I think learning to dance and practicing dancing should be free.
Before you dance teachers out there have a heart attack, hear me out for a moment.
This is not to say that I think that dance teachers, for all their hard work, should not be compensated. I certainly enjoy being compensated. I’m broke and I need the extra money, for sure. But this is more about a dream of how I think our culture should be. My dream is that one day we can break out of this Capitalist work model that makes art into a commodity and forces artists to charge for services or starve.
Let me explain a little further…
What we now call “belly dance” is an art form that was created partially out of a mish-mash of folk dances. Folk dance is a communal activity that is done by everyone, even untrained dancers, and the dances are learned by observation, not by formal instruction. It is art for art’s sake. It is a way to connect to members of your community, to stay healthy, to enjoy life.
Why is our participation in art forms like this now only done if we have the cash to shell out on classes?
Again, I understand that in our current social model, we have dance instructors who want to make a living off their art, and deserve to be compensated fairly. But, I know I, for one, wanted to take belly dance classes for years but was too poor to do so. I’ve had to stop taking formal classes at various points because I’ve been broke. I’ve also felt frustrated at times because there wasn’t just a place for us dancers to meet for free and drill movements. Belly dance, to me, has always felt wonderfully connective and communal. This is one reason why I love Improvisational Tribal Style belly dance so much. The dancers dance with one another. We support one another. It’s not like solo dance classes where people shuffle in, stare at the instructor, and then shuffle out without interacting. The dance is about interacting.
Nearly every culture has had some kind of communal dance form. Sadly, that kind of community activity has been ripped out of our society by Capitalism, both because of the time we need to invest in our wage slave jobs, and the way it has effected our familial and community structures. Nuclear family structures and rental homes instead of family owned lands has created both easily moved worker units, and an extremely destabilized culture. But let me not go too much into economic/social theory here…
I love teaching my girlfriends to belly dance. When I live in a place where my living room is big enough, I invite people over for free classes. Belly dance is so healthy, so enjoyable. I just want to share. While in college, I even taught free classes once a week at night for students.
Sadly, right now my apartment is too small for fun free classes and drill parties. I want to teach classes again and I’m looking for a local studio to rent. In this case, I will charge, because I’ll have to shell out to rent the studio. But it will be sliding-scale.
So, if you are also want to learn belly dance but can’t afford it, I suggest the following:
– Check to see if there’s a free school near you. Sometimes there are classes available.
– Take a dance class once a month. You can spare 10-12 bucks. One-on-one instruction is really essential. Then drill the moves at home and buy a used belly dance DVD that focuses on technique. Or take an online class.
This brings us to the next part of this blog post. Free places to learn belly dance online.
Again, one-on-one instruction is essential. However, when I was first learning, I could only afford one class per week. So I bought a few DVDs, and used those to drill other nights of the week. It was incredibly helpful. Back then, there was not this amazing abundance of online videos about everything.
Here are some great free online classes and practice drills that I’ve found. (There are also paid online classes that are wonderful and higher quality than these, but this post is about the free ones.)
Enjoy, and maybe share the moves you learn with your friends.
Tribal Moon Bellydance has a whole series of ITS tutorials and drills on their Youtube channel. Wonderful stuff.
Seba from Wildcard Bellydance also has a series of drill and instructional videos. Check them all out.
Tiazza has an extensive number of tutorial videos online, and even a website dedicated to it. She teaches cabaret style, and even has sword dancing tutorials.
The amazing tribal fusion dancer Sharon Kihara’s DVD workshop is up on Youtube. Is this a pirated version? I have no idea. If it’s illegally up there, let me know and I will take this down.
Fat Chance Belly Dance actually has a series of drill videos up on Youtube too. They really need to get a better quality camera (love you ladies!) but it’s still extremely educational.
Some dancers offering online classes on their websites also have a few videos for free. Here is one I found that looks lovely:
There you go. I hope that was helpful and educational. Here’s to sharing the joy and richness of our art.