How To Get Motivated & Organized In Belly Dance When You Don’t Have A Teacher

June 9, 2014 10 Comments

I’m introducing a new occasional feature on the Daily Bellydance Quickies called “Raks Me A Question”. (Thanks, Pamela Yvette on Facebook for coming up with a fun name for this segment!)  This will be part belly dance Q & A, part Dear Abby for dancers. We’ll tackle some why’s and how’s of belly dance and also take on some more sticky situations with clients, fellow dancers, students and other relationships.

Our first question comes from Kelly who live in a remote area of Canada. She has no access to classes or instructors where she lives and asked for some guidance on how to stay on track with her dance education despite her isolated location.

How do you get, find and keep motivated to dance on your own? When all you have is some DVDs  to work with: no classes or dance friends to practice with. 
How do you organize and plan dance training for yourself with no guidance and a massive DVD collection wherein everything looks interesting and you have no idea where to start? 

Here’s my advice for dancers in situations like this:

Resources I mentioned in the video:

Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Review

Todd Henry’s “The Accidental Creative”

Are you dancer without access to classes and instructors? What has helped you continue in your dance journey? Share your thoughts in the comments below…

Mahin (121 Posts)

Professional instructor and performer of Middle Eastern belly dance, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and author or the “Daily Bellydance Quickies”. Belly Dance Artrepreneur, Workshop instructor, performer, event producer, and bellydance writer.

  1. Patricia Croteau
    June 10, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Some really great ideas here which I intend to adopt. Also great couch.
    Happy shimmies,

  2. Kelly
    June 10, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Hi Mahin,
    Thanks for the ideas. Another useful resource to add to the list: The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp.

    1. Mahin
      June 10, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      That title has been on my “to read” list for a while – thanks for the reminder! What did you like best/ find most useful about that book?

  3. Suzanne norman
    June 10, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Wow, Mahin, you could have been talking directly to me. I live in a very remote island off the coast of Newfoundland Canada, currently surrounded by icebergs, and not a bellydance class within six hours drive. I would love to connect with others out there who are in the same position. I was so desperate for a dance buddy that I started teaching classes myself, and although I have many students of all ages, I still don’t have a dance buddy. Thanks for your thoughts and ideas.

  4. Berbara Boulos
    June 10, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Some years ago I was in a situation without teachers for a longer time, and online classes helped me a lot. Suhaila Salimpour’s online class system is very structured (although her ‘Beginner’ Level 1 classes are actually for intermediate dancers in my opinion) I also liked, where recently they added several 1-month ‘study programs’, from introductory to advanced levels. There are other ones out there as well but these are the ones I have tried so far.

    For me, online classes work much better than a DVD, because for a price of one DVD, you usually get unlimited access for the equivalent of 100s of DVDs for a month, so you can adjust your training to your progress and try out different styles and teachers. With a DVD, I usually get bored when I listen to the same explanation over and over again. You need fast internet though for good quality streaming and it’s only worth if you practice several times a week.

  5. Elaine
    June 11, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Thank you!! Great question and answers. I also live in a rural area in Eastern Canada and have limited access to classes. With working a corporate job 40 hr week and teaching Yoga Dance 2-3 times a week, I find that it is hard to get motivated to dance for me when there is laundry and cleaning that should be getting done. I am finding with the teaching that all my energy & effort goes into these classes and I am really missing my personal practice. Your video has given me a boost. I never count my You tube searching, etc as practice time but now I am going to become more aware of spiltting my time between research and practice and not feeling like I did not accomplish anything. I am always jotting things down on sticky notes like music, moves, ideas but then I have 200 sticky notes stuck in a bag, so I am promising myself to #1 get organzied and #2 get back to my personal practice. I really appreciate all your advice and your emails. Thanks 🙂

    1. Mahin
      June 11, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      Not everyone finds it useful to store thing digitally (Evernote, etc.) I used to keep practice items (including variations for variety and complexity) on index cards and file them in categories. I’d pull out what I wanted to work with in my personal practice or in writing class lesson plans then stow them away when I was done. 🙂

  6. Sandra
    June 15, 2014 at 3:14 am

    Really good advice, thank you, Mahin!

    For working on specific technique I’m using some sort of log-chart: for every item there’s a box and every time I work on it I mark my progress in that box by filling it out according to how much I felt I learned that day – just like those progress-thingies on your computer, showing you, that a process is 30%, 50% 90% done. 100% = I feel I worked that technique down to muscle memory safely, maybe to be repeated in a few weeks.

    With those log-charts I feel I can just start working on stuff without planning each and every session and I can see what needs working and where have I successfully worked – with just one glance. It’s a great boost to my motivation so see all those boxes turnig solid purple 😉

  7. Eileen
    February 13, 2015 at 10:53 am

    OMG, thank you so much. I’m not as remote as your Canadian writer, but presently our local lessons and troupe here in my small city in New Mexico have diminished due to the instructor’s loss of a spouse. I love to dance so much, and have done some performing with our troupe, so I feel that I could begin some classes to take up the slack. This video has inspired me, especially the way you laid out a pattern of organization that helped me see where to begin. The idea of a journal is especially helpful, and also realizing (aha!) that it could be best to focus on one style or area of research at a time. I’ve taken notes! Even after four or five years of classes and dancing, I felt too overwhelmed to think I could teach, but I see it can be simplified; a no-brainer, unless you haven’t realized how yet! lol. I’m an older dancer, and have many women my age interested in learning, and younger ones too. Your website is sooo helpful, that I think I can figure out how to be inclusive of all sorts of women. Again, thank you.


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