Belly Dance Training: Review of the ‘Understanding Music’ Course

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 on Teachable instead of in-person. Regardless, I still recommend the course.

I’m writing another instalment of my review series. This time I focus on the Belly Dance Now (formerly JWAAD) ‘Understanding Music’ course. I previously wrote about the ‘Understanding Safety’ course. I enjoyed the ‘Understanding Safety’ course and learned a lot from it. The ‘Understanding Music‘ course was the same for me for enjoyment and learning. Like the safety course, the music course is accredited to the equivalent of a UK A-Level in complexity. That indicates the quality and depth of the course. I hope that by sharing my experience, you will be inspired to learn more about the fascinating world of belly dance music!

During the course, we covered a vast array of information relating to belly dance music. This included musical instruments, rhythms, and musical styles. It also included key singers and composers for Middle Eastern and fusion styles. We had formal teaching sessions covering the information. Plus dance classes covered each of the key topics. Finally, we had assignments covering the above material. The assignments were difficult. But they did help consolidate the information and make sure you understood the material.

A real highlight for me were the dance classes. We had a dance class on dancing to taksims (improvised instrumental solos). It really helped me understand how to dance to different musical instruments. We had another dance class on dancing to different musical styles. It gave me a deeper understanding on how the musical style informs your dance. We also had a fusion dance class with a belly dance fusion dance teacher. It was difficult for me because I’m not a fusion specialist. But it gave me an understanding of how fusion dance evolved from the American cabaret style. It fused with other influences and became a unique style.

Belly dance students dancing with zills.
Dance with sagat (zills) class

Another aspect I enjoyed was the chance to work with live music. We had dance classes where we danced with a live tabla player. We practised listening to (and dancing) the transitions between different rhythmic sections in a drum solo. I got an understanding of how the dancer and drummer work in partnership to progress through the solo. Then, we had a chance to design and perform a very short drum solo of our own with the tabla player! I found it a bit scary to be dancing on my own with the class watching. But it was a fantastic opportunity that doesn’t come along in the UK very often. It gave me the confidence that I could do it again in the future.

If you have an interest in belly dance music and would like to deepen your knowledge in this area, I would recommend this music course. I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to dance with a live tabla player. Completing the assignments and submitting a portfolio was hard work. But it helped me consolidate my learning as well as gave me a huge sense of accomplishment.

5 Replies to “Belly Dance Training: Review of the ‘Understanding Music’ Course”

  1. I really wanna appreciate, your sharing of experiences throughout your journey, is extremely trilling and guiding in an amazing way……

  2. I never knew belly dancing had these layers of history and Complex technical knowledge until today. This is an eye opening page, and I’m thoroughly enjoying diving into the great context surrounding belly dancing, which I find has gotten lost in the mainstream belly dancing scene. Thank you for incredible, insightful content. I will walk into my next class much more informed, and much more inspired.

  3. I just came across this really well wrote and informative article wow…
    I love it when I have been abroad and the same with flamenco dancers… I never realised I know how it looks easy but must be hard to learn and dance and Thanks to you for writing it for us to read .
    Can you find local classes to go to?

    1. To find a belly dance teacher, I recommend you search “Belly dance classes near me” on Google and you will find a class. You can also find teachers online on Zoom if there’s none in your local area. You can search “Belly dance zoom classes ” on Google for that.

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