Berkeley Belly Dance Classes

Belly Dance Classes

In-person and online!

Discover the joy of movement, community, and culture!

Come dance with us online or in Berkeley, California.

Abigail Keyes is a licensed instructor of the world-renowned Salimpour Method. The Salimpour School curriculum offers a comprehensive dance program based in technique, cultural context, and personal expression.

Our school, and our host studio are inclusive spaces. All bodies are always welcome.

Please take a moment to read the studio policies.

All in-person students must wear a face covering at all times and provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19, per Berkeley City Public Health order.

Schedule

All classes are Pacific Time

Mondays

Level 1+ 

10:30am – Noon

Start here! No certification pre-requisites; finger cymbals are required.

Purchase cymbals here.

Location:
Spring Fall Studio

Tuesdays

Level 1+ 

6:00pm – 7:30pm

Start here! No certification pre-requisites; finger cymbals are required.

Purchase cymbals here.

Location:
Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance

Saturdays

Level 3: Layering Lab

10:30am – 11:45am

A specialty class for dancers certified Level 200 and higher in the Salimpour School of Dance.

Finger cymbals required.

Online Only

Saturdays

Level 2+

11:30am – 1pm

For dancers certified Level 1 in both the Suhaila and Jamila Salimpour Formats. 

Finger cymbals required.

Location:
Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance

Berkeley Belly Dance Classes

Location

Māhea Uchiyama Center for International Dance
1800 Dwight Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

Go through the green gate and all the way to the back. When you see the studio windows, turn left until the walkway ends.

Mondays: Spring Fall Dance Studio
Sawtooth Building
2547 8th Street – Studio #20
Berkeley, CA 94710

Between Parker and Dwight Way in West Berkeley near Hwy 80 exits Ashby or University and a few blocks from San Pablo Avenue.

The Sawtooth building takes up the whole block across from the BAYER parking lot. There are different “drive-in” bays all along 8th Street. Look for the middle one marked 2547 that has signage above the entrance with Spring Fall Studio #20 and BAY 2 above it.  Go all the way to the back of that car port entrance and there is a sign with an arrow pointing to your left Spring Fall Studio.

Frequently Asked Questions

For everyone…

What can I expect in one of your classes?

Whether you join me online or in-person, we’ll start with a brief check in. I like to ask everyone how they feel, physically and mentally. It helps me adjust my lesson plan to give you a class that will leave you feeling good.

Then, we warm up, starting with breath and expansive movements, helping us transition from our everyday life to our dance life. In the warm up, we’ll do conditioning exercises to help you build awareness and mobility in your spine, hips, and shoulders. We’ll also refine our isolations and upper body articulations, and in Level 2, we’ll work on basic layering skills.

After our warm up, we work on belly dance technique drills, both standing and with traveling, to  develop our coordination, musicality, and stamina. Mindful repetition is the key to building good habits, and I like to joke that dance is just fancy habits.

In the last half-hour, we’ll work on a short dance combination to apply our technique, help our ears understand Arabic and other Middle Eastern music, and learn different belly dance stylizations.

Finally, we finish with a cool down to slow our breathing and heart rate, to center ourselves, and prepare for the rest of the day.

When can I start? Do you run sessions, or can I drop-in?

You can drop-in any time. Please keep in mind that if you are joining me in person, that I require all students to register before class time. No paying at the door. This helps me plan the class, as well as adhering to studio COVID protocols.

How do I sign-up?

Purchase a pass! You can buy a single class ($20), a 5-class pass ($90, expires 2 months after first use), or a 10-class pass ($160, expires 3 months after first use). If you’re new, take your first class for only $10. You can also purchase a private lesson package to check in and get personalized feedback.

What do I need to bring to class?

Bring your body, a water bottle, finger cymbals (purchase here), and your face mask if attending in person. You might want to bring a yoga mat (some of our warm-up is on the floor) as well as dance shoes (recommended if you’re dancing at home on a carpet).

What do I wear to class?

Wear what you’d wear to a yoga or fitness class. Leggings and a tank top are fine. Avoid clothing that is too baggy, because I need to see your alignment and posture, particularly in the spine and knees. Please no hip scarves with beads or coins; the threads can break, and they can be too noisy for our Zoom students.

What kinds of shoes should I wear?

Bare feet are best! Ballet slippers, jazz shoes, foot “paws” or “undies” work great too!

What are the benefits of learning belly dance? Will I get 6-pack abs?

I can’t guarantee any abdominal chiseling! BUT… In addition to building strength, flexibility, and body awareness, you’ll develop confidence and poise. You’ll also be learning a dance form with a rich history, exploring the music and culture of the Arab world and Anatolia (Turkey). I always add cultural context to help you understand not just the movements, but the meaning and history behind them.

Can men/gender-fluid/non-binary/agender people belly dance?

Of course! In fact, there is a long history of professional dancers who aren’t women performing throughout the Middle East.

What style of belly dance do you teach?

I teach the Salimpour method, which is not necessarily a style. It is a classical approach to learning technique that can be applied to learning all styles of belly dance, as well as helping you develop your own unique style and musical interpretation. Personally, I love Egyptian oriental/cabaret, Turkish Oryantal, and Lebanese stylizations. I also have performed and taught fusion/interpretive stylizations.

If you’re new to belly dance…

I have no dance experience… Are your classes appropriate for me?

Absolutely! Dance is for everyone, and you are welcome. Come ready to move, learn, and get strong. Try your first class for only $10!

 

I am too ___(some kind of judgement)___. Is belly dance appropriate for me? 

You are not too anything… Unless you want to be! Dance is for everyone and if you have a body, you can dance. I have worked with dancers of all ages, backgrounds, body types, and genders. 

If you already have experience with belly dance…

I’ve already been belly dancing for a year/5 years/10 years… which class is best for me?

Belly dancers with experience are encouraged to come to Level 1. Because the Salimpour Format uses specific language to describe timing, technique, and movements, it would be best to familiarize yourself with these for at least 8 weeks in Level 1. Many people who have been belly dancing in other schools/methods come to the Salimpour School to enrich their practice. You’ll probably find it to be the exact kind of challenge that you’re seeking!

 

If you have questions about level placement, send me a message.

 

I don’t have any certifications in the Salimpour Format, but I’m working on Level 1. Can I try Level 2?

Yes! Just be aware that I won’t take as much time to break down Level 1 concepts such as timing, finger cymbals, and most hipwork technique.

Studio and Class Policies

COVID Policies

All in-person students will provide proof of vaccination and wear a face-mask at all times when in the studio. In-person classes are limited to a total of 5 students per class.

Cancellation Policy

Abigail Keyes has the right to cancel any class due to low enrollment or inclement weather (including extreme heat and AQI over 150/Very Poor). Notice of class cancellations will be posted on the PunchPass calendar, Abby’s Dance Classes Facebook Group, and/or emailed to enrolled students.

Students have up to 12 hours before class start time to cancel their reservation without penalty. Cancellations less than 12 hours will forfeit a “punch” on their PunchPass virtual pass.

Late Arrivals

No student will be admitted to class more than 10 minutes after class start time. If you know you will be late, please let me know.

Mobile Devices

Turn off your mobile devices and leave them in the lobby. No devices on the studio floor and please don’t check your device during class.

Food, Gum, Water

Leave your food, chewing gum, and drinks (other than water) in the lobby.

Class Cards

Class cards have strict expiration dates. No extensions, transfers, or refunds. If you are unable to use your class card before the expiration, email me.

1-class passes expire 30 days after purchase.

5-class passes expire 2 months after purchase.

10-class passes expire 3 months after purchase.

Private Lessons

In-person private lessons must be booked at least 1 week in advance. Online private lessons must be booked at least 48 hours in advance.

In-person rates:

Non-CEC: $95/hour

CEC: $120/hour

Online private lesson rate: 

$95/hour

 

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