The featured image is my friend Oreet. Oreet is an award-winning professional belly dancer. She is also, the accomplished creator and President of SharQui, The Belly Dance Workout: A heart pumping belly dance cardio workout seen in clubs across America, (www.sharqui.com). I met Oreet at a fitness conference in California years ago. We hit it off instantly as we both love belly dance as an art form, AND we also 100% believe that there is room for belly dance as a fitness solution in the competitive market of Health and Wellness. In contrast to Oreet’s amazing cardio workout; I created Belly-Barre. In fact, I created it not just for you, but also for ME. I wanted to tone and sculpt; I wanted to enhance my posture; I wanted to perfect my dance technique; I wanted to encourage other women to be healthy and fit as well as see themselves as beautiful. Belly-Barre as well as the whole “Belly” series combines my passion for Belly Dance as a legit dance and my passion and talents as a fitness professional. Both are results based workouts, both celebrate and respect the cultural aspects of belly dance.
As you can probably tell, I have great respect for Oreet and I consider it a great honor to have presented workshops for Certified SharQui Instructors. Many of my offered workshops were in support of the belly dance fitness movement. Together, we desire to bring a fresh approach to belly dance fitness. But there hangs from the heavens a question that Oreet and I have grappled with: Just Who is More Qualifed to Teach in a Group Exercise Setting? The Trained Belly Dancer or the Certified Fitness Professional? I wrote this article originally simply to flesh out my thinking. I went on to share this with Oreet to extend to her audience as I believe together we have different audiences who may gain from this. So read on and feel free to weigh in on this discussion:
The Belly Dancer V.S. The Fitness Professional
There is an interesting consideration to address in regard to who is better suited to teach a belly dance class in a group exercise setting. Certainly, trained belly dance professionals who have committed years perfecting technique may feel that they are the more qualified candidate. And interestedly, while the Group Exercise professional who has a keen understanding of the anatomy and is trained to cue and present in a group exercise setting, may feel in actuality, incapable (or unworthy) to teach this ancient art as it is indeed seeped in solid technique with many intricacies. The dance professionals many years of dedication and determination with respect to the dance itself is to be respected and is indeed impressive. Equally, the art of a perfectly formatted group exercise experience with the talent to cue for form and technique whilst keeping the group exercise experience alive is also impressive. There is room for both professionals to learn from the other.
For those who have spent years as students of belly dance, it is almost offensive to hear of someone who is “self-taught” declare themselves as a belly dance instructor. A trained eye sees the error of poor posture and improper technique. To be sure, those who have years of training in Belly Dance have a certain ease and finesse with the dance itself; they have a deep-rooted understanding of the music and the rhythms and they will likely see it as impossible to learn the dance in a one-day training. They are right.
On the other hand, Group Exercise instructors spend years perfecting the “art of transition” as it relates to a perfectly formatted group class using music in a very different way. Their expertise, is quite different — keeping the flow and the fitness aspect alive throughout the duration of an hour-long workout is also a perfected talent which qualifies the group instructor as a “professional.” Group exercise professionals are required to keep up with the latest research and science as it relates to injury prevention, regression and progression options for all body types, and over all health and fitness information. Years of study and hours of learning contribute to their expertise. To be sure, their contribution regarding safe and effective technique is relevant and should be noted.
RaqiSa Fitness (& SharQui) brings together the belly dance professional and the group exercise professional and bridges the gap. We believe that the group exercise professional should feel fully capable and worthy to learn this ancient art; but this doesn’t happen in one day. Likewise, the Belly Dance Professional will need to learn safe and effective cueing and science, which also, does not happen overnight. Both professionals will need additional practice and support from each other.
Whatever your background, preparing to teach any format will take time, practice, and commitment. In addition, it takes a lot of heart and courage to teach. But what I think all can agree upon is that the love of the dance expressed professionally and through proper technique promotes the beautiful RaqiSa (& SharQui) message that women are beautiful, capable, strong, yet elegant.
In Summation: “RaqiSa” means “female dancer” and to me; it’s about preparing the body to “do life” easier. It’s about capturing, through dance and fitness “a confident woman.” “SharQui” is the authentic name for the Dance of the East. And to be sure, you will burn incredible calories as you “Shake Your Beauty!” with SharQui! So, whether you are a legit dancer, a fitness instructor, or a participant who is seeking a fitness solution, know that if you are interested enough you CAN become amazing in all areas, as long as you humbly accept that you may need to learn from another expert. I suppose the lesson learned should be more about being gracious. Graciously give and graciously receive. Indeed, I know both Oreet and I subscribe to this whole-heartedly.