Classes & Workshops

WELCOME! Ahlan wa Sahlan!

This page is divided into areas:   “About”, “Registration”, “Supplies”, “FAQs”…

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What is Egyptian bellydance?

Egyptian dance (a.k.a. “bellydance”) is much more than shakin’ it in a sparkly costume!

Bellydance is called raqs sharqi or Orientale/Oryantal dance, in its home countries of Egypt, Lebanon, and Turkey.  The dance form incorporates pre-19th century earthy movements of the hips and torso, shaking, oscillations, undulations, articulations, intentionally combined in the 1920’s with elements of Western dance including ballet, Latin, jazz, and Broadway. 

Egyptian raqs sharqi  is many things at once:  playful, joyful, beautiful, and emotive, embodying the sumptuous and gorgeous music of the Arab world.  It is body-friendly and very adaptable to a variety of abilities, ages, sizes, chapes, and personalities.

Nicola was first trained in American Cabaret “bellydance” and also learned ATS ( FCBD American Tribal Style).  After shifting her focus in 1999 to Egyptian dance, Nicola has found Egyptian dance to be more beautiful, soulful, and inspiring.

airbase article red (5)Egypt is home to several varieties of dance including raqs sharqi , which generally translates as “dance of the east”.  Egyptian dance also includes the popular, older forms of raqs baladi,  raqs saiidi, and urban raqs shaabi. There is a repertoire of folkloric, theatre-stage adaptations of traditional and regional dances, as developed and choreographed by the Ferqa Reda and Ferqa Khomeyya national dance groups of Egypt in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Nicola has trained with dancers from both these groups, including Mme. Denise Enan, Nada al Masriya, and Yousry Sharif.

Not sure what Egyptian bellydance looks like?   Check out Sahra Saeeda Kent‘s YouTube channel on Cairo bellydance and its stars:

What can you expect from Nicola’s class?

Nicola is one of very few performers and teachers in Manitoba to have advanced training in professional-level  raks sharqi and folkloric as both a dancer AND a teacher.  Nicola has trained with some of its very best, including Hadia of Canada, Denise Enan of Canada/Egypt, Dina of Cairo, Sahra Saeeda Kent of U.S.A., and Cassandra Shore of U.S.A..

Nicola has worked and trained as a performer of Egyptian and related dance forms since 1997.   She has also pursued professional teacher training at the university level (after-degree B.Ed.) and as a certified instructor of Middle Eastern dance.  She is currently the first and only fully certified, Level 3 teacher in Manitoba of The Hadia Method (a.k.a. Body Logic/ Savvy Body Bellydance), having graduated this intensive three-level course in October of 2011.   (Anya, Hala Jamal, and Oksana of Alberta were among her classmates.)

The Savvy Body Bellydance method delivers a smarter, safer, more effective, and therapeutic way of dancing, that upholds the dancer’s well-being as equally important as the look of the movements.   This means better, more authentic, yummier, and more liberated movements.  It also means respecting the body, and not forcing it into unnatural ranges of movement or contortions.   Hadia’s goal is to teach a new generation of thinking, aware dancers who can see, know, understand, and feel the difference between dancing as the Egyptian dancers do.

We start from full, complete movements, and work towards refinement, nuance, and definition.   We pull aspects and articulations from these big movements to find the smaller, more percussive ones.  This is very different than the common approach where bellydance is taught as a series of small, broken-down “isolations” that “build” and “combine” into circles, eights, and undulations — e.g.  the all-too-common “connect-the-dots” method that permeates most bellydance classes.

Egyptian dance is NOT a “style”, but its own dance form — its essential movements are NOT the same as other, more Americanized kinds of bellydance.

Egyptian dance uplifts, inspires, and invigorates the dancer through music that is intended to induce joy and enchantment.

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Nicola combines her diverse experiences as a performer, certified educator, athlete, academic, and musician.  Her learning and teaching approach is innovative, supportive, thorough, and FUN. Learn the art and craft in way that respects your unique body.  Benefits  include improved balance, coordination, proprioception, vitality, and mobility.

Nicola was first trained in “old school”  Salimpour (San Francisco) and Serena (NYC) techniques of American bellydance.  These may be taught in workshops or privates, or through prop and theatrical work. Nicola would like to avoid muddying the essential movements and interpretations.  Also, Nicola will not teach curriculum in regular classes that will likely injure, which much American technique will do. (NO backbends, Turkish drops, head flipping, splits, or W-sits for floor work.)

Other teachers who are offering Egyptian technique in Winnipeg include Karla Yanina and Zenobia.  They have trained with some of the same teachers, although specific approaches, methods, and abilities are different.

Nicola won’t endorse or recommend other teacher’s classes, as she has no specific knowledge or experience of their techniques, methodology, or teaching philosophy.   (Not to be confused with a referral — e.g. “Teacher X is teaching a class at Facility Y”.)  If a Winnipeg teacher claims Nicola’s endorsement, s/he’s fibbing!

Nicola is fiercely opposed to “under-cutting” — the nasty practice of  undercharging for classes in order to scoop students.   She charges rates consistent with most dance and fitness studios, including ones where she teaches, out of respect and collegiality.   A good class taught by a qualified teacher costs.   As a frame of reference, Nicola was paying $10 + GST per class in 1998.   


– inspiring and authentic music

-technique, or the “how to’s” , presented in a variety of ways for different learning styles to get your muscles talking to each other

correct and precise demonstrations of the movements

accurate and authentic cultural/historical information

-pacing and progress appropriate to the level

-useful Arabic terms, musical & cultural information, history of the dance & dancers in Egypt

-stylistic instruction / options

-safety tips & corrections

modifications for your body

-ideas, options, and exercises for home practice

sequences and choreography appropriate to the level

at-cost (pre-paid) class supplies such as veils, canes, cymbals, and costuming, and referrals to reputable retailers

..all in a warm, positive, inclusive atmosphere!

Nicola teaches a serious dance class AND makes it fun.

*Attend class regularly, apply corrections, and practice at home to get the most out of the class experience.*


Nicola reserves the right to cancel or combine classes, based on registration numbers.

Register on time to avoid disappointment!

Nicola may also revise content during a session–because “life happens” and the learning should suit the learners.

“The body says what words cannot.”

~ Martha Graham (1893-1991)



Money owing for classes paid for in Winter 2020 session will be applied to a class credit OR tickets to our next show.


2019-2020 RegistrationForm

Advance payment is required by etransfer or PayPal.

At this time, we can’t offer a fully online registration –you must print out the form, scan, or have Adobe Acrobat to fill out and email back.   


Wednesdays — Shirley’s Dance Studio

                       255 Tache @ Eugenie

                       lower level      back studio

2019-2020 RegistrationForm

* New host studios/programs are welcome.  Contact Nicola at:  

or    text     204-330-0913.


Prompt payment is required to guarantee your spot.  

If you pre-pay for class by Paypal, e-transfer, or mailed cheque ,  bring your completed form to class #1.   

Returning students (in the same sessional year) only need to submit the payment portion of the Registration Form.

Sessions run on real people who are really there, so…




LEVEL 3:  Technique & Choreography for Performance

7:30-9:30 pm

7:30-8:30    Technique– classical raqs sharqibaladi, saïdi assaya

8:30-9:30    Choreography — as above

Must have minimum 3 continuous years of dance at the intermediate level or above.

Intended for aspiring/current performers.   Teachers welcome–it’s fun to have a turn as the student!  This is an open intermediate+  level.   Those needing more of a challenge will be given one.

Must have prior experience with finger cymbals and veil.    

(If you need instruction on finger cymbals, please also register for the Essentials or Continuing class or contact Nicola regarding private/semi-private instruction and home study.)

Learn technique-in-context through challenging choreography.  Dive deeper into the heart and soul of Egyptian dances as we explore expression, texture, and embellishment.

Syllabus given in class.

Dances will include:   ALL NEW!   Nicola’s original classical choreography to Hossam Ramzy’s “Mahasin Essodaf”; her original saïdi  with assaya to “Ayeela Tahya”; and a  juicy and frolicsome Dina influenced original baladi with sagas to “Ooloo Balash”.  

Please see SUPPLIES, below.

The fees are calculated to reward dancers making a commitment to registering for the whole evening for the full session.



session — technique + choreo


session —  technique hour  only       

late / partial       22. per,  x  #  of  classes 

                    17. per,  x # of classes for technique hour 

drop-ins  —    20.   technique hour only

REGISTRATION:  2019-2020 RegistrationForm   


 Egyptian Bellydance Essentials


A fun and frolicsome immersion in the yummy and playful dance of Egypt.

Primary focus on “bellydance” /raqs sharqi and its essential (most common & important)  movements, common variations, and basic embellishments.   These movements can be adapted and modified for the unique needs and preferences of each dancer.

Introduction to veil work, basic finger cymbal technique (sagats), and intro to Arabic music.

Accessible for all body types, genders, sizes, ages.  Most supplies included.   See SUPPLIES below.

Consistent attendance is strongly encouraged.

Men are welcome, if you’re coming to dance and not gawk– adaptations will be offered. 

* Level 1 techniques should be mastered before enrolling in Level 2.* 

Time permitting, you will learn a choreography for the year-end recital.  Performing is on a voluntary basis.


$14 per class, x the # of classes in the session (TBA)

REGISTRATION:  in advance, details TBA

Classes run on minimums and are capped at maximums!  

Avoid disappointment.

Continuing/Level 2– Variations & Embellishments

A comprehensive and thorough grounding in the technical skills and knowledge for intermediate dancers.


  • applying Essential movements in combinations and sequences, to the common drum rhythms and musical structures/patterns of Arabic music, in culturally-specific and respectful ways

  • common finger cymbal patterns/rhythms

  • veil techniques for entrances with malfuf

  • introduction to folklorica

  • posture, travel steps, turns, transitions

  • instruments, melodic structures, & interpretations of Arabic music

  • “texturing”, embellishments, & variations

  • basic improv  (e.g. for baladi  and  taksim)

  • sequences & choreography for shaabisaidi, & sharqi

  • practice drills, exercises, in-class challenges, partner work, combinations, & more!

Choreography will be prepared for the season-end and performed (voluntarily) at the year-end recital.

Recommended that you have minimum 2-3 continuous sessions of essentials/beginner before registering for this class, and/or previous dance experience in another genre, and/or enrollment in Essentials also.

Please see SUPPLIES, further below.

*This is the stage that many eager dancers rush.   Most aspiring dancers over-estimate how much time it takes to get the good, solid techniques in the body.   Nicola’s approach is to “go deep”.


drop-ins       20.  per class  (space permitting)



BFF–Bellydance Fun Flow



PLEASE NOTE:  Prior experience only.    If you are a beginner, please register for Level 1/ESSENTIALS.

Egyptian bellydance done flow-style, in follow-the-leader combos that will get you moving, keep you grooving, and work up a sweat.   Repetition as well as options to embellish and ornament your movements.

A “just dance” experience–a great way to learn transition and flow for more experienced bellydance students.    Dance veils will be provided or bring your own.

All ages and shapes welcome.   Those with prior experience in Am-Cab or ATS/tribal also welcome.

AIEWA! Fit Flow Bellydance

Contact BB owner Sandi Knox to request the class.

LOCATION:   Body Balance Fitness 204-999-1016        1121 Henderson Hwy.

Prompt registration is required–online or in-person registration is through Body Balance.

Gentler than other dance-based aerobics classes, with some added perks for your heart, soul, and brain.   Egyptian dance done flow-style, in follow-the-leader combos that will get you moving, shimmying, and undulating.

Great for back and hip mobility, help with proprioception and balance,  to learn transition and flow for more experienced bellydance students.    Whole-dance introductory experience ideal for kinaesthetic learners!

Dance veils will be provided.  Please wear bare feet or dance slippers (cushioned martial arts-type foam floor).

All ages and shapes welcome!  

NOTE: registrants must complete make-up classes for any missed ones during the same session– by attending another Body Balance class.  Not transferable to Nicola’s freelance classes.

wellness expo _____________________________________________________________________________


Private, semi-private, workshops:

-consultation on or customized choreography

-coaching and refinement of solo/group dances

-collaboration on a special project

-folkloric tutorials

-“Old School” American Cabaret (Am-Cab) performance styleexperienced students only) floorwork, sword balancing, double veil dance,  The Cabaret Routine– for those interested in becoming party/restaurant dancers

Children’s,Tweens/Teens, & School Programs:

Scheduled by request.

Nicola has developed educational units that meet Manitoba curricular outcomes, for use in school programs around the subjects of Egypt and Egyptian dance.

She will assemble companion hands-on learning kits on request, and with pre-payment.

Fees reflect the size of the kit and extent of lesson plans.  These kits may also be rented by teachers.

Please contact Nicola at 204-957-7520 or at for more information .


Nicola’s one-of -a-kind technique intensive

A Winnipeg original, and the first of its kind here!

Typically scheduled in the summer months or in workshop format.

Targeted technique work, designed to correct glitches, simplify your understandings,  clear the clutter, and clean up the crap.  Serious dancers only–this is not for dabblers.



Click here:  

No access to a printer?   You may cut and paste the form, fill out it digitally, then email it back to  Public libraries will allow printing, as well as Staples.

-You may get a copy in class from Nicola, but please make sure your advance payment is mailed, dropped off or completed  by the due dates indicated to lock in the rate.


-by e-transfer (preferred) or Paypal to: 

-cheque  (NSF $35)

-money order

*cash payments are only accepted for drop-ins — safety/security concerns  

-anyone delaying payment until the first class cannot be guaranteed a spot

*Continuing students may submit their own payment schedule, but must pay at least 40% by class start date, AND, provide a payment schedule attached to their registration.  Fees must be fully paid by the half-way class.

*If you are missing part of a session for important reasons such as travel, work, medical procedures, etc. you may choose to register for only the dates you can attend, in advance,   at the per class rate.   

Paypal & e-transfers to:

Please remember to include a phone number on your Paypal  info so you may be reached.




  • All students participating in spring recital are expected to wear costuming. The specifics will be decided by Nicola with class input, based on the type of dance being learned, and the budget decided by students.

  • Generally, these items are worn again in subsequent years, and we typically sew or order separates so they can be re-combined.

  • Nicola and some students may lend or rent extra costuming in certain circumstances.

  • Please don’t wear costuming to class unless it has been requested (hip scarves, in good repair, are always welcome).


  • All students need one, either home-made or retail-bought.  Expect to pay $20 or more.

  • It is recommended that you don’t buy or make a veil that is decorated, unless a decorated veil has been suggested in class.

  • Nicola recommends 1 silk veil in any colour, rectangular in shape. Silks may be purchased from: Silk Bamboo, Ak’ai, Shibori Borealis, Fairy Cove, Dahlal Internationale, or Turquoise International (see LINKS).  Or from Nicola in class, in some sessions.

  • Nicola will hem yours for a $10 fee (you supply the fabric), and sells high-quality, ready-made fancy chiffon and silk veils at an affordable rate.

  • You may also pre-order and pre-pay for veils at wholesale rates, at the 2 class orders (late fall and late winter).

  • For students 5’7″ and under, you need 2.5 metres of bridal or other soft, light-weight chiffon. For taller students, your veil should be 2.8-3 m long.    Petite students may want a veil 2.3-2.5 m–BUT SHOULD BE FITTED IN CLASS FIRST.

  • Sarongs and Indian sari veils are not suitable for adult bellydance veils.

FINGER CYMBALS (zills, sagats)

  • ALL continuing students must have one set of Saroyan or Turquoise brand zills (any style).

  • Nicola places a fall order for zills and students must pre-pay to get zills at-cost.    Other sets may be available at retail prices.  Saramaga Middle Eastern Dance carries Saroyan and Au Set carries Turquoise.  You can order directly from the cymbal manufacturers for about the same price.

  • Buy a set for the sound, rather than the look of the zills-Saroyan’s website has sound clips.

  • PLEASE, don’t buy so-called “student” or “starter” zills — they tend to be poor in tone and quality, will dent, lose their clarity, and may be high in lead content.

  • Don’t buy zills that have holes instead of slots –you want slots that use flat elastics.

  • Beware of any zills sold for less than $15 dollars.


  • All intermediate (Level 2+) dancers and Amar members need to buy one gold or silver plastic dance cane with a crook.  A limited number of canes will be available for purchase.   Canes may be ordered in either fall or late winter at the class order times, and must be prepaid to get the at-cost price of $15-20.

  • The cane should reach somewhere between the centre of the hip joint and top of the pelvic bones.

  • Nicola will repair/retape your cane for $10.   Horus and Isis Company carries good canes at a very reasonable price.


  • one exercise band or old pair of stockings

  • yoga mat or beach towel

  • dance “footies” or slippers—if you need more cushioning

  • hip scarf or shawl



  • Most dance and fitness classes are intended for women in good health and average fitness.

  • Bellydance is NOT risk-free.  One of the myths of bellydance is that it is “totally safe” for everyone. It’s not.

  • The various schools and styles of bellydance have important technical differences.  Some promote techniques that are dangerous and many are contra-indicated.  This is especially true of Americanized bellydance and Tribal styles, which are more focussed on tricks of body manipulation that look very cool, but are damaging to the body, especially the hips, back, and knees.    Many teachers are so under-trained that they cannot identify which movements would be included in this category.   Most floor work, backbends, hair tossing, etc. are going to cause permanent,  serious damage.

  • If you are pregnant, immediately post-partum, post-surgery, have undiagnosed chronic joint pain, have a chronic medical condition or injury, have shortness of breath, or experience dizziness, PLEASE confirm with your chosen health professional that you are fit enough to take a dance class.  Complete a Par Q form and/or Parmed-X form with your physician.  If your health-care provider has no first-hand experience in dance–and most don’t–Nicola is happy to consult and discuss the details with her/him.  You may require modifications and precautions, and to be briefed on warning signs.  Keep in mind many health professionals have no direct, informed interaction with dance and may be operating on assumptions.

  • Orientale dance like any dance form can be strenuous, and  may cause pain, strain, injury, or  aggravate existing problems. Rotational and twisting movements common to bellydance, especially with both feet planted, are NOT recommended for pregnancy, chronic back/hip/knee issues, or post-surgery.

  • While Nicola is qualified to help you adapt the movements, you must be prepared to be honest and to respect the limits of your body.   Many “bellydance” teachers are under-trained as dancers, and extremely under-trained as teachers of dance, lacking in any kind of training for prevention of injury.  Many believe that all movements of bellydance are inherently “safe”.

  • If you choose to participate without sharing important health information, you’ll have less fun, learn less, be distracted, and will likely hurt yourself.  You may also worsen or trigger a condition.  But that is your choice.

  • Students who use inhalers, require injections, carry an Epipen, or have other medications they may need in an acute health crisis should notify Nicola prior to class.  Please make sure that you have taken the time to explain what assistance you may require and where you will store this medication in class.

  • Questions? Please contact Nicola prior to class start.  204-957-7520

  • NO perfume or fragrance products of any kind in classes or workshops.



Shirley’s Dance Studio

255 Tache Avenue (lower level)       

Winnipeg, Manitoba






  • Many people have fantastical notions of bellydance.  That’s common.    Egyptian dance is a cultural dance form with traditions and conventions of its own.  Nicola suggest that you spend some time on Sahra Saeeda Kent‘s YouTube directory on Egyptian dance–  make sure that Egyptian bellydance is what you think it is:

Sahra’s YouTube Channel

  • Egyptian dance is fundamentally different than hybrid bellydance off-shoots such as “Amerabic”/”American Cabaret”, and non-cultural hybrids such as “ATS” (“American Tribal Style”) and “Tribal fusion”.  It is not a “style”, and not simply the same moves done to different music in different costume. 

  • Egyptian dance has a unique response to specific musical elements and traditions, with certain choices of movements with that music, which have evolved in a cultural context over time.

  • Please also refer to the Articles section (above, in sub-menu of this site) for more information on what to expect. Those who attend classes consistently and choose to practice will get the most benefit from the way classes are planned, paced,  and structured.

  • Those who want to try classes are encouraged to attend a minimum of 3 classes in a row.  Nicola can only offer these trials IF the numbers permit.  You’ll pay the drop-in rate for those 3 classes, but if you choose to take the rest of the session, that will be applied to the session at the Regular Rate, if at the beginning of session, or the Late Rate, if starting late.


  • ALL classes run on numbers based on those who’ve paid their tuition.   When the minimum is met, it means that Nicola can make the commitment of time and money to the studio and to the planning, prepping, and running of the course. Nicola sets low maximum numbers (9)  so that studios are not over-crowded.  This means classes run at little to no profit.

  • “Walk-in” registrations (e.g. on the start day) will be accepted only IF the specific studio space can accommodate the extra student(s).

  • If Nicola must postpone or cancel class, she can only contact those who have actually registered.

  • ONE registration can make the difference!  If you have just discovered Nicola’s classes and are registering late, please confirm with Nicola by phone at 204-957-7520.


  • Tuition/fee covers:   instructional time of each class over the total session; studio rentals; music; preparation time; supplies provided; administration costs such as banking/Paypal fees, insurance, office help; and  planning/follow-up.  

  • Fees are consistent with the average cost of studio dance and fitness classes in Winnipeg.  Fees are listed in the Class Schedule and on the Registration Form (above).  Other teachers charging less than $10 per class are undercutting which is a nasty and predatory practice, and usually means they  are not qualified to teach

  • Nicola will email to you the Registration Form as a pdf, upon request, if the above link is not working for you.  You may wait to fill this out in the first class if you have already paid in advance.  

  • As with other dance and fitness classes, dancers are responsible for paying for their own footwear, dancewear, costuming, and some props.  Nicola will advise on sources and provide you access to at-cost supplies. Please see Supplies for Classes.

  • For comparison, Nicola’s colleague, Pedro Aurelio, charges $125 for 10 weeks of one-hour classes. Students must buy their own shoes ($100+)  and castanets ($25+).  Body Balance classes run $12-13 plus GST per class, at a sessional rate (session length varies).  Rising Star Academy prices theirs $11-15 per, but requires registration for the duration of the dance year.


  • PayPal, e-transferpersonal cheque (to N. Tresoor)money ordercash (in-person only)

  • NSF for cheques = $35  

  • lates and drop-ins must be paid by e-transfercash, or cheque, and require a Registration Form submitted in class.   Paypal will be accepted if paid in advance of your class.  

  • once you’ve completed a Registration Form for a session, as a drop-in you don’t have to redo the form each time you come

  • you can use your credit card if you have a Paypal account

  • only returning students may pay by installments. Minimum of 50% is due on or before class start date, and the remainder in 1-3 additional payments by the mid-way point in session, e.g. in a 12 week session, you must be paid  by week 6, whichever works best.


  • further up this page you’ll find a link to the Registration Form. This link is not functional for all browsers.

  • request by email:

  • print the form, complete, then mail or, drop off  with your payment

  • you can scan and email back

  • you can fill it out if you have Adobe Acrobat

  • note that you need a witness for the Waiver

  • there are many options for payment and that’s so you have both choice and flexibility–Nicola is sensitive to those on limited incomes

  • if paying by e-transfer or Paypal, your signed registration form may be submitted in class–your digital receipt is confirmation of your payment.  Please include your phone number in case you must be contacted prior to class start date.

  • you may request a receipt if paying by cash or cheque

  • drop-ins do require a Registration Form


  • Each class has a Supply List come prepared!

  • please change  into class wear   –no jeans/zip pants, dress shirts, pantyhose, or street shoes

  • bare feet or dance slippers–socks and street shoes aren’t recommended on the studio’s flooring


  • Sorry, there are NO refunds for missed classes, regardless of your reasons.  When a session is run, the studio must be paid for, whether or not you make it to class.

  • if more than one class at your level is running, you may attend a different class by the end of the next session.  For example, in Winter session you have until the end of Spring session to do your make-up(s).   Spring session make-ups may be done in Summer (if running) or Fall sessions.

  • refunds will only be given prior to session start date, less $10 administration fee

  • cancelled classes/sessions will be fully refunded.  Cheques are typically shredded; Paypal and e-transfer are returned to the account holder;  cash must be picked up in person.   Students may also choose to take a credit, if offered by Nicola for future classes.

  • classes may be cancelled/postponed by Nicola or by the studio owners. These classes may be taught by a substitute, held as practice time, or may become credits for future registration or shopping, at her discretion.

  • registered sessional students are typically notified by email and Facebook (if you have an account and have “Friended” Nicola or “Liked” Amar Egyptian Dance).  If it’s  day-of, Nicola will post on this site, on Facebook, email the class(based on registration information), and notify the studio owner.  Regrettably, sometimes not everyone is reached in time.