Gina’s Middle Eastern dance classes are for anyone who wants to dance. All ages, genders, shapes and sizes are welcomed and encouraged. There is no ideal body shape and you can bare your skin or not as you feel comfortable. This class is not about fixing your body, it’s about recognizing and channeling the ravishing beauty that you, and only you, manifest. We consciously strive to create a supportive, non-competitive and non-comparing atmosphere in all classes and performances. Please relax and know that you are “just right” for this dance – not too much or too little of anything. Perfect as you are. This is a dance about expression. It is designed to express, not impress. The only criteria is that you be open to enjoying being yourself.
The exact origin of this collection of dances is unknown. We do know that the genre is thousands of years old. Various theories have been suggested regarding the origin such as that this dance form originates from childbirth movements, that it was a dance of slaves or wise women, that it was something that was done in harems, that it originated with goddess or religious worship, etc. Parts of all of these stories are true, and more. Gina teaches a form of Middle Eastern dance that is influenced by many countries in the Middle East, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. It is heavily influenced with American styling. This dance has nothing to do with exotic dance or stripping. All clothes stay on. The dance is a tastefully presented art form.
Gina is committed to teaching in winter, spring, summer and fall quarters. This ensures that everyone starts at the same point and ends at the same point. It neither over-challenges beginners, nor bores advanced students, both of which drop-in classes can sometimes do. Furthermore, after a semester of dance, you will graduate with clear results. You will emerge with a bank of dance vocabulary, as well as choreographies designed especially for people at YOUR level. For beginners the model is progressive with your first semester focusing on feet and hips, second semester on arms and posture, third semester on hands and face and fourth semester focusing on stage presentation.
The easiest way to learn dance is to first get the foot movements, then the hips, then the upper body, next the arms, and finally the fingers and the facial expressions. If you get lost, go back to the feet. Lower body movements are often easier than upper body movements, so don’t get discouraged if we are working on the upper body and it is challenging. It will come with time. Also know that some movements you will pick up the same day that they are introduced to you and other movements will take weeks, months or years to fully master. It doesn’t matter. The goal in Gina’s beginner classes is to have fun. Please don’t give up on yourself. Give yourself a chance with this dance. Often the people who are doing the best in class get discouraged the soonest because they become impatient with themselves. Progress is the goal, not perfection! Good dancers are made (through practice), not born. Lighten up and have fun!
Leggings, “high water” yoga pants or gauchos are best or any other leg covering that allows a view of your ankles (no skirts, please); the top should be close fitting – a tank top, leotard or sports bra is fine; and a hip scarf of some kind is suggested. Gina will have hip scarves for sale during the first several weeks of the semester or you can bring something from home. The dance is traditionally done barefoot. You may want to wear ballet slippers or some other non-heeled type of foot covering if your feet are sensitive. Even socks will do if they are slip-free. Fun costuming is encouraged.
Don’t do anything that hurts and please discuss any chronic injuries with Gina.
Substitute teachers may be used on the rare occasion that Gina would need to be out of town.
Beginner classes often register around 10-15 participants. The first 2-3 classes tend to be busy, but classes generally settle out to anywhere between 7 and 12 attendees in any given class, accounting for normal student absences. Classes during Covid will vary from this.
Please be aware that there are no cash refunds on classes that you miss, no discounts on future sessions due to missed classes, no registration transfers or transfers of credit to other people and no refunds or credits due to weather rescheduling. That said, for beginners there are options if you need to miss a class. You are welcome to attend a makeup class at your level or below, preferably during the current session. If you re-enroll at full price during the next semester you can use a make-up class as late as the next semester (this means that you will attend an extra class per week). You must be currently enrolled in a session in order to take advantage of a make-up. Beginner students may attend any beginner class for make-ups (you don’t need to call ahead). Intermediate and Advanced students cannot do make up classes during Covid, but new choreography semester classes are filmed (please double check with me that your class will be filmed).
For in-person classes, we will try our hardest to always have class. However, as you know, sometimes it gets ridiculous and downright dangerous to work against Mother Nature. We will make a determination about weather by 3 pm. If the weather is questionable, please call after 3 pm (802-282-2149) and we will have a message on the phone regarding class. If there is no weather message, you can assume that class is happening. If there is a cancellation due to weather, a make-up class will be scheduled. While we will attempt to schedule for the same night and time at a later date, the same day/time is not always a possibility. Sometimes a longer class, classes at a later time, a Friday night or weekend session or another creative solution will be used. Refunds will not be given in the case of weather rescheduling. Outdoor classes will be on Zoom if the weather is inclement.
Please try to arrive on time. If you are either early or late, please try not to disrupt the class when you arrive. If you are on time, please greet the instructor. Say good night when you leave. This gives closure to the evening. Also, please make an effort to greet other students and learn each others’ names. Avoid cliquey-ness and reach out to people who seem shy. Please stay focused during class and leave socializing for before class and after class. When we are rehearsing a choreography, please do not ask questions while the music is running as it derails the work. Your questions are welcome and encouraged before or afterwards. Unless they are participating, male guests are not allowed to watch class. All visitors must be cleared beforehand with Gina.
Dancing will be a profound personal journey if you want it to be. That goes for anyone with an open heart and a willingness to show up and keep trying. Please be gentle with yourself. Give yourself positive messages about your progress and your potential. Banish the “nevers” such as “I’ll never be good enough”, “I’ll never perform” or “I’ll never look good enough to …” There are only possibilities here. Please communicate with Gina about your goals and your dreams. If you are struggling, please don’t struggle alone. Gina is available to talk by phone, email and sometimes, if it’s not too busy, before or after class. She welcomes your comments, thoughts, and feelings.
Please click “Register Now” on any Beginner class web page to view the registration terms.