Can you Learn to Belly Dance at Home?
Updated: Dec 26, 2020
"As we watch schools going back in session and closing down the same day, it seems that we have no choice: if you want to learn to belly dance, you're going to have to do it from home."
Will it be easy? That depends on you. What do you define as "easy?"
The actual technique of the moves?
Where to find the space to do it?
When to find the time? (yeah, I know we're at home, but all those house projects that we "should" be doing nag at us)
How to actually stay motivated when there is no deadline like a recital? or friends to see at a gym?
It's OK. I got your back, as they say. Here is my advice:
Do like so many schools are doing now: do it online, at home, with a variety of resources and platforms.
Today, more than ever before, we can learn belly dance and become highly skilled without ever leaving home. There are free YouTube videos, instructional DVDs, articles on websites, how-to books that we can order, and online courses (shameless self-promo—here's our Introduction to Belly Dance course. And we already have mirrors to see ourselves and speakers to play music to dance to. And phones to record ourselves and see how we're doing.
Here are some pros and cons of each resource/platform for learning to belly dance at home.
Fabulous....because there are literally thousands of them. Terrible...because if you don't yet know how to judge the skill of the teacher, you are likely to learn bad habits. So, first decide what is important to you. If you just want to have fun, and you like the belly dance tutorial you've found, who cares if the technique being taught is good?
Honestly speaking, in my humble opinion, only about 1% of YouTube belly dance tutorials out there are any good—usually the framing and the videography is haphazard, and the sound quality is atrocious. And because the pedagogy of the art form itself is practically non-existent, the platform is riddled with relatively new dancers who, after a couple of years of lessons themselves, a pretty costume, and a few performances now think they are experts at teaching the art.
However, there are some tutorials that are very good, but they are not necessarily easy to find on YouTube as the teacher uploading must also be an expert in SEO (search engine optimization) and the YouTube algorithm in order to reach those of us looking for good belly dance tutorials. You can check out our tutorials here—we've worked diligently to deliver quality belly dance instruction to you.
Another method for learning to belly dance using YouTube is to find a dancer you admire and copy her/his performance as you watch—dance right along with the dancer. This is a classic way of learning a trade, art, or craft. And it's a method I employed (and still do) extensively. It is definitely not easy, and it is time-consuming, but if you enjoy that type of process, there are plenty of videos out there.
This is a straight-forward way of learning to belly dance. There are many to choose from and plenty with specialty areas. One of the drawbacks for me when I was starting out, was deciding which DVD to start with. I bought many, plenty of which were pricey, and was disappointed by several, as I simply was not impressed with the method of teaching. However, there were a couple that I loved and studied from over and over. I still have them and love them.
Articles & Books
This is kind of an archaic way of learning to belly dance at home nowadays because we have so many video options available. However, I still love the written word and have gained a lot of concept ideas from reading articles by famous belly dance musicians and dancers. Search the internet and belly dancer websites.
I'm thinking that this is the wave of the future in belly dance instruction. Not that anything can replace face-to-face classes with a "real, live" teacher, but we know that mostly that just ain't possible right now. There are not as many courses available online as there are DVDs, but that is changing fast. I've found similar drawbacks to these courses as in my review of belly dance tutorials on YouTube —there's simply a lot of well-meaning, but misinformed belly dance teachers. The great thing is that doing an online course makes accessible to so many of us.
We have formatted our programs with the whole course laid out for you and you simply have to follow our suggested schedule, as if you were going to a class at your local "Y" or dance studio. Here's our Introduction to Belly Dance course. (You can sign up on our Blog page if you want to be alerted when new courses and blog posts are ready.)
If you have any ideas you can share with your own experiences belly dancing at home, post a comment.
©Jennifer Carpenter-Peak & Robert Peak, 2020