Sorry for our mess while we integrate the new registration system.
STARTING WITH SEPTEMBER CLASSES: We have a new on-line registration system (Wellness Living) so you can register for classes up to the last minute, and cancel or reschedule a class whenever you need to. All classes are recorded and you will have access to videos of your classes that you can watch and re-watch at your convenience for a full week! If you miss a class, you still have access to the video for that class! You may attend any class either on Zoom or in studio. Your first class is always free!
Belly dancing for fun, fitness, and grace! Join our dance community of all ages, sizes, and levels of experience to participate in the creative expression, as well as the health and fitness benefits, of Middle Eastern dance. The beauty of this dance form is that it makes you feel wonderful in your own unique body. We challenge all students to achieve a personal best!
The Cassandra School is the teaching arm of the renowned Jawaahir Dance Company which is the premier professional Middle Eastern dance company in the Midwest. Our school was established in 1978 by Cassandra Shore, and offers year-round classes in Middle Eastern dance ranging from beginning to professional.
Cassandra's deep roots in the field of Middle Eastern dance and her regular research trips to the region allow her to provide insight that takes you beyond technique to a deeper level of expression and understanding.
Learn from one of the most beloved and renowned teachers in the US and abroad!
Alana began studying at The Cassandra School in 2008, after dabbling in some DVD and Community Ed belly dance classes. She has a background in ballet, modern, and jazz, but fell totally in love with belly dance and Arab music. In the time since she began belly dance, she has learned from various teachers locally and traveled throughout the US to learn and practice raqs sharqi and Menaht-inspired fusion dance styles.
Alana holds a BA in Global Cultural Analysis from the
U of M with a focus on Arabic language and regional studies. Pre-Covid, Alana danced professionally at the two spots in town that have regular raqs sharqi dancers: Mediterranean Cruise Café and Ansari’s Mediterranean Grill and Lounge. She has also entertained at local parties, weddings, and festivals. Alana is a former director/choreographer and founding member of Black Isles Bellydance, a fusion dance company and music ensemble.
In her free time, Alana enjoys a multitude of creative hobbies, playing music, singing, cooking, and practicing Arabic.
Alana teaches with a focus on joy, rhythm, technique, and mindful movement. She believes belly dance is excellent for cultivating grace, strength, body awareness, and a peaceful, calm state of mind.
Kathy sees herself as living proof that even if you don’t feel like you are a born dancer, you can achieve new levels of grace and fluidity by studying it. As a young woman, Kathy always worried that she “looked odd” and clumsy on the dance floor. As a college student in Madison, WI she secretly started taking jazz and ballet classes to address her awkwardness.
Then the day she slipped in to see the Middle Eastern dance class do a noon‐time performance released something obstinate within her. “I thought, oh my god, I am so wrong about this dance form. It was so intriguing. The women were graceful and had wonderful control. I loved their feminine costumes, so right then I decided to add Middle Eastern dance to my class schedule.” After a couple years, she moved to Chicago and kept studying with the renowned dancer Dahlena. But the chance to see Cassandra perform at a Turquoise International event changed her life’s path once again.
“It was the first time I saw a dancer who was the music. I could see what I was hearing. I didn’t want to take my eyes off Cassandra. A big lightbulb went on.” A year later she moved to the Twin Cities to study with Cassandra. She’s been teaching at The Cassandra School since 1990, and primarily teaches levels 1 through 3. Kathy is the ultimate teacher and the school’s most steadfast instructor besides Cassandra. “I want to share everything I know. I want people to understand Middle Eastern dance is a beautiful and complex art form that can be done by anyone.”
Kathy tends to be very hands on because she was once confounded by dance moves and she likes to explain them well. In her classes she also discusses and demonstrates different rhythms, and points out different instrument sounds in the music to encourage people to keep their ears open to what they are hearing and how it works with the movements. “I like to show where the movement is coming from, or where it’s easier to do in the body. I offer the info that I struggled to learn. It helps people progress more quickly from being beginners because when you advance that’s when it gets really fun.”
Lauren used to play soccer for exercise before a friend introduced her to belly dancing. “I fell in love with the dance and just kept taking classes.” Her first teacher at The Cassandra School was Shari, a then Jawaahir Dance Company member. “She’s such a beautiful dancer and she was inspiring to me. So, I went from the beginning levels and beyond to experience so many other great teachers.”
Lauren now teaches herself, and as a Jawaahir Dance Company member and teacher, it feels like she has come full‐circle. She knows what it’s like to come to dance late in life and wants people to feel comfortable in her classroom. “My teaching philosophy is to provide a supportive environment for students at different levels.”
Lauren’s first teaching gig was not in the U.S. In 2015, she was living in Brazil with her husband (she was once an exchange student there and speaks Portuguese), and taking classes with Monah Souad. She also danced with Cristina Mendes and taught at her dance school. “Wherever I’ve been I’ve found community in dance.”
Yet she thinks The Cassandra School is special and it was something she missed while she was abroad. “Cassandra’s always had a mission. It’s really rare to find an instructor who is interested in preserving the history and culture of dance and passing on that knowledge in classes, especially to beginners.” As a teacher, Lauren wants to pass on that enrichment, too. “I think belly dance is great for people who like to learn over the course of their lives. It is an art form you can study forever.”
Text by Patricia Cumbie.
Megan loves Middle Eastern dance - the movements, energy, music, history, and culture, and is excited to be sharing her passion with students at The Cassandra School. She is mindful that we all have a variety of backgrounds, skills, experiences, and abilities, and hopes that everyone feels welcome, has fun, and is able to challenge themselves in class. Besides taking classes and teaching, Megan is a member of Jawaahir Dance Company, and dances at Ansari's Mediterranean Grill and lounge, as well as other local events.
Renee has been teaching belly dance for about ten years, and it has always been her goal to be a teacher. “I just love teaching. It’s such a positive experience for students to dance with other dancers who are also studying together. The most important thing for me is that people enjoy themselves and connect with the movements and music.” In her classes people are encouraged to dance and feel moved by the music. It is also how Renee performs, expressing joy and connection to the art form.
Renee had been a gymnast in her youth. At a UN conference for women, she saw Middle Eastern dance for the first time and was intrigued. Her interest led to taking a class with Cassandra at the University of Minnesota. “Seeing Cassandra move in the classroom context was very inspirational. Her movements are so clear and clean. It hooked me right away. I fell in love with it.”
Now that Renee’s an instructor herself, currently teaching levels 1, 3 and a mixed level 3‐4, she said Cassandra’s influence has been so important to her teaching style. “It’s important to me to teach people things I’ve specifically learned from Cassandra, and that is to connect to the roots of the dance and respect the culture it comes from.” From Renee’s perspective, it’s one of the things that distinguishes The Cassandra School from many others—the attention to dance technique and Arab culture.
Like a lot of people who are passionate about the art form, Renee wants to share all the positive things belly dance can do for people. “Most of all I want to contribute to the elevation of the art form.”
Theresa is a member of Jawaahir, and has taught all levels, but mainly the higher levels and professional level, at The Cassandra School. She is a student as well as a teacher, continuing to take professional level classes from Cassandra weekly. Although Cassandra is her main influence, she also credits Randa Kamel, Mercedes Nieto, and Virginia of Miami as dancers who have greatly influenced her style. She brings a passion and intensity for the dance to her teaching style, peppered with humor and fun.
Text by Theresa.
Khazanah is a multi-level performance troupe of dancers who take classes at the Jawaahir Dance Academy. It’s open to all current students over the age of 39.
Khazanah (which means Treasure in Arabic) was founded in 2013 for students 39 or older. Since then membership has changed quite a bit, with a few core regulars. The group size ranges from 8 to 15 dancers and we represent all levels of experience. Our director is Kathy McCurdy, a favorite teacher at the Academy.
Our mission is to be better dancers, have fun, and experience joy through dance. Also, we want to inspire other older women to dance! It has been a joy to explore new choreographies and experience a range of music and styles. Plus there’s the fun of getting to know other Khazanah members!
Visit The Cassandra School YouTube channel to see lots of great dancing including a couple of choreographies we’ve learned and performed.
Khazanah currently has no scheduled performances. If you know of somewhere that would love to have us, please let us know!
If you’re interested in joining our group, you’re a student at the Jawaahir Dance Academy AND you’re 39 or older, please call the office at 612.872.6050.
New class structure:
New to belly dance? Need a refresher after being away for a while? This is where you start. We help you grow from a person on the street to a dancer with the basic fundamentals of belly dance under your hip scarf. This class starts from the ground up at the beginning of each month, and has monthly rotating teachers so you get a sample of different teaching styles. Feel free to stay here for several months.
Our seasoned teachers guide you through the basic isolations of belly dance, using what you learned in the Fundamentals course. You begin to create simple combos and create a flow, stringing two or more movements together. You are also introduced to finger cymbals, also called zills or sagat, in this level. Beginning classes are meant to be taken for about a year so you can build a strong foundation for layering movements in higher levels.
Feeling comfortable with the basics? Try branching out with our teachers who focus on stringing the basic isolations into more complex combinations within the musical phrases of Arab music. Learn simple layering, directional changes, and turning techniques.
You're ready for movements with more subtlety and nuance in complex combinations. This class is for students who are well-versed in all basics and all layering techniques. Begin exploring improvisational concepts and practices. Finger cymbals are layered on all movements, and more intricate patterns are introduced.
You’ve been training in Middle Eastern dance for many years, and are proficient with finger cymbals. You're ready to be challenged with movements at a professional level and learn how to make the dance your own.
Class videos: You have a full week of access to a recording of every class you register for (whether you attend or not). You may drop in but you will not have access to the video unless you register online first. (You may register online immediately before class.)
All classes hybrid: You may attend any class either online or in the studio.
Studio Address: 3010 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, MN, 55406. Use 3035 Snelling Ave for GPS to get to our parking lot entrance. More info on our Location page.
All Class Times: US Central Time zone. Wellness Living allows you to display your local the time zone, so be careful.
Use our online calendar to see all class offerings and to check if class is running or cancelled.
We're excited to dance with you! Join us in the studio or take the same class live on Zoom.
Your beginner class options:
HOW DO I REGISTER? Scroll down to Schedule and click a class. Register for class now!
Your first class is free!! Give us a try!
More questions? Find the answers in our FAQs below.
Belly Dance is a term for a beautiful feminine dance form from the Middle East. Its movements are thousands of years old and are based on traditional folk dances. Belly dance differs from Western dance forms by emphasizing the torso and using isolations to express the rhythmic and emotional qualities of Arabic music. Traditionally, it is an improvised solo dance — a dancer’s personal interpretation of the music. Attend Jawaahir’s performances and you will get a better feel of what the dance is about and its roots!
This depends on the type of injury and your doctor’s advice. Speak with your teacher about past injuries or body weaknesses so that she can give you alternative exercises or movements if necessary. Mostly you need to learn the difference between good and bad pain so that you don’t aggravate the condition. Some conditions can actually be improved through proper exercise. For example, lower back problems may be lessened by strengthening your abdominal muscles. Learn to listen to and respect your body.
If you’ve never danced before, you’ll be right at home in Fundamentals. These classes are geared for non-dancers where you learn basic movements and build on them.
There are women of all sizes in the classes. The beauty of this dance form is that it makes you feel wonderful in your own body, no matter its size or shape.
Our classes are filled with women of all ages. Classes are geared toward the adult learner, so girls younger than 13, due to shorter attention spans, must be accompanied by an adult.
Wear workout or dance wear, something comfortable to move in that you don’t mind sweating into!
We dance barefoot, so you don’t need special footwear. Some students do wear dance slippers, half-sole shoes, or sandals, but that is a personal choice.
You may wear any scarf over your hips to accentuate the movements, but it isn’t necessary. We have some hip scarves to share in the studio and some available for purchase at the studio.
You shouldn’t wear a costume for class. This is a good workout, and it would be too hard on the fine fabrics of a costume.
We teach all students how to play finger cymbals, or zils, starting at our beginner level and continuing through all levels. We provide zils you can use during our in-studio classes or you can purchase your own at the studio. We recommend size EB for beginners.
Yes. You may progress more quickly than a non-dancer, but you need to learn the basics, as they are the building blocks for more advanced technique. Belly dance uses the body in very different ways than other dance forms.
We suggest you stay in Fundamentals until you are comfortable with the material, possibly several months. Beyond that, like most dance school programs, students remain at each level for about a year. There is a lot of material to learn and master at each level which the next level builds on. All this depends on your ability and, oh yes, how much you practice. Your teacher is your best guide for when to change levels.
No. As you develop as a student you may choose to perform or not. Most students take classes just for their own pleasure. If you do wish to develop performance skills, there are student performance opportunities. Whether you wish to perform or not, attending performances is very educational. Jawaahir Dance Academy has a multi-level student performing group, Khazanah.
All our classes are hybrid: both online and in-person. You will have access to class recordings for one week for any hybrid class you register for, whether you attend or not and whether you attend in studio or online.
To attend in-studio classes, register through Wellness Living and show up.
To attend online classes, register through Wellness Living. At class time, log into Wellness Living and click My schedule on the nav bar. You will be able to join class from there.
Register for classes through Wellness Living.
Classes are between 60 and 90 minutes, depending on the class. Your teacher will do a brief warm-up at the beginning of class as well as a brief cool-down at the end. The rest of class will be dance instruction relevant to the level of the class. All of this is done to an array of fun Arabic musical selections.
The dance is a great total body workout that builds strength, is easy on your joints, and increases your flexibility. Belly dance is also a great emotional release because it's fun and creative!
Whether you learn a choreography in class will depend on the teacher. Traditionally the dance was and still is improvised, so a choreography or dance combinations are only tools to help you learn how the dance works with the music. The fun creative part comes when you learn to dance your own dance, as you feel it!
60 minute classes are $15; 75 minute classes are $20; 90 minute classes are $25. Buy 4 or more classes, and get $2 off each class. A monthly pass for unlimited classes is also available.
All registered students have access to the class online in case you can't make it to the studio. You have access to the class video even if you don't take the class at the time it's offered. You can also cancel your class registration until just before class. In that case, you will get a credit for the class.
You still have access to the video for that class by clicking Watch Video on your Wellness Living nav bar.
The decision to cancel classes due to inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstance is made at least 2 hours before class. In that event, you should receive an email and you will receive a credit for the cancelled class. In addition, you can click Calendar in the Jawaahir website nav bar. If class is cancelled, the class title will include CANCELLED.
We are in the back of The Hook & Ladder building at 3010 Minnehaha Ave, Mpls. To get to the entrance to our fenced parking lot, use 3035 Snelling Ave for GPS. There is also street parking on Snelling Ave and on Minnehaha Ave, where a casual walk down the street or through the alley will deliver you to our purple door. The door should be cracked open for class, but if it's not, please knock loudly. More info on our Location page.
At class time, log into Wellness Living and click My schedule on the nav bar. You will be able to join class from there.
You should have received an email reminder 2 hours before class. If not, check your Wellness Living Profile to be sure your email address is correct. If it is, let us know and we'll try to figure out what went wrong.
If you’ve not been admitted once class start time has passed, try leaving the zoom meeting and re-joining.
You don't need the Zoom app. Simply click on the link in your invitation at the time of your class. It's that easy!
Only through our online system.
Classes are between 60 and 90 minutes, depending on the class.
$25 per class, except Conditioning and Isolations, which is $20. Buy 4 or more classes, and get $2 off each class. A monthly pass for unlimited classes is also available.
You can choose to be seen or not seen by selecting the camera on/off option on your device.
The decision to cancel classes due to inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstance is made at least 2 hours before class. In that event, you should receive an email and you will receive a credit for the cancelled class. In addition, you can click the Upcoming Classes button at the top of this page. If class is cancelled, the class title will include CANCELLED.
Yes, you can drop in to any class except Conditioning and Isolations, which is online only.
If you still have questions, email email@example.com, or call +1.612.872.6050.
If you’re having trouble and need immediate assistance, call Terry at 612-875-5016 or Eileen at 612-875-5008.
Otherwise, please read these instructions. Thank you!
For August classes, please continue to use the current School website.
Starting with September classes, registration will be from here. Please change the bookmark on your browser to reflect this change. You may attend any class either on Zoom or in the studio.
We know this is new, so to ease the transition, here’s a discount code: FirstClassFree
My profile: Make changes to your profile, including updating your email, password, or address.
My schedule: See your upcoming and past classes. This is how you join a zoom class.
Book now: See upcoming classes and book them.
Store: Buy the Purchase Options you use to book multiple classes at a time.
Watch video: (This will only appear once you have a video available.) Watch the video for your most recent class. (It may take a few minutes after class for the video to appear on the page.) If you click the orange All Videos button, all videos from classes you attended (or at least booked) in the last 7 days will appear.
If you’re having trouble and need immediate assistance, call Terry at 612-875-5016 or Eileen at 612-875-5008.
If you’re having trouble and email will do, email Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org.