Tuesday, May 24, 2016

FAQ - Concerns - Doubts about class

FAQ- Frequently Asked Questions... 

How long does it take to learn?
I find that you never stop learning when it comes to belly dancing. There are so many styles and variations. However, once you have the foundational moves you can begin exploring and layering to add dimensions to your dancing. Every individual is different, but, as a generalization, I find 8-10 weeks is typically the amount of time it takes a dedicated student to get learn the basic control, technique, and movement.

What if I can't move my hips? 
Many of the movements in belly dance come from controlling your abdominal muscles and movement in your knees. The misconception is that you'll be directing your hips the whole time. An open mind, relaxed body, soft knees, and controlled state is what will allow the hip and arm movements to flow.
Belly Dancing is meant to follow the natural movements and shapes of the female form. Relaxing and allowing the movements to flow out gracefully comes from allowing your self freedom to move without judgment and understanding the mechanics of the dance so you know where the movements come from and this adds the level of control. 

In short, the control comes from letting go! (if that makes sense)

I've never danced before and I need a beginner/beginner class:

I don't really believe in Beginner, Intermediate, Advance Level classes. I structure my classes around the concept of Open Level teaching and provide modifications during class for Intro to Advanced dancers.
Once you start to move your body in class, you decide when to incorporate layers into your practice. As your instructor I provide guidance and offer modifications to start trying and adding as you go but you can always go back to basic within the class until you are ready. Likewise an advanced dancer can choose to focus on arm placement and movement while practicing a more basic move or choose to do it in releve or demi plie to add other levels of difficulty to the practice. 

A great place to start is with footwork as a basic level. Starting with the feet/footwork and working your way up to Footwork, Control/Balance/Technique, Arm positions, Gaze, Emotional Connection, into a beautiful dancer is the way I look at the different levels. 

What does Open level mean?

Open Level means all students, no matter the dance background or experience, are welcome in class. Not only are all welcome, but class is structured to fit the needs of intro/beginner to advanced dancers- From no dance experience to experienced belly dancers/performers. All the steps and movements taught in class are broken down and options for layering levels of difficulty are provided for those students with advanced dance experience and/or those who want to start layering. 

You should feel comfortable no matter what your level is. 

I'm going to look crazy!!!
If you've never taken my class, this may be something you say to yourself before signing up or dropping in. The reality is, it's a very open and non-judgmental environment. A safe zone to explore this beautiful, feminine, sensual dance. Each one of my students is encouraged to engage within herself to explore her own movement and body. You will see, once you're in the class, everyone is focusing on their own movements and sometimes, the awareness, control, and focus is so intense, you do forget there are others in the class! Come and check it out!!!

After my postings today about class starting
(on my facebook page- www.facebook.com/bellydanceneworleans
many of you wrote me and asked for my advice and clarification on different things... just thought it helpful to share since it might answer others concerns/doubts

1) Hell nah! I am NOT jiggling my belly in front of a bunch of strangers
- You don't have to bare your belly to do the class. In fact 95% of my students wear a fitted t-shirt or tank top to class and don't bare their belly at all

2) I'll come when I lose some weight
-Belly dancing is about connecting with yourself, increasing circulation, flexibility, finding your own body's movement. The class will allow you to feel comfortable no matter your size, shape, level of experience. It's an amazing and complete body workout, we start with a warm up from head to toe, if you are looking for an exercise plan to add to your lifestyle or a fun and exciting workout, this is perfect, during technique you will tone and during the layering you will sweat and challenge your body in ways you never imagined. My students are different ages, sizes, body types, you will definitely feel comfortable with the wonderful lovelies that come to class!

3) I'm not coordinated and can't dance, I have NEVER belly danced
- Perfect! Then the class is ideal for you. We start slow, step by step, and build on each step within the class. For those students who have taken the class for a long time, I always include new moves and sequences so it's never boring, keeping it new for everyone... beginners and seasoned dancers. If you've never danced before it will be great because we do very few traveling steps, most of the focus will be in your own space focusing on strengthening your core and posture... no tripping of the feet involved.

4) I'm so busy, it's hard to make it each Tuesday.
- This is my favorite... with 3 boys (a 16 year old in high school and every sport imaginable, an active 10 year old, and a 2 month olf baby), a successful photography career, and a full time art teaching job, I found the only way to keep it together was taking out from my "busy" schedule, time just for me! I find you can make the time if you try! It's challenging but isn't everything? Make the time! It will be worth it. You deserve to carve out at least one hour per week for something new and fun! Give it a try!!! Plus, I find there is nothing more refreshing than a room full of amazing, strong women belly dancing!!

Sunday, May 22, 2016


TO REGISTER: email karlamariefineart@gmail.com
What will we do in this session?
  • Belly Dance Technique Drills
  • Intro to Zills (For more on zills, click here)
  • one FIERCE Routine

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Feeling lots of feelings tonight. After 10 years of belly dancing, I started last year, in January with a new goal... to learn as much as I could from as many master teachers as I could and truly immerse in belly dance. One of the places I went was the Houston Oriental Festival where Amani of Lebanon, Lebanese Simon, Valerick, among others blew my freaking mind. I could not get enough. Then off to Suhaila Salimpour workshops, not once but twice, and to Zoe Jakes and to Isaam Houshan, and to so many others, including going back to the beginning... full circle with Tamalyn Dallal and Amar Gamal. Each one different, each one inspiring, each one providing me with more and more material to absorb and understand and share with my beautiful students. This spring has been filled with belly dance glitter all over my world... from our performance at Orleans Raks to our magical Shimmy Shakti Troupe Showcase and personally... with weekly sessions with my belly dance hero Tamalyn Dallal. I FEEL........ actually, that's it. No other word needed... I freaking feel!!!! So much right now and it feels freaking amazing. So all this to say... this Friday, I will be performing at the Houston Oriental Dance festival, something I would've never even thought of just a year ago. I don't even know how it's all happening.... I have been pretty much waking up and guided in different directions and all these wonderful things are happening. I am so happy, so blessed, freaking out!!!!!! Sharing the stage with so many amazing dancers whom I admire and follow.... I'm a little deer in headlights about it still but I mentioned it to my lovelies and they were so incredibly supportive I emailed a yes before I had time to rethink it lol but it is pretty much how I live my life... a yes, a quick freak out, and then like a Soldja... off to kick butt!. I AM HAPPY, I AM HONORED, HOLY MOLY I'M PERFORMING AT THE HOUSTON ORIENTAL DANCE FESTIVAL THIS WEEKEND. eek. Wish me luck y'all!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

APRIL - Sunset Shimmies at the Park

Join us for belly Dancing 101 @City Park

Tuesday, April 12
Tuesday, April 19
Tuesday, April 26


City Park (Outdoor Class-On Boat Deck/By Paddle Boats and Gondola Deck- By Christian Brothers entrance)

Class Card or $10 Drop in

Attire: Stretch pants and a fitted Tee or tank. Bring water. Yoga mat, optional.


Friday, April 8, 2016

Your "first date" with belly dance...

I always like to share questions I receive from students with the group as it might answer questions you have... Last night we welcomed 8 new students. Attending your first belly dance class is an experience in itself. It's important for me to share from my experience as a belly dance instructor for the past 9 years and my own experience going to class.... that attending a belly dance class is very different than many other classes. Belly Dance connects so strongly with your heart and spirit that it is a surprisingly vulnerable place to be. 

For most of society, belly dance class is perceived to be just a "fun workout" class where you get to feel "sexy." What actually happens is quite the opposite most of the time. Although there are many "feelings" I hear ladies mention after their first class... "sexy" is not one of them. 

Belly dance is technically difficult and complex, there are cultural and emotional elements that are a huge part of the instruction and it takes years to master. Even when mastered, belly dance offers thousands of elements to be learned and layered on top of the technique you know. When you layer those and learn new concepts you are encouraged to go back to the beginning and re-learn the basic steps that you thought you knew and start again. It's a beautiful cycle of learning and growing, very much like life and our different stages of growing and learning. It challenges every bit of your body, mind, and soul. It's also the reason why many belly dancers remain engaged and continue learning this dance form for years or a lifetime.

Adding live drumming to that, adds another level of difficulty. We love live music- but live music, unlike pre-recorded music, requires that you invite the music into your body first and connect with it before you even start to move. The drum needs the dancer as much as the dancer needs the drum. It's a beautiful conversation but it takes practice and an open heart. Lots to take in on a first "date" with belly dance. It's much like discussing what you will name your first child on a blind date. However, what a beautiful thing it is when you can have conversations like that minus the insecurities. A safe place where you can say and do what you like and be you. That is what a great belly dance class is to me. 

Allowing yourself to be challenged by the technique while remaining open to these challenges and appreciating every single part of your body for moving in the way it wants and allowing you to express yourself from the heart, that is the goal.

When I am asked what you can do to strengthen your practice outside of your regular belly dance class... my answer is always to work with opening your energy, improving your posture, and experimenting with balance. These are some of the core elements of a strong belly dance foundation. Experiment with the following:
  • Tuck your tailbone in
    • Practice rocking your pelvic bone forward and back (tuck and drop)
  • Heart Open and Shoulders back
    • Engage your shoulder blades and push them towards each other
    • Heart up, deep breath in and lift
  • Create space in your Throat Chakra to be able to connect
    • bring your chin up and relax your facial muscles
  • Engage your belly
    • separate it in three parts (right under your rib cage, right in your mid section, 3 fingers below your belly button) and practice tightening one area at a time
  • Shift your weight
    • With your knees bent, shift your weight from one foot to the other, rocking...practice moving from side to side, front to back, feel the ground, lift your toes, shift from the heels to the balls of your feet.... experiment with weight shift while your knees are bent and tail bone tucked in, shoulders back, heart is open, belly engaged, facial muscles relaxed.
On a less spiritual level, my experience tells me... make it through the first class and you might come back, make it through the second class and you will feel less crazy and will start to think you can do a couple more, make it through the third class and you'll feel like you might actually be able to do this.... make it to the fourth class and you're hooked!

As far as other practices, of course more belly dancing, more classes! But outside of belly dance, I find YOGA is a great complement. Being grounded and shifting awareness to different parts of the body is really important. Yoga is a practice that will strengthen that ability. Practice tree pose and mountain pose, practice awareness of your breath during practice and during savasana... allow yourself to connect with the earth and be still. Stillness is an important element of Egyptian belly dance. I posted a video yesterday about this, check it out. It has a lot of great information from an inspirational dancer in our community.

just my two cents

Thank you for coming to class, thank you for being interested in our class.
Happy Friday and Happy Festing Y'all!!!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

2016 Schedule (April-Dec)

Class Cards: 4, 6, 10, 20 classes
Cards NEVER Expire
Good for all classes offered by Karla Marie

April and May 2016

6 week Session
Thursdays 7pm-8pm and Saturdays 10:30am-11:30am
  • Week 1: Thursday, April 7
  • Week 2: Thursday, April 14 and Saturday April 16
  • No class week of April 18th (Houston Oriental Dance Festival)
  • Week 3: Thursday, April 28 and Saturday, April 30
  • Week 4: Thursday, May 5
  • Week 5: Saturday, May 14
  • Week 6: Saturday, May 21
4 Thursday classes: April 7, 14, 28 and May 5
4 Saturday classes: April 16, 30, and May 14, 21

  • No THURSDAY class April 21
  • No SATURDAY class April 9, 23 or May 7

June 2016

4 week Summer Session

Saturdays 10:30am-11:30am

  • June 4, 11, 18, 25

August and September 2016

6 Week Intensive 
Thursdays and Saturdays- CLASS CARD REQUIRED

Thursdays 7pm-8pm (Drop ins Welcome)

  • August 4, 11, 18, 25
  • September 8, 15

Saturdays 10:30am-11:30am

  • August 6, 13, 20, 27
  • September 10, 17


October, November, December 2016

8 Week Intensive (6 week option available)
Thursdays and Saturdays- CLASS CARD REQUIRED

Thursdays 7pm-8pm (Drop ins Welcome)
  • October 20, 27
  • November 3, 10
  • December 1, 8
Saturdays 10:30am-11:30am
  • October 1, 8, 22, 29
  • November 5, 12
  • December 3, 10

Shimmy Shakti Troupe Showcase

Thank you to everyone who came out to support our troupe and a great cause!
Our event was wonderful, we are so honored to have performed for you. 


Meet our Lovelies, click here

For more information about
Belly Dance Goddess Hour by Karla Marie
and Shimmy Shakti Troupe, visit

Check out our Tribal Fusion performance here
Videos of our Oriental Dance performances coming soon!

Join us for our next session. To find out more, click here