When you first start belly dance at the Salimpour School, you learn fundamental movements, techniques, and learning strategies that you’ll take with you for the rest of your journey.
But after dancers earn their Level 1/Fundamentals certifications, it’s really common for them to get so wrapped up in learning the new material that they forget to stay connected with the basics. And then all that more challenging technique and choreography feels even more daunting. But it doesn’t have to be!
All the tools you need are right there in Level 1!
So here are 5 reasons why you need to go back to Level 1, no matter how long you’ve been studying with the Salimpour School or how high you’re certified.
1. Refining Home Position
Like the plie in ballet, Home Position in Salimpour belly dance is one of the first things we learn and one of the last things we master.
And yet, after dancers certify in Level 100/Fundamentals, they often forget to check in with their Home Position, which makes the faster hipwork, complex foot patterns, and challenging layering of the higher levels much harder than they need to be.
We must keep working on our relationship with Home, refining it, adjusting it, and rediscovering it in our own bodies.
When you return to Level 1, you can reintroduce yourself to Home Position to help you where you are now in your Salimpour belly dance journey. Chances are that Home feels much different for you now than it did when you first started, and that’s a good thing. That means you’re growing and developing yourself as a dancer!
With your increased strength and body awareness, you can keep adjusting and refining your Home Position. Level 1 classes—both Fundamentals 1 (Suhaila) and Fundamentals 2 (Jamila)—give you the perfect chance to dig deep into this work and focus on that essential body alignment you’ll always need.
2. Connecting with Your Feet
Ideally, Salimpour belly dance is done in bare feet or in shoes that allow us to be mostly barefoot, such as dance paws. Many other dance forms, from contemporary to Kathak, Hula to modern, are also danced without shoes, so that we can feel the floor and connect with the earth.
And in Level 1, we learn important cues for connecting the soles of our feet to the floor:
- Distributing the weight evenly between the ball of the foot and the heel when flat or standing
- Weight over the big toe when up in releve/demi-pointe
- Flexing ankle and placing the foot on the floor when traveling flat or releve
Yet, in the higher levels, dancers often forget these important cues. They’ll roll to the outside of their ankles, or lift their legs from their hip joint instead of using the ankle to do traveling foot patterns.
The foot and ankle technique in Level 1 is essential for higher level work, and you’re never finished with it!
If you’re already subscribed to the Salimpour School Online, make sure to watch Suhaila’s break down of foot placement (log-in required).
3. Slowing Down
Some of the best musicians will practice a section of a score or song by slowing it down. This allows them to be more present when developing the muscle memory needed to play that part.
Dancers who throw themselves into fast movement sometimes end up, well, flailing. They’re not connecting with the muscular driver of the technique or how the movement fits into the music to which they’re drilling.
That’s why sometimes you need to slow it down.
And sometimes doing a movement slowly is more challenging than doing it quickly. Soft contraction movements such as interior hip circles and figure 8s are quite challenging when done slowly because they need to be smooth and even.
By slowing down the movements, you can really feel the muscular action so that you can call on that feeling when you work on the technique at faster tempos.
4. Keeping Yourself Humble
There’s a quote attributed to folk dancer Dick Crum that circulates around social media pretty regularly:
- Beginning dancer. Knows nothing.
- Intermediate dancer. Knows everything. Too good to dance with beginners.
- Hotshot dancer. Too good to dance with anyone.
- Advanced dancer. Dances everything. Especially with beginners.
And even though it might not be true for everyone, we’ve probably met our fair share of intermediate dancers who didn’t want to go back to beginner classes.
And others might be so wrapped up in working on advanced layering and technique that they don’t consider going back to basics, especially if you’ve been studying Salimpour Format for a long time.
But the intermediate and advanced dancers who do return to Level 1 classes often make the same remark: “Level 1 is hard!”
It’s not difficult because they are learning the material; it’s difficult because they are still mastering the material. And they can put more physical and mental effort into the work because they understand the timing and muscular drivers of the movements, so they can do more investigation and exploration of the technique. When you know how to work, you can get more out of any practice, especially the fundamentals.
5. Enjoying the Journey
Dance is a rare and special art in that it’s based entirely in the body. And our bodies are changing all the time. That’s another why it’s so important to revisit Level 1 material… the person you are when you started in this school is probably quite different from who you are now, and that’s exciting! You know more, you can do more, and now you can dig into Level 1 technique from a place of familiarity and knowledge, rather than it all being new.
And we know that the curriculum in Level 1/Fundamentals is jam packed with new information. It’s rare that a dancer really masters Level 1 before moving on to Level 2. So why not go back and enjoy working on your fundamentals so that you can have that strong foundation for more advanced work?
So, with your ever-increasing knowledge of the Salimpour Format, your body, and your goals, going back to Level 1 can be rewarding, exciting, and offer you new opportunities for growth and discovery!
Curious about Level 1?
There’s still time to register for our upcoming Level 1 Online 6-Week Course!