Class Descriptions   •   Online Classes   •   Private Lessons   •   Licensed Instructors

The Salimpour School offers a variety of class options including over 1,000 hours of online classes, private lessons, Skype privates, and weekly classes and series with certified instructors.  See below for more information about the types of classes and the options for taking classes.  Click here for the workshop list.

Salimpour School Class Descriptions

The Salimpour School offers the world’s most comprehensive belly dance program in the world.  Our beginner classes start with foundational technique and body awareness, as well as basic musicality and finger cymbal playing. Students work on the hip and torso movements that distinguish belly dance from all other dance forms.   As students progress through the program, they build their strength and stamina, as well as their confidence and poise. They also learn essential Arabic rhythms and musicality, history, and cultural context. Advanced classes might focus on more theatrical skills, complex layering, or emotional expression. 

Every class, from beginner to advanced, begins with a thorough, full-body warm up to prepare the body for movement. Then, students work on drills: repetitive exercises meant to develop strong habits and body awareness so that even the most challenging movements become second nature. Classes conclude with a fun and inspiring combination to put the drills into practice, develop musical awareness, and performance skills.

 

About Salimpour Format

The Salimpour School offers the world’s most comprehensive belly dance program in the world.  As a student of the school, you’ll start with foundational technique and body awareness, as well as basic musicality and finger cymbal playing. You’ll learn the hip and torso movements that distinguish belly dance from all other dance forms, which you’ll then do over various foot patterns, building your technical dance vocabulary. These technical elements are the beginning of the Suhaila Salimpour Format, which you’ll learn to apply not only to your own personal dancing but also to embodying different regional styles and characters.  

You’ll then start learning the classic belly dance steps as collected by Jamila Salimpour and her daughter, Suhaila, in the mid-20th century. These steps are drawn from the classic Egyptian cinema dance stars of the 1940s and 1950s, vernacular and community steps seen both in the Middle East and in diaspora communities, and movements performed by professional dancers in the Middle Eastern nightclubs of the 1960s and 1970s. These steps are still used by stars in the Middle East today and at social gatherings and celebrations, and are the core of the Jamila Salimpour Format. 

Next Steps: Certification and Beyond

We encourage you to plan for certification in both Suhaila Format and Jamila Level 1 right away, as doing so opens up the possible workshops and training available to you. You’ll also be able to dig deeper into this rich and inspiring dance form, and you’ll connect with other like-minded dancers in your community and all around the world. 

As you progress through the program, you’ll build strength and stamina, as well as confidence and poise. In Level 2, you’ll add new hip work and technique, work at faster tempos, learn more finger cymbal patterns, and add steps to your belly dance movement vocabulary. You’ll also dig deeper into Arabic and other Middle Eastern cultural history and context, including various stylizations, eras, and characterizations. Special classes and workshops will help you learn more about Arabic music and rhythms. 

Advanced Classes and Workshops

As an advanced student in the Salimpour School, you’ll not only refine your technical skill and movement options. You’ll learn improvisation, theatrical skills, complex layering, dance composition, and emotional expression. When you earn Level 3, you can begin your teacher training program, coached directly by Suhaila Salimpour and her teacher trainers. 

And, throughout it all, you’ll discover more about yourself, your instincts, and your true nature, giving you the tools to perform with honesty, power, and confidence. 

Class Format

Every class, from beginner to advanced, begins with a thorough, full-body warm up to prepare the body for movement. Then, students work on drills: repetitive exercises meant to develop strong habits and body awareness so that even the most challenging movements become second nature. Classes conclude with a fun and inspiring combination to put the drills into practice, develop musical awareness, and performance skills.

About Folkloric Fusion

Several years after Suhaila established the certification program in her own format and developed a curriculum for weekly classes at her home studio in northern California, she realized that the program wasn’t quite complete.

Her school, of course, offered intense study in her own technique-driven format, and her mother, Jamila Salimpour, was still teaching regular classes and workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area. And she had just introduced her “Dance Movement”  classes to teach basics of ballet, jazz, and modern dance forms with the belly dancer in mind. But there were so many other facets of belly dance that those classes just didn’t have time to cover. There was so much work to be done!

So, in 2005, Suhaila began offering classes and workshops in what she calls “Folkloric Fusion.”

Folkloric Fusion was the natural evolution of the work that her mother had started with Bal Anat. After all, Bal Anat itself is a kind of folklore hybrid, blending traditional dances with stage theatrics and a dash of fantasy. And in the late 1990s, Suhaila had revived Bal Anat, restaging and re-choreographing all of the core dances, blending her and her mother’s formats. At this time she also began integrating this material into her classes.

Unlike the “Folkloric” dances that had emerged from Egypt and Lebanon in the 1960s with performance companies such as the Reda Troupe, Firqat Khawmiyya, and Caracalla Dance Theatre, Suhaila wanted to focus solely on hipwork-driven belly dance and its cultural and regional stylizations.

So, to round out the curriculum at her studio, and to offer workshops with deeper context, she developed Folkloric Fusion classes.

These classes cover a wide range of topics including regional and cultural stylizations, rhythms, and finger cymbals. A typical Folkloric Fusion class will have a theme, such as Lebanese Debke, or blending jazz footwork with Jamila Format steps. They might also feature live percussion or other musicians. But no matter what, it’s always all belly dance.

Today, licensed instructors of the Salimpour School are authorized to teach Folkloric Fusion classes following Suhaila’s original vision of a class that was not quite drills and not quite her mother’s format… but something flexible that can be tailored to a specific theme or to enhance the overall dance education of our students.

About Core Dimension™

Developed by Suhaila Salimpour after over 50 years of performance, dance, movement, and theatrical experience, Core Dimension is a collection of workshops and seminars aimed at helping you rediscover your instincts, own your power, and live without fear. 

Philosophy and Goals

In the modern world, we are facing a crisis of self. 

So many of us feel overworked, under appreciated, and lost in mindless routines of work. We feel numb and detached, not just from ourselves, but from our families and communities. And we’ve lost touch with what makes us truly powerful: our body, mind, and spirit. 

Core Dimension™ is a collection of multidimensional workshops and seminars crafted to reconnect you with your essential and dynamic spirit. You’ll move, feel, speak, and discover your true nature and your core values.

Dancer, choreographer, and master coach Suhaila Salimpour has already guided thousands of students through this life changing practice. Through energy work, psychology, and a diverse range of movement practices, participants find more power in their work, their home, and their lives. They learn to act without judgement or shame, harnessing the potential of vulnerability. 

Awaken Your Power

Although Core Dimension™ has been created by a dancer, anyone can benefit. 

Suhaila’s exercises allow you to be in the moment and spark the energy you have inside yourself, even if you feel you might have lost touch with it along the way.

In Suhaila’s Core Dimension™ seminars, you can breathe, express yourself, and be present. With this newfound awareness, you’ll take this awakened electricity into your daily life. 

 

About Dance Movement

Starting with Badia Masabni and her nightclubs—Casino Badia and the Casino Opera—in which her performers use ballet-inspired arabesque attitudes and Latin-dance steps, and continuing with Suhaila’s own use of street dance and jazz dance in her own choreography, belly dancers have long been integrating steps and influences from other dance forms. 

After Suhaila returned from the Middle East and taught weekly classes in Berkeley, she realized that she didn’t have time to teach her students fundamental elements of other dance forms that would enhance her students’ training and performance. Unlike herself, many of her students started belly dance as adults, without years of deep dance training in ballet, modern, jazz, West African, and other traditions. Suhaila would encourage her students to take other dance classes, but she noticed that they resisted. Many worried that it might be beyond their skill level or they won’t be able to follow along. Some even felt that they didn’t need this training.

So, Suhaila decided to create her own curriculum that used elements of these dance forms that would be immediately applicable to belly dance. This curriculum became Dance Movement, and is an essential part of our students’ training and development.

Unlike our technique classes or even Folkloric Fusion, Dance Movement classes do not include belly dance drills or technique. Instead, they include a thorough full-body warm-up, followed by barre-work or exercises in the center that focus on the foot-floor relationship, alignment, posture, placement of body weight, and arm pathways. Then, the instructor leads students in across the floor movements that encourage breath, expansion, and increased kinesthetic awareness. The class ends with a combination that integrates the concepts introduced throughout the class so that students can put them into practice immediately. 

Dance Movement classes aren’t strictly ballet, modern, jazz, or any other specific dance form. They integrate elements from a variety of forms, depending on the students’ needs and the instructor’s own background. 

These classes make our students more well-rounded and versatile dancers, helping them explore their movement and expressive potential. 

 

About Choreography

All comprehensive dance training programs include the learning of a range of dance repertoire.

Through learning the work of other dance-makers, you’ll build your own movement phrase vocabulary, discover how other dancers hear and physicalize music, and build your memory skills by learning longer works. 

Just as a student of the techniques of Martha Graham or Alvin Ailey learn their iconic body of work, students of the Salimpour School learn a variety of choreographic work by Suhaila Salimpour.

We encourage all of our students to familiarize themselves with Suhaila’s work first by watching the video recordings of Suhaila’s performances, where you’ll see classic pieces such as “Maddah,” “Raks Suhaila,” and the groundbreaking “Pharaonic Suite” on Dances for the Sultan

Then, start learning choreography yourself! With dozens of choreographies in our Online Class website, there’s a piece for everyone. If you’re not sure where to start, contact our Certification Coordinator, and she’ll let you know which dance to learn first.

We don’t expect our students to perform every choreography they learn. But we do know that when you learn and practice the Salimpour choreography repertoire, you’ll become a stronger, more confident dancer. 

 

Salimpour School Online Classes

Online dance training when and where you choose, 24/7.  Technique, stylization, choreography, training plans, and more.  Join our world-wide community of dancers.  Click here to learn more.  Free 3-day trial available.

Skype Private Lessons

When you are a long-distance student, sometimes you need immediate feedback on your technique and choreography development.  Video privates are a great solution for several topics:

  • involved technique questions
  • choreography questions and development
  • performance feedback
  • developing a detailed training plan
  • preparation for dancing at night clubs and events
  • costume guidance
  • video private options, depending on the instructor, may include Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts.

How Does it Work?

  • Complete and submit the Video Lesson “Lesson Request” list.
  • Email your Private Lesson Request to suhailainternational at gmail dot com.
  • Staff will consult with Suhaila to select the best instructor for your question(s).
  • You will be put in contact with an Instructor to arrange payment and timing.
  • You pay for the lesson in advance via the instructions given to you by your instructor.
  • Once payment is confirmed, the lesson may proceed as scheduled.

Video Lesson Request List

  • Your full name
  • Your contact email
  • Video Address (Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts)
  • Country & Time Zone
  • Salimpour Certification Levels (if applicable)
  • Reason for Private Lesson (be specific)
  • Suggested days and times for private lesson

Additional Information

  •  A solid and high speed internet connection.
  • Laptop, computer, or tablet (like an iPad or Kindle Fire) with Skype capability (camera to send and ability to receive and view incoming feed). (Or FaceTime or Google Hangouts.)
  • A Skype account, and the Skype program on your chosen device. (Or FaceTime or Google Hangouts.)
  • A tested space in which you can easily step back from the device so the instructor can see your full body and range of movement on the screen.
  • A paypal account or credit card for payment.
  • English is the standard language of the program.
  • Remember that there is a slight delay in communication which means that the instructor-educator will not be able to drill or dance simultaneously.
  • The job of the instructor is to make the most of your time and payment. We recommend you mitigate interruptions that may impact your lesson. Many students set up for their lesson in their home, so find an hour in which you won’t be interrupted by family, phone calls, texts, pets, etc.
  • Have pen and paper ready.  Privates/instructors may not be filmed or recorded, but students may take as many notes as they like.
  • We strongly recommend you test your Skype (or FaceTime or Google Hangouts) set-up and “classroom viewing” in advance.
Salimpour Performance L2+ video lessons are scheduled with highly certified dancers who are officially approved by Suhaila Salimpour.

Live Consultation without Video Review
available in 30 minute increments with a minimum of 60 minutes and maximum of 2 hours

  • $95 for 60 minutes
  • $143 for 90 minutes
  • $190 for 120 minutes

Video Review with Foll0w-up Live Consultation
available in 30 minute increments with a minimum of 60 minutes and a maximum of 2 hours

  • $95 for 60 minutes
  • $143 for 90 minutes
  • $190 for 120 minutes
• For a cancellation, instructor and student must notify each other directly at least 48 hours in advance by email.

• If a student fails to cancel in time or doesn’t “show” for an appointment, the payment is forfeit.

• If an instructor fails to cancel in time or doesn’t “show” for an appointment, the student has the option to be refunded or apply the money toward online classes or workshops. Refunds must be requested within 5 business days of the no-show appointment; after 5 business days, the money will be applied toward online classes or workshops to be used within twelve months of the no-show appointment.

When you are assigned an instructor, she will give you a payment link.
Salimpour Certification Program members receive the following CECs for private lessons covering material for the Salimpour programs including technique, choreography, and performance.  (CECs for one on one only).  CECs are applied as below:

  • 2 CECs:  60-90 minute lessons on program technique, choreography, and performance.
  • 4 CECs:  120 minute lessons on program technique, choreography, and performance
  • 1 CEC:  60 minute lessons on non-program material.

Choreography Evaluation and Testing Privates

Certification students are required to pass various choreography exams as they pass through the levels.  In most cases, choreography testing must be completed prior to entering an official testing chute.  Visit each specific certification level for details on what choreographies are required for that level and by what point the choreographies must be completed (with a passing grade).  Note:  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

Choreography is approved through Choreography Testing Private Lessons.  These are  handled in-person or via video Skype privates.  As many of our students are long distance, video Skype privates are the primary means for most to submit their choreography exams.   In advance of the lesson, a dancer uploads a pre-recorded video including the choreography to Dropbox or a playlist on Youtube, Google drive or Vimeo for the instructor to view and evaluate.

  • 10 minutes of video material submitted = 60 minute private
  • 11-15 minutes of video material submitted = 90 minute private
  • 16-25 minutes of video material submitted = 120 minute private

The instructor spends the first 2/3 of the private independently evaluating the choreography in advance of talking to the student; this independent evaluation time is part of the private.  For the remaining 20 minutes of a 60 minute private (or 30 minutes for a 90 minute private), the student and instructor conference by an agreed-upon method (Skype, Facetime, etc.) to discuss the instructor’s evaluation and the student’s choreography exam grade.  All guidelines and rules listed above for Skype privates apply.  Note:  It is common for some students to schedule 1-2 Consultations prior to submitting their formal choreography exam video.

Performance Privates for L2+

Performance skills develop over time, and it’s helpful to have qualified feedback on a regular basis.  You can schedule time to meet with a L5 instructor to discuss various aspects of performance including video review.  For those students wanting to test for L4, it can be difficult at first to understand the requirements and how those apply to your dancing; Performance Privates are an excellent way to receive regular feedback and guidance.   

Our Performance Privates Program is aimed at helping our Salimpour School  L2 dancers build performance skills.  When creating footage for Performance Catalogs, most dancers will have questions and may need guidance and feedback to produce footage that meets the criteria and expected skill level for each format.  Start out your catalog right from the start.  Submit your performances regularly as you grow your performance skills.

Common Questions

These performance guidance sessions are specifically for Salimpour School dancers holding current certification in both Suhaila L2 and Jamila L2 or higher.  These dancers are actively developing skills for both choreographed and improvised performances that will be used in their Performance Catalogs, workshop performance labs, etc.  L2 is considered the beginning level of both Salimpour formats, and it is at this time in the curriculum that the School officially begins working on performance skills.  

Not all dancers have professional performance experience.  It can take years to achieve a relaxed comfortable level with a polished look of an experienced stage or professional night club dancer.   The video footage required for the Level 4 Performance Catalogs is specific; current, skill level requirements, era, look (grooming, makeup, hair) costuming styles, finger cymbals, etc.   These are the things dancers need to have organized, implemented, and double-checked before submitting videos.

Students discuss their performance questions one-on-one with a highly certified Salimpour dancer.  The student and instructor conference by an agreed-upon  method (Skype, Facetime, etc.) to discuss training and/or performance.  Privates may not be recorded, but students may write or type whatever notes they need.  

One-on-one feedback and guidance is customized specifically for your goal.  Some of these may include but are not limited to:

  • Performance Evaluation 
    • Level at which you are performing
    • Level of detail increases as student participates and advances
  • Makeup
    • Develop your basic stage look.  
    • Make-up for an outdoor photo shoot.  
    • Make-up by era.
  • Costume
    • Costume overhaul;  keep the best and sell the rest.  
    • Find your costume type.
    • Alter your own costume effectively.
  • Supplies
    • Essentials for performance.
    • Developing your Gig Bag.
  • Grooming
    • Do’s and Don’ts of performance looks.
  • Details and fine tuning points
    • What you always wanted to know but didn’t know who or how to ask.
  • Entrances & Exits
  • Props
    • What is your stage space capable of?
    • Which props are appropriate in what situations for what audience?
    • Basic veil drops and pick-ups

The School offers two types of L2+ Performance Privates.  Students discuss their performance questions and receive one-on-one guidance with a highly certified Salimpour dancer.  These privates are offered in 30 minute increments with 30 minutes being the minimum and 2 hours being the maximum.  These do not include video review.*

*Dancers typically have at least one or two Live Consultations (without video review) before having a Video Review with Follow-up Consultation private.  

In advance of the lesson, a dancer uploads a pre-recorded video to Dropbox or a playlist on Youtube or Vimeo for the instructor to view and evaluate.

  • 10 minutes of material = 60 minute private
  • 11-15 minutes of material = 90 minute private

The instructor spends the first 2/3 of the private independently evaluating the video in advance of talking to the student; this independent evaluation time is part of the private.  The instructor prepares a brief outline/list for discussion.  The outline is simply a guideline for discussion and not a formal review; the review will be given live in discussion.  The outline/list will include the following:

  • Salimpour level at which dancer is performing
  • 3-8 elements the dancer is doing well or showing improvement upon.
  • 3-8 elements the dancer can do to improve.
  • A detailed evaluation checklist is used in cases where a student has scheduled a series of performance privates, and the instructor is working with the student at a more detailed level on a regular basis

For the remaining 20 minutes of a 60 minute private (or 30 minutes for a 90 minute private), the student and instructor conference by an agreed-upon method (Skype, Facetime, etc.) to discuss the evaluation.

Note that most students will have at least 1-2 Live Consultations without video before Video Review privates.

Classes with Licensed Instructors

The Salimpour School is proud to announce our CEC Licensed Instructor program.  Specific weekly technique classes, specialty classes, and workshops have been licensed so that you can get your Salimpour CECs with these Suhaila L5 certified dancers.   For weekly classes and series, contact each instructor directly for a class schedule and information on which classes quality for CECs.  For workshops and specialty classes for CECs taught by L5 instructors, click here for the workshop listing.

Berkeley, CA

with Abigail Keyes

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Abigail Keyes holds SL5 and JL5 certification.  For program members, she is licensed to offer CECs on qualifying Suhaila and Jamila format classes through 31 Aug 2020.

San Diego, CA

with Rachel George

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Rachel George holds SL5 and JL5 certification.  For program members, she is licensed to offer CECs on qualifying Suhaila and Jamila format classes through 31 Aug 2020.

New Paltz, NY

with Angelique Hanesworth

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Angelique Hanesworth holds SL5 and JL5 certification.  For program members, she is licensed to offer CECs on qualifying Suhaila and Jamila format classes through 31 Aug 2020.

Austin, TX

with Stacey Lizette

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Stacey Lizette holds SL5 and JL5 certification.  For program members, she is licensed to offer CECs on qualifying Suhaila and Jamila format classes through 31 Aug 2020.

Cairo, Egypt

with Sabriye Tekbilek

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Sabriye Tekbilek holds SL5 and JL5 certification.  For program members, she is licensed to offer CECs on qualifying Suhaila and Jamila format classes through 31 Aug 2020.