Photo of Shira



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

Belly Dance Tip: No Need to be Intimidated by Workshops!


By Saqra




Why You Should Stop Being Intimidated by Belly Dance Workshops!

Are you intimidated by a belly dance workshop you signed up for?



Listen to me on this.

From An Instructor's Perspective

I have taught all over the world, including teaching in languages I don't really speak.

  • I should be able to teach anyone participating in a group setting as long as they are paying attention.
  • I should have enough experience to teach on multiple dance levels at the same time.

Because that's what qualified workshop instructors do. And if I don't teach in a way that reaches you, it is my fault, not yours!

From an Event Producer's Perspective

I have produced a huge number of belly dance events, in all the styles.

Event producers trade notes about which instructors lack the skill to manage a multi-level class. Any instructor getting past this teaching-proficiency filter and still getting hired is getting hired by being a flash-in-the-pan good performer.

So, as a student, look for reviews from other students who have studied with this person in the past that say they had fun and/or learned a lot. Or, ask your friends who have studied with that teacher and ask them for their feedback. I promise that not everyone is smarter than you. A bad workshop experience almost always means a bad or inexperienced teacher.

A bad workshop experience almost always means a bad or inexperienced teacher.

From a Student Perspective

From a student perspective (I'm still one of those too), read the workshop description. If it doesn't say "advanced level only" or "master level only" it is multi-level. That is everyone. Really.

[Whispering: Look, if the only people that go to the workshop are the two local judgmental dancers that think only they are good enough, the producer will go broke and they will never bring back anyone in the future. Seriously.]

If the description does say advanced or master level, be aware that this means:

  • This workshop should not the first time you have tried belly dance.
  • You should be solidly past beginning training.
  • You should be able to guess for yourself how to execute a move you see.
  • You are expected to be able to focus, listen, act professionally, and follow directions.
  • You don't need to be perfect.

As a student, be aware that there are a few basic styles of workshops. Instructors might blend the workshop styles, but they usually lean heavier towards one of these in a workshop:

  • Choreography and Combinations (steps with transitions)
  • Vocabulary (steps without a particular transition or context. Examples might be "741 veil moves" "476 shimmies")
  • Informational (talking topics: movement organizational concepts, cultural context, music, non-step focused material, stagecraft, etc.)

And here's the thing: not everyone is good at learning all three styles of workshop formats no matter how long they have been dancing and how good they are at dancing. So occasionally an instructor's approach for a given topic isn't going to be compatible with your learning style. And that isn't anyone's fault.

Closing Thoughts

Because this dance form does not have true standardization, what one person would call "advanced" and what another would call "advanced" can be very different even within the same town. Instructors know this.

Go to the workshop! Try! Make a sincere effort to listen and learn as much as you can! The only one judging you is you!

Trust me. Your mileage won't vary by much.




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



Copyright Notice

This entire web site is copyrighted. All rights reserved.

All articles, images, forms, scripts, directories, and product reviews on this web site are the property of Shira unless a different author/artist is identified. Material from this web site may not be posted on any other web site unless permission is first obtained from Shira.

Academic papers for school purposes may use information from this site only if the paper properly identifies the original article on using appropriate citations (footnotes, end notes, etc.) and bibliography. Consult your instructor for instructions on how to do this.

If you wish to translate articles from into a language other than English, Shira will be happy to post your translation here on along with a note identifying you as the translator. This could include your photo and biography if you want it to. Contact Shira for more information. You may not post translations of Shira's articles on anybody else's web site, not even your own.

If you are a teacher, performer, or student of Middle Eastern dance, you may link directly to any page on this web site from either your blog or your own web site without first obtaining Shira's permission. Click here for link buttons and other information on how to link.



Explore more belly dance info:

Top >
Belly Dancing >
Index to Advice Section


Share this page!

On Facebook


 Top > Belly Dancing > Index to Advice Section

| Contact Shira | Links | Search this Site |