2007, my work was internationally recognized when I was nominated Instructor of the Year in the Zaghareet Magazine people's choice awards--what an exciting and humbling honor!

For more information on on my tribal bellydance classes, or to inquire about hosting me for a workshop in your area, contact me at shay@doubletakebellydance.com.


by Monday, January 01, 2001
Click here for a full review of Sharon's 3rd Coast Tribal 2007 workshops.

Click here for a full review of Sharon Moore and inFusion Tribal's Bhangra Fusion workshop at TQNW 2005, published in Zaghareet Magazine.

Some of Sharon's reviews from TeachStreet.com:

"Coming to Sharon as a baby dancer (from out of state, and by recommendation of my dance teacher at that time) I felt extremely welcome in her classes.

Sharon is a wealth of information and inspiration. She teaches to accommodate all level of dancers in a non-competitive, fun environment, and encourages making the dance your own.

Studying with Sharon and all the other amazing women who take her classes has brought a joy to my life that i can't imagine ever living without!"
~ Erika

"I have to admit, I chose Shay's class purely on time & location but boy howdy, am I glad I did. First of all, Shay is gorgeous dancer who is both inspiring and encouraging. Her teaching style is very friendly, relaxed, & approachable &, dammit, she's just a delightful person.

I highly recommend her beginning class. If anyone can make the material accessible, it's Sharon."
~ Nakaj

And even more reviews:
"Your workshops were the best I took at 3rd Coast this year. I really enjoyed your style of teaching, and I really felt that "conversation" element you mentioned at the beginning of each workshop. I am often so intimidated by instructors that I ask very few questions during a workshop, but you created such a positive and warm environment that asking questions seemed like a natural extension of the lesson. And you added something I haven't seen in a workshop in a while- lots and lots of F-U-N! I haven't laughed and "played" in dance like that in a long, long time. Thank you!"
~ Nari

"Wow! What a fun time I had seeing you dance, hanging out with you on Saturday night, and most importantly, learning from you on Sunday. I'd heard what a great teacher you are, Sharon, and for once, the rumor mill was true."
~ Ali of n.o.madic tribal

"after taking your workshop at 3rd Coast.....I am going to become a junkie, I can feel it. That was the most awesome workshop I took the whole weekend. I had more fun in that workshop than all others combined!! You guys are 'da bomb!!!"

"Just basking in the after glow of an amazing weekend! Just returned from a weekend workshop with Sharon Moore and her friend Gen in Kamloops B.C. The music, moves, atmosphere, exercise, socializing, purchasing and buying some more... it's all such a wonderful memory!

I loved it, loved it, and then I really enjoyed myself! I figured out awhile ago that Egyptian wasn't it for me, although beautiful I was looking for something different and Sharon Moore style is definitely "IT". It combines the coolness of tribal with the fun of Bhangra, the beauty of Spanish and the community of lead and follow, what more could you ask for?

Well how about a teacher and assistant that bring you the whole package in a style that makes you feel comfortable yet challenged at the same time! Those of you who know me know that it is rare for me to be at a loss for words but I really cannot explain how much this style of dance speaks to what I have been looking for.

Thanks so much to Sharon and Gen,
Your loyal stalker from B.C.
S.L. of Langley B.C.

Kickin' it in Connecticut
"We had so many people tell us how much they enjoyed your workshops as well as all of us (troupe members) having a great time and being in awe of your teaching skills and funness (I know, I am making up words all over the place today...must be in the tea I'm drinking),so we just wanted to let you know how much we appreciated you coming to teach, and we hope to do it again in the future."
~ Cindy Bear, Malidoma - workshop host

"I recently sponsored Sharon in a 2-day workshop in Canada, and she was fantastic. Challenged both beginners and the more advanced dancers, taught lots of great new material and subtle nuances to the more familiar stuff ... great vibe all weekend. You guys are going to have a great time!"
~ a workshop sponsor's recommendation

"Your passion for the dance really comes through in your performance and in your teaching. It's very inspiring!"
~ a workshop participant, Tribal Fest, Sebastopol, CA

"You're an excellent dancer - the best one I've had for dance. You have a natural ability to teach dancing - keep it up!"
~a Cues & Tattoos participant, Seattle, WA

Workin' up a sweat at TQNW!
"Your workshop Sunday was by far the best one I took all weekend. Too bad I put so much energy into the workshop just before yours that I could barely move. But your notes are so clear that I didn't miss a thing. What I love about your dancing is the perfect combination of classic tribal moves with whatever is au courant. BRAVO !!!!!!!!"
~ a workshop participant at TQNW, Portland, OR

"Many of us attended your workshop, and took more than dance technique away. Your open and inviting attitude towards dance has become an essential part of our philosophy of dance. It is a wonderful gift that we will never be able to thank you enough

"You are fun, entertaining, and genuine. I really enjoyed learning from you--you are one of the best workshop teachers I have ever taken from! Thank you."
~ a workshop participant in Winnipeg, Manitoba

"You are a great teacher! I felt you were aware of everyone in the room, even in such a large group, and gave your attention to whoever needed it. I loved the individual attention, and the pacing was perfect. What a wonderful, enjoyable workshop."
~ a workshop participant in Billings, MT

Sharon, Gen, and Kamloops gals goofin'.
"I can't believe how FUN it was! I was terrified of group improv before your workshop, and now I can't wait to play with it more. You made it so accessible, and your sense of humor kept my spirits high even when my energy was running low (you kicked our butts!) Thanks for a fantastic weekend."
~ a workshop participant, Kamloops, BC

"You have such wonderful energy that surrounds and flows from you and is truly contagious."
~ A.

"I want to thank you for the work we did in class last night... I needed a little confidence boost and last night's class certainly hit the spot. I was so pumped about class I couldn't sleep last night!"
~ S.

"I am so inspired by your teaching...I thought you should know that you make things so easy to understand. And you work our booties!"
~ M.

"This is one of my favorite things that I do. It appears to be just a dance class, but it means so much more than that to me and to all of the other women in our class. Thank you so much for sharing all that you do."
~ R.

"I think you set a very good example for other instructors... (This class is) a fulfillment of all the things I've looked for in other classes I've taken but not gotten. (It is) a lot of

~ T.

3rd Coast Tribal in TX - Beginning to Intermediate Group Improv and Bhangra Improv
Review by Mary

I had the pleasure of taking two workshops at 3rd Coast with Sharon and Renee. I signed up for the Beginning Tribal Improv class mostly because I had a blank spot in my schedule to fill. I'm not really a fan of group improv, and had no desire to perform it, but thought I might refine some of my technique since there's no tribal instruction in my area. Talk about an eye opener! It turned out to be probably the most informative workshop I took on the trip, and I took 11 of them. Sharon explains moves in simple terms that are easy for me to understand and remember. Because everything was so well explained, we were able to quickly move on to other steps. We also took several breaks where we followed along as Sharon and Renee reviewed the steps. I felt an amazing elation the first time I saw Sharon turn her head and thought "Oh, we're going to turn with this move now," and found myself following along with the group improv. Although I would want a LOT more instruction before attempting group improv at home, I realized that improv, when done well, is beautiful and nearly seamless. I'm not as afraid of it as I once was.

At the end of 3rd Coast, I also attended Sharon's Bhangra Fusion Improv class. This was the last class of the workshop, which might not have been the best time to attempt a high-energy dance, but I couldn't help but try to bounce along. I've always been interested in Bollywood and Bhangra, but lacked any instruction. The quick shoulder moves are still a challenge, but Sharon and Renee taught us a lot of steps to use, and left me worn out but invigorated to show my troupe and work it into our repertoire.

If I lived anywhere near Seattle, I would try to attend Sharon's regular classes. Hopefully I will be able to convince my troupe to take an extended weekend trip there at some point in the future, and we can try to snag some private lessons with this talented instructor.


On this blog I share my personal posts about cooking and knitting, travel and other musings; while I will blog about dance-specific topics over on the Deep Roots Dance blog:

I hope you will enjoy both my sites. Thanks for visiting!
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