Suhaila Salimpour Institute of Online Education

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April 29, 2020

An Important Message from the Salimpour School

The Salimpour School presents the Suhaila Salimpour Institute of Online Education.  Given the unexpected crisis faced by the world this year, plans to launch the institute (planned for 2023) were expedited to accommodate the training of our students located across the globe.  The School’s certification process for the higher levels has now moved exclusively to the Institute.  Using technology, you can train and certify without ever leaving your home town.

Live workshops and classes are valuable, and the School will still continue to offer in-person workshops and classes to supplement online course and certification programs.  In a live workshop or class, you can be in the room with other students and be guided under the eye of an instructor.  Students can learn collaboratively, learning from other students’ questions and corrections.  But for the certification live workshops, it has been difficult to include everything a student needs in four or five days and to allow the student time to absorb and integrate feedback.   Because of this, online education courses offer many benefits.  Students can organize coursework and assignments into their regular weekly schedules.

In an online course, you don’t have immediate feedback from an instructor or the camaraderie with fellow students in the room.  But, by using video and live conferencing, these courses can provide you even more personal feedback than a live group classroom, allow you more time to integrate that feedback, and present additional opportunity to grow with that feedback in a timely manner.  In preparation for the courses, you can learn content by taking classes and training plans from the Salimpour School Online.  If you have questions about technique or choreography, it is easy to set up private lessons with certified School instructors.    When you feel ready, you can enroll in a testing preparation course.  The testing preparation courses guide you over 12 weeks both to focus on the material you need for testing and to build a foundation for the next level.  Testing is available following the courses.

We developed in 4 weeks what we intended to develop over 2 years.   We started with the curriculum, building each course from scratch. We laid out the entire program with the details of every single assignment of every single week of every single course.   When we made changes, it meant evaluating every course all over again, understanding how each change impacts the pacing of the content and the effectiveness of learning for the students.  We tested our technology.  Our classrooms are completely assembled and ready with over 14 courses that collectively contain over 170 weeks of instruction.   This Institute is built!

So while our classes are ready, we are still in the process of adding content and material about the new Institute courses to the website and store.  We appreciate your patience as we complete that work.  And we welcome your questions.  A general timeline is below.  You can also find links to the course information.  The classes will start in Fall of this year, and we’ll be posting that schedule in a few days.

And we want to take this time to thank our students.  Truly, you inspired this change.  Every single step of this process, we thought about you. How can we truly teach dance without being in the room together?  How do we help you train long distance?  How can we show you how much we value you as individuals?   To our existing students, we appreciate your continued, unwavering support; every single one of you has a place in this Institute.  To new students, we encourage you to join our worldwide community of students.  Welcome to the Institute!

More Coming Soon

We have been preparing some additional online programs, all of of which have been on our planning board for over a year.  We’ll be rolling these out soon.

  • Online Lesson Series for Smaller Groups
  • Online Short Courses
  • Peer-Led Study and Training Groups
  • Staging Instruction for Featured Choreographies
  • Courses for Collectives
  • Online Live Lectures
  • Salimpour School Online Content filmed specifically for students training at home in small spaces

Spring 2021 Scholarship Information

Announcing the Spring 2021 Scholarship Program

One scholarship for $750 to apply toward Spring 2021 tuition will be awarded.

Applications are due September 15, 2020.

Click below to learn about eligibility, requirements, and more.

Scholarship Program Spring 2021

The Institute Mission and Values

The Suhaila Salimpour Institute of Online Education was created to address the School’s growing worldwide student body, to present more content with increased consistency, to provide more personalized feedback for students, and to establish a more accessible home for the Salimpour certification program.   The Institute furthers the aims of the Salimpour School to graduate high quality performers and instructors, thereby raising the standard and status of belly dance worldwide; and to educate through a blend of modern and traditional dance, but always with authenticity in and awareness of Arabic music and the Arabic culture from where this dance originated.

Our Institute’s mission is to provide high quality belly dance education  and certification through online learning strategies.  The School continues to offer in-person classes and workshops; but all testing preparations and certification exams are handled through Institute online courses.*  

  • We utilize effective technologies to provide accessible, effective learning and certification opportunities for those students who, because of time, geographic, or other constraints, are unable to attend in-person workshops and classes.
  • We ensure the quality of our distance learning instruction through effective course design and assessment.
  • We foster an environment which allows students, without the restrictions of time and place, to take ownership and responsibility of their education and course pacing to help them reach their desired goals.
  • We provide a quality, thorough education while taking into account each individual student’s learning style.
  • We provide personalized feedback throughout the program for student awareness and growth.
  • We foster a school culture based on a strong and effective partnership between our instructors and students.
  • We promote a strong community of worldwide dancers.

Institute Values

  • We value quality in education.  Our programs and methods are under constant scrutiny so we can provide the best content for our students.
  • We value honesty and integrity.  The Salimpour School and the Suhaila Salimpour Institute of Online Education were created and are maintained based on these core values.
*Level 100 certifications (Fundamentals 1 and 2) are available through Institute online courses as well as workshops and series.  See the Events and Workshop list for dates.

Frequently Asked Questions

Instruction.  The Level 200-500 courses are taught by the Institute Director, Suhaila Salimpour, who will provide the feedback and evaluation on assignments.  Teaching Assistants will provide technique feedback, and that feedback is evaluated by Suhaila.

Classroom.  The Institute uses Google Classroom.  Assignments, quizzes, and feedback are all handled through the classroom.  Students will need an active subscription to the Salimpour School Online to access technique classes, special lectures, limited access videos, and choreography PPVs.  (Note that online class subscriptions and PPVs are not included as part of the course fee.)

In the certification section of the website, each level has a page that contains information on preparing for the courses in that level.  If, after reading the website, you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to contact the School at suhailainternational at  We welcome questions.

Yes!  You can.  However, be aware of the workload required, especially if your intent is to test after a testing preparation course.  We think most classes will require 10-15 hours per week, but each student is different.  If you are considering taking two courses at one time, we encourage you to contact the School to discuss your situation.  We can help you determine what the best choice is for you.

Each classroom will be opened to the enrolled students approximately 10 days priors to the start date of the course.  This will allow you time to look over the course materials and prepare for the start of the course.  Most courses have pre-course assignments related to the required choreography for that level; for those courses with pre-course assignments, students will be required to submit (upload to the classroom) the assignments one week prior to the start date of the course.

Once students are admitted to a classroom, they will have access to the majority (if not all) of the material and assignments immediately.

Yes.  Most of the courses require that students submit video of the required choreographies one week prior to the course.  Level 300 and 400 courses may also require mapping and gridwork assignments related to the required choreographies.   See the specific level pages for more information about requirements for specific levels and courses.

Class Structure.  The content is paced steadily over 12 weeks.   Each week, students are given content to study and/or review that may include online classes, lectures, performance videos, reading material, etc.  Students are also given weekly assignments to submit for evaluation; the assignments may include online quizzes, videos of themselves executing certain assignments, typed reports submitted through the classroom, PDFs, jpg images, etc.

The Class Week.  Weeks begin on Sundays at 4am Pacific Time Zone; weeks conclude on Saturday at 11:59pm Pacific Time Zone.  Students can see assignments in advance of the particular week they are assigned; assignments are due by 11:59pm on Saturday of the particular week they are assigned (Pacific Time Zone).

Student Feedback and Evaluation.  Students receive feedback in several ways as listed below.  Assignments are paced so that students are submitting content weekly and receiving feedback weekly.

  • In Levels 200 and 300, to prepare for written online exams, students are given online quizzes.  Students find out immediately which questions they got wrong.
  •  For choreography, students film themselves and submit video.  Personalized feedback for each student is given in several ways;  audio, video, and/or written.
  • For technique evaluation, students film themselves and submit video.  Personalized feedback for each student is typically written, but may include video or audio files.
  • For other assignments, the same variety of personalized feedback is provided:  audio, video, and/or written.

How do I  submit assignments?

  • Assignments are submitted by uploading (video files, PDFs, jpg files) based on the specific parameters of that assignment.
  • More information about filming assignments and submitting video can be found on the Resources page.

Can I submit assignments when I want?

  • Yes and no.  Once you are admitted to the classroom, you will have access to the majority (if not all) the class content.  You will be able to work ahead if needed.  However, late assignments may be not be evaluated.
  • Some online courses are designed so the you can pace them as you prefer.  You can race to do all the work at the beginning or wait to submit all your assignments until the end.  Our Institute courses are not designed that way.  Our courses are designed to deliver paced feedback to the students to promote learning in a steady and regular manner.   However, as stated above, once students are admitted to a classroom, they will have access to the majority (if not all) of the material and assignments immediately.  While in a perfect situation, students would approach the material for the week it is assigned, we also understand that students need to work around other commitments.  If a student foresees a time conflict, they can prepare by working in advance and by submitting assignments in advance.
  • When you enroll in a course, it is important that you recognize your roll in the process.  Submitting your work by the established deadlines is a critical part of your learning process. Late assignments (turned in after the deadlines) may not be evaluated, which means students may not be able to pass the course, which may prevent students from being eligible for testing or being eligible for the subsequent course.
  • You also have the choice to not submit assignments as outlined another FAQ about assignments.  But if your goal is to test in the testing chute immediately following the course, the instructor would have nothing to evaluate and would not be able to give approval for you to proceed to testing.

Definitely to both questions!  And also, you have control over the assignments you submit in courses.  See the information below.

Can I take a course more than once?

  • Although many of the courses are testing preparation courses, you can definitely take them as many times as you like.  The program is designed to be efficient, allowing students to handle as much of their own training as they want.
  • For those students who want more help, we offer additional resources to help you including private lessons, online classes, live workshops, etc.
  • Some students like to take a course twice: the first time to get prepared to the second time to test.  And then after testing, some students like to go back and take a course to reenforce what they’ve learned.  All of these options are great and encouraged!

Can I take a course in which I’m already certified?

  • We encourage students to go back and take courses at lower levels. Know that testing preparation courses are both about preparing you for testing, but also introducing content that is required for the next level.
  • As an example, if you already have Foundations 1 (S2) certification, then taking the Foundations 1 Testing Preparation course is a great way to reenforce your training, learn new choreographies for that level, and learn new content added to that level.  And, you don’t have to test!
  • For another example, if you already have Performance 1 or Performance 2 certification, you might retake a choreography presentation course to learn the new required choreography line-up or you might take the senior recital preparation course to focus on new material; and you can do these without having to do the actual performance exam!

When you take a course, it’s up to you whether you turn in all the assignments.

  • If you are taking a course for which you are already certified, then you can make choices on which assignments you submit for evaluation.
  • If you are taking a course without the intent to test, then again, you can make choices as to which assignments you submit for evaluation.
  • If you are planning to test, then it becomes important to submit your assignments for evaluation.  At the end of the course, the instructor will provide an overall assessment of your work.  You will then know if you are approved to move on to testing, require some additional work, or need to retake the course.  If you don’t turn in assignments, it is not likely you will receive approval to test as the instructor will not have enough material to determine your readiness for testing.

Our online classroom provides the student a means to contact the instructor directly with any questions.  If you have questions about the course before you have access to the classroom, please email our Certification Coordinator at suhailainternational at

Once you take the introductory Fundamentals 1 and 2 courses (100 level), you have the basics needed to take online classes and use the training plans provide through  You can proceed with the 200 Level courses and approach training for the testing preparation course on your own.  However, many of our students like to have regular check-ins with the School for guidance. Schedule a free 10-15 minute meeting to discuss your options and strategies.  (Other learning options include live workshops, private lessons, and taking from licensed instructors.)

Sometimes you know you’re ready, and sometimes you aren’t quite sure.  Don’t hesitate to contact the School to set up a free short meeting to discuss your situation and how best to determine your preparedness for the testing course.

When you start a testing course, it is expected that you have the required choreographies ready to go to submit to be “signed off”.  Students can prepare for this on their own using the training plans.  But you do have other options.

Some students want extra verification on getting their choreographies ready to submit before a testing course.  If you want extra verification, you can do this easily by setting up a private lesson for 30 or 60 minutes to make sure are on track.  Once students go through this process with one or two of their choreographies, they often feel empowered to prepare the rest of the choreographies on their own.  Of course, if you prefer having this extra check-in on all your choreographies, that’s great, too.

The testing preparation courses were designed specifically to prepare students for the exams.  Students are given weekly quizzes to prepare them for online written exams and they have weekly technique drills to film and submit for evaluation to prepare them for the technique exam.  But even with preparation, sometimes things go wrong.  If you fail an exam, you do have options.  For more information including retesting policies, visit the Certification Exam page.

We’ll give you a scenario using the Foundations 1 testing preparation course.  (All Foundations and Intermediate testing preparation courses have the same general structure.)


  • After earning your 100 Level certifications, you begin working on the 200 Level content, with a focus on Foundations 1.  Using, you take classes and the use the provided Training Plans to help you learn the technique and required choreographies. The training plans also contain readings and viewings that help you prepare for the course and the final exam; a list of these are also on the main website.
  • At some point during your preparation, perhaps you aren’t sure you fully understand something about Figure Eights, and you are also having trouble with a sequence in the L2FCDS.  You contact the School Certification Coordinator for a short meeting, and you both decide that one private lesson will probably be the easiest and most direct way to get your questions answered so you can move forward.  (It is common, but not a requirement, for students to schedule one to three private lessons in preparation to take a testing course.)


  • When you think you are ready to test, you check in with the School again.  With approval, you enroll in the course.
  • You continue working on your technique and the required choreographies.  
  • Approximately two months prior to the start of the semester, you will be given an invitation to enter the Orientation Classroom for that semester.  All students enrolled in that particular semester are given access.  If you’ve never taken one of the Institute online courses before, you will find a short drill ample assignment to use as a way to test the filming and uploading process.  You film yourself per the sample assignment and submit the video so you can 1) learn how the uploading process works and 2) get feedback on the quality of the video footage.   As you continue through the semester, semester notices will be posted in this classroom.

Joining your Course Classroom

  • Approximately 10 days prior the start date of the course, you will given an invitation to your actual classroom.  You will be able to see the majority (if not all) of your assignments for the semester.  You upload any pre-course choreography assignments to this classroom  7 days (one week) prior to the start date of your course.
  • Once you have access to the your classroom, you can begin working on the projects.  The course is paced, and video evaluations will happen as scheduled.  But you can definitely work ahead if needed.  

Training and Review During the Course.  Each week you are given training and review material that includes:

  • Suggested online classes to maintain your training and focus on the technique theme of the week.
  • Suggested exercises to further develop your understanding of the required choreographies.
  • Readings and viewings that contain content that will be on weekly quizzes and the final exam.  The majority of this material is listed on the website and in the online class Training Plans for your specific course.  We assume you have already studied this material, and the listing is provided as a review so you can prepare for that week’s quiz and assignments.
  • Other research and creative assignments that may include watching videos, collaging, performance elements, and more.

Evaluation Assignments.  Most weeks you have 3-4 assignments to submit for evaluation.  Typical examples include:

  • Submitting the required choreographies for approval (“sign-off”).  Learn more about this in your specific course level.  Level 200.  Level 3oo.  Level 400.
  • Taking a weekly quiz.  Following the quiz you get a list of any questions you answered incorrectly.
  • Filming yourself performing a set of technique drills and submitting the video for evaluation
  • Filming yourself performing one of the required choreographies and submitting the video for evaluation
  • Mapping music using Suhaila’s Music Mapping / Tally Method
  • Filming yourself performing exercises using Suhaila’s Gidwork and Stagistics.
  • Creating, documenting, and filming short combinations
  • Creating and documenting costuming looks for various scenarios
  • Writing research or opinion reports on various topics.

Receiving Your Evaluations

  • A week in the school is based on Pacific Coast Time (PCT).  A week begins on Sunday 4am PCT.  A week ends on Saturday midnight PCT.
  • Assignments for a particular week are due by Saturday might PCT of that week.
  • Upon completion of your quizzes, you will receive immediate feedback.
  • You will receive feedback on your technique and choreography video submissions within 10 days of the submission deadline.  Feedback is provided in several ways:  audio recording, video recording,  written documentation, and/or a combination.

Nearing the End of the Course

  • Advising times will be posted so you can set up a meeting to discuss your progress with an advisor.
  • Based on your performance in the Course, the advisor will evaluate if you if you are ready for testing, if you still need more work on certain choreographies or drills that can be handled through private lessons, or if you need to retake the course.
  • If you are approved to test, that means you have successfully “passed” the testing preparation technique drills, received approval (“sign-off”) on the required choreographies, and successfully completed other assignments in the course.

Final Exams

  • Final exams or testing periods are not included in the actual course dates.  Testing periods are held at the end of Fall and Spring semesters, and you can find the dates here.
  • If you are approved for testing, you will be admitted to a testing classroom for your exam.
  • Within the first three days of the exam period you will be assigned the online written exam to take and complete within 7 days.  Online exam results are provided approximately two weeks after the start date of the exam period.
  • On the first day of the exam period, you will be assigned the technique drill list; you will film yourself and submit the video with 10 days of the first date of the exam period.  Your results will be given within 2-4 weeks.
  • More information about exams can be found here.

We do have live workshops, and you can find a list of our Events and Workshops here. Given the COVID-19 situation, the School’s extensive list of domestic and international 2020 workshops have been postponed.

Workshops and courses are different learning experiences.

  • Workshops are live “in person” events, where the instructor and students meet together in the same location.  Workshops are available in one or more days, with a day being five hours.
  • Courses are online education events designed for the distance learner.  Core courses are those that content contact specific for the certification program.  The core courses for the 100 Level are organized into five or six weeks, with optional certification testing following the course.  The core courses for the 200-500 level courses are organized into twelve weeks, with optional certification testing following the testing preparation courses.

Belly dance is a performing art, where both improvisation and choreography play an important role.  Well written choreography provides the student understanding of several concepts including musicality and phrasing, technique application in interpreting music, performance skill development, and cultural cues and nuances.  By developing skills in choreography, students are better able to improvise.

Course choreographies are selected specifically as a representation of the technique, performance, and musical skills for that level.  Using video submissions, a student’s work can be evaluated, and the student can be guided and developed.

Education Timeline

New Titles for 2020

In preparation for our Institute courses, the certification levels have been updated to more accurately reflect the course content.

Salimpour 100 Level Certification

  • Fundamentals 1:  Formerly Suhaila Level 1 (S1)
  • Fundamentals 2: Formerly Jamila Level 1 (J1)

Salimpour 200 Level Certification

  • Foundations 1: Formerly Suhaila Level 2 (S2)
  • Foundations 2: Formerly Jamila Level 2 (J2)

Salimpour 300 Level Certification

  • Intermediate 1: Formerly Suhaila Level 3 (S3)
  • Intermediate 2: Formerly Jamila Level 3 (J3)

Salimpour 400 Level Certification

  • Performance 1: Formerly Suhaila Level 4 (S4)
  • Performance 2: Formerly Jamila Level 4 (J4)

Salimpour 500 Level Certification

  • Teaching 1: Formerly Suhaila Level 5 (S5)
  • Teaching 2: Formerly Jamila Level 5 (J5)