Belly dance for fun and fitness! Join our online dance community!
(Discount for 4 or more classes.)
"Classes are just as wonderful as the first video class, perhaps even more so, because I look forward to them eagerly, every single class. It's like a series of glowing, bright spots in my weekly calendar." - Chris S.
Zoom Dance Party Time to dance with Cassandra! April 3, LIVE on Zoom.
Cassandra's Cabaret Spring Has Sprung! April 17, LIVE on Zoom.
Belly dancing for fun, fitness, and grace! Join our online 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!
If you are new to this style of dance, or have never danced before, we offer three class options per week, on Zoom, for you! Take one, or all, of these: Beginning belly dance classes with Kathy on Mondays at 6:00p and on Tuesdays at 7:30p, and Conditioning and Isolations with Cassandra on Tuesdays at 6:00p. Our experienced teachers guide you through the basic isolations of belly dance that you will need as you progress.
"I think online classes are a great option for those who may have transportation/commuting issues, shy people who love to dance, people who may be uncomfortable and need to modify movements, or those that want to dabble and try something new. It opens up possibilities for a greater population." - Jennifer B.
At The Cassandra School, you benefit from the artistic vision of Cassandra, Artistic Director of Jawaahir Dance Company, as she is dedicated to presenting Middle Eastern dance in its authentic form, adhering closely to its original movements, musicality, cultural context, and emotional tone.
Cassandra Shore'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!
Cassandra, Artistic Director of Jawaahir Dance Company, founded The Cassandra School in 1978 when it became clear that there was a need for more belly dance instruction in the Twin Cities. “I taught in the basement of Georges restaurant where I was a performer, but it wasn’t ideal.” Ever the visionary, Cassandra didn’t just want to do classes, she wanted to establish an eponymous dance school built to achieve a singular goal. “I wanted to make a place where people could do an intensive study of the topic. I wanted to take students to a professional level.”
One could say she’s achieved her goal and then some. Many of her earliest students achieved professional dance status and have even retired. Cassandra’s still going. What keeps it fresh for her? “It’s my life’s path: to be a dancer, teacher, and coach. It’s an evolution and a lifelong commitment.” Cassandra is deeply committed to her students, Jawaahir Dance Company, performing, and choreography. That she is a masterful teacher in addition to all that she does, makes her a legend among other teachers and performers.
Cassandra believes that a long career in dance is possible with care and good instruction. “We train your body with a focus on conditioning and body awareness. The way to become a good dancer is to focus on the basics.” Part of her teaching philosophy is to introduce Western audiences and students to a non‐Western art form. “It’s important to explain and show the stylistic differences in the way Arab dance is done in different Middle Eastern cultures. I talk about the cultural context.”
Education from Cassandra is relevant to dancers at all levels, and especially for beginning students. “It takes time to learn these nuances, to feel the music and relate to it. In the beginning we train people to hear Arab music, and to protect their bodies by having good posture moving to the music.” Cassandra also believes “belly dance has many gifts” like empowerment, relaxation, strength. “In order to get those gifts, good dance technique has to be the focus.”
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.”
Margo Abdo O’Dell is a renowned teacher, performer, and choreographer of Middle Eastern dance. Noted for her polished technique and expressiveness, exceptional teaching skills, compelling theater productions, and informative articles, she has been a leader in the national Middle Eastern dance community.
Her local theatrical presentations portrayed an array of dances from, in, and around the Middle East as well as interpretive works grounded in traditional and contemporary movement genres, always inspired by her Lebanese heritage. She received numerous grants for her work from such funders as the Minnesota State Arts Board, Jerome Foundation, Travellers, Women’s Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and more. Her performance video,Tajdeed, has been reviewed and highly recommended.
Repeatedly criss-crossing the country to teach, perform, and share this vibrant, passionate tradition has been a profound honor and pleasure. The receptiveness of students and audiences to engage with Arabic culture provides much gratification, especially in difficult global times.
Margo’s early dance training encompassed ballet, modern, tap, jazz, and Middle Eastern dance instruction from the finest choreographers/instructors in the U.S. and Middle East. She also brings her experience as a certified Integral Yoga Hatha instructor to her teaching and coaching.
Each life phase brings new challenges, prospects, and modes of creative expression. Margo invites her students along for the ride, the opportunity to gain personal insights, and experince the elation of uniting body/mind/spirit through movement. Dance, like yoga, should be a joyful celebration, not a competition. Be prepared to have fun in her classes!
Cassandra is her long-time friend and mentor and Margo is grateful for her years of encouragement and support. Margo was an original instructor at The Cassandra School and is delighted to return.
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.”
The Cassandra School, …more > is the teaching arm of the renowned Jawaahir Dance Company, the premier professional Middle Eastern dance company in the Midwest. Our school was established in 1978 and offers year-round classes in Middle Eastern dance ranging from beginning to professional. < less
"I live 2.5 hours from Minneapolis and am very thankful for these online classes. I hope you will consider keeping some type of online course once it becomes safe to return to the studio for your non-local students. I want to continue to learn this art form and am very happy at (The Cassandra School)." - Karla H.
"Thank you so much for everything! I am so enjoying, and greatly benefiting from, participating in dance again after so many years." - Carolyn F.
Scroll down and click Regular Classes to learn the beautiful art of belly dance!
Click Specialty Classes to learn from Cassandra!
"Thanks so much for doing these Zoom classes online! It gives those of us a chance to get in shape, and not have to commute. Of course in-person is always better, but this is a great opportunity if we don't have that availability." - Jennifer B.
All classes are through Zoom. There are no in-person classes at this time.
75 minute classes.
Class times are US Central Time zone.
$15 per class.
Discount: Pay for 4 or more classes and get $2 off each class.
Our online calendar is a helpful tool to see all class offerings.
Registration closes at 8:00pm CT the night before each class.
Click on a class to add it to your cart. Registration closes 8:00p CT the night before class.
Our seasoned teachers guide you through the basic isolations of belly dance. Beginning classes are meant to be taken for several months because we love for you to build a strong foundation for your body to know how to move in comfort.
"I love your class. You are an awesome teacher and I always learn something from you. Thank you for listening, watching, guiding, and inspiring." - Bonnie B.
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.
"This (class) was wonderful! Yay, Kathy, and yay Zoom!" - Melinda B.
You've got the basics! Now it's time for difficult combinations and more intricate movements. Our teachers lead you through layering techniques that build on your strong basics foundation. Margo's back in May!
"It is so nice to have Margo back! She has such a joyous personality and we do a lot of short combinations, which are really fun!" - Jennifer B.
"Renee brings positive energy to her classes (in person or on line). She’s responsive to students; she answers questions and provides additional hints. She’s very kind. I’ve always left her classes with a smile on my face." - Cathy P.
You're ready for movements that our teacher will offer with more subtlety and nuance in complex combinations for students who are seasoned and versed in all basics and all layering techniques.
"(Renee is) passionate about teaching; she gives us the building blocks to work from then creates mini–choreographies to reinforce the skills that we’re learning. She’s a professional. I’ve always left her classes with a smile on my face." - Cathy P.
Click on a class to add it to your cart. Registration closes 8:00p CT the night before class.
This class is perfect for all levels as Cassandra leads you through dance and movement conditioning using a yoga mat, or standing, and basic isolation practice.
"I am getting a lot of information from your classes and I really like when you break down how to do some of the basic movements. Makes me look at my own body to correct what I might be doing wrong. Loving it! Thank you for doing the classes." - Debbie P.
Cassandra delves deeply into one or two dance techniques. This class is best for dancers familiar with all basic techniques. Some of the topics covered will include undulations, shimmies and vibrations, circles, and travelling steps.
"I've been enjoying Cassandra's Technique Topics classes so much! One of the few
pandemic silver linings is the ability to study regularly with such a master even when you live in different state. I do hope that these zoom classes continue in the future." - Heidi T.
Cassandra teaches fun and practical applications of dance techniques in these creative combos that she may choose to connect into the ultimate combo! This class is best for advanced dancers.
"Terrific Creative Combos Zoom class with Cassandra Shore this morning. Combos with context! Linking the movements and stylizations back to the Egyptian dancers who made them famous - Mona Said, Raqia Hassan, Mahmoud Reda. Wonderful! Wonderful! I highly recommend you drop in to a class!" - Sephira
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