Suhaila Salimpour Belly Dance Format

Suhaila’s certification program provides a well-rounded curriculum to train students to become complete belly dancers.  Dance certification by Suhaila provides students with formal recognition of their dedication to and hard-earned proficiency in Suhaila’s challenging style.  The certification program encompasses the following consecutive levels:

Basics (Level 1)  The Foundation of the Format
Fundamentals (Level 2)  The Next Important Step
Intermediate (Level 3)  All the Pieces of the Puzzle
Advanced (Level 4)  The Big Picture
Teaching (Level 5)  Teaching Certification

Each level builds on the previous level, providing specialized training within a logical, cumulative sequence.  Over the full course of study, students are trained in dance technique, finger cymbals, rhythm identification, history, music, culture, improvisation, performance, choreography, teaching skills, etc.

Definitely! Most of the dancers in Suhaila’s certification program are located outside of California, and many are located outside of the U.S.A.  Students can attend workshops to get the information they need to return home and train at their own pace.  Suhaila has developed several tools (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 Suhaila and the School instructors the opportunity to evaluate and provide valuable feedback to students.

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.
Certification in the Suhaila 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 Maintaing Certification page.
Having been raised with both Jamila’s format and with conventional dance training (ballet, jazz, tap, etc.), Suhaila began using elements from her conventional dance to solidy and expand her mother’s format at an early age.  Beginning in the mid-80’s while she was in high school, Suhaila began working more purposely on developing her own format. She continued developing her format and launched the certification program based on her format in 1999.  Suhaila’s format has existed for over 30 years and is continually evaluated and updated to maintain the highest instructional and education standard available in belly dance.
Regardless of previous experience, all students (without exception) begin with Level 1.  Level 1 outlines all the necessary elements of Suhaila’s format 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; Suhaila never holds students back from realizing their potential.
Teaching Certification is the only level providing a certificate that authorizes a dancer to teach the Suhaila Salimpour format. All other certificates (Levels 1-4) are certificates of achievement within the Suhaila Salimpour School of Belly Dance that denote a dancer’ss progress. When a dancer achieves a Suhaila Salimpour School of Belly Dance Teaching Certificate, they have received the highest quality of belly dance training available.
I greatly enjoy teaching L1 workshops and working with students from all over the world; each workshop brings together a different mix of dancers, and it’s exciting to work with the unique energy created by that mix.  Below are some of the commonly asked questions from dancers who are thinking about attending a L1 workshop.

What will I gain from coming to your workshops?

With dancers new to my format, I focus on strong technique and body posture as a fundamental base.  All students, regardless of their level, can benefit from a strong base to serve as their foundation no matter from what instructor they take and no matter what stylization they choose.  My format is based on a standard nomenclature of dance movements and concepts.  These days that doesn’t seem too “out of the ordinary”, but when I began teaching my format in the early 1980s, this was a revolutionary idea.  Things start to fall into place quite easily once you understand the basic elements of my format (posture, dance movement, specific muscular movement, timing, etc.)

How will learning your technique make me a better dancer?

Strong technique creates strong dancers.  My students learn to maintain a strong and healthy body posture while executing dance movements muscularly, effectively, and efficiently.  If your basic technique is strong, you have a base upon which to expand and have a greater ability to dance a variety of styles.  You can also extend your dance years as you are training safely to prevent injury, for endurance and longevity.

I know they will be hard work so what is the best way to prepare?

I recommend that attendees research my format through my website and online classes (free trial available).  For those who want to prepare more fully, you can find a list of helpful hints on my website in the Certification Section.  

Website:  SalimpourSchool.com

Online Classes:  SalimpourSchoolOnline.com

How do you keep going, teaching so many hours of workshops?? Do you have a special nutrition advice?

Make sure to honor (and never neglect) your body:  eat well, get enough sleep, drink water, keep moving, etc. As women, we go through many different phases in our lives; and the variables are so different for every woman.

If there was one thing you would like any workshop attendee to use from all the information given, what would it be??

Follow an artistic path.  Let’s face it:  the truth is that belly dance standards in some areas are not very high, and many people seek out belly dance as their means to become an entertainer because of those low standards.  It’s fine to want to entertain and perform in public.  But follow an artistic path with this dance to stay integral in your intent with this art form.

SL1 Workshop Registration

Suhaila Format Level 1

Basics:  The Foundation of the Format

Level 1 starts with the basics of Suhaila’s format. Learn the skills necessary to develop the physical strength and mind-body connection to continue through the certification program. This level represents Suhaila’s extensive formal training in the structured disciplines of Contemporary and Middle Eastern dance. Due to the unique nature of Suhaila’s format, all new students in the Certification program, whether they are beginning or advanced dancers, begin with L1.

SL1 Testing Options

Whether you are interested in certification or just want to learn about Suhaila’s format, SL1 3-day workshops and series are an excellent introduction.  SL1 3-day workshops and SL1 Class series focus specifically on presenting the content and training needed for SL1 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 SL1 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.
  • For more about the exam and what to expect, scroll down to the “Salimpour Format Exams” section at the bottom of this page.

SL1 Online Multi-Week Course

New in 2018, we will offer SL1 multi-week testing course delivered through the Salimpour School Online.  Students will be assigned weekly videos, tools, and reading materials for training.  A SL5 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.

SL1 Training Tools

These resources will help you prepare for SL1 workshops and series.  Although no previous experience with the Salimpour formats is required to take a SL1 workshop or series, we highly recommend that you work with some of these resources in advance to make the most of your workshop or class experience.

  • Salimpour School Online Classes.  Take classes from the comfort of your own home to fit your time schedule. Various subscriptions available.
  • Level 1 Study Guide.  The Guide is a useful (and highly recommended) outline to help you organize your training and study for the written and practical portions of the L1 Certification Test.
  • 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).
  • Audio Training Downloads.  Once you learn SL1 concepts, use Audio Training Downloads. Drill Breaks provide a training option that takes under 30 minutes each session (and most under 20 minutes). L1 Drill Breaks help you drill areas in which you need more work. L1.5 Drill Breaks help bridge the gap between L1 and L2.
  • Level 1 Three-Day Workshop.  These workshops are an introduction to Suhaila’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.

Additional Assistance

Finger cymbals and patterns are introduced in SL1, and students begin strengthening the necessary muscles to play correctly with precision.  Training and testing include the following patterns played left and right hand dominant standing in home position and while traveling with basic foot patterns and movements.  A stronger focus is placed on singles and 3s.

  • Singles (quartertime, halftime, fulltime, doubletime)
  • 3s finger cymbal pattern (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
Congratulations.  After you pass the SL1 Certification Test, there is still more to learn! Here is information to help you move forward with your training.

Certificates.  Each dancer has a personally prepared certificate which will be mailed upon its completion. Certificates take several weeks to produce, up to 12 weeks or more in some cases. A more typical time frame is 6-8 weeks.

Resources for Further Training

  • Salimpour Online Classes. A subscription gives you access to over over 300 hours of classes including Level 1, Level 2, Dance Movement, Folkloric Fusion, and more. Obtain 5 CECs by paying for a full year in one payment.
  • Drill Breaks: Audio Training Downloads. Options include Level 1, Level 1.5, Level 2, and Level 2+.
  • Level 2 Finger Cymbal Drum Solo Choreography Subscription. Review the required choreography for L2 with L hand dominant cymbals.
  • Jamila Level 1 training and certification.
  • Daily Twitter Drills. Take a minute every day to focus on the format.
  • Our main website has a lot of information. Read through the certification section carefully to get a better idea of the overall program.
  • The Resources page of this website provides additional tools.

Maintaining Your Certification

  • Your certification is valid for two years.
  • To maintain L1 certification, you 1) must accumulate 20 Continuing Education Credits (CECs) before the certification expiration (two years) and submit a renewal fee; or 2) you may test successfully for a higher level.
  • CECs may be accrued by taking any workshops or classes taught by Suhaila or by officially licensed instructors.
SL2 Workshop Registration

Suhaila Format Level 2

Core Competence:  Building Your Skills

In L2, students continue developing muscle and body awareness while increasing the prevision, efficiency and fluidity of their movements. Layering concepts are introduced in the warm-up. Dancers begin integrating belly dance movements with dance movement and cymbals. Additional music theory, history and cultural elements are included. Choreography is introduced both as a training and testing tool.

SL2 Workshops

What are L2 Weeklong Workshops?

SL2 workshops are fun and challenging workshops with a specific focus on L2 material.  You learn exercises and drills to develop strength, endurance and efficiency of movement. Further emphasis is placed on integrating posture, belly dance movements, dance movement, cymbals, etc.  A listing of L2 workshops can be found in the Current Workshops section.

How do I prepare for a L2 Workshop?

  • Review the About Workshops page.
  • Use the list of training tools and resources provided in this section with a focus on SL2 technique classes and the L2FCDS choreography.
  • Review the L1 Study Guide; focus on drilling movements halftime and fulltime in home position, at the barre, and in traveling drills.

What do I bring to a L2 Workshop?

  • Prepare an 8-12 week Training Plan, carefully following the instructions in the Resources section. Have your Training plan printed and ready to submit the first morning you arrive. The goal of the exercise is to learn to write a training plan, and feedback will be given to students. (Submit only the Training Plan, not the Time Priority Assessment.)
  • Bring your dance art book as described in the Documentation Section of the Resources page; click here.
  • Bring a copy of the L2FCDS Choreography notes (and any questions) for your use and review during the workshop.
  • Bring finger cymbals, veil, ballet or jazz shoes, hand towel, refillable water bottle, and deodorant to reapply as necessary.
  • Have access to a computer and printer for homework assignments during the week.
  • 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.

About Testing

  • Certification testing is available for an additional fee.
  • More details on the test can be found in the “Salimpour Format Exams” section at the bottom of this page.
  • Testing is dispersed and monitored throughout the weeklong, so testers must prepare to test on the first day of the workshop.

SL2 Training Tools

Technique Resources

  • Salimpour School Online.  Nothing can replace working with a live instructor who can see you and correct you directly, but Online Classes can play an important role in your dance training. Take classes from the comfort of your own home whenever you want. Various subscriptions are available. Learn more.
  • Take dance movement classes in your area (beginning ballet barre and jazz) or via Salimpour Online Classes to develop your balance, posture, carriage, and grace.
  • Cymbal Jams.  These audio training tutorials  break down over 70 separate finger cymbal patterns slowly, up-to-tempo, and both R-and L-hand dominant.  (Includes the 24 patterns from Playing Finger Cymbals with Jamila.)
  • L2 Workshops.  These workshops are designed to focus specifically on L2 material. Check the Current Workshop Listings for the most up-to-date information on scheduled L2 workshops.
  • Drill Breaks.  These audio training downloads provide a training option that takes under 30 minutes each session.
  • Rhythm ID CD.  This CD includes over 40 Middle Eastern rhythms (on separate tracks). Knowledge of the names and structure of these rhythms will be necessary throughout all the format levels.
  • Salimpour Format Nomenclature.  Learn the Suhaila format nomenclature and syntax (sequencing) as provided in the Resources section of the website.

Level 2 Finger Cymbal Drum Solo Choreography

  • The required Level 2 choreography (Level 2 Finger Cymbal Drum Solo or L2FCDS) is available as a choreography subscription in one month increments for you to study independently on your own time and at your own pace.
  • You must be logged in to your online class account with current SL1 status to have access to purchase the L2FCDS choreography subscription from the PPV section.

Additional Assistance

Required Reading, Listening, Viewing List

Recommended

  • Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt DVD
  • Bellydancers of Cairo Documentary by Natasha Senkovich (DVD)
Finger Cymbal Pattern List

  • Continued work on precision and strength building.  All finger cymbal patterns to be played right and left hand dominant.  
  • All patterns to be played alone, drilling in home position or at the barre, and traveling with movements.

SL1 Finger Cymbal Patterns

  • 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

SL2 Finger Cymbal Patterns

  • 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

SL3 Finger Cymbal Patterns

  • Introduced in SL2, but tested in SL3
  • 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
Congratulations
After you pass the Suhaila Level 2 Certification Test, there is still more to learn! Here is information to help you move forward with your training.

Resources to Further Training
Suhaila Online Classes. A subscription gives you access to over over 300 hours of classes including Level 1, Level 2, Dance Movement, Folkloric Fusion, and more. Obtain 5 CECs by paying for a full year in one payment.
Drill Breaks: Audio Training Downloads. Options include Level 1, Level 1.5, Level 2, and Level 2+.
Level 2 Finger Cymbal Drum Solo Choreography Subscription. Review the required choreography for L2 with L hand dominant cymbals.
Level 3 Finger Cymbal Drum Solo Choreography Subscription. Learn the required L3 choreography with R and L hand dominant cymbals.
Maddah Al Amar Choreography Subscription. Learn the required L3 choreography.
Daily Twitter Drills. Take a minute every day to focus on the format.
Our main website has a lot of information. We encourage you to take some time to read through the certification section carefully to get a better idea of the overall program.
The Resources Section of this website provides additional tools.

Stay Connected
Email our office with any questions.
Facebook: Suhaila International.
Facebook: Suhaila Salimpour.
Twitter: SuhailaDance.
YouTube: Suhaila Belly Dance.

Maintaining Your Certification
Your certification is valid for two years.
To maintain L2 certification, you 1) must accumulate 30 Continuing Education Credits (CECs) before the certification expiration (two years) and submit a renewal fee; or 2) you may test successfully for a higher level.
CECs may be accrued by taking any workshops taught by Suhaila or officially sanctioned by Suhaila International. A list is available on the main website (http://suhailainternational.com/workshops_current.php).
If you have questions about which workshops or classes are applicable for CECs, contact us.
More information about CECs and certification renewal fees is available on the website.

Certificates
Each dancer has a personally prepared certificate which will be mailed upon its completion. Certificates take several weeks to produce, up to 12 weeks or more in some cases. A more typical time frame is 6-8 weeks.

SL3 Workshop Registration

Suhaila Format Level 3

Intermediate:  Expanding Knowledge and Technique

In SSBD L3, students begin to combine several elements together. In this level, they develop increased speed, precision and stamina while layering movements with various timings, downbeats, foot patterns, arm positions and finger cymbal patterns. They also receive training in emotional preparation and choreography skills.

Performance Prep Registration

Performance Prep Workshop

For students with SL2+ certification

Learn skills you will need for your L4 Personal Performance Catalogs and testing.  Students must have SL2 certification to attend.  Note that attendance at a Performance Prep is required before a student attends a Live Music workshop.  Topics include:

  • Improvisation skills for entrances, exits, the body of the compositions, and drum solos.
  • Use of veils, veil wraps, veil management, heels, etc. are also discussed.
  • Makeup, hair, costuming, and etiquette are also covered.
  • Three performance labs (in full costume) using the Performance Sets to practice improvisation skills.
Choreography Workshop Registration

Suhaila Format Level 4

Performance and Advanced Technique

Level 4 represents the most advanced technical training in belly dance. Students increase their technical abilities while working on advanced skills in performance, emotional intent, creativity, history, culture, choreography, and more.

Live Music Workshop Registration

Live Music Workshop

For students with SL3+ certification

The Live Music Workshop provides students an opportunity to apply their performance skills to working with a Live Arabic band.  Students must have SL3 certification to attend and previous attendance at a Performance Prep workshop.  Topics include:

  • Improvisation skills for entrances, exits, the body of the compositions, and drum solos.
  • Use of veils, veil wraps, veil management, heels, and more.
  • Makeup, hair, costuming, and etiquette .
  • Training and/or performance time with Middle Eastern musicians to practice improvisation skills.
  • Three full performances in full costume.

Suhaila Format Level 5

Teaching Certification Preparation

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 and more:

  • Teaching skills and Curriculum development
  • Choreography and Creativity
  • History, culture, and music
  • Business and Promotion

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.
SL1 Workshop Registration

Salimpour Format Exams

About the Exam Process

Salimpour School exams have multiple parts.  Students are tested with practical and written exams.  More information is provided below for L1 and L2 exams.  To learn more about L3-5 exams, visit the specific level for information on what is covered and tested.

L1 and L2 exams are offered in conjunctions with L1 and L2 workshops, class series, and online testing series.  You are ready to test when you know the concepts. If you are in doubt, ask Suhaila or one or her authorized studio instructors; their goal is to keep you continually moving forward in your dance studies. If for some reason they feel you are not ready, they will provide you specific information on what you need to learn or improve to test.

Prerequisites.  You must submit a completed Certification Registration form with testing payment. Students must also create an account with the Salimpour School Online; a paid account is not needed, and you can sign up for a free trial with no payment information required. It is through this account that students will have access to their certification data records, test results, CECs, and choreographies/classes that require a specific certification level for access.

Exam Sections.  The SL1 and JL1 exams have two portions: practical technique and written.  The SL2 and JL2 exams have three portions: practical technique, choreography, and written.

  • The practical portion of the exam is given in a studio setting. Students are given verbal commands, drills, and instructions to which they must demonstrate a solid understanding of the concepts. To pass the practical portion of the exam, a student must receive 70% or higher.  For SL1 and JL1, the practical portion is held after the workshop or series, and the test is usually 60-75 minutes in duration.  For SL2 and JL2, the practical portion of the exam is conducted as part of and throughout the entire workshop.  (For L1 online testing, students submit a video of themselves executing practical drills per the specific criteria provided as part of that program.)
  • The written exam tests students on format terminology, concepts, history, and culture. Exam questions may include multiple choice, true/false, matching, fill-in-the-blank, and short answer. To pass the written portion of the exam, a student must receive 70% or higher.  Students will be given access to an online testing service to complete the written exam in a 3-day window.  Visit the Online Written Exam tab in this section for more information.
  • Choreography testing is included as part of the Suhaila Level 2 and Jamila Level 2 exam process.  For Suhaila Level 2, students are tested after the workshop on the first day. Jamila Level 2 testers must submit both JL2 choreographies and be approved (pass by 70% on both) by private lesson (in person or Skype) with a JL5-instructor before the JL2 workshop at which the student will be testing.

Exam Retesting

  • Practical exams:  If students fail the practical portion of the exam, they must attend another workshop (or series) and pay another full testing fee.  
  • Choreography:  If a SL2 or JL2 tester fails a choreography portion, they may retest for that choreography by working with a L5 instructor (via privates, in-person or Skype) assigned by Suhaila.  Students must pay the related private fees, and the choreography portion must be passed within 60 days of the original testing date.  (If successful, the original testing date of the workshop is used as the date for their certification exam.)
  • Written Exams:  Failed written exams may be retaken for a $75 retest fee.   The written retest must be taken within 30 days of the original testing date.   (If successful, the original testing date of the workshop is used as the date for their certification exam.)
  • Expedited Fees:  In certain limited cases, students may receive permission from Suhaila to take their written exam slightly earlier for an additional fee of $25 to expedite the exam.  This situation is used only for those cases where a student might need the testing results from the current workshop to take a higher level workshop immediately following the current workshop.

Commonly Asked Questions

  • If I attend a workshop and sign up for testing, will I pass the exam?  The exam is a real exam, requiring that the dancer demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the material in both the practical and written portions. The testing process is not a formality, meaning that a student can’t just show up, pay money and expect to pass. But, by using the learning tools and resources listed for each level, you have the information needed to pass the exams.
  • May the exam be translated into another language?  The language of the format is English; therefore, all tests, manuals, and educational materials are written in English, and students are expected to complete the test in English.
  • I’ve never taken a class in person from Suhaila or one of her authorized teachers. May I just show up at the end of one of the L1 workshops or series to take the L1 exam?  The short answer is no. Dance is a live art form, and nothing replaces the feedback and training that is received in a live classroom environment. Suhaila and/or one of her authorized instructors must see a student in a classroom environment before that student may test.

Titles.  Suhaila Level 1, Suhaila Level 2, Jamila Level 1, and Jamila Level 2 certifications are certificates of achievement within the Salimpour School.   Students with current certification may used the following wording (as applicable to the level successfully achieved):  “Suhaila Level 1 Certified”, “Suhaila Level 2 Certified”, “Jamila Level 1 Certified”, or “Jamila Level 2 Certified”.

For L1 online written exams, students will be emailed a link to take the exam within a 3-day period.   The email for the exam link might be sent from Class Marker, and make sure to check your spam folder.  Students will need:

  • a computer or tablet with sound turned “on”
  • working and stable internet (for duration of exam)
  • one page of handwritten notes (optional, see below)

Once you begin the exam:

  • You will need to complete the exam in one sitting.
  • You will be allotted a defined period of time to complete your exam. The time is dictated by the number and type of questions asked, with each student’s test being slightly different.  As you begin the exam, you will be given the exact number of questions in your test along with the exact time limit for your test.  A typical L1 exam has 40 questions with a 50 minute time limit.
  • You will have to answer a question before you are allowed to move to the next question.
  • You will not be able to return to a previous question to change your answer.

The exam is not an open book exam; however, students may use one single sheet of handwritten notes (front and back: A4, 8.5x11”, or equivalent). The page may not be typed. Students may NOT use or access any other resources beyond a single page of handwritten notes.  As examples, this means you may NOT use: another person, an internet search, language translators, the SL1 Study Guide, the Salimpour Compendium, any other book, someone else’s notes, etc.

Students will be emailed a link to take the exam within a 3-day period.   Students will need:

  • a computer or tablet with sound “on”
  • working and stable internet (for duration of exam)
  • one page of handwritten notes (optional, see below)

Once you begin the exam:

  • You will need to complete the exam in one sitting.
  • You will be allotted a defined period of time to complete your exam. The time is dictated by the number and type of questions asked, with each student’s test being slightly different.  As you begin the exam, you will be given the exact number of questions in your test along with the exact time limit for your test.  A typical L2 exam has 75 questions with a 95 minute time limit.
  • You will have to answer a question before you are allowed to move to the next question.
  • You will not be able to return to a previous question to change your answer.

The exam is a “limited” open book exam, meaning that only the following resources may be used:

  • SL1 Study Guide
  • The New Danse Orientale (for JL2)
  • The Salimpour Belly Dance Compendium V1
  • Jamila’s Article Book
  • SalimpourSchool.com
  • SalimpourSchoolOnline.com
  • dictionary (or for language translation)
  • your personal notes from classes, workshops, and the above sources

You may NOT use other resources beyond those specifically listed. As examples, this means you may not use another person, a general internet search, any other book that those listed, someone else’s notes, etc.

Curriculum

What is Level 1?
Level 1 starts with the basics of Suhaila’s format. Students learn the skills necessary to develop the physical strength and mind-body connection to continue through the certification program. This level represents Suhaila’s extensive formal training in the structured disciplines of Contemporary and Middle Eastern dance. Due to the unique nature of Suhaila’s format, all new students in the Certification program, whether they are beginning or advanced dancers, begin with L1.

Physiology & Training

  • Warm-up and drill exercises designed to promote the specific physical strength and muscle development required to execute this dance safely and efficiently.
  • 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.

Technical Focus of Level 1

  • Introduction of belly dance movements standing and moving.
  • Proficiency in L1 warm-up positions and exercises.
  • All movements up to half time (no layering) with foot patterns and / or arm movements.

Music & Music Theory

  • Introduction to finger cymbal patterns and strengthening necessary muscles to play correctly.
  • Introduction to timing (quartertime, halftime, etc.)
  • Introduction to Middle Eastern rhythms.

Finger Cymbals

  • Introduction to finger cymbal patterns and strengthening necessary muscles to play correctly.
  • Singles finger cymbal pattern (quartertime, halftime, fulltime, doubletime) played in home position with belly dance movements; left and right hand dominant.
  • 3s finger cymbal pattern (halftime, fulltime) played in home position with belly dance movements; left and right hand dominant

Additional Finger Cymbal Patterns

  • The patterns below (right and left hand dominant) may be included on the written test or as part of the practical (played  alone or standing in home position with a repetitive hip movement, but not traveling).
  • 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
What is Level 2?
In L2, students continue developing muscle and body awareness while increasing the prevision, efficiency and fluidity of their movements. Layering concepts are introduced in the warm-up. Dancers begin integrating belly dance movements with dance movement and cymbals. Additional music theory, history and cultural elements are included. Choreography is introduced both as a training and testing tool.

Physiology & Training

  • Identification of muscle contractions involved for movement execution.
  • Increased muscle development to prepare for layering.
  • Focus on precise and efficient hipwork and isolations.
  • Introduction of arm and hand positions.

Technical Focus

  • Proficiency in L2 warm-up positions and exercises.
  • All movements up to full-time (no layering) with foot patterns, arm movements and/or finger cymbals.

Music & Music Theory

  • Continued work on finger cymbal patterns and strength while drilling; see detailed list below.
  • Continued work on timing (including fulltime and doubletime
  • Middle Eastern rhythms from Rhythm ID CD

Suhaila Choreography

  • Dance combinations to promote dance transitions and fluidity.
  • Instruction of L2 Finger Cymbal Drum Solo to be used both as a training and a testing tool.

Creativity & Research

  • Begin maintaining a dance art book (no smaller than by 9×12 inches or size B4 paper) to document your creative ideas, endeavors, and assignments.
  • Jamila’s Article Book.
  • The Salimpour Belly Dance Compendium Volume 1
  • View videos of Nadia Gamal, Souhair Zaki, Samia Gamal, Tahia Carioca, Naima Akef, Nagwa Fouad, Mona El Said, etc.:
  • View American Bellydancer DVD.
  • View American Belly Dance Legends DVD.
  • Read The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield.
  • Learn about your personal nutritional and dietary concerns to maintain a healthy body.

Finger Cymbal Pattern List

  • Continued work on precision and strength building.  All finger cymbal patterns to be played right and left hand dominant.  
  • All patterns to be played alone, drilling in home position or at the barre, and traveling with movements.

SL1 Finger Cymbal Patterns

  • 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

SL2 Finger Cymbal Patterns

  • 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

SL3 Finger Cymbal Patterns

  • Introduced in SL2, but tested in SL3
  • 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
What is Level 3?
In SSBD L3, students begin to combine several elements together. In this level, they develop increased speed, precision and stamina while layering movements with various timings, downbeats, foot patterns, arm positions and finger cymbal patterns. They also receive training in emotional preparation and choreography skills.

Physiology & Training
•Identification of muscle contractions involved for movement execution.
•Development of layering with various timings, downbeats, foot patterns, arm positions and finger cymbal patterns.
•Focus on building speed and stamina.

Technical Focus of L3
•Proficiency in L3 warm-up positions and exercises.
•Standing Vibrations 5 min (non-negotiable).
•All movements double-time (no layering) with foot patterns, arm movements and/or finger cymbals.
•All movements up to full-time plus one quarter-time or half-time layering movement with foot patterns, arm movements and/or finger cymbals.

Music & Music Theory
•Play all finger cymbal patterns on Jamila’s CD right dominant, left dominant.
•Read and complete exercises on Rhythmic Training for Dancers by Robert Kaplan.
•Identify all drum rhythms from Drum Rhythm ID CD.

Suhaila Choreography
•Perform Maddah choreography with improvisational intro including vibration.
•Perform L3 Finger Cymbal Drum Solo choreography with cymbals right and left hand dominant.
•Perform L2 Finger Cymbal Drum Solo choreography (including finger cymbal patterns both right and left hand dominant) with L3 layering additions.

Creativity & Personal Choreography (tools)
•One-movement emotional preparation song.
•Composition/song choices with which to practice choreographical skills.
•Read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and complete the exercises outlined in the book.
•Continue maintaining a dance art book to document your creative ideas, endeavors, and assignments.
•Read and complete projects/assignments including, but not limited to, the following books:
•Sanford Meisner on Acting by Sanford Meisner
•Dance Psychology for Artistic and Performance Excellence by James Taylor and Elena Estanol
•The Art of Making Dances by Doris Humphrey

History & Culture
View and complete projects/assignments including, but not limited to, the following:

•Jamila’s Article Book
•The Salimpour School Belly Dance Compendium Volume 1
•Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt DVD
•Rare Glimpses: Dancers from the Middle East DVD presented by Ibrahim Farrah
•The Legend, Nadia Gamal DVD
•The Bellydancers of Cairo: A Documentary by Natasha Senkovich DVD

What is Level 4?
Level 4 represents the most advanced technical training in belly dance. Students increase their technical abilities while working on advanced skills in performance, emotion, creativity, history, culture, choreography, etc.

Physiology & Training
Advanced identification and awareness of muscle contractions involved for movement execution.
Continued focus on building precision/control, stamina and efficiency of movement.

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.
•For Suhaila L4 testing, both Suhaila L3 and Jamila L2 certifications are required.

Music & Music Theory
For all finger cymbal patterns on Jamila’s CD and for each of the required certification choreographies:

•Play right or left hand dominant.
•Play right side only or left side only.
•Play using 3 cymbals instead of 4 (cross over pattern) with right dominant or left dominant.
•Question and answer finger cymbal pattern repeat.

Suhaila Choreography Improv-Prep 

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

Suhaila Certification Choreography & Performance

  • L2FCD
  • Maddah
  • L3FCD
  • Ali Gara
  • Yanna Yanna
  • Nebtiti
  • Enta Omri
  • Bongo Funk
  • Accessible

Creativity & Personal Choreography
•Develop personal choreography with emotional preparation and required elements.
•Perform personal choreography.

Improvisational Performance
•Complete improvisation exercises as presented and/or assigned by Suhaila.
•Video submission of personal performance catalog including improvisational work.
•Live improvisational performance.

Level 4 Teaching Path
On a case-by-case basis, Suhaila will evaluate students’ requests to participate in a modified version of L4 certification. In general, the performance requirements are modified while significantly stronger evaluation and teaching components are added.

 

What is the Teaching Path?
Belly dance is a performing art, and someone holding an SSBD Teaching Certificate must understand and teach performance skills to their students. As an alternative to the classic performance approach, the Teaching Path option was developed.

How do I apply?
Submit a formal written request with your reason for wishing to pursue the L4 Teaching Path. Requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and submission of a request in no way guarantees approval. Requests will only be accepted from students with SSBD L2 certification or higher.

How does the L4 Teaching Path differ?
The Teaching Path allows participants to approach the study of performance as an observer rather than as the actual performer (much like someone studies art but doesn’t become a great painter or sculptor themselves) and to approach advanced technique from a teaching standpoint (as versus performance). Below are the main differences. In addition to the elements below, Teaching Path participants will be given individual assignments (based on their skill and experience) as needed to prepare them for teaching improvisation and performance elements.

Performance Evaluation Catalog
Instead of a Personal Performance Catalog, L4 participants submit a very detailed evaluation catalog. More details provided in the PDF: PerformanceEvaluationCatalog10Sep2011

Advanced Certification Choreographies
•You create a teaching and technique guide (one for each of the seven required certification choreographies) outlining your detailed approach to teaching choreography along with safe training guides and lessons to assist students with learning the more difficult elements. For instance, you outline how to safely train a student to do splits (timeline for doing such, exercises, cautions, etc.)
•Participants must demonstrate their ability to teach each advanced choreography. In the year in which they wish to test, students should be prepared to teach the choreographies in the applicable L4 Workshop.
•Participants may still be required to perform the certification choreographies, but in a modified form.

Improvisation & Performance Skills
Each participant will be given individual assignments addressing what skills and experience are lacking to prepare for teaching improvisation and performance.

 

 

What is Level 5?
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
•Business and promotion
•History, culture, and music
•Creativity
•Teaching ethics
•Personal enrichment plan development

Teaching Apprenticeship & Skills
•TA workshops & classes under the supervision of Suhaila or authorized staff
•Teach technique classes
•Learn 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 extensive 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, choreographer and/or manager.

Business & Educational Topics
•Research the details and monetary requirements of opening and operating a studio in your area (or alternate belly dance business enterprise) and develop a corresponding promotional package
•Discuss teacher ethics and responsibilities
•Business reading assignments and/or projects
•Discuss and complete an assignment on the operation of a dance company/troupe
•Discuss and complete an assignment on Middle Eastern culture and/or belly dance history

 

3. Conceptual or Project CECs
Dancers will be given general and individual assignments designed to promote the continual development of the L5 dancer.