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

Reasons to Attend a Salimpour Workshop

  • Study with the best instructor available
  • Develop to be the best dancer you can be
  • integrate grace, fluidity, and power to your dance
  • learn timing, rhythms, and musicality
  • learn to break down any style of belly dancing and perform it
  • maintain a continuous path for learning new things and developing your skills further
  • learn in a safe, supportive, and motivating environment
  • realize your full potential as a dancer
  • Train safely and effectively
  • “Break out of the box” and grow

Common Questions

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

Preparing for a Workshop

Due to the physically intensive nature and duration of Suhaila’s workshops, we recommend you prepare at least two weeks in advance of your workshop date:

•Leg strengthening exercises including calf raises and stretching.

•20 minutes of cardio 3-5 times a week.

•Familiarize yourself with the format warm-up, technique, and terminology using online classes: link.

•Practice finger cymbal patterns from Jamila Salimpour’s Playing Finger Cymbals with Jamila and/or Cymbal Jams audio tools.

•Review the Suhaila Level 1 Study Guide for both the Suhaila and Jamila programs.

•Review the New Danse Orientale for Jamila format.

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.

What to Bring

Students in the Salimpour School train with finger cymbals. Salimpour Signature Cymbals are available at the studio.
•Separate workout clothes for each day and potentially extra clothes to change at lunch time.

•Ballet or jazz shoes for dance movement (and to protect the balls of your feet if they get tender).

•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.

•Name and phone number of your chosen emergency contact.

•Contact information for your medical insurance and physician (if applicable).

•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

If you are attending a level specific workshop, please review the Certification section to see the additional requirements for that workshop.
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

Studio Rules

We have maximized the dance floor space; therefore, we have very limited room for personal items. Please be conservative with the items you bring to the studio.
During the week, we have ongoing classes and meetings scheduled during the noon hour; we have no lounge area, so workshop attendees are encouraged to leave the studio during lunch. (Most workshop lunches allow for 90 minutes, allowing time to visit many of the restaurant and shops within walking distance.)

No food or open top drinks are allowed in the studio; of course, if you need little snacks like power bars or nuts, that’s fine. We don’t have a refrigerator or microwave available to students.

Ample parking is available in the parking lot and on the streets surrounding the studio.
Copy Central is located at 5801 Christie Ave. and Fed Ex at 5895 Christie Ave., both in Emeryville; they provide printing services. (We are unable to honor any requests to use the studio network.)

FedEx is located across the street from the studio, at 9889 San Pablo Ave. El Cerrito. They offer printing services, computer access and Wi-Fi.

Workshop Payment Policies

•No refunds are allowed.

•A workshop payment may not be transferred from one person to another.

•Transfer of a workshop payment is permitted under the following conditions: A request for a non-medical related transfer must be made at least three months before Day 1 of the workshop. 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.)

•A $100.00 transfer fee applies to each workshop transfer.

•Transfers apply to all Berkeley, CA Studio (Mothership) workshops and all 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 $20.00 fee applies to all returned checks.
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