How to Become a Certified Belly Dance Instructor

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Since its introduction to the United States at the 1893 World's Fair, belly dancing has fascinated many. Interest in belly dancing as an exotic, yet strenuous, form of exercise has increased in recent years. If you have been belly dancing for a few years and would like to share this art form with others, becoming a certified belly dance instructor could give you the background and credibility to offer lessons on your own.

  • Train in the art of belly dancing. Many students take years of lessons with a seasoned instructor before mastering the moves.

  • Decide which style of belly dancing you want to teach. The American Tribal Style, created by Carolena Nericcio in the 1970s, may be the most popular form in the United States. Egyptian or Oriental styles are considered more authentic. Many modern styles incorporate other forms of dance, such as hip hop.

  • Learn about the culture of belly dancing. The history and the significance of dance is a part of your students' learning experience.

  • Research program requirements. Many belly dance certification programs have minimum training requirements before you are even admitted, while others include technique as a part of the program.

  • Determine what you expect to get out of the program. Are you a well trained dancer, but have no idea how to lead a class? Or do you have lesson plans all worked out and just need to fine tune your technique? Some programs focus on teaching techniques, while others focus on dancing.

  • Find a program format that is right for you. Certification programs vary widely in their format and length. Some are offered as weekend seminars. Others require a 16-week commitment. A few programs provide training via DVD and participants complete the certification exam either in person or by submitting a video of themselves.

  • Take business management courses. If you plan to make a career out of belly dance instruction, courses in small business management, finance, accounting or marketing can be helpful.

  • Consider obtaining ACE® Group Fitness Instructor Certification from the American Council on Exercise. If you plan on teaching group lessons at a facility such as a gym or studio, you may be required to obtain ACE certification.

Tips & Warnings

  • An Internet search for "belly dance certification" turns up certification programs in a variety of belly dance methods. You may want to limit your search to your geographic area or by the method of dance you prefer. Many community colleges offer courses in business management. A course in small business management will guide you through setting up your tax ID and obtaining a business license. You will need current adult CPR and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) certification to qualify for ACE® Group Fitness Instructor Certification. Information on CPR and AED certification can be found through the American Red Cross.

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