banner photo: birds-eye view of hip scarves, bracelets, and zills
Frequently Asked Questions
Being ready for class is the best way to enjoy it! We hope that this will answer your questions before the start of class. Melissa’s current offerings can be found on the Weekly Classes page. For information on payment and other policies, please see the Class Terms & Policies page.
How is ATS® different from other styles of belly dance?
American Tribal Style® belly dance is based on group improvisation rather than choreography. After learning the slow movements, fast steps, and formations of ATS®, dancers play an elaborate game of “follow the leader.” Leaders use a standardized set of non-verbal cues to tell the followers what to do next, resulting is a beautiful dance that appears to be choreographed but is actually improvised on the spot! Fades and transitions allow for changes within the formations. Add musicality, zils (finger cymbals), costuming, makeup, and jewelry and you have an elaborate dance experience that delights one’s senses! You can learn about the history of ATS® here.
Who can take your classes?
At Honey of the Hive, we truly believe that belly dance is for everyone, no matter your age, sex, size or level of fitness. We make it accessible and enjoyable for everyone.
What time should I arrive for class?
Classes start promptly. Please arrive 10–15 minutes early to ensure that you have ample time to get ready. This is a great time for you to get to know your instructor and your classmates! If you happen to arrive late, please quietly warm yourself up before joining the class.
What should I wear to class?
Please wear comfortable workout clothing that you can move around in easily, such as yoga pants or leggings and a t-shirt, tank top, and/or choli. The studio runs cool in the winter and warm in the summer, so dressing in layers allows dancers to add or shed items as needed.
Belly dance is generally performed in bare feet, but students are welcome to wear socks, ballet slippers, or dance sneakers during class. Street shoes are not permitted on the studio floor.
Optional: A hip scarf or belly dance belt tied low around the hips helps to highlight the body’s movements.
Optional: Students that have completed at least one full session with Melissa are invited to wear a 25-yard skirt to class. This introduces the student to dancing with a full skirt and shows others that the individual has “earned their stripes” with Honey of the Hive.
Do I have to show my belly?
That’s totally up to you! It is never required in any class, and if you decide to perform someday, the student troupe’s costuming requirements are flexible in terms of baring one’s belly.
What should I pack in my dance bag?
- A water bottle
- Zils (finger cymbals) are required beginning in week 3 of Level 1. You need four zils total (two for each hand). Inexpensive ($15 or less) sets can be purchased online at sites such as fcbd.com and amazon.com. Look for ones that have two slits in the center of each zil (as opposed to one hole in the center of the zil). If you have any questions regarding, please speak with Melissa.
- Optional: A notebook and pen
What should I expect in class?
Each class begins with a warm-up to ensure that your body is ready for dance. Melissa will introduce new material and review movements from the previous week. Each lesson ends with a relaxing cool-down.
Melissa’s goal is to help you to be the best dancer that you can be. Melissa provides individual feedback during class, which is always given in an encouraging way and with your best interests in mind.
How can I get the most out of classes?
Be present, with an adventurous spirit and an open mind. Class is a friendly, safe, and non-competitive environment. Melissa is experienced at providing alternate explanations and suggesting body adjustments, so if you are confused by something or are having trouble with a move, please don’t be afraid to ask questions and make mistakes. And most importantly: HAVE FUN!!!
How can I practice good class etiquette?
Please read The Tribal Code.
Okay, and now for a few additional tips on how to be an awesome student:
- Silence or turn off your cell phone during class. This is your time to unplug from the daily grind and enjoy yourself!
- Honor your body. Only you know what your body is telling you. If something doesn’t feel right, stop and notify the instructor.
- Do not play your zils at inappropriate times (e.g. when the instructor is speaking, during water breaks, etc.).
- Keep in mind that questions and laughter are always encouraged during class, but personal conversations are distracting to your fellow classmates and disrespectful to your instructor. If you have a question, ask the instructor.
I’ve taken other Middle Eastern dance classes. Can I skip a level?
No. As a FatChanceBellyDance® Sister Studio, Melissa focuses heavily on proper dance technique, and ATS® Levels 2 and 3 require a strong understanding of the ATS® system, which can only be gained by mastering the Level 1 subject matter. Advancement is subject to instructor approval, but familiarity with Middle Eastern dance or any other dance form will likely help you to progress quickly into the more advanced classes.
Do I have to perform?
Nope! There are many different reasons why people study American Tribal Style® belly dance, and the opportunity to perform is only one of them. ATS® classes are a great place to make new friends, build a strong sense of community, shake off the stress of everyday life, get your heart pumping/muscles moving/brain working, discover and appreciate the intrinsic beauty of your body, dive deeper into the intriguing cultural aspects of this amazing world that we live in, improve flexibility, grace, and stamina….The benefits of attending Melissa’s classes and joining the global ATS® family are incredible!!