Get in touch

If you’d like to have a chat on the phone, email is still the best way to make that happen - we can schedule a time for me to call you. I’m always happy to talk about what you need.

Check out the FAQs below, and if you can’t find the answer:

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Class policies

  • Can I come watch, or bring someone to class with me? No, for the privacy of my students, only people who are enrolled in the current class are allowed in the studio.

  • This is especially important for cultural sensitivity when I have veiled/hijabi students in class, and it also helps everyone feel more confident to open up and dance freely.

  • If you need to meet someone for pickup/dropoff at the studio, please have them wait for you downstairs.

  • We will have occasional events open to friends and family! Also, please see below about bringing children to class.

  • Can I do a free trial to see if I like it? No, I don’t offer free trials anymore, and I don’t allow casual drop-ins for new students. It’s too disruptive to the flow of class if new people drop in mid-term, because I always adjust class to the experience level of people attending.

  • Please email me to schedule a private lesson ($60/hour) if you want to try just one class. You can split the cost with a friend or two for a semi-private, if you like. Group classes are still the best deal if you can attend once a month or more!

  • What if I miss classes? What’s your refund policy? I record short portions of drills and step combinations for home practice if anyone can’t make it to class.

  • I also have a library of basic tutorials for review anytime.

  • The only time I offer refunds is if I need to cancel a class and rescheduling doesn’t work out for the group.

  • When and where are your classes? How much do they cost? Please see the current information on my Classes page. Class terms are similar to school terms, with holiday breaks. I may accept late enrollment, but not past a few weeks into the term.

  • What should I wear to class?  Anything that’s comfortable for you to move in! I usually wear leggings and a sports bra, plus a tank top and/or warmer layer. Bare feet or socks work well, and I have hip scarves for you to borrow.

  • What if I’m sick? Just let me know and I’ll send you some video clips to work with at home :-) We have fewer class absences and cancellations when everyone stays home when sick.

  • Another option would be masking if you feel energetic enough to dance but still have lingering respiratory symptoms.

  • Do I need to be thin/plump/athletic/flexible etc? No, there is no body type requirement, no gender requirement, no age requirement - this is a social dance for everyone, and it will look good on you!

  • The only accessibility issue is you need to be able to get up stairs, as unfortunately I have been unable to find an available studio with an elevator or ground level classroom. Please contact me if you know of an accessible dance space in the area!

  • Can I bring my child(ren)? Possibly! Do they like to dance, or are they happy to quietly entertain themselves? Please email me to find out if this will work for your family. Older kids with enough focus are welcome to enrol in class!

Words and Origins

  • Why do you say “raqs sharqi” instead of belly dance? There’s a reason that “culture” comes first in my list of values, because respecting my sources is foundational to the way I teach! Yes, it’s okay to say “belly dance” in English, but nobody says that in Arabic - the term “belly dance” comes from an old French painting. Raqs sharqi, literally “dance of the east,” is what Egyptians and people from several other Arab majority countries call their indigenous dance. It can be pronounced like “rocks sharky” or “ra’s shar’ee,” depending on dialect.

  • So, are you a bellydancer or not? Yes, it’s safe to say I’m a bellydancer - especially when I’m teaching and performing American Cabaret, because that’s the most common terminology in North America. However, you could also say I’m a “raqqasa,” “fananna al shaabeya,” or a “fusion dance artist,” and perhaps other terms depending on which style I’m dancing. Some of these terms are not considered respectable, because dancers in many cultures tend to not be given respect as a general rule - but of course I demand respect for myself and my students anyway, thank you very much!

  • Where are these dance styles from? Egypt gets a lot of attention in these conversations because of their famous entertainers and films, but there are MANY origin points throughout the Levant, North Africa, and more. Here’s just one of the most significant flashpoints: the entertainment halls of 19th century Cairo. American Cabaret originated in major cities with large diaspora communities, such as themed supper clubs like The Fez in Los Angeles. Fusion stylizations are unique blends of different styles, but have sometimes been codified and popularized by influential figures like Jamila Salimpour. In contrast, some traditional folk artists are keeping older dances alive, notably Khyria Mazin.

Hiring me for events

  • How much do you charge? Can you do my event for free? I do limited amounts of free events, as there is a substantial investment of my time involved for me to prepare. I will typically do these as a way for my students to have a chance to perform. For professional entertainment, please email me with details so I can give you an appropriate quote.

  • Do you do “hen’s nights?” How about “stag parties?”  I am happy to do women-only private events or rainbow community gatherings, but not men-only events, as the tone of the latter tends to be sexually themed entertainment. Not my thing, sorry :-)

  • When are you available? I’m a mum who values her family time, so please don’t take it amiss if I don’t have time on the evening or weekend you want! I am more than happy to consider your event, but I’m mainly a teacher and caregiver to my family.

  • Can you travel to me? It depends on my availability, but yes :-) Travel costs apply if you’re outside New Plymouth. For professional development such as dance festivals, we can negotiate this as part of my teaching compensation.

Family fun for everyone

Come dance for joy!

Adults and children enjoy dancing with Juniper
Lots of smiles at Sisonke's Africa Day event
Even the youngest children join in the drumming fun


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