About the Salimpour School

The Salimpour School, in existence since 1949, is the leading educator of Middle Eastern dance.  Students are supported by a wide array of educational tools including online classes, workshops, music, manuals, optional certification, and more.  Study with the best instructor available and develop into the best dancer you can be.  Whether you are a beginner, occasional dabbler, hobbyist, or professional, you learn in a safe, supportive, and motivating environment with our growing community of worldwide dancers.  Just when you think you’re learned all there is to learn, this School offers a continuous path for learning new things and developing your skills further.  

Click here for a complete workshop listing.

Weeklong Workshops at Mills College

Welcome to our weeklong workshop studio space at Mills College.  Affectionately known as the MotherShip, we are located at 5000 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94613.  We are in the Haas Pavilion building.  Dorms will be available starting in 2020.  We look forward to seeing you on our dance floor soon.

Preparation and What to Bring

For students new to the Salimpour formats, you are encouraged to prepare at least two weeks in advance of your workshop date with leg strengthening exercises and cardio. The best option is to take 2-3 Level 1 online classes (www.SalimopurSchoolOnline.com) so you are familiar with the warmups and methodologies. The following list provides additional preparation tips and a list of items to bring.

  • Finger cymbals.  All students in the Salimpour School train with finger cymbals. Salimpour Signature Cymbals are available online.
  • Bare feet are fine, but you may also use ballet or jazz shoes for dance movement and/or to protect the balls of your feet if they get tender. (Shoes must be for dance only; no street shoes.)
  • Hip scarves, if you like, but please none with beads or coins.
  • Yoga mat (for use during warm-up if you need cushioning for floor exercises).
  • Deodorant / antiperspirant (bring with you to workshop to reapply as necessary).
  • Hand towel.
  • Refillable water bottle marked with your name.  Water is allowed in the studio in closed-top, non-breakable (no glass) containers only.
  • Name and phone number of your chosen emergency contact.
  • Contact information for your medical insurance and physician (if applicable).
  • Separate workout clothes for each day and potentially extra clothes to change at lunch time.
  • Check the Bay Area weather before arriving. Although it can be very warm during the afternoons, the weather can be quite chilly in the mornings and evenings. We recommend dressing in layers so you can adjust as needed to keep from heating up or cooling down too quickly
  • Workshops often require pre-workshop assignments. If you are attending a level specific workshop, please review the Certification section to see the additional requirements for that workshop.

Additional Guidelines

  • No chewing gum or food allowed in the studio.
  • Turn off your cell phone so it does not ring or buzz during class.
  • If you need to leave early, tell the teacher before class.
  • Limit talking during class and never talk over the instructors.

Common Questions

  • Why take from Suhaila?  Suhaila is a master instructor, choreographer, and performer. She has extensive training in belly dance and classical dance as well as many aspects of the performing arts. Read her bio in the Salimpour Legacy section and look through the website to get just a small glimpse of the things she has accomplished.  Suhaila is known for value-added classes and workshops. In every workshop, students are provided a positive learning environment in which they learn to safely train at a higher level than they ever have previously. The goal is to train safely and thoroughly, promoting technique and skill development. As students grow in their process, they learn how to bring emotional perspective to their work. They learn cultural contexts, creative tools, improvisational techniques, and more.
  • I am new to the Salimpour formats; what workshop should I take?  Welcome to the Exciting World of the Salimpour belly dance formats! Newcomers are welcome to take workshops open to all participants. We highly recommend beginning with Suhaila Level 1 Three-Day Workshops during which students receive fundamental instruction specific to Level 1 in Suhaila’s format and fundamental for Jamila Level 1.
  • I’m not interested in certification; can I take a workshop?  Definitely! Many Salimpour School students are not interested in certification. Some are only interested in certifying to a certain level, and others have set goals to be certified in Level 5. Students with different goals, stylizations, levels, and purposes all train beside each other.
  • Why do some workshop require specified certification levels?  For active certification program participants, the Salimpour School offers specific workshops to help students focus intently on advanced material. To keep such workshops moving at a higher level, attendees must have previously demonstrated their knowledge of and abilities in the applicable format and nomenclature. The School uses certification testing as the method of determining whether a student has the required knowledge and/or abilities for attendance at specified workshops.
  • What style does Suhaila teach?  No styles, yet all styles. Suhaila’s fundamental dance training is not a style; students are learning to be dancers, and a well trained dancer can perform any stylization she wishes. Cabaret dancers, tribal dancers and fusion dancers all meet in class to receive the same training . . . and. . . throughout their studies in Suhaila’s format, they learn one fundamental dance format and many stylizations. The Jamila format has a built-in stylization based on the old-time Egyptian dancers; and through her work with Bal Anat in the 1960s and 70s, Jamila’s format served as the genesis for what are now considered Tribal stylizations.
  • I’d like to get certified, and I have a lot of previous dance experience.  Can I take a Level 2 or 3 workshop?  Regardless of previous experience, all students begin with Level 1. The Salimpour School never holds students back from realizing their potential and moving forward. As soon as you have learned the material for Level 1, you are encouraged to move forward. And, don’t worry, if you attend a Level 1 Workshop and find that you are on top of everything, the teaching staff will help you out with layering options so that you leave the workshop feeling challenged and renewed.

Workshop Payment Policies

  • No refunds are allowed.
  • Workshop transfers:
    • A workshop payment may not be transferred from one person to another.
    • A $100.00 transfer fee applies to each workshop transfer; this applies to both medical and non-medical related transfers.
    • A request for a non-medical related transfer must be made at least three months (at least 91 days) before Day 1 of the workshop.  The request should be submitted by email to the School staff.  Transfer of payment will only be completed if the request is approved by Suhaila.
    • For a medical-related transfer request, Suhaila’s staff must receive an up-to-date doctor’s note regarding your medical emergency/ medical issue that prevents you from participating in the workshop. Transfer of payment will only be completed once the doctor’s note has been received by Suhaila Staff. (The doctor’s note should be submitted as soon as possible, but no later than Day 1 of the workshop.)
    • An approved transferred payment must be applied to a workshop held within one year from date of the initial workshop. (A workshop payment may be transferred only once.)
    • Transfers apply to Berkeley, CA  (Mothership) workshops and Online Certification Courses.
  • Workshop payment is due in full by the ‘balance due’ dates listed in the online store.
  • Participants may be removed from the workshop list and lose all payments made if the full amount due is not paid by the balance due date.
  • Workshops have limited attendance. Registration is guaranteed only to those students who pay the amounts by the designated published deadlines.
  • A $50.00 fee applies to all returned checks.

Visa Information

If you are traveling internationally, please be sure to obtain the required visas ahead of time. The kind of visa you need depends on the regulations and agreements set between your country and the United States. For more information on visiting the United States, see https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html.  Please note: The Salimpour School is not yet an accredited school, and, at this time, cannot assist with obtaining student visas.

Suhaila Salimpour is the only teacher for this dance. There are a multitude of reasons why we come to this beautiful art form, but one thing is true. We all come with our bodies, which each and all have special needs that may not be addressed in other formats. The Salimpour format is the only way to learn bellydance. We can all dance, but if you aren’t using the format, it is not bellydance. Salimpour uses her vast knowledge of dance, drawing on an impressive career as the First American Bellydancer ?as well history, physiology, psychology, rhythm, costuming, beauty, music and art, to create a tremendously rich and safe environment for learning and growing and sharing in the beautiful experience of bellydance as it was always meant to be.
Margaret Cho, Comedian
This woman’s vision affects us all! I recommend to everyone in this dance form to take classes and or workshops from this master! What I have learned from Suhaila’s format are the simple tools to build myself as a dancer to the highest level I am willing to apply them. Suhaila’s format has completely revolutionized my dance world. By learning these tools has allowed me to take them home and on my own time and use them without the questions of “am I doing this right?” The solid structure of the format ensures success! The workshops are where learning how to use the tools, creates and shapes the artist in you. Thus, allowing the freedom to hone skill to build the better dancer.
Rachel George: Dancer, Instructor, Award Winner
I first came to Suhaila with the sole purpose to enhance my technique. I was already dancing professionally and was curious what she could bring to the table. What has transformed is two-fold. Technique wise Suhaila’s format is unlike any other. Being a trained dancer, both classically and street, it is difficult to find an instructor who can work me out in the manner to which I’ve been trained all my life. Her format does exactly that as well as creating a unique and unified language. Performance wise Suhaila has helped take my dance to the next level, opening up aspects of my dance I didn’t know existed.
Nadira, Seattle, WA: Performer, Instructor, Choreographer, Contest Winner

Suhaila Salimpour was not only one of my original inspirations to Belly Dance, she continually reconfigures my understanding of the dance form. She is a dancer’s dancer, and will always challenge, encourage, and re-inspire you. Even after dancing all her life, she’s got the same enthusiasm of a newcomer, and is incredibly knowledgeable of anatomy and physiology. If you haven’t taken a week-long workshop from her, you really owe it to yourself and your dancing to go, every single penny is worth it: you’ll be using what she taught you for years.

Rachel Brice: Performer, Instructor, Datura Online

Suhaila’s classes have not only helped me to improve my dance technique, but her format has helped me to recover from a lower back injury that was exacerbated by years of improper dance form. When I started taking Suhaila’s classes I was at the point where the pain in my back was threatening to make me stop dancing. Once I began to do the movements the way she taught me to do them I immediately noticed that my back became stronger and healthier. Her emphasis on body placement and technique is something that I always refer back to now that I am a teacher myself.

Michelle Joyce: Teacher, Performer, Producer

I think a sign of a great teacher is how much they are willing to teach you, and that is the most impressive quality of the Salimpour format. The driving force of true generosity. The teacher who wants you to succeed.

Amy Sigil: Dancer, Choreographer, Instructor, Director of Unmata Dance Company

Suhaila has the most organized and comprehensive dance training of anyone I know! The workout and the information on a physical, intellectual and spiritual level is a wonderful blend. Her own maturity and the Jamila legacy make for a ‘must-do’ goal for any serious dancer in our field.

Amaya: Dancer, Instructor, Choreographer, Producer
I began studying with Suhaila after professionally performing Tribal Style in the Bay Area for two years. I went to level 1, thinking I’d be on top of it in a “beginner” class, being “pro” and all……….and didn’t my whole concept of bellydance come crashing down around me. I found it difficult to even endure the warmup! I immediately quit performing altogether and truly began my life as a student, unlearning, relearning, rebuilding. The whole time, Suhaila, her wonderful family and her staff of dancers treated me with amazing care, kindness and respect. I remember feeling so humbled by seeing clearly my true ability for the first time, and at the same time inspired to become more, to reach the potential of the dancer I wanted to become. They worked me out to the point of exhaustion, Suhaila treated me with just as much personal attention and support as if I were a member of her own company, and I experienced……..sweat. And the more I learned and internalized, the more I wanted. And still want.”??”The weeklong workshop is kind of a cathartic experience for most people who take it, in one way or another. The technique is universal and has no dictated “style” attached to it-it just provides a strong, safe foundation, and then the stylization is up to you. The instruction is comprehensive, in plain terms, hightly understandable and will make you INCREDIBLY STRONG if you practice regularly. So many dancers enter the weeklong and emerge inspired, technically evolved, and hungry for more!! If you are serious about growing as a dancer, just bite the bullet and go. It is, hands down, one of the very best things you will ever do for yourself. Worth every red cent.
Sharon Kihara: Bellydance Superstars
If it weren’t for Suhaila and the Suhaila Salimpour format, I’m not sure I’d still be belly dancing. Starting with my very first exposure to the format through my first teacher Kim Leary in New Jersey, I knew this was something that I could really sink my teeth into… and 8 years later, I feel like I’m barely scratching the surface of what this format has to offer me.??Suhaila herself is a mentor to us, her students, in the true sense. She is the Mentor to our Telemachus, the Obi Wan and Yoda to our Luke Skywalker, the Morpheus to our Neo. She gives us the tools with which to become stronger dancers and individuals, pushing us to always do our very best, not only on the stage or in the studio, but every day. She is encouraging without being pandering, strict without being cruel, and demanding without being harsh. She asks more from us than we think we can give, but we give it… when Suhaila asks something of me in my dance, it’s because she believes in my abilities–often more than I believe in my capabilities. And do have someone like Suhaila as my mentor is more than I ever expected from this dance form, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings for me as I continue my studies with her.
Asharah, Bay Area, CA: Modern Tribal Belly Dance Instructor/Performer
I became both a better dancer and better instructor by taking Suhaila’s workshops. Any dancer would benefit from a week of being challenged physically and mentally by Suhaila’s format. Suhaila’s emphasis on body placement and clean technique allows you to develop a strong foundation so that you can apply your voice to any style of Middle Eastern dance.
Aziza, Montreal, Canada
Click Here for a List of Salimpour Workshops


Oakland International Airport (OAK)
1 Airport Drive, Oakland 94621

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Highway 101, San Franciso 94128

San Jose International Airport (SJC)
1732 N. 1st St, San Jose 95112

Public Transportation

Local Bus System

Bay Area Train System
www.BART.org.  There is a BART station at SFO and a bus-to-BART option at OAK. For those not renting a car, make note of airports and hotels accessible by BART.

Mills Transportation & Location Detail
For Bay Area public transportation information, visit transitinfo.org. This website provides instant access to transit information for the SF Bay Area, including links to BART, AC Transit, Ferry services, and more.

Closest BART stations to Mills
Seminary Av: Macarthur Blvd is 535 yards away, 7 min walk.
Macarthur Blvd: Camden St (Seminary Av Jctn) is 617 yards away, 8 min walk.
Macarthur Blvd: Seminary Av is 653 yards away, 9 min walk.

AC Transit Bus Lines
These Bus lines stop near Mills College: 45, NL

BART lines near Mills College
ORANGE, GREEN, BLUE at Coliseum and Fruitvale stops. https://www.bart.gov/system-map.

Printing Services

Oakland Copy & Print
4124 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619

FedEx Onsite
5809 Foothill Blvd, Oakland, CA 94605

FedEx Office Print & Ship Center
3070 E 9th St Suite B, Oakland, CA 94601

Copy Central Emeryville
5801 Christie Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608

Fed Ex Office Print
5895 Christie Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608


The lodging list in this section is provided as a courtesy for travelers based on suggestions and recommendations from previous travelers. Travelers are encouraged to research selections carefully as the list includes a wide variety of options, locations, and pricing.  In addition to the list provided in this section, dancers might find the Salimpour Workshop Roommate group on Facebook to be a helpful resource; group members share information about lodging and provide reviews.

Many of our traveling dancers have used airbnb.com with great success to find economical options for visiting the studio. Suggested cities are Albany and Berkeley. Research carefully, read reviews, check locations on maps, etc.

Doubletree Berkeley Marina
200 Marina Blvd, Berkeley, 94710

Bancroft Hotel
2680 Bancroft Way, Berkeley 94707

Hotel Durant
2600 Durant Avenue, Berkeley 94704

Rose Garden Inn
2740 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94705

Shattuck Hotel
2086 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

SenS Hotel
1538 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

Hilton Garden Inn San Francisco
1800 Powell Street, Emeryville 94608

Four Points by Sheraton San Francisco Bay Bridge
1603 Powell Street, Emeryville, CA 94608

Super 8 Berkeley
1619 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA  94703

Holiday Inn Express
1175 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA  94702

Oakland Marriott City Center
1001 Broadway, Oakland 94607

Alameda Island House
2107 San Jose Avenue Apt A, Alameda, CA 94501

Claremont Resort and Spa
41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley, CA 94705

Berkeley City Club Hotel
2315 Durant Avenue, Berkeley CA 94704

Berkeley Inn
1720 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, CA  94702

La Quinta Inn Berkeley
920 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA  94710

Rodeway Inn
1461 University Ave., Berkeley, CA  94702

Quality Inn University
1761 University Ave., Berkeley, CA  94703

Courtyard Oakland Emeryville
5555 Shellmound St, Emeryville, CA  94608

Hyatt Place Emeryville/San Francisco Bay Area
5700 Bay St., Emeryville, CA  94608

Food and Shopping

Within a short drive, several restaurants near Mills College in addition to an on campus deli; The Tea Shop  (M-F 8am-2pm), (Sa-Su 2pm-1130pm)

Mills College is in the Oakland hills. If you plan to eat off campus, you will need a car.

The Laurel and Diamond districts are quite close, and both have a variety of restaurants and eateries. Please note that parking in these neighborhoods can be difficult, so plan your lunches accordingly. You might want to call in your order so it’s ready for you to pick up.

Asian (Variety)

Cafe Umami
2224 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94602
(510) 646-2394

Fusion Kitchen
3009 Macarthur Blvd, Piedmont, CA 94602
(510) 479-3784

Cafe / Diner / Deli

Cafe Santana
4100 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619
(510) 842-3027

4171 MacArthur Blvd. Oakland, CA 94619
(510) 482-2114

Sequoia Diner
3719 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619
(510) 482-3719. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

World Ground Cafe
3726 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619
(510) 482-2933

The Veg Hub (Sandwiches)
2214 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland 94602
510-454-8722.   Closed Fridays


Happy Garden
4112 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619
(510) 482-3988

Farmer Joe’s Marketplace
3501 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619
(510) 482-8178


El Loro
3811 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619

La Hacienda
2045 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94602
(510) 531-5737

Taqueria Los Comales
2105 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94602
(510) 531-3660

Ole Ole Burrito Express
2216 Macarthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94602
(510) 479-7075


Dimond Slice Pizza
2208 MacArthur Blvd. Oakland, CA 94602
(510) 842-8773

Fist of Flour Doughjo
4166 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619
(510) 531-6367.  Closed Mondays

Puerto Rican

La Perla
2020 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94602
(510) 482-2674

Thai / Vietnamese / Cambodian

Old Weang Ping
6217 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94605
(510) 430-8771

Vientian Café
3801 Allendale Ave, Oakland, CA 94619
(510) 535-2218

Phnom Penh Restaurant
3912 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619
(510) 482-8989

West African

Miliki Restaurant
3725 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619
(510) 531-6970
Closed Mondays
Opens at 2pm on Tuesdays

Click Here for a List of Salimpour Workshops