Jamila Salimpour Belly Dance Format

Jamila’s certification program provides a strong curriculum to train belly dancers in technique and performance. Dance certification provides students with formal recognition of their dedication to and hard-earned proficiency.  The certification program encompasses the following consecutive levels:

Basics (Level 1) —Introduction to the Format Part 1
Fundamentals (Level 2) —Introduction to the Format Part 2
Intermediate (Level 3) —Taking it All Apart to Put it Back Together
Advanced (Level 4) —Performance
Teaching (Level 5) – Teaching Certification

Each level builds on the previous level.  Over the full course of study, students are trained in dance technique, finger cymbals, rhythm identification, history, music, performance, choreography, teaching skills, etc.

Jamila has been teaching her format and finger cymbal instruction method since 1949. She continued to evolve and develop step familes throughout the years. In the late 197os the format was compiled in the Danse Orientale manual; soon thereafter, Suhaila was filmed teaching the format in the Archive Series.
Definitely! Most of the dancers in the certification program are located outside of California, and many are located outside of the U.S. Students can attend workshops to get the information they need to return home and train at their own pace. Several tools have been developed (Online Classes, Study Guides, Instructional DVDs, Audio Download Training Tools and CDs, etc.) to help long-distance certification participants.

“In person” training is still required through attendance at workshops. Many of the modules of study in later levels are presented and developed during workshops. The workshops also provide Jamila, Suhaila and the School instructors the opportunity to evaluate and provide valuable feedback to students.

Certification in the Jamila Salimpour Belly Dance format is valid for two years and contingent upon completion of the requisite number of Continuing Education Credits (CECs) and renewal fee. More information can be found on the Certified Dancers page.
For most dancers, the process can take 3-5 years, or longer. The time is dependent on many factors: experience, training time, motivation, dedication, etc. In theory, a very experienced and hardworking dancer could make it through the program in two years by devoting herself fulltime to the program and by attending the necessary workshops in a carefully mapped out sequence.
Teaching Certification is the only level providing a certificate that authorizes a dancer to teach the Jamila Salimpour format. All other certificates (Levels 1-4) are certificates of achievement within the Suhaila Salimpour School of Belly Dance that denote a dancer’s progress. When a dancer achieves a Jamila Salimpour School of Belly Dance Teaching Certificate, they have received the highest quality of belly dance training available.
Regardless of previous experience, all students (without exception) begin with Level 1. Level 1 outlines the necessary elements and vocabulary including posture, muscle isolation, music theory, nomenclature, etc. The School uses certification testing as the method of determining whether a student has the required knowledge and/or abilities to proceed to the next level. Dancers with more experience have the potential to move through the certification program much more quickly; students are never held back from realizing their potential.
JL1 Workshop Registration

Jamila Format Level 1

Introduction

In Jamila L1, students learn the basics of the format: step families, dance history, and finger cymbal work. Learning tools, workshop information, testing details, and a list of the covered steps, cymbals, etc. are provided in this section.

JL1 Testing Options

JL1 Workshops and Series

Whether you are interested in certification or just want to learn about Jamila’s format, JL1 3-day workshops and series are an excellent introduction.  JL1 3-day workshops and JL1 Class series focus specifically on presenting the content and training needed for JL1 certification and understanding the fundamentals of the Salimpour program.  These workshops and series are taught by Suhaila or by her authorized instructors.  Click here for current options.  To prepare for a JL1 Workshop or Series:

  • Use the training tools provided on this page.
  • Review How to Prepare for a Workshop, What to Bring, and Studio Rules found in the Workshop About page.
  • You are encouraged to arrive early and warm-up prior to class.
  • Suhaila often runs over the allotted teaching time. Please plan accordingly and allow for maximum flexibility in your timing to take advantage of unique events and opportunities.
  • Bring finger cymbals, ballet or jazz shoes, hand towel, refillable water bottle, and deodorant to reapply as necessary.
  • If you are traveling from out of town, visit the Travel page for information about location, housing, and transportation.

JL1 Online Multi-Week Course

New in 2018, we will offer JL1 multi-week testing course delivered through the Salimpour School Online.  Students will be assigned weekly videos, tools, and reading materials for training.  A JL5 instructor checks in regularly to answer questions and provide supplement materials if needed.  Testing is handled through an online written exam (details below) and through video submission (students films self executing the practical exam).  To prepare, use the training tools listed in this section.  Testing courses will be available for specific dates; more information coming soon.

About the Exam

Information about L1 and L2 exams in both the Suhaila and Jamila formats is consolidated in one section.  Visit the Suhaila format page (click here) and scroll to the “Salimpour Format Exams” section at the bottom.

JL1 Training Tools

Salimpour School Online Classes.  Take classes from the comfort of your very own home, wherever you live, to fit your time schedule. Various subscriptions available.

The New Danse Oriental Manual. Explanation of step families and moves.

SL1 Study Guide.  Knowledge of Suhaila Level 1 material is required including breakdown of movements by muscle contractions, foot positions, arm positions, foot patterns, etc.

Cymbal Jams.  Cymbal Jams, audio download training tools, include over 70 finger cymbal patterns.  The patterns are broken down slowly, then up-to-tempo, explained in both right-hand and left-hand dominant version.  (Includes the original 24 patterns from Jamila’s class finger cymbal CD plus an additional 48 patterns.)

Rhythm ID CD.  This CD includes over 40 Middle Eastern rhythms (on separate tracks).

Level 1 Three-Day Workshop.  These workshops are an introduction to Jamila’s format and focus specifically on L1 material. View the current Workshop Listings for the most up-to-date information on workshops scheduled throughout the world.

Many Tribes Article. Read “From Many Tribes: The Origins of Bal Anat” by Jamila Salimpour.

ICMED Speech. Read the Speech presented by Jamila Salimpour at the International Conference on Middle Eastern Dance, May 1997.

Steps, Step Families, and Finger Cymbal Patterns. View the JL1 Steps tab in this section for a list of steps, step families, and finger cymbals covered in JL1 along with arm positions (when applicable).

Additional Assistance.  For questions about the program, requirements, and tools, email the Certification Coordinator.

Private lessons (in person or via Skype) are available with licensed L5 instructors.  Learn more here or email the Certification Coordinator.

Specific Steps, Cymbals, etc. covered in Jamila Level 1.
In parentheses are the arm positions assigned for Jamila L1.

Basic Egyptian Family
Basic Egyptian (L1-5th)
Basic Egyptian Backwalk (L1-5th)
Basic Egyptian Walk with Pivot (L1-5th)
Basic Egyptian Walk with Pivot Angled (L1-5th)
Bow Step (default)
Step Forward-Back-Forward (L1-2nd)
Full Spin with Basic Egyptian (L1-2nd)
Open Spin with Basic Egyptian (L1-2nd & 5th)
Pivot Shift Step (L1-5th)
Half Turn with Pivot Shift Step (L1-5th)
Twist Step (L1-2nd)
Twist Step with Leg Lift (L1-2nd)
CCW Pivot Halftime (L1-5th)
CCW Pivot Fulltime (L1-5th)
CCW Pivot Doubletime (introduce) (L1-5th)
CCW Pivot: One Up, One Down (L1-5th)
CCW Pivot with Leg Lift (L1-5th)
Five Count (L1-2nd)
Five Count with Half Spin (L1-2nd)
Five Count with Full Spin (L1-2nd)

Arabic Family
Arabic 1 (L1-5th)
Arabic 2 (L1-5th)
Arabic 3 (L1-5th)
Arabic 4 (L1-5th)

Running Choo-Choo Family
Running Choo Choo (L1-4th)
4 Forward, 4 Back (L1-4th)
2 Forward, 2 Back (L1-4th)
1 Forward, 1 Back (L1-4th)
Forward, Middle, Middle Back (L1-4th)
Zenouba (default)

Shimmy Family
Singles on the Up halftime (One Ups) (L1-5th)
Singles on the Up fulltime (Two Ups) (L1-5th)

Taqsim Family
Basic Taqsim (L1-5th)
Reverse Basic Taqsim (L1-5th)
Maya (L1-2nd)
Reverse Maya (L1-2nd)
Circle Step (L1-2nd)
Crescent Step (L1-2nd)

Spins
Three Step Turn (Full Spin) (L1-2nd)
Open Spin (L1-2nd)
Basic 4/4 Spin (L1-2nd)
Spinning in 2/4 (L1-2nd)

Head Movements
Forward, Forward (default)
Side, Side (default)
Around, Around (default)
Crescent (default)

Cymbals
All finger cymbal patterns to be played right and left hand dominant.
Alternating Singles: quartertime, halftime, fulltime
3s (Longa): halftime, fulltime
3-1-3-1-3
7s
3-3-7
3-7-3
Running 5s
3-5-5
5-5-3
3-5-1-3
3-1-5-3
R-L-RL

JL2 Workshop Registration

Jamila Format Level 2

Beginning

In Jamila Level 2, students continue their study of the step families, movements, dance history, stylization, and cymbal patterns. Learning is promoted through technique, stylization, choreography, reading, and lecture. Learning tools, workshop information, testing details, and a list of the covered steps, cymbals, etc. are provided in this section.

JL2 Workshops

JL2 workshops immerse students in the format using dance instruction, lecture, and choreography as the tools for learning and testing. Classes are taught by Suhaila and authorized TAs/instructors. Participants must have current Jamila L1 certification to attend, and students are expected to have a thorough working knowledge of Jamila’s format and terminology.

How do I prepare for a Jamila L2 Workshop?

  • Read/review the About Workshops page that includes Common Questions, Studio Rules, and more.
  • Review the Training Tools with close attention to online classes, the choreographies, and reading materials.
  • If you are planning to test at a JL2 workshop, make sure to submit the two required choreographies via private lesson (in person or Skype) with a Jl5 instructor and receive approval (70% passing) on both.
  • You are encouraged to arrive early and warm-up prior to class.
  • Workshops often run over the allotted teaching time. Please plan accordingly and allow for maximum flexibility in your timing to take advantage of unique events and opportunities.

What do I bring to a Jamila L2 Weeklong Workshop?

How do I sign up for a Jamila L2 Workshop?  A listing of Jamila L2 workshops (with links to complete details) can be found in the Current Workshops section.

About Testing.  Certification testing is available for an additional fee.  Note that testing is dispersed and monitored throughout the weeklong, so students will need to know they are testing on the first day of the workshop; the JL2 choreographies are also tested prior to the workshop via private lessons with JL5 instructors.  Information about L1 and L2 exams in both the Suhaila and Jamila formats is consolidated in one section.  Visit the Suhaila format page (click here) and scroll to the “Salimpour Format Exams” section at the bottom.

JL2 Training Tools

Technique, Choreography, and Audio

To Read

Additional Assistance

Performances to Watch

  • John Carney Bal Anat documentary: youtube or vimeo
  • Bal Anat Performance (TV studio): link
  • Bal Anat Performance c1974: link
  • Bal Anat Revival 2001: link
  • Jamila and Suhaila Duet, 1977: link
  • Suhaila and Rashid Duet: link
Specific Steps, Cymbals, etc. covered in Jamila L2

Building on Jamila L1 material, the indented steps are added to the movement repertoire in Jamila L2; default arms, if any, are listed included in parentheses. Additional cymbal patterns are introduced as listed below.

Basic Egyptian Family
Basic Egyptian (none)
Basic Egyptian Backwalk (none)
Basic Egyptian Walk with Pivot (none)
Basic Egyptian Walk with Pivot Angled (none)
Bow Step (default)
Step Forward-Back-Forward (2nd)
Full Spin with Basic Egyptian (none)
Open Spin with Basic Egyptian (none)
Pivot Shift Step (none)
Half Turn with Pivot Shift Step (none)
Twist Step (2nd)
Twist Step with Leg Lift (default)
—Syncopated Pivot Shift Step (none)
—Full Spin with Pivot Shift Step (none)
—Open Spin with Pivot Shift Step (none)
—V Step (none)
—V Step with Turn (none)
—V Step with Pivot Shift Step (none)
—V Step with Pivot Shift Step & Turn (none)
CCW Pivot Halftime (none)
CCW Pivot Fulltime (none)
CCW Pivot Doubletime (none)
CCW Pivot: One Up, One Down (none)
CCW Pivot with Leg Lift (default)
—Stomp Step (none)
—CCW Pivot Spin (none)
—Whip Spin with Twist (default)
Five Count (default)
Five Count with Half Spin (default)
Five Count with Full Spin (default)
—Four Count (2nd)
—X Step (none)

Arabic Family
Arabic 1 (none)
Arabic 2 (none)
Arabic 3 (none)
Arabic 4 (none)
—Eight Count (2nd)

Running Choo-Choo Family
Running Choo Choo (4th)
4 Forward, 4 Back (4th)
2 Forward, 2 Back (4th)
1 Forward, 1 Back (4th)
Forward, Middle, Middle, Back (4th)
Zenouba (default)

Shimmy Family
Singles on the Up Halftime (One Ups) (none)
Singles on the Up Fulltime (Two Ups) (none)
—Choo-Choo (none)
—Shimmy Spin (none)
—Stomp Step with Shimmy (default)
—Algerian Shimmy (2nd)
—Four-Four Shimmy (2nd)
—Singles on the Down (none)
—Ahmad Shimmy (none)
—Three Quarter Shimmy: 3/4 on the Up (none)
—F-and-B-and Walk-2-3-4 (none)
—Three Quarter Shimmy Turn (none)
—Three Quarter Shimmy with Twist (none)
—One, Two, Three, And (2nd)
—Three Quarter Flamenco (none)
—Samiha (none)

Salaam Family
—Greeting Step (none)
—Salaam Step (none)
—Brush Step (none)
—Bounce Step (Hop Back Step) (none)
—Salaam Step in Circle (none)
—Horse Step (none)

Debke Family
—Debke 1
—Debke 2
—Debke 3
—Debke 4
—Debke 5

Taqsim Family
Basic Taqsim (none)
Reverse Basic Taqsim (none)
Maya (none)
Reverse Maya (none)
Circle Step (none)
Crescent Step (none)
—Crescent Step with Pelvic Locks (none)
—Turkish Walk (none)
—Turkish Backwalk (2nd)
—Pyramid Step / Suzi Q (none)
—Goosh Step (default)
—Goosh Spin (default)
—F8 Backwalk (none)
—Rib Figure Eights & Chest Locks (none)

Spins
Three Step Turn (Full Spin) (none)
Open Spin (default)
4/4 Spin (none)
2/4 Spin (none)
—Diagonal 2/4 Spin (default)
—Centrifugal Spin (default)
—Out-Up-Out-Down Spin (default)
—In-Out Spin (default)

Head Movements
Forward, Forward (hands on hips)
Side, Side (hands on hips)
Around, Around (hands on hips)
Crescent (hands on hips)
Head Movement Pattern (hands on hips)

FINGER CYMBALS
All finger cymbal patterns to be played right and left hand dominant.

Know all patterns from Jamila L1

Patterns Introduced in JL2
4s
4-1-4-1-4
4-4-7
4-7-4
4-5-5
5-5-4
4-5-1-4
4-1-5-4
Alternating 4s & 5s

R-L-RL
2s
2-1-2-1-3
2-2-7
2-7-4
2-5-5
5-5-2
2-5-1-2
2-1-5-2

3s LRT
3-1-3-1-3 with LRT
7s LRT
3-3-7 with LRT
3-7-3 with LRT
5s LRT
3-5-5 with LRT
5-5-3 with LRT
3-5-1-3 with LRT
3-1-5-3 with LRT

LRR
RLRR-LRLL
LRR-LRR-LR
LRRx4 & 4

Rx
Lx
Claps

JL3 Patterns
Introduced in JL2, but tested in JL3
6s
Running 7s
10s
2-6
2-6-10
4-4-10
7-1-3-3
2-6-10-7-1-3-3
Moori
Karshilama x 4
Wahaeda
1-5-5-3-3-3

Students wishing to test must contact the School to be assigned a Level 5-certified instructor if they are planning to test or working on material for testing in the future and want feedback. SalimpourCertification@gmail.com

Certification Choreography
The required JL2 Certification Choreography must be filmed in a space with lighting bright enough for clear video evaluation of technique & finger cymbal patterns, R and/or L dominant (per required).  Separate video may be requested of finger cymbal pattern  playing without dancing the choreography.

  • El Samer (JL2)
  • Shams El Shamouse (JL2)

Video Filming Instruction

Private Lesson with L5
In order to test into JL2 dancers must schedule a private lesson with a L5 dancer to have the videos evaluated and approved for before testing JL2 weeklong in which they will test.  If videos are not view-able, dancers will need to re-film and re submit the work.  Or, if work still needs to be done, dancers can continue to schedule privates for guidance and feedback until they are approved for testing.

JL3 Workshop Registration

Jamila Format Level 3

Intermediate

In Jamila Level 3, students begin to learn and work the format from the inside out. By understanding the structure and technique behind each movement, dancers can learn to expand and layer the format in unlimited ways. Learning is promoted through technique, stylization, choreography, reading, and lecture. Learning tools, workshop information, testing details, and a list of the covered steps, cymbals, etc. are provided in this section.

Choreography Workshop Registration

Jamila Format Level 4

Performance and Advanced Technique

Jamila Level 4 represents the most advanced level of Jamila format training. Students build on Jamila Level 3.  Learning is promoted through technique, stylization, choreography, reading, and lecture.  Testing includes both solo choreography and solo improvisation to a live Arabic band.

Jamila Format Level 5

Teaching Certification Preparation

JL5 is the Teaching Level for those dancers who wish to pursue Teaching Certification following JL4 certification. Building on what they learned in SL5, participants continue their studies including learning methods and approaches established by the Salimpour School.  Suhaila develops a project plan for each dancer that incorporates the following elements and more:

  • Teaching skills and Curriculum development
  • Choreography development
  • History, culture, and music

Licensing and Advanced Studies

Post L5 Opportunities and Training

Achieving L5 is a wonderful accomplishment that opens the doorway for continued learning and opportunities including:

  • Licensed Instructor Preparation to offer CECs through your local classes and master classes
  • Certification Workshop Instructor preparation to teach specific Salimpour certification workshops including certification testing.
  • Advanced studies and apprenticeship in the Salimpour School.

Curriculum

Jamila Level 1 starts with the basics of Jamila’s format. Students learn the basic step families and cymbal patterns upon which the rest of the format is built. All new students in the Certification program, whether they are beginning or advanced dancers, begin with L1.

Physiology, Training & Technical Focus
•Correct body posture and positioning when standing, traveling, etc.
•Development of balance and body awareness.
•Identification of muscle contractions involved for movement execution and isolation of muscle groups.
•Stylistic instruction.

Music & Music Theory
•Introduction to finger cymbals and strengthening necessary muscles to play correctly.
•Finger cymbal patterns played right and left hand dominant.
•Introduction to timing (quartertime, halftime, etc.).
•Introduction to Middle Eastern rhythms.

In Jamila Level 2, students continue work on the format, completing their study of the step families, movements and cymbal patterns. Learning is promoted through technique, stylization, choreography, and lecture on various topics.

Physiology, Training & Technical Focus
•Correct body posture and positioning when standing, traveling, etc.
•Identification of muscle contractions involved for movement execution and isolation of muscle groups.
•Learning to isolate muscle groups while maintaining stylistic cohesion throughout a move or phrase
•Proficiency in belly dance movements standing and moving.

Music & Music Theory
•Play finger cymbal patterns on Cymbal Jams (right and left hand dominant).
•Identify all rhythms from Rhythm ID CD.

Jamila Format Choreography
•Perform Suhaila’s El Samer choreography with cymbals.
•Perform Suhaila’s Shams El Shamouseh choreography.

History & Culture
•Jamila’s Article Book
•The Salimpour School Belly Dance Compendium Volume 1

What is Jamila Level 3?
In JSBD L3, students begin to work the format from the inside out. By understanding the structure and technique behind each movement, dancers can learn to expand and layer the format in unlimited ways. Learning is promoted through technique, stylization, choreography, and lecture on various topics.

Physiology & Training
•Identification of muscle contractions involved for movement execution.
•Deconstruction and reconstruction of the movements and step families.
•Development of layering with various timings, downbeats, foot patterns, arm positions and finger cymbal patterns.
•Emphasis on strong technique and stylization.
•Focus on building speed and stamina.

Music & Music Theory
•Play all finger cymbal patterns on Cymbal Jams (right and left hand dominant).
•Identify all drum rhythms from Drum Rhythm ID CD.

Jamila Format Choreography
•Perform L3 Finger Cymbal Drum Solo choreography with cymbals.
•Perform Sallam Allay with finger cymbals.
•Perform El Samer and Shams El Shamouseh from Jamila L2.

History & Culture
Jamila’s Article Book with a focus on pp.88-98.
The Salimpour School Belly Dance Compendium Volume 1 with a focus on pp.94-140.

Jamila L4 represents the most advanced level of Jamila format training. Students focus on technique with stylization through performance of choreography.

Physiology & Training
•Advanced identification and awareness of muscle contractions involved for movement execution.
•Continued focus on building precision/control, stamina and efficiency of movement.
•Current Suhaila L2 certification (in addition to Jamila L3 certification) required to test for Jamila L4.

Technical Focus of L4
•Proficiency in warm-up positions and exercises.
•All movements with multiple layers at any speed with a vibration, foot patterns, arm movements and/or finger cymbals.
•Writing choreography in Suhaila nomenclature.

Music & Music Theory
•For all finger cymbal patterns on Jamila’s CD and for each of the required certification choreographies:
–Play all cymbal patterns on Jamila’s CD and in the Finger Cymbal manual.
–Play right side only or left side only.
–Play using 3 cymbals instead of 4 (cross over pattern).
•Question and answer finger cymbal pattern repeat.

Jamila Choreography Improv-Prep (if not completed for SL4)

  • 2018:  Raks Jamila Set: Raks Jamila, Guitar Solo, L3FCDS (Arabian Musicals Vol.1)
  • 2019:  Maharjan (Keyboard Solo TrackMaharjan, 2 (Chair/Veil), Elf Leyla, Unforeseen Drum Solo)
  • 2020:  Set El Hosen
  • 2021:  Raks Suhaila Set: Raks Suhaila, Maddah, Unveiled Drum (Arabian Musicals Vol.1)

Jamila Format Choreography & Performance

  • El Samer
  • Shams El Shamouseh
  • L3FCD
  • Sallam Allay
  • Cane Dance
  • Khatwit Habibi
  • Sword (Standing or Bal Anat)
  • Zay El Hawa
  • Hayati
L5 is the Teaching Level for those dancers who wish to pursue Teaching Certification following L4 certification. Participants are evaluated individually based on skill and experience, and Suhaila carefully crafts and develops a personalized enrichment and project plan for each dancer that incorporates the following elements:

  • Teaching skills
  • Curriculum development
  • Choreography development
  • History, culture, music
  • Creativity

Teaching Apprenticeship & Skills
•Learn breath, voice control & projection
•Teach technique classes
•TA workshops & classes under the supervision of Suhaila or authorized staffLearn breath, voice control & projection
•Train for and demonstrate the ability to teach technique and choreography to all student levels

Curriculum & Choreography Development
•Maintain a teacher’s log & notebook to develop your own teacher reference manual
•Prepare thorough class curriculum plans
•Create level-specific choreography(s) and combinations as assigned by Suhaila
•Develop a personal teacher enrichment plan for yourself to promote your own growth in dance as a student, performer, teacher, and/or choreographer.

Additional Topics
•Discuss teacher ethics and responsibilities
•Cultural and history reading assignment(s) and/or project(s)
•Creative project(s)