At the Salimpour School, we are constantly evaluating our belly dance certification program to make sure that our students receive a comprehensive belly dance education. And after each run of intensives at the home studio, Suhaila and her team look at what worked for students and what didn’t, finding ways to make sure that you get the most out of every workshop.

So, this year, the Salimpour School has made some pretty major changes to the testing process for Level 2 and higher in both the Suhaila and Jamila Salimpour Formats, adding new workshops, and adjusting the time frame of others.

Here’s what’s in store for 2018:

Less Time Off Work for You

We know that taking time off work to attend a multi-day workshop can be difficult, and we’ve heard your requests to hold workshops over a weekend.

This year, we’ve not only condensed the Suhaila Level 2 workshop into 4 days, but we’re also holding it over a weekend: July 21 – 24, Saturday – Tuesday. We’re also holding the Jamila Format Level 2 workshop over the following weekend: July 26 – 20, Thursday – Monday.

This means less time off for you, and it means that Suhaila will be teaching more Suhaila Format Level 2 workshops outside of the “Mothership.”

NEW Performance Prep Workshop

This year we’re piloting our first Performance Preparation workshop, with Suhaila’s curriculum developed from her lifetime of experience as a professional performer in Arab communities and the Middle East, directing of the Suhaila Dance Company, and coaching top dancers.

This year the workshop will taught by Sabriye Tekbilek (SL5/JL5), and students will work on costuming and grooming, musicality and listening, and working with musicians. Students will also explore the elements of a classic belly dance set, from entrance promenade to the final bow. Participants will put their knowledge into practice in a performance lab during the evenings to recorded music. Each year, this workshop will be taught by a different Level 5 instructor.

Attendance of this workshop is now required before students can attend a Live Music and Improvisation workshop. This year, the Performance Prep workshop runs for 4 days, from July 31 – August 2, Tuesday – Friday. Registration is up for 2018, 2019, and 2020. 

Testing for Levels 2 and Higher

Unlike with the Level 1 tests for both Suhaila and Jamila Format, where the exam is given on the afternoon of the last day of the workshop, testing for Level 2 and 3 happens throughout the workshop itself. Students are evaluated on their technique, endurance, and overall performance during the days. That won’t change, but the work that happens before the first day of the workshop is changing.

Students testing for Levels 2 and 3 must work with a Level 5 instructor on refining the required choreographies. Students testing for Levels 3 and 4 in either format must also submit video of themselves doing a set of technical drills to an assigned Level 5 instructor who will provide any necessary feedback and guidance. These must be at passing level before the potential tester attends the workshop.

Check out the new testing requirements:

If you’re hoping to test this summer, get in touch with Rachel George, our Certification Coordinator, who will pair you up with a Level 5 instructor who will evaluate your video submissions and give you feedback and guidance along the way.

Long-Distance Coaching

Technology has advanced so much that now we offer private lessons over video chat, and our dancers can check in with a Level 5 instructor at any time. With the success of our Skype private lessons taught by our Level 5 instructors, we realized that we could help you excel even more before you even come to test in person. And of course online private lessons count for CECs!

The long-distance coaching has already been a huge success. Jenny Nichols, who recently passed Jamila Format Level 2 says, “I was able to go into testing week feeling confident.” And Jo Wallis, who also just passed her Jamila Format Level 2 certification says, “It was great going in knowing I had been reviewed and I was in good shape. The Skype lessons gave me a much better comfort level!” 

Even if you’re not preparing to test for the next Suhaila or Jamila certification, we encourage you to check in with a Level 5 instructor before coming to your next intensive. Email Rachel George for more information: salimpourcertification [at] gmail [dot] com


We hope to see you at the new home studio location this summer! Train well, and reach out if you have any questions about how to prepare for your next Salimpour Format intensive.