Frequently Asked Questions

Medway Middle Eastern Dance

What is bellydance?

Bellydance is an ancient form of dance originating in the Middle East. It is feminine and sensual and can be a fun way to exercise!

What happens in the classes?

In Catherine's bellydance classes you will encounter a balance of technique teaching to help you learn the moves as well as some choreographies which put moves together into short dances. Every lesson begins with a warm up to prepare your body for the class and a cool down at the end to relax your mind and stretch out your muscles.

Catherine is an encouraging and methodical teacher who will make you feel at ease with your own pace of learning. She breaks the movements down simply and there is time to practice them to reinforce what you have learnt. Choreographies are also learnt in small chucks so there is time for your memory to absorb them.

For an example of a choreography have a look at the video above!

Can I just turn up to a class?

The classes in Rochester on Thursday evenings are both drop-in. This means that you can just turn up without pre-registering for the class. Each class is paid for at the beginning of the session, so if you miss one you don't have to pay for it. The first time you come along it is best to get to the class around 10 minutes early as the teacher will need you to fill in a form to collect contact details.

What should I wear?

You do not need any special clothes; just wear something loose or leggings and bring a scarf to tie around your hips.

Scarves are sometimes provided if you don't have anything suitable. Having a bare midriff is certainly not essential.

We usually dance barefoot, but if you don't want to soft soled shoes such as ballet shoes would be suitable. Trainers aren't suitable as they are usually a bit stiff in the sole for dancing in.

How old do I need to be to come to the classes?

The regular classes listed here are only suitable for those aged 14 years and upwards. However, from time to time we offer short courses for children. Please see children's classes for details.

There is no upper age limit though and mature ladies are very welcome!

Are the classes mixed level?

We do teach some mixed level classes, but most classes are split into two levels. In this case, as a complete beginner you would be joining a class with people who aren't much more experienced than yourself. Once you get to a level where you are comfortable with the basic moves and learning choreographies there will be an opportunity to move up into the next class to further your learning. This is also optional and due to the different ways in which different people learn some students may be ready to move before others. A good estimate is 6 months to a year though.

What if I have a medical condition?

If you do have any medical conditions, are unused to exercise or are pregnant please consult your doctor before attending classes. When you arrive you will be asked to fill in a "Fitness to Dance" form and you should make sure that the teacher is aware of your condition before starting the class.

Bellydance classes vary in intensity depending on what we are currently learning and the level of the class. If you are concerned about whether you can keep up it is best to come to one of the drop in classes to try it out without having to commit to a full course.

The teacher will always encourage all students to listen to their bodies and if something hurts, stop! If you need to sit out for any part of the class this is perfectly okay.

Do I need to be a certain size to learn bellydance?

No! Absolutely not. Anyone of any size can learn to bellydance. I've heard the comment "Don't I need to be really big to bellydance?" just as many times as I've heard "Don't I need to be really skinny to bellydance?"! Neither is true, everyone can learn to bellydance and every shape of woman looks equally as beautiful when she moves!

Will I have to perform?

Performance of the dance is always optional and many students never feel brave enough to take to the stage, but friendly performance opportunities are available and students are encouraged to have a go to build their self confidence. Many get the bug after their first performance and are keen to do it again!

Can men learn bellydance?

Yes. But you need to decide whether you want to learn the female form of the dance which is taught in regular classes or the male form which can be taught in private lessons or workshops. To see one of the male forms of Egyptian dance take a look at this video.

Some men do want to learn the feminine side of Egyptian dance and this is fine in both Catherine & Ann's classes. However, you should contact the teacher first as there maybe issues such as separate changing rooms to discuss (many students change in the dance studio so alternative arrangements would have to be made).

Occassionally we have female students who, for whatever reason (usually religious), would not be able to attend dance classes alongside a man. When you contact the teacher they will check with the existing students in the class to make sure it is not a problem. This is out of courtesy and no-one has ever objected before.