Frequently Asked Questions
I want to hire Jessikah for a show, what can I expect?
Jessikah will perform an elegant, and theatrical show, with various props, with classic belly dance music, fusion requests, or the latest Shaabi music from Egypt. A typical show is between 15-20 minutes. Photo opportunities are included. You may also request specialty props (i.e. Shamadan, wings, cane, sword, or lighted props for night), a costume change, or an audience participation song (for example, for a guest of honor).
I want to take Jessikah's belly dance class. What should I wear to class? What should I bring with me?
I suggest wearing something comfortable, such as exercise pants/yoga pants, a tank top, or exercise top, something loose and flexible, which allows movement. You will find dancers in our class in everything from yoga pants and t-shirt to skirts and sparkles. I like to wear dance shoes (either ballet, jazz, half sole, or dance sandals), but they are optional if you wish to dance barefoot. A piece of material tied around the waist helps us keep the focus of the moves. It can be a coin belt, hip wrap or a scarf. If you do not have a hip wrap, I will have coin belts you can borrow in class. Bring water and take water breaks when you need them. If you have a veil or finger cymbals (also called sagat or zills), you can bring them. A veil is a piece of lightweight material that is 3 yards long and typically about 36-43 inches wide. Please turn off phones during class, as they are very distracting.
What will we be learning in the Saturday/West Covina classes?
In my West Covina class, we will be covering basic belly dance moves, and traveling across the floor with them. We will also have the chance to discuss some of the different styles of Middle Eastern dance, folkloric dance, Al Jeel (modern pop), drum work, veil dance, classical and baladi (urban). I will introduce a number of different music artists to you and help you with costume ideas. We will then be putting together the moves we learn into choreographies which I create, so that you can practice and if you wish, perform. One of the best things about belly dance is that it has something to suit everyone; it will be my aim to help you find your style and gain the confidence to dance with it. If you find a particular step doesn’t suit you, don’t give up; leave it for a few weeks, then try again. Some of the steps we will try to use muscles we don’t normally use or need a flexibility we don’t all have. Given time, your body will adjust and the ones will come more easily. Having said that, belly dance should be natural and relaxing. The main thing to remember is to enjoy yourself!
What will we learn at Mik Nao Dance Studio (Tuesday night classes)?
My Tuesday night classes are all about Choreography and Staging for Performance. If you want to perform with a student troupe, you have the option of learning my choreographies and dancing with the Desert Dragons at local events and studio recitals. I recommend having some dance experience, but I will break down all choreography so it is easy to learn and practice. If you are new to dance, I recommend taking the 7:30 class on Drills & Technique with Ms. Ellie and my 8:30 Choreography class to put it all together.
What style of Belly Dance do you teach?
I have been dancing since I was 4. I started out in ballet, jazz and tap, some hula and eventually belly dance. My background in Belly Dance is in Egyptian/American Cabaret, although I enjoy fusion and I have danced American Tribal Style as well. I have been performing belly dance steadily for the past 10 years, including professional troupes and as a soloist. My style is American Cabaret with a mix of fusion and Hollywood theatricality. I have been teaching and assistant teaching belly dance for the past three years. I’m very excited to be your teacher.
What can I expect from this class?
Joining our classes should be like joining a club, where you can have as much or as little involvement as you want. I truly hope that you will love the dance as much as I do, and feel excited to learn to perform the dances we will practice and learn in class at various events. Performance is not mandatory, but belly dance is a performance art and is something that is really fun to be shared with friends and family.
Do you have performance opportunities for your students?
YES! If you take a class (session) from me, there will be optional performance opportunities throughout the year, including some big festivals and some smaller Haflas (parties/gatherings) with very supportive, friendly audiences. My West Covina student troupe is Jessikah and Johara Sirens. A few times a year I produce our own class showcases for my West Covina students to learn how to perform in front of a small, supportive audience of family and friends. Both of my classes have many optional performance opportunities, both big and small throughout the year. If you are in my La Verne Choreography for Performance class, you will be dancing as one of The Desert Dragons or as a Shimmy Siren Dragon. Performance is not required, but it is encouraged.
When performing, what should I wear?
If it is a troupe performance at an event/festival, we will be wearing a type of "troupe" costuming determined by me. If it is Jessikah's class showcase, the costuming is open/whatever you are comfortable wearing, just "dress like a belly dancer." This could be: a simple tank top, crop top (or choli), decorated bra, hip wrap/scarf, yoga pants (or dance/tribal fusion style pants), harem pants, and/or a circle or mermaid skirt, or a full costume, whether Egyptian, home made, or a beaded/sequined outfit. Jessikah & Johara Sirens class t-shirts and tank tops are available here, designed by me and purchased through Zazzle. I have added Desert Dragons and Shimmy Siren Dragons t-shirts and tank tops to the shop as well. I can suggest patterns (if you sew) or vendors if you need help with costuming in class or via our Facebook group if you need additional suggestions.
When I perform, how much makeup should I wear?
To me, makeup is very important and I always wear full makeup for my shows, as I feel that makeup is a part of my costume and my performance. If we are dancing on a big stage with stage lighting, this is even more important, because not wearing enough makeup will wash out your face and make you disappear on stage.. I like red lipstick and false eyelashes. I have a series of video makeup tutorials on my YouTube channel for performers.
I've never performed before. Can I still perform with one of Jessikah's student troupes?
Yes, my student troupes are open to all levels of dance, if you take a class from me as a regular student, you may perform! It is expected that you will come to class and learn the dances, and as long as you do that, you may perform with me. I will do my best to make you feel comfortable and give you all the tools you need to know your dance! I will hold class recitals throughout the year for my students to get comfortable performing the routines we learn in class in a very safe, low-key environment.
What is required of a troupe member for one of your dance troupes?
I expect students to come to class weekly, to learn the choreography, and to practice the dances. I will schedule extra rehearsals for the group, which students are expected to attend if they are performing. Your own study of performance videos and practice is extremely important, although videos are not a substitute for being in class. Troupe costuming may also be required for many outside events. The most important thing about dancing with a group is to relax, have fun and enjoy the moment! Support your fellow dancers and be friendly in a non-drama environment.
photos at top of page by Alex Houston (West Covina Egg Hunt) & Scott York Photography (Arcadia Hafla).