Starting something new is always a little daunting, so here are a few of my top tips which will help you set yourself up for a relaxing and enjoyable time when you join a new bellydance class!
1. Wear something really comfy that won’t get in your way when you’re moving, and that you feel confident and relaxed in. There’s no expectation to show your middle, or anything you don’t want to show (though if a crop top is what makes you feel fabulous, by all means go for it!). Just remember to check that your teacher will be able to see where your hips and your knees are.
A good sports bra can also be worth its weight in gold – some dancers find that certain moves can get a bit uncomfortable without support!
2. Have a nutritious snack before coming to class – especially if you haven’t had your evening meal yet! It’s really hard to concentrate or learn well if your blood sugar is getting low. Bananas, cereal bars or fruit and nut mix all seem to be popular choices with dancers, but the most important thing is that you’re not in class feeling hungry, miserable and distracted.
3. Aim to arrive a little early if you can. You’ll feel much more relaxed if you know you have time to sort your things out and pop to the loo if you need to before the class starts – and to find your way to the studio, if it’s one you haven’t been to before.
Since pressure to arrive early can also feel stressful for some people, I like to think of it instead as giving yourself the gift of a little breathing space.
But of course “stuff happens”, and we can’t always arrive when we’d like to, so if you do end up being late to class don’t panic! Just take a moment to relax, and then quietly join in whenever you’re ready. The important thing is that you’re there.
4. It’s good to ask questions! Lots of dancers feel nervous about asking questions – what if everyone else gets it already? What if I’m slowing the class down? What if the teacher will be annoyed?
But the truth is if you’re confused about something, then it’s very unlikely you’ll be the only one wondering – so you are usually doing everyone else a favour too by asking! And most teachers will be glad to have the opportunity to help everyone understand better (and personally, I’m always grateful for the reminder if someone asks a question when I’ve forgotten to mention something)
5. And finally… a dance class is a place to try new things, and it’s also a safe place to let yourself look a bit silly, without having to wonder what other people might think (because they are doing the same thing). We don’t get many of those places in grown-up life, so make the the most of it if you can!
Enjoy the opportunity to move and express yourself in ways you might not normally do, and to delight in being playful.
When it comes to things like dancing in front of other people, I will never put pressure on you to do anything you aren’t feeling ready for yet. But if you’re itching to dance but held back by nerves or self-consciousness, I would always encourage you to take the leap, and let yourself dance. In the years I’ve been teaching, I’ve never yet met anyone who regretted it!
Did you find any of these especially helpful? Let me know in the comments 🙂
These tips were originally published in my email newsletter. If you’d like more of my writing, straight to your inbox, you can sign up for my free newsletter here.