Jen’s July 2022 note: I wrote this post for a previous iteration of the course when it was an in-person course. Since then, JWAAD has rebranded to Belly Dance Now and the course is online via Zoom instead of in-person. Regardless, I still recommend the course.
Have you ever thought about belly dance teacher training? Back in 2016, I completed the Belly Dance Now (formerly JWAAD) ‘Safe Delivery of Belly Dance Classes‘ course. It helped me take my first steps towards teaching belly dance. I chose the Belly Dance Now course because it’s externally accredited at the equivalent of a UK A-Level in complexity. Because of this, I was sure that the course would cover a lot of useful information in-depth and be academically rigorous. Why am I talking about it now if I completed it back in 2016? I’ve just signed up for the ‘Understanding Music‘ course for early next year, so I have JWAAD on my mind. I hope that by sharing my experience, it might inspire you to consider your first steps into dance teaching!
What to expect during the course? You’ll find a general overview on the Belly Dance Now website. During the first weekend of the course, we learned most of the information presented on the course. This was through a mixture of formal teaching sessions and experiential learning. We also got set our assignments. Then, we went away and did our assignments. I found the assignments to be difficult but very worthwhile to help me learn the material. On the second weekend, we learned more information. We completed our practical assessments, and submitted our portfolio of evidence.
I found all of the course information to be extremely useful. It was applicable to me as I was starting my belly dance teaching journey. Some of it, like health and safety, was fairly common sense. But other information, like anatomy, would have been hard to pick up on my own. For me, the anatomy section was the hardest, but one of the most useful. It’s very helpful as a dancer and a teacher to know how muscles and joints operate. For example, joints only work in certain planes of movement. So you or your students shouldn’t be trying to ‘twist your knee’ as this is anatomically impossible. I enjoyed learning about and practising breaking down belly dance moves. This is an essential skill to have as a belly dance teacher. This information, and more, gave me the confidence that I could teach belly dance safely without injuring my students.
We had two main practical assessments on the second weekend. The first was a practical warm-up assessment. We designed a warm-up using safe dance principles we learned on the first weekend. We taught it to our fellow students on the second weekend. It was slightly nerve-wracking teaching while being observed for assessment. I did manage to pass, and got some very useful feedback on areas to improve in future warm-ups. I still use a variation of that warm-up for my classes today.
The second assessment was a technique review. We performed various belly dance moves one-to-one with a tutor and were subsequently given a level. You don’t need to have a particular level of technique to pass the safety course. But you do if you wish to progress to the full teaching diploma. I was already familiar with JWAAD technique from the Personal Development Programme, so I felt prepared for the assessment. For someone unfamiliar with the JWAAD style, I think it would be very difficult to score highly on the assessment. The standards are a higher level than many local classes. So even though I had been dancing for several years, I only scored as ‘improver’. That wasn’t a surprise to me. But some course-mates were disappointed that they did not score as highly as they thought they should have.
Overall, the course was hugely beneficial to me. Though not all the information was brand-new to me, much of it was. Attending the course gave me the tools I needed to start teaching belly dance. It reaffirmed that I was on the right track regarding dance teaching. I would recommend it to any belly dancers starting on their dance teaching journey!