Online Classes

"I am taking online classes from Cassandra, Margo, Renee, and Kathy. It is great to have such wonderfully talented teachers and I feel blessed to have the time to do these classes. Each class is unique and fun. [The teachers] are well prepared to make great use of  the shorter class time. I appreciate their investment in presentation equipment to enhance my Zoom experience. And for me the commute is a breeze!" - Bonnie B.

Discount for four or more classes! 

New to The Cassandra School?  

Welcome!

Belly dancing for fun, fitness, and grace! Join women 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 body, no matter its size or shape. We challenge all students to achieve a personal best!

Photo of a class.

Beginners

If you are new to this style of dance, or have never danced before, join us on Tuesdays for Conditioning and Isolations at 6:00p CT with Cassandra, then Beginning belly dance at 7:30p CT with Kathy. Our seasoned 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.

School

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 biography headshot.

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.”  

Text by Patricia Cumbie 

Kathy biography headshot.

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.”

Text by Patricia Cumbie.

Margo biography headshot.

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.

Text by Carstens Smith.

Renee biography headshot.

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.” 

Text by Patricia Cumbie. Photo by Terra Sura.

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  

Here's a short clip of our director, Cassandra, performing with the band Amwaaj.

The Buzz

"Classes are PHENOMENAL! Good signal, intermittent signal, I'll be there! It's the nature of remote/digital communication, and I'm simply happy for the opportunity to study with The Master! It's like water after being in the desert for way too long! I can't explain the positive impact (these classes) have on my life and the renewal of my dance." - Chris S.

"It was the most I've smiled in a long time. I'm just loving this. Thank you. I almost feel pandemic guilty for having such a good time." - Jean C.

Online Classes

Cassandra is thrilled to offer online classes, not only with her, but with her other wonderful teachers! Check out our Regular Classes to learn the beautiful art of belly dance. Then find Cassandra's classes under Specialty Classes, along with a new Beginning Integral Yoga Hatha class offering.

"I have found doing classes through Zoom has made a big difference in my ability to actually accomplish my self-care goals." Melinda B.

 Each class is one hour and $15. All times listed are US Central Time zone. Registration closes at 8:00p CT the night before class.

DISCOUNT: Pay for 4 or more classes and get a $2 discount for each class.

How to take a class: 

  1. Click the class you want to take. You may highlight multiple classes.
  2. In Cart: check to be sure you have the correct class listed, enter your name and email address, and click Proceed to Payment.
  3. In Payment: Click the Pay Now  button, then the Pay by Debit or Credit Card button at the bottom of the PayPal page. You must pay ahead of time to get the invitation to join your class. Registration closes at 8p CT the night before class.
  4. Cassandra will email you an invitation the morning of your class.      
  5. Click the link in the email at class time. The teacher will admit you when class starts.

Due to the nature of online class participation, there will be no make-up classes and no refunds on missed classes. If it's our fault, we will fix it.

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. 

Click on a class to add it to your cart. Registration closes at 8:00p CT the night before.

3 OL 8/11 Tue Beg Kathy 7:30-8:30p $ 15 1
3 OL 8/18 Tue Beg Kathy 7:30-8:30p $ 15 1
3 OL 8/25 Tue Beg Kathy 7:30-8:30p $ 15 1

"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. 

Click on a class to add it to your cart. Registration closes at 8:00p CT the night before.

3 OL 8/6 Thu A-B Kathy 10:00-11:00a $ 15 1
3 OL 8/13 Thu A-B Kathy 10:00-11:00a $ 15 1
3 OL 8/20 Thu A-B Kathy 10:00-11:00a $ 15 1
3 OL 8/27 Thu A-B Kathy 10:00-11:00a $ 15 1
3 OL 8/8 Sat A-B Kathy 11:30-12:30p $ 15 1
3 OL 8/15 Sat A-B Kathy 11:30-12:30p $ 15 1
3 OL 8/22 Sat A-B Kathy 11:30-12:30p $ 15 1
3 OL 8/29 Sat A-B Kathy 11:30-12:30p $ 15 1

"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.

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.

Click on a class to add it to your cart. Registration closes at 8:00p CT the night before.

3 OL 8/10 Mon Int Margo 10:00-11:00a $ 15 1
3 OL 8/17 Mon Int Margo 10:00-11:00a $ 15 1
3 OL 8/24 Mon Int Margo 10:00-11:00a $ 15 1
3 OL 8/5 Wed Int Renee 6:00-7:00p $ 15 1
3 OL 8/12 Wed Int Renee 6:00-7:00p $ 15 1
3 OL 8/19 Wed Int Renee 6:00-7:00p $ 15 1
3 OL 8/26 Wed Int Renee 6:00-7:00p $ 15 1

"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. She’s 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.

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.

Click on a class to add it to your cart. Registration closes at 8:00p CT the night before.

3 OL 8/9 Sun A-I Renee 10:00-11:00a $ 15 1
3 OL 8/16 Sun A-I Renee 10:00-11:00a $ 15 1
3 OL 8/23 Sun A-I Renee 10:00-11:00a $ 15 1
3 OL 8/30 Sun A-I Renee 10:00-11:00a $ 15 1

"Renee brings positive energy to her classes (in person or online). She’s responsive to students; she answers questions and provides additional hints. She’s very kind. She’s 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.

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. Tuesdays at 6:00p CT.

Click on a class to add it to your cart. Registration closes at 8:00p CT the night before.

3 OL 8/11 Tue C&I Cassandra 6:00-7:00p $ 15 1
3 OL 8/18 Tue C&I Cassandra 6:00-7:00p $ 15 1
3 OL 8/25 Tue C&I Cassandra 6:00-7:00p $ 15 1

"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. Thursdays at 6:00p CT.

Click on a class to add it to your cart. Registration closes at 8:00p CT the night before.

3 OL 8/6 Thu TT Cassandra 6:00-7:00p $ 15 1
3 OL 8/13 Thu TT Cassandra 6:00-7:00p $ 15 1
3 OL 8/20 Thu TT Cassandra 6:00-7:00p $ 15 1
3 OL 8/27 Thu TT Cassandra 6:00-7:00p $ 15 1

"Really fun and aerobic class! So grateful to have you teaching again! I was sweating!" Gretchen W.

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. Saturdays at 10:00a CT.

Click on a class to add it to your cart. Registration closes at 8:00p CT the night before.

3 OL 8/8 Sat CC Cassandra 10:00-11:00a $ 15 1
3 OL 8/15 Sat CC Cassandra 10:00-11:00a $ 15 1
3 OL 8/22 Sat CC Cassandra 10:00-11:00a $ 15 1
3 OL 8/29 Sat CC Cassandra 10:00-11:00a $ 15 1

"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

Integral Yoga Hatha is a comprehensive system for personal transformation – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Each class incorporates postures, deep relaxation, breathing practices and a brief meditation that result in a profound experience of peace and well-being. Students of any age and condition are encouraged to explore each posture at their own pace and mindfully observe what arises without judgment. Mondays at 12:00 noon CT.

Click on a class to add it to your cart. Registration closes at 8:00p CT the night before.

3 OL 8/10 Mon Yoga Margo Noon-1:00p $ 15 1
3 OL 8/17 Mon Yoga Margo Noon-1:00p $ 15 1
3 OL 8/24 Mon Yoga Margo Noon-1:00p $ 15 1

"Margo's Zoom Yoga class allows me to take an hour with an instructor, fellow students
that I know, and with whom I feel comfortable, using props I have around the house and handy, in a comfortable environment. Margo is an excellent instructor and can talk me through the poses so that I know what my positioning is, if not yet classically correct, safely moving me toward the traditional forms." - Melinda B.

"Even though I have practiced yoga for many years, I am so enjoying Margo's beginner class on Mondays. She is a gifted teacher and the class is a great de-stressor." - Wendy N.

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FAQs

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! 
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. Again, belly dance uses the body in very different ways than other dance forms. You will also need to learn how to play finger cymbals. 
Of course, and it will help you learn faster!
Like most dance schools programs, students remain at a level for about a year before moving to the next level. So usually a beginner student has studied for 0-1 years, Level 2 for 1-2 years, Level 3 for 2-4 years, etc. There is a lot of material to learn and master at each level which the next level will build upon. All this depends on your ability and, oh yes, how much you practice. Your teacher is your best guide and will tell you when you have mastered a level and are ready for the next.
Yes, there will be 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.
Too old? Never! Our classes are filled with women of all ages, mostly 20s to 70s, and we do accept girls as young as 13. Classes are geared toward the adult learner, so girls younger than 13, due to shorter attention spans, must be accompanied by an adult. 
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 abdominals. Learn to listen to and respect your body. 
Our Level 1 classes are geared for non-dancers. You will learn basic movements and then build upon them.
The classes start with warm-up and conditioning exercises to help you prepare for the movements you will learn. Classes continue with instruction in dance movements mixed with finger cymbal instruction. The classes close with stretching and cool-down exercises. All of this is done to an array of fun Arabic musical selections.
Yes! 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 is fun and creative!
This 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!
No. As you develop as a student you may choose to perform or not. Many students take classes just for their own pleasure. If you do wish to develop performance skills, there will be student opportunities that your teacher will let you know about. Whether you wish to perform or not, attending performances is very educational. 
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 are welcome to bring or purchase a hip scarf to accentuate the movements, but it isn’t necessary. We do have some hip scarves available for purchase should you develop a craving we call bead lust, the strong desire for something sparkly!
We teach all students how to play finger cymbals, or zils, starting at our beginner level and continuing through all levels. The Cassandra School does provide zils you can use during our beginner in-studio classes. We sell them and encourage you to purchase your own so that you can practice on your own.
No. This is a good workout — it would be too hard on the fine fabrics of a costume.
You don't need the Zoom app. Simply click on the link in your emailed invitation at the time of your class. It's that easy!
There is only one way to register for online classes:
  • Due to the nature of online class participation, there will be no make up classes and no refunds for missed classes.
Right now, online classes are only an hour long for all classes.
  • One online class is $15 but you can select and pay for multiple classes at once.
  • Some online classes are offered for a discount if you buy them in a block. Look for that option under the Class List & Registration button in our Schedule.
  • There is only one way to pay for online classes: by credit card through our online registration and payment.
  • Due to the nature of online class participation, there will be no make up classes and no refunds for missed classes.
Our online classes have unlimited participation limits.
You can choose to be seen or not seen by selecting the camera on/off option on your device.
Two possible reasons. The first is, you did not pay ahead of time. You must pay by the evening before your class in order to get an invitation. The second is, you did not provide a valid email address for us to send you an invitation.
Due to the nature of online class participation, there will be no make-up classes and no refunds for missed classes.
There are two ways to register for in-person classes:
  • Register at your first class. We accept cash, check (written in blue or black ink), and credit cards.
The Cassandra School offers year-round classes in 10 week sessions. Beginner and Level 2 classes are 90 minutes long. Levels 3-5 and some special classes are 2 hours long.
  • There are three ways to take classes: show up and pay for a single class, register for a 10-week session, or buy a monthly card.
  • Your first class at The Cassandra School is free. Get your coupon here.
  • Levels 1 and 2: Classes are $18 for a single class or $160 for 10 classes (12% off).
  • Levels 3 and above: Classes are $20 for a single class or $180 for 10 classes (11% off).
  • Student Discount: Show your current student ID to your teacher for $10 off a 10-week session. Register at your first class.
  • Monthly Class Cards: Good for one calendar month of unlimited classes. Levels 1 and 2, only $105. Levels 3 and above, only $115. No carryovers to a different month.
  • Refunds will not be issued after the first week. 
Yes, you can enroll and attend class.
We recommend beginning dancers start Level 1 within the first 3 weeks of a session because the class is progressive. We want you to have fun and not get frustrated by not understanding the movements and isolations, and zil patterns that have been taught and are being built upon.
If you can’t wait for the next session, we do accept new students at any time. If you are uncertain of which class to take, call the office to discuss your options.
Of course, and it will help you learn faster!
For in-person classes: We do not carry over missed classes from one session to the next. If you pay for a session you may make up missed classes any time during the session. If you are in Level 1 you may attend any other Level 1 class by simply showing up and telling the instructor you are doing a make-up. Students in Level 2 and above may attend any class at their level or a level close to their level.

The decision to cancel classes due to inclement weather is made 2 hours before class. To find out if your class is cancelled, click the Today's Classes button at the top of this page.

If you want to get email reminders, just go to Calendar, double click on your class to open the details window, and in the upper right corner select Reminder. Put in your email address and CalendarWiz will automatically send you an email reminder every time your class meets. If class is cancelled, the class title will include CANCELLED.  Be sure and set the reminder time to be within 2 hours of your class time. 

If, by week two of a new session, there are fewer than 3 students registered for a class, that class may be cancelled for the remainder of the session by The Cassandra School. You are more than welcome to find another class that will work for you and make up any missed classes within the session.
Every teacher has a different style, and we completely understand if your teacher is not right for you. If that happens, feel free to switch to a different class.

If you still have questions, +1.612.872.6050 or email cassandra@jawaahir.org.