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The book about setting up, planning, teaching and enjoying belly dance classes. By Sara Shrapnell
Sara attended her first Belly dance class in 1992, with the aim of toning up and getting her fitness back after the birth of her baby son. Instead she discovered a dance form that pulled at her heart, much more than her Ballet and Disco lessons of childhood, she met some amazing people and fell in love with the UK Belly dance scene.
Her weekly class soon turned into two, four and then six classes a week, first with Tina Hobin and then with Afra Al-Kahira.
In 2000 she started the ASMED teacher training course which includes study with City and Guilds to gain qualifications in Adult Education as well as Belly dance based learning.
Sara took on established classes and approached local gyms and councils, quickly expanding her teaching to 12 classes a week.
She graduated from ASMED in 2003 and continued to work within the organization to mentor other teachers as they studied the course.
Along with Emma Pyke she set up Mersin, a professional troupe comprised of local teachers and performers, who continue to perform throughout the south of the UK. She also directed a number of student troupes including Nashida Abla and a Tribal Fusion group, who performed in a huge variety of venues.
In addition to hosting a popular “Day of Dance” which ran two or three times a year for ten years, Sara planned many stage show, workshops and Hafla for her students.
For five years she was a member of the Wessex Arabic Dance Network committee, helping to bring events to the wider community.
In 2011 Sara closed her UK classes and moved to the San Francisco Bay area to continue her studies in all styles of belly dance. Here she has re-discovered the art of starting a business from scratch, the joys of business bureaucracy and the pitfalls in our shared language. She is currently teaching at a gym, for the Cities of Pleasanton and Dublin and as an independent contractor at a dance studio.
Her classes are known for their humor, detailed breakdowns and cultural context. She adapts her lessons to suit the dancers, their needs and aims.
Students who have studied with Sara have gone on to teach and perform in all styles of Belly dance and many have made their living through performance or teaching. She continues to support dancers and teachers through one on one mentoring, on line and private lessons.
Sara is the proud mum of three and has also written a novel.