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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

How to Get Your Money's Worth from a Choreography Workshop


By Saqra


Table of Contents



If You Plan to Perform It

This dance tip applies regardless of whether you are planning on using the choreography as taught or with some changes.

If you learn a choreography in workshop and plan on performing it mostly intact in the future, do first find out whether it is okay with the instructor to use it. (I know, it seems a no-brainer that you should be able to use a choreography you paid to learn in a workshop, but believe it or not, some instructors do not allow that. And yes, I know that is extremely questionable, but it happens.) Also, do always give credit if at all humanly possible in all circumstances.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Ian Cartlidge, Leeds, United Kingdom.





Now, all that said, most people learn a choreography in a workshop with no intention of dancing it again in the future. They are learning steps, combinations, a different approach to musical interpretation, etc.

When you go to a workshop that is teaching a choreography, make a point of writing down (or videotaping yourself outside the workshop room on break. (Write down what you want to include in the video while you are still in the workshop, so that you remember what to do when you make the video.) Video the combinations in the choreography that you find interesting (strike you as something new to you) or inspiring (give you new ideas about ways things can be approached). It's preferable to do this during the workshop. (This is another one some instructors do not allow, and another one I think is questionable, but I only get to control my own actions as an instructor.)

Most people already have the next concept: as you remember the choreography, on subsequent run-throughs start to make it your own. Bring in your performance face and body positioning, and put in details that are more "you."

But here is the valuable tip most people miss.... during a run-through, stand and watch the instructor again. What is that instructor doing that is different from you?? Is the instructor heavier or lighter in movement? Does this person give a different audience impression? Is there a different type of flourish? See that. Can you reproduce something closer to that? Your interpretation is valid but try the instructor's, too.

And then BONUS TIP: During some of the repetitions, stop and watch other people in the workshop. Pay attention to what their interpretations are. Don't always look to the most obvious and flashy participant. Eye-catching often is based on polish and not interpretation.

If your style is completely embedded then your dance is already stagnating. Stretch yourself, and find a new compatible voice for your own style.

Your mileage may vary, but you might as well get more miles out of a workshop that, by its nature, needs to repeat and repeat and repeat itself.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.




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About the Author

Saqra (Seattle, Washington, USA) is a powerful dance artist and a master instructor. Her fluidity, grace, and technical skill is highlighted by her friendly demeanor and clear joy of the dance. She did not inherit the diva gene.

Saqra won titles in Belly Dance USA (Oregon), Belly Dancer of the Year (California), Belly Dancer of the Universe (California), Wiggles of the West (Nevada), and many other competitions. She was voted "Best Kept Secret of 2005" and "Instructor of the Year 2008" by readers of Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra's journey in this dance form began in 1977 and has led her to study with many of the best dancers in the world, including in America, Canada, Turkey and Egypt. Saqra continues to travel and study both in the USA and abroad and prides herself on proper research for anything she teaches. Folklore, fakelore, and stage creativity: all three are valuable, and Saqra clearly presents for each what they actually are. Saqra is constantly expanding her expertise in the traditional ethnic forms of the dance, the modern stage variants, and the continuing evolving fusion techniques, all these areas combined keep her material fresh and current.

Saqra is widely known as an event promoter, musician, music and instructional video producer, and a registered hypnotherapist in the state of Washington. That is enough stuff to start explaining what she has been doing in belly dance since 1977. Visit her at

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California. In the photo, Saqra is holding her Teacher of the Year 2008 Award from Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra with Award



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