The Cassandra School Classes FAQs
What is Belly Dance?
Do I have to perform?
Belly Dance is a term for a beautiful feminine dance form from the Middle East. Its movements are thousands of years old and are based on traditional folk dances. Belly dance differs from Western dance forms by emphasizing the torso and using isolations to express the rhythmic and emotional qualities of Arabic music. Traditionally, it is an improvised solo dance — a dancer’s personal interpretation of the music. Attend Jawaahir’s performances and you will get a better feel of what the dance is about and its roots!
Yes! The dance is a great total body workout that builds strength, is easy on your joints, and increases your flexibility. Belly dance is also a great emotional release because it is fun and creative!
Our Fundamentals and Level 1 classes are geared for non-dancers. You will learn basic movements and then build upon them.
Yes. You may progress more quickly than a non-dancer, but you need to learn the basics, as they are the building blocks for more advanced technique. Again, belly dance uses the body in very different ways than other dance forms. You will also need to learn how to play finger cymbals.
Too old? Never! Our classes are filled with women of all ages, mostly 20s to 70s, and we do accept girls as young as 13. Classes are geared toward the adult learner, so girls younger than 13, due to shorter attention spans, must be accompanied by an adult.
Yes, there will be women of all sizes in the classes. The beauty of this dance form is that it makes you feel wonderful in your own body, no matter its size or shape.
This depends on the type of injury and your doctor’s advice. Speak with your teacher about past injuries or body weaknesses so that she can give you alternative exercises or movements if necessary. Mostly you need to learn the difference between good and bad pain so that you don’t aggravate the condition. Some conditions can actually be improved through proper exercise. For example, lower back problems may be lessened by strengthening your abdominals. Learn to listen to and respect your body.
The classes start with warm-up and conditioning exercises to help you prepare for the movements you will learn. Level 1 and above classes continue with instruction in dance movements mixed with finger cymbal instruction. The class closes with stretching and cool-down exercises. All of this is done to an array of fun Arabic musical selections.
The Cassandra School offers year-round classes in 10 week sessions. Beginner and Level 2 classes are 90 minutes long. Levels 3-5 and some special classes are 2 hours long.
Wear workout or dance wear, something comfortable to move in that you don’t mind sweating into! See photo.
We dance barefoot, so you don’t need special footwear. Some students do wear dance slippers or sandals, but that is a personal choice.
You are welcome to bring or purchase a hip scarf to accentuate the movements, but it isn’t necessary. We do have some hip scarves available for purchase should you develop a craving we call bead lust, the strong desire for something sparkly!
We teach all students how to play finger cymbals, or zils, starting at our beginner level and continuing through all levels. The Cassandra School does provide zils you can use during our beginner classes. We sell them and encourage you to purchase your own so that you can practice on your own.
No. This is a good workout — it would be too hard on the fine fabrics of a costume.
No. As you develop as a student you may choose to perform or not. Many students take classes just for their own pleasure. If you do wish to develop performance skills, there will be student opportunities that your teacher will let you know about. Whether you wish to perform or not, attending performances is very educational.
This will depend on the teacher. Traditionally the dance was and still is improvised, so a choreography or dance combinations are only tools to help you learn how the dance works with the music. The fun creative part comes when you learn to dance your own dance, as you feel it!
Like most dance schools programs, students remain at a level for about a year before moving to the next level. So usually a beginner student has studied for 0-1 years, Level 2 for 1-2 years, Level 3 for 2-4 years, etc. There is a lot of material to learn and master at each level which the next level will build upon. All this depends on your ability and, oh yes, how much you practice. Your teacher is your best guide and will tell you when you have mastered a level and are ready for the next.
Of course, and it will help you learn faster!
As a brand new student, you can start with either class. Both the classes start at the same place, but Fundamentals moves just a little bit faster because you're not playing finger cymbals. Taking Fundamentals first just gives you a little head start on the regular Level 1 classes.
Most of our students stay in Level 1 for about a year. At the end of the 10 weeks of Level 1 you're much farther along than at the end of the 5 weeks of Fundamentals.
Beginning dancers can join a Fundamentals class at any time.
If you choose not to take Fundamentals, we recommend beginning dancers start Level 1 within the first 3 weeks of a session because the class is progressive. We want you to have fun and not get frustrated by not understanding the movements and isolations, and zil patterns, that have been taught and are being built upon.
If you can’t wait for the next session, call the office to see whether we have an opportunity for you to join a class already in session. No guarantees, but we’ll try to accommodate your enthusiasm.
All 90 minute classes are $16 per class or $140 for the 10 week session. All two hour classes are $18 per class or $160 for the 10 week session.
We do not carry over missed classes from one session to the next. If you pay for a session you must make up missed classes during the session. If you are in Level 1 you may attend any other Level 1 class by simply showing up and telling the instructor you are doing a make-up. Students in Level 2 and above may attend any class at their level or a level close to their level.
There are three ways to register for class:
Every teacher has a different style, and we completely understand if your teacher is not right for you. If that happens, feel free to switch to a different class.
Classes are occasionally cancelled when blizzard conditions make it unsafe to move around town. The decision to cancel classes is made at 3:30pm weekdays and 11:00am Saturday.
There are three ways to find out if classes are cancelled; phone, website, and email reminder.
We'd be happy to answer them. Just give us a call at 612-872-6050.