In October of 2021, I experienced some of the most intense days of my dance life so far. The Fat Chance Belly Dance General Skills online course is taught over ten days, is 30 hours long, has limited places and covers the steps of the classic and modern FCBD style dance vocabulary. Upon completion, you receive a certificate of attendance.  There is also an option to pay an additional fee and take the GS exams at the end comprised of written and practical components. If you pass these, you are then GS certified and therefore eligible to apply for the separate Teacher Training course. Naturally, having a somewhat ambitious personality, I decided upon this option!

In the course I attended, we were taught by Carolena Nericcio, the founder of the dance style, DeAnna Padron Freeman, director of FCBDu, the online Fat Chance university, Liz Malcom, Kelley Beeston, Philippa Morai, Lore Rojas and Michiyo Salisbury. All of whom are part of the advanced teacher training team and the Fat Chance® Continuing Education (FCCE) Program. To say I was excited would be an understatement! The GS teachers change per course, but they all hold the Advanced Teacher Training status, and some are also alumni of the Fat Chance troupe.

We began with introductions and the basics. Carolena told us the history of the dance from her viewpoint and often regaled us with snippets of information throughout the course to give us background and context. We always began our online time with the gratitude meditation which is a core element of our dance form and shows gratitude to the dance, our teachers, our dance community, and our audiences etc. We were put through our paces each day, following an instructor as she drilled us while being observed with the hawk eyes of the other instructors. Feedback would follow and we were given homework to complete.

One of the homework’s given, was to write a piece entitled, ‘What is FCBD Style?’ As an English teacher, I endeavoured to convey what this dance form is, beyond the obvious steps and costumes. When asked to read our pieces to everyone, I went first and nervously read aloud my piece. Hearing silence afterwards, I thought, ‘oh no! They don’t like it’, but instead I saw some tearful faces and Carolena told me I’d verbalised what she’d been trying to get across for years. DeAnna asked me if she could use it and the piece has now been translated into several languages. You can find the videos of it on this website if you’d like to listen to it. It’s one of the proudest moments in my dance life thus far.

As the days went on, we fell into a rhythm and were polished into Fat Chance style dancers. I took some notes… This became a 53 page google document which I am still adding to. I am a nerd… It can only attest to how comprehensive the course is and the amount of information you receive.

There was a lot of emotion and excitement at graduation on day ten. We were all sorry the course had ended, as well as feeling tired, and some of us were nervous about the impending exams. After a week or two, we completed the written component and depending on if we’d passed, we received the steps we were to record ourselves dancing for the practical part. I can’t tell you how many times I recorded my steps…I couldn’t seem to get them perfect enough but decided to bite the bullet and just send the videos.

After that came the wait. Finally, the email arrived. I was so nervous as I opened it! There it was, in black and white. I had passed the General Skills course that I’d been dreaming about taking for years! I was so happy, and I almost couldn’t believe it!

So, that was my General Skills experience. What a ride! I am so grateful to the teachers for giving me such valuable feedback and to Carolena for enriching the course with her memories and extensive dance knowledge! I’m also grateful to my fellow classmates. We became firm friends and supported one another through each day.

So, what’s next? Well, as I mentioned, I took the additional exams and got the GS certification. As soon as I received the notification, I applied for the Teacher Training which will take place in Soest, Germany in the Summer of 2022. I was lucky enough to obtain a place and am looking forward to the next ‘step’ in my dance journey.

What defines us

Love for the dance
Positive thinking
Thirst for knowledge
Full of energy
Open and honest
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