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

Belly Dance Teacher Tip:
Voice Control for Dance Classes


By Saqra



Two very useful vocal techniques for teaching dance include:

  • Good projection, and 
  • Dual level voice technique

Projection is also useful when making announcements at events, lecturing, or leading rehearsals.



Good Projection

Good projection is being able to speak calmly at very high volume. It is important because good projection allows you to be heard and command attention.

Most people tend to strain when they speak loudly, causing their voices to rise, changing their sound to resemble angry shouting, and actually straining their voices.

I learned to project for real during "the great kid's party clown strike of 1990." I temporarily worked as a clown scab for corporate picnics, and I needed to learn how to yell at large numbers of children without sounding like I was angry or scolding.

If you don't want to repeat my goofy way of learning, I would suggest you lock yourself in your car with a magazine and read aloud. Next, imagine that the person you are reading to has moved outside the car, then across the street, then down the street. 

Continue reading in your original tone, but just make it just a little louder, so your imaginary listeners can still hear you. 

Imagine your listeners come back toward you. As they return, you maintain the same tone, but lower the volume. 


When you are teaching a large class, speak as if your students are 1 1/2 to 2 times farther away than they really are.

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




Dual Level Voice

Dual level voice involves using two speaking levels. This takes advantage of people's ability to process (or specifically NOT process) more than one conversation at a time.

When you speak in two distinct "voices" your students can follow one, the other, or both voices and they will lock on the information that works best for them. The parts of the information that are not actually spoken are usually implied from inside the student's brain.

A great example would be counting the counts in one voice, and calling cues in another. This is particularly useful when drilling both steps and timing at the same time: for example, if teaching combinations or choreography.


If leading a simple hip diamond lock pattern with glutes:

"Squeeze right and both and left and squeeze drop and" communicates that you will be moving into the diamond lock, that the squeezes occur on the count, that the pelvic release needs a contracting setup, and that there is a "to neutral" after every count.

Or teaching a choreography by calling the next block of choreography with the block title, then calling the timing in a different voice:

"Bells down and down down walk and walk and hair flip two three..." shows what section you are on, the amount of emphasis in movement, and where the counts lie in the movement timing.

Teaching dance is like conducting an orchestra. You need to communicate not just the downbeat/counts, but you also need to communicate the quality of movement. With choreography, you may need to cue the information in the student's head. And all these need to happen at the same time, so they are best cued at the same time in independent voices.

Fortunately, people translate multiple conversations well. Teachers just need to do it.

To practice this, try counting to four loudly along with music (assuming the music is 4/4) while you do housework. Describe what you are doing as you actually do it in a softer voice. When your description overrides the counting, finish your description and resume your counting on the number that would be correct had you continued to count.

Some people do find this a coordination exercise but it gets better fast, and this will ensure you remain audible over music and ambient noise.

Your mileage may vary, of course.

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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