How to Become a Certified Belly Dance Instructor

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While there is no universal body for certifying belly dance, you can still take training and gain certificates of completion. Find ways to attain "certification" with help from a professional belly dancer in this free video.

Part of the Video Series: Belly Dancing
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Linda. We're here today at Essy's Rug Gallery, and right now I'm going to talk to you about becoming a professional belly dance instructor. Now, the thing with belly dancing is that there is no certification program and it's very subjective as to who is really a qualified teacher and who is not, but I have a list of things that I think are really important and that students tend to look for in a teacher, so we're going to go over some of those things right now. The first thing is you need to go ahead and get as much performance experience as you can. Although there are some teachers who don't really have a lot of professional performance experience, you always have more to offer your students if you have experience in the field, which is true with just about any profession. To get performance experience, you want to start by studying under a teacher who also has that experience and ask her to help you get to that point where your performing professionally at restaurants and weddings and places like that. Generally, what you do is you start out by taking weekly classes, sometimes several times a week and also private lessons, and then from there you can start joining student or community troops, and after that when you're ready, your teacher will have you usually shadowing her at other performances and then starting out on your own for small gigs. Once you have that performance experience under your belt, you're going to be a lot more capable of teaching your students what they really need to know about it. Now, the truth is that a lot of people study belly dancing and they want to teach it just from a fitness aspect, and if that's the case, performance experience is a really good thing, but you don't have to go breaking your back just to get into a restaurant or on-stage gigs, or anything like that. What you can do, though, is educate yourself about other related fields, like aerobics instruction; you need to understand stretching, and you should have a really good idea of the basic anatomy of the body with bones and muscles. That's to help prevent any kind of injury that you may encounter with your students. Other things you can do to help your students get the most out of their classes, and to be a successful teacher, are to make sure that you really understand the whole world of belly dance. There are lots of different styles out there, and everybody has something that's going to draw them in a little bit more than others. Chances are there are workshops that come through your areas. Belly dance workshops are usually between two and five hours in a day, and they're really great ways of studying with lots of different teachers who have lots of different things to offer without you having to travel very far, but if a master instructor comes into your area, don't be afraid to drive a few hours because it's very well worth it, especially if they're coming from Europe or Egypt, or places in Latin America where belly dancing has a very strong base. As a teacher, your job is to ensure that your belly dancers are getting the right kind of education, so that means that you need to teach them authentic styles of belly dance. You also need to tell them when you're teaching them something that's not a belly dance movement. So for instance, if you want to fuse other things, like Latin dancing or Indian dancing or something like that, make sure that they understand that that's what you're doing so that they don't have misconceptions about the art form. The other thing that you want to do is make sure that you're encouraging your students. A big part of belly dancing is body awareness, and also body acceptance. You have to remember that a lot of people are already a little insecure about being there in the class. So, make sure that you're very encouraging to them, that you compliment them, and that you're always, always very encouraging of the progress that they're making over time. So in closing, the things that you need to do to be a good belly dance instructor is to get a lot of experience and information yourself, and to make sure that you're talking to your students in a way that's very encouraging and very sweet. Make sure that you study as much as you can, and remember to be a lifelong learner, because belly dancing is a very old art form, thousands of years old in fact, and there's always something new to learn.

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