What do you really think of on-line belly dance classes?

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Okay…maybe I am getting myself in trouble here but I’ve had this on my list of things to talk about…I was wondering what your thoughts were about the changes in dance instruction. Including into this is of course on-line belly dance classes. What I thought I would do is give you my take on things and then hopefully those of you who comment in will give me yours. I think all viewpoints are necessary in making the carousel of life go round. I’m hoping for varied viewpoints and thoughts on the matter so I’m crossing my fingers you will write in. Even if you aren’t a fan of on-line classes all comments are welcome so don’t be shy.

First off I know that on-line classes are a mixed bag for studio trained and experienced dancers who are old school in their views regarding the problems that can arise from on-line classes especially for beginners.But Daniel and I decided to do the on-line classes because we both felt that there dance enthusiasts living in isolated areas, economically strapped, the single parent or both parents who worked who deserved the chance to learn. Daniel did a survey and we sent it out to dancers from all over with different levels of dance expertise. What we received back really surprised us both. The questions asked ranged from what would you like to see in class to what are your problem areas and the obvious questions of location, teacher availability and class time versus family time. There were multiple questions we asked but these are just a few to give you and idea of what we were looking for.

First off, some experienced dancers loved their teachers but they wanted more instruction than they were getting in class. On-line classes gave them this opportunity in the privacy of their own home and some felt this was better because they didn’t want to upset their teachers by telling them they wanted more instruction. Some women who wanted to continue their dance instruction couldn’t afford to go to classes anymore with the gas crunch that came our way 5 years ago. Others found that work hours didn’t allow them the time they needed for dance and surprisingly we had women write in who didn’t like their teachers or they had problems with other students in class and on-line classes gave them a way out. I love that I work with teachers because I’m able to share with them ideas for class time along with my philosophy on dance and students. Sharing curriculum ideas is the best part!

Location and teacher availability was way up on the list with women checking out my website and we received emails from dancers who traveled two hours one way or more for dance classes. This includes either no teachers in specific areas or sporadic workshops that dancers had to travel far to go to. The survey went out to dancers and students from all over the world so those who wrote in from Australia or from different locations in South Africa wanted options. I had women who lived in rural areas here in the States and Canada that had no teachers at all. There were women taking belly dance instruction from videos who told us they belly danced after the kids went to bed or others in the morning before work. I’ve had dancers say they love the option of practicing during lunch time. My main concern was for women who wouldn’t have the chance at all because of where they lived. Let’s remember, I lived on ranches hours away from any towns and in those days (I’m telling my age here) there was nothing on the internet in the way of classes, it just wasn’t thought of yet. I had videos that saved the day and the dancers who made them are appreciated to this day more then they will ever know.

Personally, I know that a live teacher in a classroom is the best case scenario for any student of dance. Believe it or not there are women out there who don’t want to be in a room with other women or men and they want to learn in the privacy of their own home. This is why I offer private classes now because I want to be able to work with beginners or the private dancer who won’t go to a studio. For myself, I love workshops, always have and always will because I’ve made wonderful friends and I’ve learned from the best teachers in the business. The expense for dancers now is a debate for students who put time and effort into something they are passionate about. With my accident and other ingredients put into the money pot, there won’t be any trips to workshops this year. A side note here, I will be preparing to do workshops next year so we are planning on the green light for that.

Workshops have always been important to me and I always suggest to dancers to go to as many workshops as possible. We all know that belly dance magazines are a wonderful place to find out who is teaching where and the dates that allow for a time frame because most of us have to save up in order to go. Yaa Halla, Y’all is a really good gathering for some of the finest dance teachers around. Every year Isis brings in a diverse array of dance styles, teaching techniques and dance stars for the professional or beginner aficionado of belly dance. There are a few Isis has brought in who do on-line belly dance classes as well. Isis is also the publisher of “The Belly Dance Chronicles” besides being a top notch and refined dancer and teacher. Isis has allowed me to write about on-line belly dance classes in past issues and Daniel and I were featured in an article for the April/May/June issue. On-line classes are getting popular and with today’s modern dancer, it’s obvious they are here to stay. I keep hearing through the grapevine that more belly dance teachers are looking at on-line belly dance classes even those who balked at the idea when we first came out with my classes.

Following dancers is exciting and with the on-line classes I have had the chance to meet women who I would never have met otherwise. Let’s face it; unless we are jet-setters, own our own planes and have stashes of cash within hands reach, traveling is usually on a budget. I would love to go to South Africa or Australia, Ireland and the list goes on…so the second best way is talking to women from these countries and finding out about dance in their communities. Belly dance is booming and I think one reason is the availability within the drop of a finger, YouTube and the fact that Shakira and other dancers have brought it into the main stream media. I’ve had the chance to create choreographies for a sister group called Sparx and soloist Kimberlee Ann Lopez. They are popular here in New Mexico and both Sparx and Kimberlee have a growing fan base that is changing with new fusion dance styles. Belly dance is changing the way the younger generation sees singing and dancing because they would most likely not see belly dance moves unless they were interested in learning our dance form. I ended up seeing many of my combinations in both shows and seeing the moves done well. Professional entertainers practice until perfect so they were a delight to teach. They wouldn’t have found me without my on-line classes so even top entertainers are looking for our dance on the internet.

Along with the on-line classes I have found that many dancers ask me specific questions on how to set up studios, workshops and productions. The more a student gets involved in her dancing the more doors open and ideas come to life. It’s not just enough to dance in shows, eventually dancers want to produce shows or bring in their favorite dancers. I love dance plays and anymore those are the only shows I like to produce. They are hard work and a labor of love because following a script and bringing in dancers to play characters isn’t as easy as it seems. But I have found that because I have to follow a script with my on-line classes that I am more comfortable setting up a schedule for projects. Since I have been teaching in front of a camera I’m more detailed when I’m explaining things in a private class or workshops. The on-line classes have changed how I teach because the student is in my mind and I have to answer all her questions within that class before it’s over. The on-line classes actually encompass so much besides just dance that I think they become a link for dancers who want to know what is happening with belly dance including news, workshops, new fusion dances and the latest gossip. Yes…let’s be honest, gossip is apart of all facets of life even belly dance or I should say especially in belly dance.

The drawbacks are obvious to on-line classes and I think if any teacher who teaches on-line doesn’t admit to these then they aren’t being honest with their students or themselves. I can’t see my students, that’s obviously the number one problem. How do I know they are doing the move right and how do they know they are doing the move right if they are a beginner? Watching student’s videos help immensely but not all my students want to send in a video of themselves. If they are living on a budget most likely they don’t have a video camera. Phones can take short videos now but I prefer performances or in home demonstrations of what they are doing in their dance. Number two is I miss the live classes I use to teach and the relating to real students. I tend to talk to myself way more now then I use to and I think it’s because I talk in a room by myself in front of a camera for an imaginary student that’s not there. If I wasn’t nuts before, this could actually do me in!! Number three is I love working on choreographies with students and helping them create their own signature moves. This doesn’t happen all the time like it use to unless I get hired for private classes. Workshops are fun and I look forward to them even more so now because of the interaction with dancers and students.

The big plus with the on-line classes for me is that Hip Phylosophy has grown because it’s a mix of my take on what belly dance is besides a changing community curriculum. It’s so rewarding when dancers take what they have learned and grow with it and make it theirs. I think on-line belly dance classes help exchange ideas and when we can talk to each other about problems with performing, opposition hips, curriculums and choreography it makes us all a community without borders. Since we have advertized and placed Hip Phylosophy in the main stream media, I feel an obligation to research the history of belly dance learning new tid bits of information every day. I’m in love with anything Egyptian and when I lived in Egypt I realized that the history is what makes it so mind shattering because you can actually touch and see it for yourself. So to me in a way this is what on-line belly dance classes have done for belly dance. Where in the past it was accessible only to those who were fortunate to live in big cities or in towns that had teachers and studios now women can learn anywhere they live. Today if a student finds she loves belly dance, the accessibility to learn and find other students of belly dance is easier. And we all know that if a woman is passionate about something enough…she will find ways to study it further. If on-line belly dance classes give enthused students a helping hand then the community is blessed with one more dancer that might one day be on the covers of belly dance magazines and teaching workshops herself. It’s the helping hand aspect of on-line belly dance classes that gives me a sense of pride. I was one of those dancers years ago that only had my enthusiasm, determination and passion to guide me. My how times have changed!

Week Two on my Trail Blazing Diet path

This week I am on new Thyroid pills from Solaray called Thyroid Caps to help balance and stabilize my body. So far so good and now I’m on my third day and I actually feel better than I have in a long time. You know how you can feel bad and that is the new norm but once you start to feel good again it’s amazing to think feeling bad was normal.. It’s kind of weird.

You would have been proud of me…I was at this great restaurant called Flying Star that specializes in baked goods. I didn’t have my carrot cake but days later I caved for a piece of keylime pie. I was dissapointed in myself but I have done good on the cheeze and bread. My daughter and I have been going on 1/12 hour walks and that is going well. Mother’s Day no bread and no baked goods. That was a good day and I hope all you Momma’s out there had an awesome time too!

www.bellydancevillage.com and www.leyla-najma.com are both my pride and joy (thanks to Daniel) so feel free to check them out!

 

 

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About Leyla Najma

Lifelong professional Belly Dancer dedicated to providing “Belly Dance Instruction That Is Easy To Understand And Learn That Connects The Dots”

Comments

24 Responses to “What do you really think of on-line belly dance classes?”
  1. Aziyade says:

    Hi Leyla! Great article. As a former ballet dancer, I’d like to add that the idea of supplementing live instruction with some kind of at-home study isn’t new. When Sonycam was the hot new technology, we used to pass around old Betamax tapes of ballet classes taught by master instructors who allowed someone to film them. 🙂

    I think a lot of the belly dance world is resisting online or video-only education because of one major issue: as ballet students we knew full well that we weren’t going to learn to be a professional ballet dancer just from following along with videos! But that’s not the case with today’s belly dance students. The online community is always complaining about some new upstart who taught herself from Youtube, bought a coin scarf, and undercut the local restaurant dancer. Instructors with decades of experience are losing students to the self-taught belly bunny who decided to open up shop and charge half as much for her “classes” — when neither she nor her students have the technique or the experience needed to add anything positive to our art form.

    It’s not online classes that CAUSE this problem, but many of us see online classes as contributing to the problem because they don’t usually address the fact that you simply cannot learn to be a professional (or a teacher) by watching a few videos. I would LOVE to see online instructors be very upfront about this. Almost all commercial videos have the “this is no substitute for a doctor’s care” warning, so maybe it’s time we introduce the “this is no substitute for the live class experience” alert. ?

    I have benefited a lot from yours and other online classes, so I certainly won’t condemn them at all! They are a wonderful tool. But just like any tool, they need to be used responsibly. I do think online class providers should address (not just address, but STRESS) the importance of a live, experienced instructor for any student who has more than a casual interest in pursuing performing or teaching.

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Hello Aziyade,

      First of all thank you for writing in!! You are the first one and I was sooo excited to read your comment! Thank you for addressing a topic I didn’t think about, the upstart in belly dance becoming the new starlette. But in most cases just with videos that is hard to do. I think most women know they need training outside of videos and most use the videos to see if they even like belly dance or as I stated they want to gain more info. I work a lot with beginners and there’s two sides to this coin of videos…most don’t want to be professional. About 60% or above don’t and those who do won’t settle just for videos. I cater to both. I talk with many of my students who write in privately so I can see your point for on-line teachers who don’t have much communication with their students. Mine know it takes years of training, finding the right teachers and going to workshops. Also I work with teachers so most women who are teaching look for options even with my on-line classes because of my curriculum. So research can be done in many ways but teaching just means you search for as many ideas as possible for students. Experience is the golden rule and my most favorite teachers have all been teaching 30 or more years.

      Now on another note I do have those students who ask if they will be professional in 6 weeks. Once they get my lecture or long email they know that’s not going to happen. Those students give me a giggle so I try to be as easy as possible in letting them know the reality of our dance form.

      Something else I would like to add here is with so many women wanting to belly dance and state they can teach, students have to be so CAREFUl even with live teachers because not all dancers out in the world are qualified to teach. I get emails from dancers telling me this is a big problem so even with the live classes you can have a poor teacher. Another problem is a beginner won’t know she is dealing with an inexperienced teacher. This was a problem that was brought to my attention when I had my studio. I had students tell me they didn’t know enough to know they weren’t being taught appropriately. At least with my on-line classes, they know they are dealing with someone who has been dancing a long while. I direct them to dancers I know of in their areas or I’ll find out for them.

      Stressing the need for live teachers is always good advice and one I whole heartedly agree with! That is great advice Aziyade, so all of you who are starting out…look for those teachers who have great credentials and support your local belly dance studios!

      Big Hugs and Thanks,

      Leyla

  2. Belly Dance Husband says:

    I”m always warmed whenever you mention me in any of your articles. I’d like to add my 20 cents to the conversation but think I will choose to just make a couple of points,
    1. Online classes have greater utility for a many more women then most might think.
    2. The business model for online classes is an evolving one that will change over time and will result in them being more and more valuable to a larger universe of dancers.

    I could say more but will just wanted to let you know that I appreciate it whenever you make mention in one of your articles darling. Thanks….

  3. Hi,

    I loved your article and was going to respond in exactly the same way that Aziyade did. Was glad I read her response before I wrote.I have been teaching forever ( since 1975) I have studied with the best in NYC and sponsored workshops with the best. I believe in the classroom. I feel that privates are for someone who has a problem they need straightening out. Not for the beginner who learns so much more by being in a classroom situation.

    Someone years ago wanted me to do on-line and telephone classes. I should have taken her up on it as she was my web mistress and would have helped me. But I felt it was not right. Now, years later everyone is doing it t and I have to admit I do not know where to start. Seems dumb when I can go overseas and teach but cannot figure out how to tackle this situation.

    Would you be kind enough to give me some hints as to where to start. From there I can make notes and get this going. Southern CA has been on this downward spiral of economics for 5 years also. People just have no money. I need to expand my student base because of this. Any suggestions. I am thinking this might be a way of helping the situation.

    Keep up the great articles.

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Morweena, I was hoping you would write in and I really thought that Aziyade’s comment was a good one and I knew you would have written something similar as well. Teachers like you are the treasures of our community and if you could be in every city and state I would recommend you to everyone!

      Why don’t you write me an email on my regular email, [email protected] and let me know the specifics you want to know and I will be more then happy to help out in any way that I can. I know Daniel put in his two cents and then we can go from there. Again, thank you for writing in…I look forward to your comments more then you know!

      Blessings,

      Leyla

  4. Kristen says:

    I for one like the whole online class/ video style of learning. It truly gives me the ability to do it whenever and take as much time as I need to progress. I have yet heard of the ability to rewind a teacher like I can with a video. I can just focus on one thing or I can do a variety of different things. I control what I want to learn and if something is frustrating I can walk away and give myself a break. Then I am not out $60 or more dollars and it is right there waiting for me when I am ready. Also how many teachers do you know of have classes at 2:30 am?

    I understand the need to see it in person, especially if you are going to do this professionally, but I have no intentions of ever doing this outside my home. I am learning for me. I picked it up, because it was something I always admired and I found out it is good for your health. I have lost weight and inches since starting and am slowly gaining a positive self-esteem (something I severely lack). Had there never been online classes/ videos, I never would have tried, because I won’t be caught dead doing this in front of anyone else (which is a part of the studio classes around here). I have hard enough time doing it for feedback for my husband (who is very good at letting me know I am getting somewhere with it) let alone someone I don’t know.

    I started with the free videos online and I am continuing with your videos. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to make them and I hope you continue, because they are more valuable to me than anytime spent in a classroom.

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Hello Kristen,

      Thank you for writing in! You represent the student that I was talking about who wants to learn from home with no desire to go professional. I think what makes the world go round is different needs, reasons and aspirations. Dance can be included in this as well. I wrote an article for the up and coming July/August/Sept issue of The Belly Dance Chronicles magazine and my feature is Barbara Sayre Harmon who is the new interview on my membership site. She has been dancing since she was 5 years old and studied with a multitude of world renowned dancers including one of Ruth St. Denis’s major performers and teachers Ms. Margo. Barbara has seen world famous choreographers and dancers yet she has studied dance all these years for her paintings and inner guidance and learning. She is 84 now and most of her life has been following dance, learning dance and painting dance yet she claims she is not a professional dancer only an admirer of the arts. So dance is many things to many people and not all aspire fame and fortune with it only the pleasure it brings to their souls. But…if you can see it live and learn with a live teacher…do it for fun and it’s a great way to support our teachers besides making life long friends.

      I’m so glad you enjoy the videos and thank you so much for writing in and giving us all your viewpoint…I so appreciate it!

      Blessings,

      Leyla

  5. Amy says:

    I would like to say I love your online classes. I took classes locally about a year ago and enjoyed them but, they were all women about my age who were just looking for something to do for exercise that was more feminine. Truthfully, it was a toss up between pole dancing and belly dancing. I have always love belly dancing so it won. I about had a panic attack when my instructor informed us she wanted us to do a number in the recital for the dance studio. She thought it would be helpful for others to see that belly dance class was for all women of all ages. While I agreed with her theory I would not even dance for my husband.
    I was actually almost upset by the request. I know that may sound silly but, I grew up in a world where you did exercise to stay healthy – you did sports – or walked on a treadmill – or a starimaster – tae-kwon-do – you get the idea. They all remind me more of almost warrior movements. Belly dance gave me an opportunity to move my body in a totally feminine way. Reclaiming what I feel I had somehow given up – an acceptance of my own female self. A connection with my inner goddess.
    I know that belly dance to some is just dance class. To me it has always almost been spiritual. A way of expression that is ages old. A connection to female strength and power within. I love having your classes online so at any time I can just reconnect with that part of me.

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Hello Amy,

      Thank you for writing in! Yes, belly dance is a spiritual awakening and to me it’s about finding your path back to yourself. In life we all do so much with family, work and as the years pass, we can forget about ourselves. I call the selfless mother but even the selfless mother, daughter, wife has to give back to herself to feel complete and centered.

      I’ve had women in my studio who told me under “no” circumstances would they dance and then 6 months later they were asking me if they could dance in our studio shows or gigs the studio would get hired for. It just depends on how much a woman gains in confidence and of course the self discovery in order for her to know what feels right. You are in a good place and you know why you are dancing…I think everyone brings in different needs when they dance. I’m like you…I love the spiritual aspect of belly dance first of all and then the professional aspects second.

      Hugs,

      Leyla

  6. Hi Leyla,

    I am responding to Kristen’s response. I am concerned about the attitude of doing it in front of other people! New students all feel uncomfortable. I always tell them do not worry. The other students feel the same way. No one is looking at you. They are all concerned about themselves. Also, would you feel the same way about taking another form of class? Anything? None of us are born with it. The knowledge comes from studying. Whether it be dance, a language or running a computer. I am wondering if it is because it is “belly dance”. Just wondering and trying to have you put your fears behind you. Enjoy this beautiful art form whether it be for personal use or more. Most dancers joined for just the same reasons you did and none ever thought they would perform or make a career of it. It was just for fun and curiosity. We need good audiences too that understand the art form.

    The best to all of you,

    Morwenna Assaf
    O’Side, CA

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Hello Morwenna,

      I’ll chime in on this one because when I had my studio I would have students dance either in groups or individually after months of classes. I lost students because they wouldn’t want to perform in front of the class even in groups. They just wanted class in front of the mirror and that was it. I had to tell them that belly dance was a learning experience and that it was necessary to understand how to move within their own rhythm. But it didn’t matter what I told them they wouldn’t do it. I told them it was okay just to wait in the back until that part of class was over and then we would get back to the regular class. So I understood that I lost students because they were there to be apart of a class, not soloists if even only for their classmates. There are just women who don’t want to dance in front of people. My private classes help these women out and I do believe the on-line classes do as well. Dance is personal to some women and I think all needs have to be addressed. If a student doesn’t want to dance in public or studios that’s fine but yes, definitely go see shows and support the dancers who do!!

      Hugs,

      Leyla

  7. allison says:

    Hello Leyla and Ladies!!

    Over the years my attitude changed about online classes when I came across Leya’s site almost 5 years now…it is hard to believe it has been that long!! I believed before I had experianced training online that it could not be done and that having a live teacher was the way to go. The reason is because the teacher can tell and see what you are doing right or wrong and this is so important for beginner students, it is easier to see what the teacher is doing and she can help you when you are struggling plus you have other women with who you bond with and they become and extent to your family. It is critical for the beginner student to know how a movemet needs to be done correctly and unless you have a online teacher who can really explain a movement and execute it well for those students then it is hard for them to grasp online and they become lost….

    My attitude and belief now is this I sought out an online class because I was left without a teacher and did not or could not travel an hour away like most of us and because I already had the experiance and the core movements with the right teacher I would be able to continue to grow as a dancer and achieve my goals in the dance form. Today I use Leylas online classes mixed with workshops and an occassional video. This works well for me because I am able to track my progress work on something when I have the time and do not have to travel to go to a class. If I want to dance at 2:00 am in the morning I can it allows me to be flexible with a schedule and fit dancing in around everything else. I have sent performance videos to Leyla to show her my progress and she has even helped me when I am having problems with choreographies and music it is almost perfect!! I just wish she where here live because the one thing that I do miss is the personal connection of a live teacher and I will admit that also sometimes when life gets hetic I can not go online to dance but if I had a live class I would be there and not miss it, it much easier to say oh I will do it tommorrow…

    I also teach and the one thing that I have noticed are that women may not join a class for many reasons which are: time, money, dancing in front of others and so on….I know at some point and time I need to incorporate online classes for myself because I am missing a bunch of women out there who want to learn but for whatever reason cannot make it to a live class. For myself online training is the perfect fit but is it for everyone? It depends what they want out of it but at least we have another avenue. Online training gives you 24 hour access that I cannot give to my students

    I also will tell you that I have checked out most of the online training Suhaila’s, Karen Barbee, Anusya’s, Portia’s along a few more and I have stuck with Leyla’s over the years along with Suhaila’s but I must tell you if I had not had a workshop prior to signing up for Suhaila’s online classes I would not have stuck it out. I work on online training through Leylas site just about everyday and I hit Suhaila’s about once a month sometimes its longer. Leyla has managed to add the personal side to her online classes which is something no one else has done so even though I have been studying with Leyla for almost 5 years and I have not met her personally, I consider her my best mentor and a very dear friend along with her husband Daniel. Both have helped me in some many ways that there is no possible way the wealth of knowledge I have I could not have gotten from a live teacher!!

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Wow Allison that was quite a comment! Thank you for your honesty and for being such a great supporter and I hope you know Daniel and I really appreciate your friendship and we also know that you have added so much to bellydancevillage. Without awesome teachers and dancers such as yourself we wouldn’t be where we are today.

      I think it’s amazing the variety of comments and I thought or actually had hoped you would write in since you have been around the block a time or two with on-line classes. I think you made a good point, that for a dancer who wants to expand her knowledge and resources, the on-line classes can help. A beginner needs to be guided more but then I am happy that I can show someone our dance form and let them see for themselves if it’s something they want to continue with. After the belly dance Goddess touches dancers with her wand, they usually want to go to live classes. I’m happy to get them started.

      I think on-line classes are good for the intermediate dancer to professional because it’s an easy source that can be checked out at home and at any time of the day or night. Convenience is definitely something that is important today especially with everyone working a regular 9 to 5 job. So I’m hoping my on-line classes help. I also love working with teachers so it’s been a pleasure working with you and seeing what you do with your students and the amazing progress that you have made with your studio, dance and students. I too wish I lived closer but I’m thinking of doing workshops next year for bellydancevillage so maybe I will be heading out your way…who knows, I’m ready to meet everyone in person!

      On another note…I will be working on Thursday and Friday Training from Home next week. I so ready to get started. I am not a good patient!

      Thanks again for writing in and thanks for being such a great friend to the family, supporter and belly dance gal pal!!

      Love and hugs to you and your family,

      Leyla
      PS…are you sure it’s been 5 years?!! Does that mean I”m getting older or younger 😉

  8. Hi Leyla and Everyone.

    I loved reading your remarks. I happen to agree with everyone. I am very anxious to add this method of teaching to my syllabus. I lack the information to set this up though. I think it is a great addition to my studio classes.

    Just one word about people not wanting to perform. Like most teachers I have people who never want to perform either. Some stay with me for many years and are part of my dance studio family. They love the comraderie of the group. Others stay on the sidelines. Some times they become an assets for their other talents. eg. Dressers in the dressing room and stage managers etc. Some have helped me with music selection and putting shows together or even being a videographer. I even had one girl in MA make me a back drop. Have had some just decorate. Some do nothing. Depends on the persons wants, needs and abilities. I force no one to perform. I understand that some are just not interested.

    As for the choice between pole dancing and belly dancing. I am glad you chose belly dancing but the two are not in the same category. Belly dancing is about people, dance and culture. I agree it is spiritual but I believe all dance is. Again, depends on what you like. To some it is ballet, to others jazz or modern. To me and a host of others it is belly dance.

    I advise everyone to dance the way they want to. But just keep moving and dancing. If and I mean if you ever decide to do more than just take classes then find out what it really is.

    Love you,

    Morwenna

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Morwenna,

      Wow…I feel like I have won the lottery here with all your amazing comments. Your advice and words of wisdom are greatly appreciated and like you I was so happy belly dance won over pole dancing!! 😉

      There is always something to do…always! Producing shows I had students ironing back drops, moving props, sound or back stage helpers. Lots of fun and there’s always a sense of excitement that I really think is apart of belly dance. After the shows or dance plays I always felt as if I was apart of the feminine in all her glory!

      Your comments are so appreciated and I hope all the gals here know what an awesome teacher, dancer and philosopher of dance you are!

      Big Hugs,

      Leyla

  9. allison says:

    :))))) Leyla its has been pretty close to five years and we are getting younger not older!!!:)) I started teaching in 2008 and I had gotten a hold of your online videos when you were just starting out I believe….My daughter, Alyssa and I have been talking about bringing you to Ohio for several years….we think it would be awesome!!! I have done 2 very small workshops here locally and will be doing another one soon that will be a little bigger then the last two….

    Love and Hugs to you too!!! I am so glad you are are on the mend and get to go back to work and dancing!!!

    Allison

    By the way I have some performance videos coming your way!!!

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Allison, I’ll look forward to the videos. We’ll have to chat on the phone and catch up! I’ll call you next week…just email me when I can call so we can have some time to girl chat. It’s been just a little over 5 years and it feels like ten…ha, ha just kidding incase Daniel reads this.

      I’ll forward to seeing your performance videos. I love to get them so send them on over!!

      Mucho Hugs,

      Leyla

  10. allison says:

    I agree with you Morwenna!!! I tell my students that I give them opportunities to perform but only if they want too. I also have a performance troupe for those students that are serious about dancing and performing which are chosen by myself. I have students who like to learn choreographies but have no intention on dancing in the public but these students are right there to be supportive in whatever way they can whether it is just showing up and cheering us on for performance or helping out with music, flyers, calming nerves whatever is needed!

  11. Serqet (Chris Hilbert) says:

    I found The Art of Bellydancing in a book store….in Copperas Cove, Texas (pop. 12,000)….in 1974! I bought it and used it to teach myself some bellydance moves. If there had a been an internet, I would have used the videos to help me learn. We had 3 fast food restaurants at the time: Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, KFC. Attitudes towards women, women’s rights, and joining the 20th Century, pitiful.

    It wasn’t until 1990 that I had both money and living in a place that had a teacher. Having a teacher and getting that feed back is important, but having the videos, online or being able to purchase, can help you if you can not afford, or do not have an instructor nearby. If I hadn’t found that book, I don’t know that my interest would have had the encouragement to search for instructors, additional books, records, etc on my journey to being a dancer!

    I don’t think videos (online or otherwise) should ever take the place of the commraderie and feedback of live instruction…a great supplement, but it should not be the only learning.

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Wow…Chris…this was such a surprise and I really appreciate you writing in.

      I agree with you, on-line classes are for those who have no other options or for those as I stated who are looking for added info or ideas. But
      I ‘ll add that not everyone who takes on-line are beginners and there are many now who are trained professionals or teachers who are looking for new combos they haven’t thought of. It’s also a way to get to know someone else’s take on combinations and movements that a dancer otherwise would not have access to.

      I deal with a lot of beginners but also with so many other dancers who are looking for ideas outside of YouTube. YouTube in my opinion has screwed up new dancers opinions of our dance. They look at moves, try to copy them and they don’t have the appropriate training to pull the moves off. I know because with my private students I have to ask them to stop looking at YouTube and practice what I give them. At least with on-line instruction they get the tools to make the moves work. There may not be a teacher live but at least they get a better idea of the moves or drills with the teachers on-line.

      In today’s day and age more and more dancers are using both. With the amount of visits we have a day, I know the on-line classes are here to stay. How a dancer uses them or continues on with her training is another story. Yes, hopefully they can find a teacher or studio and enjoy the fun of performing not only for audiences but for their belly dance buddies!

      Thanks again for writing in… it’s an honor you wrote in!!

      Big Hugs,

      Leyla

  12. KhalidaSerqet says:

    ((Went to get a gravatar and my name was taken by someone else…let’s see if the name I picked works!))

    Leyla,

    I’m glad I could “chime” in…I enjoy reading your blogs – lots of info and things to think about!

    I agree that on-line classes are here to stay…it is wonderful to have many options for the different lives that people lead.

    We don’t always have the time/money to attend classes and on-line lessons offer a way to bridge that gap.

    I fear and dread that we will see more and more “belly dance teachers’ whose only qualifications are that they took online classes/lessons…or worse, only studied YouTube videos! aaarrgghhh.

    6-Week Wonders…another topic for another day.

    Keep up the great work!

    Hugs,
    Khalida Serqet

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Khalida Serqet,

      Maybe I still have a blog post in my archives…there is a gal from Spain who offers a certification that states dancers will become professional in less then a month. That’s right, in less then a month she will make dancers professional. This means what…music theory, props, foundation movements, choreography, drills, history, etc is taught within this time span?!! Actually, I don’t think so and I got into it with her and she was nasty towards the end because according to her, she is the only dancer in the world who can made professionals out of beginners in such a short time.
      I would have written an article on it for chronicles but I wasn’t sure after our squabble if she would come after me for liable. Every top notch teacher should know about her and voice their opinions.

      In my over 5 years of teaching on-line I have never come across a beginner who took on-line classes and started teaching. The mind set for these women is different. Most just want exercise, a chance to learn or more ideas. The difference between on-line to live classes is apples to oranges. Situations, economy, lifestyle, preferences etc come into play with the on-line. I don’t think a student can teach from on-line, there’s too much to learn. Now I have teachers who I work with and that’s another story. So I worry more about YouTube created dancers/teachers and this gal from Spain then I do on-line classes.

      More Hugs to you,

      Leyla
      PS…Your’e name reminds me of the Egyptian dancers from the black and white era…Hollywood glamour, Egyptian style!