Tips For Bellydance Students

To begin with:

  • Know that you're suitable to be a Bellydance student regardless of your age, shape, fitness level, or background.

  • Give yourself a chance to learn by committing to weekly classes for an extended period of time.

  • Realise that learning is an ongoing process and that you'll never outgrow being a student of Bellydance no matter how experienced you get.

In looking for a class to attend, remember that a good teacher:

  • Can dance well.

  • Is able to break down techniques and explain them clearly.

  • Demonstrates a caring, patient and accepting attitude.

  • Fosters a friendly, non-competitive environment.

  • Encourages you to not only do your best, but to extend and challenge yourself.

Clothing advice to help prevent injury:

  • Never wear a skirt in class. Wear dance pants or leggings. This allows your teacher (and you, via the studio's mirror) to see what your lower body is doing and therefore avoid injuries to the ankles, knees, hips and lower back.

  • Because cold weather means a higher likelihood of torn muscles, wear lots of thin layers during the winter months to keep your muscles toasty warm.

  • Do your feet a favour by wearing flat ballet shoes or jazz sneakers.

Technical tips to help prevent injury in class:

  • Always arrive in time for the warm up at the beginning of class, and stay for the cool down at the end.

  • While dancing, help protect your lower back by maintaining a slight pelvic tilt.

  • Never completely lock out your knees and elbows. Even at their straightest, there should always be a tiny bend at those joints to protect them from undue stress and possible damage.

  • Inform your teacher if you feel a stabbing or sharp pain during a particular movement. With any luck, it will be a simple issue of incorrect technique that can be promptly fixed.

  • Avoid backbends. It's a blanket rule, but if you're desperately keen on doing them, I advise you to practise lots of Yoga with a qualified instructor. Get your Yoga teacher to show you how to backbend correctly so that you don't crunch into your lower back, and always be sure you're very warmed up before doing backbends in a Bellydance class.

As you continue on your path of learning:

  • Don't listen to your own lame excuses to not go to class. All such excuses (it's too hot, it's too cold, I'm too thin, I'm too fat, etc, etc) will lead nowhere. Successfully learning to Bellydance will only come with consistent and sustained effort.

  • As soon as you think you know it all, you'll stop learning immediately, so it's important to always approach any class you go to (regardless of how advanced you are) with an open mind, ready to absorb what you're taught.

  • Remain humble, no matter how experienced you get. Be smart by keeping in mind that that the more you learn, the more you'll realise how little you know, and how much more there is to learn. Keep this wisdom in the forefront of your mind so that you're always growing as a dancer.

Show respect to your teacher by:

  • Being on time to class and staying for the duration.

  • Listening carefully and following instructions.

  • Not chit-chatting to other students during class.

  • Practising at home.

  • Displaying gratitude for any extra help your teacher gives you in or out of class.

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Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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