Belly Dancing with Tedi Thomas

tediMy study of Middle Eastern/North African dance forms began in 1980 with my very first formal dance class at the Arabian Nights Dance Studio in Carbondale. The initial four years of training that I received from them focused on the basic foundational techniques used in many of the dance traditions from that region of the world. This ignited what turned into a life-long passion in me. I have actively pursued additional training and education with nationally and internationally recognized teachers, choreographers and master instructors every year of my life since. I will never stop studying and learning new insights into the dance as there is a world of knowledge to be discovered out there. Even after more than three decades of study, I feel like I am still only on the threshold of what there is to learn about this dance/these dances. It is true, what many of us who study this believe, that this is a thinking woman’s dance.

I have performed as both a solo artist and as a member of several dance troupes in Carbondale, at SIU, and throughout southern Illinois and the mid-west (notably – Springfield IL, Paducah KY, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Cincinnati) for numerous workshop and festival showcases and a wide variety of community events.

In addition to performing around the region and teaching in Carbondale, over the past fifteen years I have sponsored/co-sponsored: eight dance workshop weekends featuring nationally and internationally recognized experts; two student focused Middle Eastern Dance Enthusiasts/Nile Breeze Dance Company showcases; four professional focused Nile Breeze Dance Company showcases; plus a number of smaller “evening of Middle Eastern dance” events at different venues within the Carbondale area.

TEACHES: Belly Dance (also known as Middle Eastern Dance / Oriental Dance / Raqs Sharqi)


Belly dance (also known as Middle Eastern dance, oriental dance, raqs sharqi) is an adaptation of folk traditions from a number of Middle Eastern and North African countries.  It is a physical language in which the dancer visibly expresses their emotional reaction to the music – making the music… visible.  People in the originating cultures grow up with the music, its rhythms, and the tradition of the dance as a regular part of the fabric of life.  They learn to dance naturally in this manner from a very young age in the same way that they learn to walk and to talk.  Most people in western cultures do not grow up with these movement traditions as part of their day to day life, so must learn them in much the same way as learning a new language.

Introduction to Belly Dance

Wednesdays, 7:00-8:30 p.m.

This class focuses on the foundational movements used in belly dance, concepts of neutral alignment, and serves as an introduction to the music and rhythms of the Middle East.  Each class begins with warm up exercises and isolation drills, moves into work on movements and traveling steps (often including work on movement combinations), and finishes with cool down stretches.  Learning the basics of belly dance is a great way to increase your flexibility and coordination, reduce stress, and bring a new dimension of self connection into your life.  While learning to belly dance does take work, it is a lot of fun (and you will make new friends in class).  No previous dance experience is required.

Fundamentals of Belly Dance

Tuesdays, 7:00-8:30 p.m.

This is a continuing-level class which builds upon the basics, establishing connections between the music and the movements through use of choreography, and exploring the heart of raqs sharqi (belly dance) – improvisation.  This class will follow a format similar to that of the Intro to Belly Dance class, but will focus on the basic rhythms used in Middle Eastern music, movement layering techniques, and associative phrasing between the dance and the music.  Six months of introductory belly dance is required to be eligible for this class (or consent of instructor).

Class Rates (cash or checks payable to the instructor)

Monthly:  one class a week for four weeks.  $40.00 ($10.00 per class)

Drop In:  $12.00 per class

For additional information, contact Tedi at:  or  618-303-9788.