Remember that you’re not just paying for the teacher. You are also paying for the environment, such as the space, the mirrors, the time dedicated to your dancing and nothing else, the presence of other dancers to observe and learn from, the music and/or accompanist, and so on. All of these things are yours to learn from and use for the duration of the class. The studio and teacher have done their part and provided these things and themselves for the allotted amount of time, so it’s up to you to get your money’s worth!

And by the way, these tips aren’t just for use in your Belly Dance classes. You can use them in any style of class!

Class Tip # 1 … Don’t just stand there!

You know those times when the teacher is fiddling with the music, or for a minute or two they have to figure out why the sound system just stopped, or whatever? Many students are just standing there, waiting. Like livestock … or furniture.

But not you. No, you’re taking this opportunity to get something out of what would otherwise be wasted time. For example:

Stretch and/or stay warm. Nearly everyone has some muscle or other that needs more stretching, whether it’s because you worked it a lot just previously, it’s just always in need of a little more attention, or whatever. (Hello, calves? They pretty much always need more stretching.) If you’ve been exerting yourself keep moving so your muscles and tissues stay warm. Your body will thank you.

Practice the last thing you did that you just didn’t get, or perhaps would like to have sink in a little more. Repetition is your friend. The transition that always feels awkward … some arm or hand movements … the part of an undulation that never feels as fluid as you think it should, or whatever. Everyone has something to work on, or has a long-developed skill that they want to stay honed.

There are lots and lots of things you can do with this time. For myself, I feel like my shimmies could always use some extra help, so I often do that. “Marking” steps or sequences in an extremely small and subtle way, with very slight weight changes and micro-movements are a very effective way to drill or rehearse on the sly.

Observe what other dancers do with their time, particularly those whom you admire or are particularly accomplished. It is rare for them not to use the time productively in some way.

Whatever you do, be sure to “stay tuned” into the class: be unobtrusive, and stay facing the action so that you can spring right back in to what’s happening in an instant.

I’ll see you at the studio!