Performance Classes

The body is a sacred garment.
~ Martha Graham ~

Perform in one of our three annual student showcases! Join a performance class or company to perfect your dance technique, make friends and fun memories! Check out highlights of previous Sahara Dance shows below.

Not sure a performance class or company is for you? Here are some reasons to give it a try:

  • Perform in a beautiful, student-friendly setting.
  • Join over 100 of your friends and fellow dancers on stage.
  • Cultivate stage presence, performance skills and charisma.
  • Enjoy the continuity of guidance and feedback from the company director.
  • Master choreography and refine your dance technique.
  • Delight in the opportunity to learn (and reuse) a shared repertoire with fellow company members.
  • Revel the ongoing camaraderie of company and performance classmates.
  • Experience consistent, high-quality theater performance opportunities.
  • Share the beauty and joy of belly dance with family and friends.
  • Make new friends and unforgettable memories.

Raqs Caravan and Raquettes student companies perform ensemble choreographies at three annual Sahara Dance productions: the “Under a Desert Moon” gala in the spring, the “Sahara Dance Carnival” show in the summer, and the “Sahara Dance Soiree” in the fall.

Members grow and develop as dancers through the process of mastering performance pieces for stage. This process includes the camaraderie of creating a company with fellow dancers, the committed practice of weekly technique training and rehearsals, and the dedicated feedback and support from company directors.

Company membership is tailored for students pursuing their potential as performance artists while enjoying the sisterhood of sharing the experience on stage.

Company members purchase a company costume(s), which will be used for performance each semester. Choreographies, song selections, and props rotate each semester to incorporate the range of music and dance stylizations inherent in each company.

Returning members will be given first priority for available spaces. New members may join at the start of each semester, with permission of company director.

Beginner I:
Zeina and Aziza Performance classs

Beginner II:
Raquettes Badia

Low Intermediate:
Raquettes Samia
Raquettes Shimypop

Intermediate / Fusion:
Raquettes Kitty
Raquettes Props Fusion
Raquettes Latin
Shaabi Performance class

Intermediate / Advanced:
Raquettes Nadia
Raquettes Naima

Advanced:
Raqs Caravan East
Raqs Caravan West (Tribal)

Questions? See the FAQ at the bottom of this page.

DEVELOPING CHOREOGRAPHY: CREATING A STAGE SOLO FOR ADVANCED PERFORMERS

Hone the essentials for creating a belly dance solo or small group choreography with Rachel!

Do you have a bit of inspiration, a fragment of a dance that you’d like to develop and bring to the stage? You can start with even the smallest hint of inspiration – a costume, a prop, a favorite song – or just the desire to explore the creative process of developing a choreography! Delve deeply into your creativity through structured improvisation to discover and hone your own style of movement. Receive teacher and classmate feedback to guide each participant’s choreographic process through revision to a polished, finished piece.

We’ll explore song selection, musical interpretation, transitions, diagramming music, costuming and other keys to creating a dance that dynamically reflects and highlights the music. Create a new piece or revise and polish a previously performed solo work. Join us for a fun and playful project to express your inner artist and deepen your creativity in the dance!

Participants will perform their pieces in the Sahara Dance Fall Hafla on Saturday, October 20th at 7:00 pm. Traditional, theatrical, and experimental belly dance pieces are welcome! Students provide their own costuming with teacher guidance.

Developing Choreography Intensive will meet:

Friday, September 7, 7:00 – 9:30pm
Sundays, September 9October 7 and 141:00 – 3:30pm
Saturday, October 20, Technical & Dress rehearsal 5:30 pm – 6:30pm, performance 7:00pm

Though not required, the “Intro to Arabic Music” workshop on September 8 is recommended in addition to the intensive.

Prerequisites:
1) Previous dance solo performance experience and completion of Low Intermediate Technique class (or equivalent); and
2) Simultaneous enrollment in any Sahara Dance Low Intermediate I Technique class or above

*Limited spots available*

RAQUETTES BADIA

Raquettes Badia is a Sahara Dance student company dedicated to elevating the fundamentals of belly dance for stage and mastering the Beginner II curriculum.

Raquettes Badia is named after Badia Masabni, the godmother of modern belly dance, and is the foundational company for students seeking to develop as belly dance performers.

Special focus is placed on projection, upper body carriage, movement extension, formations, and company camaraderie. Directed by Gretchen (Tenley) and Farrah (Silver Spring).

Prerequisites:
1) Previous completion of Beginner I Zeina and Aziza Technique class (or equivalent); and
2) Simultaneous enrollment in any Sahara Dance Beginner II Technique class or above

RAQUETTES KITTY

Raquettes Kitty is a Sahara Dance student company dedicated to enhancing belly dance skills for stage and mastering the Low Intermediate / Intermediate curriculum, and is home for students seeking to further develop as belly dance performers.

Raquettes Kitty honors Alexandria-born dancer Katy Fotsaty by incorporating versatile styling, elegance and playful movements. Special focus is placed on polished and elegant movement execution, stage charisma, traveling steps, layering and use of props.

Choreographies may include props.

Prerequisites:
1) Previous completion of Low Intermediate / Intermediate Technique class (or equivalent); and
2) Simultaneous enrollment in any Sahara Dance Low Intermediate / Intermediate Technique class or above; and
3) Permission of the company director (Melissa)

RAQUETTES LATIN

Raquettes Latin is a Sahara Dance student company dedicated to blending Latin and belly dance styles for stage performance. Combine sassy belly dance shimmies with meringue, salsa, cumbia, cha-cha, reggaeton, bachata and more in this high-energy fusion performance company. Students will layer belly dance movements onto Latin dance rhythms to create an exciting and eclectic choreography (with lots of hip shimmies!).

Prerequisites:
1) Previous completion of Intermediate Technique class (or equivalent); and
2) Simultaneous enrollment in Intermediate Technique; and
3) Permission of Company director (Julie).

RAQUETTES NADIA

Raquettes Nadia is a Sahara Dance student company dedicated to mastering the Intermediate – Intermediate/Advanced curriculum for stage performance.

Nadia Gamal, known as “The Queen of Bellydance,” was highly revered for her graceful movements, extensive use of footwork, and dynamic stage performances. She influenced many dancers including Ibrahim Farrah, and is often credited with originating and inspiring the modern Lebanese stylization of raqs sharqi.

Raquettes Nadia members practice the stylistic nuances for performing Egyptian-inspired dance with an emphasis on graceful movement, flow, and dynamic expression.

Choreographies may include props.

Prerequisites:
1) Previous completion of Intermediate/Advanced Technique class (or equivalent); and
2) Simultaneous enrollment in Sahara Dance Intermediate / Advanced class; and
3) Permission of Company director (Jennifer).

RAQUETTES NAIMA

Raquettes Naima is a Sahara Dance student company dedicated to mastering the Intermediate curriculum for stage performance.

Naima Akef, considered by many the greatest Egyptian dancer of the Golden Era, was renown for her impressive technique, versatility, and stage savvy.

Raquettes Naima members practice the stylistic nuances for performing Egyptian dance with a broader movement repertoire and dynamic expression.

Special focus is placed on polished and confident movement execution, intricate layering, personal expression and mastery of complex choreographies.

Prerequisites:
1) Previous completion of Intermediate Technique class (or equivalent); and
2) Simultaneous enrollment in any Sahara Dance Intermediate Technique or Intermediate / Advanced Technique class or above; and
3) Permission of Company director (Randa) or your current Sahara Dance teacher.

Raquettes PROPS

Raquettes Props class combines fusion belly dance with other world dances and props into a fun choreography! Different props will be introduced each term, including veil, poi veil, double veil, zills, Isis wings, fan veil, feather fan and more.

Prerequisites:
1) Previous completion of Intermediate/Advanced Technique class (or equivalent);
2) Simultaneous enrollment in Intermediate Technique or above;
3) Mastery of veil; and
4) Permission of director (Julie).

RAQUETTES SAMIA

Raquettes Samia is a Sahara Dance student company dedicated to enhancing belly dance skills for stage and mastering the Low Intermediate curriculum.

Honoring Samia Gamal (“Egypt’s national dancer”), Raquettes Samia highlights expressive styling, and is home for students seeking to further develop as belly dance performers.

Special focus is placed on polished and confident movement execution, stage presence, traveling steps, and layering. Directed by Megan.

Prerequisites:
1) Previous completion of Beginner II Technique class (or equivalent); and
2) Simultaneous enrollment in any Sahara Dance Low Intermediate Technique class or above

RAQUETTES SHIMMYPOP

Raquettes ShimmyPop is a Sahara Dance student company dedicated to learning the fundamentals of urban fusion belly dance for stage.
Specific attention is given to merging traditional belly dance technique with modern urban and retro funk styles (popping and locking).

Prerequisites:
1) Previous completion of Low Intermediate I Technique class (or equivalent); and
2) Simultaneous enrollment in Sahara Dance Urban Fusion Technique class

SHAABI PERFORMANCE

Learn and perform a fun, upbeat, and theatrical Shaabi-flavor choreography at the Sahara Dance Carnival. Shaabi is a form of popular working-class music from Cairo which evolved from baladi style dance. We’ll explore big juicy movements, playful shimmies, and dynamic urban expression.

Designed for students with Low Intermediate belly dance experience. Technical mastery of movement and curriculum experience can be modified to challenge varying levels of dancers.

ZEINA PERFORMANCE (7 WEEK)

Designed for students who have completed Sahara Dance Beginner I technique and wish to practice an ensemble dance for stage performance. Master the Zeina choreography, which draws upon the Sahara Dance Beginner I curriculum. Ideal for students wanting to experience the camaraderie of group performance and hone their foundational dance technique.

Prerequisites:
1) Completion of Sahara Dance Beginner I Technique, or equivalent; and
2) Simultaneous enrollment in Beginner I or Beginner II Technique class, or above

FAQ

Q: How do Raquettes Companies differ from performance classes?
A: Performance classes are offered for one semester only. Companies are dedicated troupes with an ongoing focus, artistic direction, and regular performance opportunities. As company members, students will benefit from:

  • the continuity of guidance and feedback from a company director
  • the ongoing camaraderie of company classmates
  • regular rehearsals led by company manager
  • the ability to reuse company costumes (or components) for several seasons
  • the opportunity to learn (and reuse) a shared repertoire with fellow company members
  • consistent, high-quality theater performance opportunities
  • intimate, informal performance opportunities at Sahara Dance Salons
  • in-class video reviews of company performances
  • clarity of progression and support for achieving dance goals

Q. How do Raqs Caravan companies differ from Raquettes companies?
A: Raqs Caravan company members are the Intermediate / Advanced dancers within the studio and have an expansive repertoire, including props. As such, Raqs Caravan companies (East, West)featured companies at Sahara Dance productions. Members of these companies are leaders within the Sahara Dance community and are our belly dance ambassadors outside the studio.

Raqs Caravan companies develop an extensive repertoire of two to three choreographies each semester, with weekly weekend rehearsals. Membership for Raqs Caravan companies is by invitation from company directors. Students are often selected from within Raquettes Repertoire, Raquettes Naima, and Raquettes Shimmypop companies.

Q: Which company should I join?
A: In order to build a strong foundation, we suggest asking your teacher for placement recommendations and following the prerequisites for each company. Performing at a level that is below your current technique level will help you to build a strong dance foundation. Sometimes students are excited to jump into the most challenging company, however it is often better to master movements within your range before moving on.

Remember: dancing not a destination, but a process to be enjoyed. Stylistic differences in companies will vary greatly based on company directors, particularly at the LI level and above. You may choose to dance in several companies simultaneously or at each level with several teachers. We recommend spending time performing in different upper level companies, to round out your dance influences and benefit from direction of multiple choreographers.

Q: Can I sign up for a Raquettes company at my level, or do I need to ask permission first?
A: If you have completed the prerequisites you can sign up for Raquettes companies that do not require permission of the director (see company descriptions). For those companies that require permission, please ask your current teacher and/or the company director..

We recommend asking your teacher for placement recommendations and performing at a level that may be below your current technique abilities (as this will help you build the strongest dance foundation).

Q: When I join a company, do I have to commit to the company for more than one semester?
A: No. While you will benefit by working at length within one company and with one teacher, you may join for just a semester (year long commitments are not required). Because each company’s themes take time to be fully developed and absorbed, our intention is for students to perform within a company for several semesters. You can also join, or return to, a company for review. Students currently enrolled in a company will be given priority for available spaces each semester.

Q: Do I have to progress from one company to another in a certain order?
A: Not necessarily. As long as you have fulfilled the company prerequisites and have permission of the director, you may progress at your own pace, and in your preferred track. In fact, we recommended that students at the LI level and above consider all companies equally and select the company (and theme) that is most appealing. Spending time brushing up on props, technique, or expressiveness in a level below yours will improve your dancing.

Sometimes it’s helpful to take a step back in order to move forward… learning a dance isn’t necessarily a linear process and insights can emerge from a meandering path. It is most important to choose the path that is best for you, at this time, in consultation with your teacher.

Q: Can I be a member of multiple performance companies?
A: Yes, as long as you are able to meet the class commitments for each company. While there is a great benefit to working at length with one teacher, we also recommend working with other teachers and stylization as much as possible. Exposure to and experience with different styles will help you develop your own individual dance persona. The more performance practice, the better!

Q: What is the time weekly time commitment for participating in a company?
A: Companies have optional rehearsals occassionally, in addition to the two hours for technique and company classes. Rehearsal attendance is encouraged, but not mandatory, with the exception of select rehearsals for Raqs Caravan members.

Q: Will Raquettes companies of the same name (e.g., Raquettes Badia) learn the same choreographies?
A: No. Each company of the same name is working within the same level. The choreographies and themes will be unique and based on the visions of the company directors, in consultation with company members, and Rachel.

Q: What are the company costumes?
A: Company costumes are set at the beginning of the semester, in consultation with directors and company members.

Simple and inexpensive updates (such as changing a hip scarf) may be considered at the start of each semester. When selecting costume options, we will consider company member preferences, cost, versatility for company repertoire, flattering fit, stunning stage look, variety with other companies, and functionality. Additional costumes may be added as necessary, in consultation with existing company members.

Q: Will companies continue to meet at the same time slot and location each semester? Will the company director stay the same?
A: We try to keep companies in the same slots where they are currently set, however this is subject to studio availability, teacher availability and enrollment. 

Q: How will we receive feedback and evaluations from company directors?
A: Ask questions! All Sahara Dance teachers and company directors are happy to help you achieve your dance goals. Each student will have her own goals or reasons for joining a company. Some may simply want to show up and dance their hearts out each week, with no particular objectives in mind. Others may have set goals related to props, technique, expression, or musicality. Company directors will help tailor the dance company experience to best meet members’ individual and collective goals.

Q: I took Beginner I Technique twice and my teacher said I can go on to Beginner II Technique. Since this is my first time in Beginner II, may I sign up for Raquettes Badia?
A: Raquettes Badia is for students who have completed Beginner II Technique at least once. New students at the Beginner II level should join a Beginner I / Beginner II performance class.

Q: Do I need to take Low Intermediate II and Low Intermediate III before taking Intermediate Technique class?
A: No. You can take an Intermediate Technique class once you have mastered the Low Intermediate movement vocabulary.