Music…Movement…Culture
Weekly Egyptian and pan-Arab style dance classes with Monica

2017 Weekly Class Schedule

 

Fundamentals/Basics :: Technique
Mondays
6 to 7 PM

All welcome
Ongoing class all year

 

Intermediate/Advanced :: Expression
Mondays
7 to 8 PM

Some prerequisites
Ongoing class all year

 

 

Class Descriptions, Fees, Location, Information on Private Lessons & Coaching, and What to Expect in Class below

“Monica’s deep understanding of the history of the dance
really come through in her teaching. She doesn’t just teach the ‘hows’,
but the ‘whys’ and the ‘whens’, too.” Natalia M., student

Important Dates

We DO have class July 3!
No classes August 21 and August 28 (Monica will be traveling).
No classes September 4 (Labor Day).
No other upcoming class cancellations.

“This was one of my favorite classes. The structure was very carefully considered and enhanced my understanding of this art form. Excellent workshop.” Student in Monica’s ‘Tahtib, Asaya, Cane: Stick dances in Context’ workshop at the Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive, September 2012

 

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Weekly Class Location

All classes are held at the Alonzo King LINES Dance Center in San Francisco, where Monica has taught since 2003.
26 — 7th Street (at Market)
5th floor, Studio 4
BART: Civic Center Station
MUNI: F, J, K, L, M, N, 5, 6, 7, 9, 19, 21, 66, 71
Bike parking on the 4th floor
Meters are free after 6PM, and there are affordable car parking lots nearby

“I will second Monica as an excellent teacher. I have taken classes with her (and hope to again now that my life has calmed down). She is very knowledgeable, her lessons are well thought out and she has that sense of musicality that you see mostly in Egyptian dancers.” Posted by a user on bhuz.com

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Class Descriptions

Mondays :: Beginner Basics and Mixed-Level Fundamentals
6:00 — 7:00PM

Prerequisite: No experience needed through up to three years, and I welcome more experienced learners looking to brush up on their basics, find new challenges, revel in the roots, or try a new-to-them style or instructor. Each series will cover posture, fundamental technique, combinations, as well as rhythm, instrument, and song structure recognition.

Designed for those new to Egyptian style belly dance and those returning after a break, this class will provide a basic understanding of Egyptian and pan-Arab raqs (dance) movement, posture, technique, and music fundamental to many styles.
This is an ongoing class.

All classes at all levels have a musical approach to movement. Along with focused technique and movement practice and combinations, each class will include a dance style warm-up, a focus on posture, shimmy drills, conceptual, cultural and informational dance context as appropriate, a dance-along or a dance circle, and a cool down.

Each class will both introduce new information and review movements and concepts presented in the previous class.

 

“Monica is the bomb! She makes dancing fun even for clumsy people with no previous experience.” Sirah L., student

 

Mondays :: Intermediate and Up
7:00 — 8:00PM

This ongoing, musically-oriented, mixed-level class focuses on strengthening, refining and improving existing technique and expanding learner knowledge of movements, rhythms and common songs. This class is great for learners and improvers committed to regular attendance, and more experienced dancers who are starting to find their own voice in “belly dance” while staying rooted in the Egyptian style forms.

Pre-requisites: A minimum of 12 to 24 months of consistent and recent Arabic, Egyptian or belly dance class or equivalent, or instructor approval.

This is an ongoing class. We take some major holidays off (only if the studio is closed, though), and Monica usually takes January and August off to recharge her batteries, work on material, and do her own professional development. Otherwise? We are in the studio!

The structure of this class includes a full body dance-oriented warm-up, posture review, and extended shimmy drills.
Each class will focus on one or two movements or families of movements that will be broken down and put into a larger combination, with a focus on refinement for improving as dancers. Many classes will include finger cymbals. Often we will work with different versions of a particular song, must know songs for dancers, key concepts in our dance form, various props, specific rhythms, focused improvisational skills, keeping the chaos so we don’t get too boring or bored, or with choreography.

We work hard to make it look easy.

Classes will focus on maintaining strong technique, developing performance skills, putting emotion behind the movement, distinguishing between styles, finding your voice and place within the dance form, learning about the larger community and events, and ethics in our scene as working dancers and/or serious hobbyists. All classes will include an improvised dance along.

Students in this class will have an opportunity to perform in student shows as well as with Monica’s student performance group, The Zakiyya Dancers.

Class Fees

Single Class $14
4 Classes $52
8 Classes $96
12 Classes $132
16 Classes $160
20 Classes $190

Please register and pay for classes through the Dance Center directly.

You can pay in person at the dance center. Paying online can feel a little confusing the first time. Here is how to pre-pay online for drop-ins or class cards at the Lines Dance Center MindBody site:

1) Go to ‘online store’ (direct link here!)
2) Click the ‘services’ tab in the upper right hand corner
3) Select ‘AKLDC Classes’ from the drop down menu
4) Choose the class card or single class package you would like to purchase
5) Check out/pay

You don’t actually register to attend a specific *class* at the Lines mind-body site like you can at some studios. You will register/sign-in using your name with the person at the front desk OR with the ipad at the front desk when you arrive…that is when you let them know which class(es) you are attending.

Note: You can also buy your class cards in person using cash, check or credit cards at the Lines Dance Center front desk if you prefer.

If you have questions about the process, please let me or Lines know.

 

Coaching and Private Lessons

Coaching is available for dancers from intermediate through professional levels. Monica has experience working with dancers and troupes one-on-one on short term projects (for example, as they prepare for performances or competitions), as well as through long-term mentoring, training, ongoing practice, professional development, and basic craft during key times in dancers’ careers.

Coaching can be held in a professional studio in San Francisco. Oakland/East Bay, Daly City, and South San Francisco are also a possibility.

Class time is tailored to your needs, goals, and focus. You can benefit from Monica’s vast experience in the Egyptian dance world and her focus as both a first and a second source instructor, including years and years of experience as a working soloist in a variety of venues, ongoing professional shows with live Arabic music, award winning troupe choreography and performance, over a decade of consistently teaching group dance classes, regular travel to and long term living in Cairo, and ongoing professional development of her own. Monica has over 20 years in the belly dance business, and is well-respected as a teacher and dancer by her colleagues and supported by her own teachers and mentors. She is skilled in bringing out the best in what experienced dancers from a variety of belly dance styles already have, along with opening up new ideas and movements, and she would love the chance to work with you!

Please contact Monica for more information, a questionnaire, and details of her coaching packages.
References available.

Coaching and private lesson fees:
$75 per hour, plus studio fees (if any…please note that Monica gets a great deal on rentals at many studios!)
Folks who are regulars in my group classes: $65/hour

Original choreography can also be created for soloists and groups.
Please contact Monica for a current rate sheet, references, sample work, and for more details on what is offered.

“Monica makes learning fun. She’s always energetic, and makes everyone feel positive.” M.L., student

Details about classes

What should I wear?

Wear comfortable clothes that are not too loose. Leggings, sweatpants, tights, or jazz/yoga/stretch
pants and a tee-shirt, tank top, or leotard are excellent choices. Bare feet, socks or dance
slippers of some sort are fine. Bring a scarf to tie around your hips. it is most important that you feel comfortable and can move.

After a while, you may be asked to bring other props, including finger cymbals and veils (I will have everything for beginners to borrow in class). I will give you a list of places you can obtain these items, and may have some of them for sale myself. Various items can be made by you as well, if you are so (sew?!) inclined! This style of dance does not require huge expenses while you are learning.

I am really tall/short/fat/skinny/outgoing/shy/butch/femme/old/young…

Great! Solo Egyptian style raqs (dance), while quite theatrical in it’s modern presentation (raqs sharqi), is rooted in folk steps from dances of the people (raqs baladi). To admittedly oversimplify, this means *folks*–all folks–can do it as a hobby and socially. It is really fun, has a lot of room for individual expression once you learn the basics, offers seemingly unlimited learning opportunities in movement, language, music, culture, and more (truly, the more I learn the more I realize I still have to learn), and chances are good that you will find your own niche within the many movements, genres, styles and personalities that make up the globalized belly dance scene in the 21st Century. To become a professional dancer takes many years of hard work and sacrifice and is not for everyone, of course, but although it is the most visible part of the dance style to the general public, dancing professionally is in fact one very small subset of this dance form, and one that is more elusive than ever in these days of dwindling venues. Not being “professional” should not stop anyone from enjoying class and becoming the best dancer they can be.

Some of my best teachers have been women who would never ever dance publicly, but who have taught me as much in their kitchens than I have ever learned in a studio (and yes, they know I perform and teach, and have given me permission to share, and lots of pointed tidbits to offer students!).

While we dance and move near constantly in class — these are serious movement classes where we train our ears to hear and our bodies to move in specific ways to Arabic, Turkish, Egyptian, and sometimes Maghrebi music, songs and rhythms — Monica teaches in the context of both respecting yourself and respecting the dance, and there is absolutely room for everyone. Classes are open to all sizes and genders, and all ages from 16 up (there is no maximum age).

I look forward to meeting you. Still have questions? Give me a call at
415-289-6670, or drop a line to monica@monicaraqs.com

Can I observe a class?

I do not allow observers in my beginning classes for two reasons.
1) Over the years several beginners have expressed discomfort when observers are in class. I agree that it can change the dynamics, and have chosen to respect their wishes.
2) I do allow for drop-in students (meaning you can take a single class without a financial or long-term commitment), and believe that the best way to find out if you like the dance form and/or my teaching style is to try it out!

Arrangements to observe part of an intermediate or advanced class can sometimes be made. Please inquire ahead of time if interested. But again, I strongly believe that the best way to check out a class is to try it for yourself, and will likely encourage you towards that direction.

Some of Monica's students performing at a belly dance festival.
Some of Monica’s students performing at a Northern California festival.