Beyond The Craft – Charissa’s Story
Dance and physical fitness have always gone hand in hand. A joyful, energetic dancer is a true delight and wonder to behold. A part of this wonder is appreciation for the dancer’s athleticism and generosity of spirit. With the state of the economy and the reemergence of dance into pop culture, dance fitness classes are fast becoming an integral part of every fitness center’s schedule and bellydance is among the most requested of classes. Why wouldn’t it be? It is common knowledge that bellydance boosts confidence, and improves muscle tone and stamina. Yet, despite the undeniable and numerous health benefits of bellydance and the opportunity to earn a second income from your favorite pastime, some worry that placing focus on these health benefits somehow deprives the participant of a more spiritual or sensual experience; or that the fitness atmosphere stifles musicality and personality. I can only hope to shed more light on this topic from my own experiences. Perhaps by the end of this article you will even agree that getting fitness certified is an excellent way to boost your income and become a better dancer and teacher.
Like many other bellydancers, I didn’t start in this genre but was always intrigued by it. I received the mandatory but limited modern/ballet dance training that was part of my elementary schooling. Then at 24, I took up Argentine Tango and studied that for 2 years. In an effort to improve my overall health and supplement my dance classes, I joined a health club and was pleased to find a number of dance fitness classes including SharQui-the bellydance workout with Oreet, the creator. SharQui, the aerobic approach to bellydance, touted numerous benefits for both the dancer and the fitness enthusiast including improved skill, speed and muscle tone, so I tried it. I was hooked from the first class and became a weekly-sometimes-twice-weekly-participant and at a whopping 300 calories burned per class I lost a cool 30 lbs! Taking heed of my interest, Oreet encouraged me to get fitness certified and become an instructor. She further urged me to expand my knowledge by studying with other teachers and I complied. Long accustomed to Oreet’s succinct corrections and precise explanations, I was surprised to find that at some classes either no such enlightenments were offered or that attempts at clarification simply left me further puzzled. Now, now fellow teachers please don’t misunderstand me. I know how difficult it can be searching for that light switch to the-oh-so satisfying “a-ha” bulb for your students. But if you found an almost fool proof way to explain any move wouldn’t you use it? When my students understand a movement muscularly they find it easier to reproduce and thereby gain confidence in their natural abilities and skills.
Being fitness and SharQui certified not only allows me to understand and communicate movement better but gives me a deeper appreciation for my body and the dance. In studying for my fitness certification, I learned how to efficiently work and protect the body so that I could provide a safe learning environment for my students. The SharQui course expanded on the principles of teaching, covering topics such as cueing, sequencing, correcting and maintaining flow. Since I started teaching right away in the course (and so will you) I fine tuned my physical and mental understanding of each movement and simultaneously learned numerous key phrases that described precisely what I was doing internally. Now, once my students understand the mechanics of simple actions, I have a solid base from which to introduce more complex, challenging moves and can encourage them to experiment with combinations, layers and music interpretation.
A safe environment also means a supportive environment; one that encourages risk-taking, rewards creativity and develops personal style. Furthermore, a great bellydancer is more than a brilliant technician she or he is a performer. Understandably this important element can be challenging to teach in a fitness atmosphere. I combat this obstacle by hosting and participating in regular workshops that focus on elements specific to bellydance. Thus, I introduce my students to a wider vocabulary, sharpened choreography skills and enhanced performance quality. Coupled with the strength they’ve developed in SharQui class my students are becoming well rounded energetic performers.
But what if you don’t want to teach or earn extra money should you still take the SharQui course? Yes! Even if you simply wish to master technique, learn more about your fascinating body and challenge yourself to great workout then the course is a wonderful way to do that. The fitness certification is required because it maintains the integrity of the program and preserves SharQui’s status as the only bellydance program recognized by both the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as well as the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFFA). In addition, both your fitness license and your SharQui certificate qualify you to teach a “specialty” class at a fitness center or even in a dance studio giving you more negotiating and earning power.