Distinction Between Certification and Training

Certification can be a hot topic. It ranks up there with setting industry standard pay rates and defining a pro bellydancer vs hobbyist. It raises questions such as "Who certifies the certifier?" "Is certification necessary to teach?" "Does certification gain you respect?"

Over and over in discussions I've had, read and heard it ultimately comes down to individual preference. For many it's about the personal accomplishment. "So then why not?" I say.
Recently I was working on some continuing ed. material (to maintain my fitness instructor certification). The material made a clear distinction between Instructor Training vs Certification programs. Although the fitness and dance realms are different it made total sense. Basically most of the bellydance certification programs out there are training programs in very specific formats. Which is only a component of a certification program.

Personally, I don't choose my teachers based on certification. Suhaila wasn't certified, Jamila wasn't certified -- would you ever dare ask to see their certification?!

No my teacher does not have to be certified but I do want them to be trained. And ultimately what seals the deal, of course, is their dancing. Their dancing speaks for itself. Sometimes they're even as good a teacher as they are a dancer. Jackpot!

How do you feel about training and certification in bellydance? In your view is there a difference? Tell me in the comments, share, share.


  1. So I'm going to try not to sound mean :) I have pretty strong opinions on certification. There is a difference to me between being certified and being trained. Trained means you know what you are doing, and have been taking classes (lots of them) in order to learn correct style and technique. Getting a certification only means that you are certified to dance or teach IN THAT STYLE. It doesn't necessarily mean that you know what you are doing.

    Getting certification in a dance style--like getting certified for ATS or Unmata--isn't really the problem. It's a way to get everyone on the same page and make sure the style is transmitted correctly. And it's not the teachers. As you said, their dancing speaks for itself.

    The problem is what dancers do with those certifications. Anyone with enough money can buy a certification, but that doesn't mean they are a good dancer or teacher, or will be after they take the certification test. Most teachers want the money the certifications bring, and give them out to anyone who shows up with the dollars. Those dancers (even the bad) then represent the style/studio/teacher that gave out the certification...which can lead to the devaluation of not only the style but belly dance as a whole. I'd be happy to take a certification from Suhaila or Jamila or Amy Sigil or Carolena. I know they can dance. But would I take classes with someone who could not dance, just because they had a piece of paper that said they could? No way.

    Certifications are only worth the money you pay for them, nothing more. Only if the dancer is TRAINED, and can dance, do they mean anything more than that piece of paper. I will say this: I have seen lovely, beautiful, and talented dancers who have certifications. I have seen lovely, beautiful, and talented dancers who do not have certifications. I have seen bad, bad dancers with certifications. I have seen bad, bad dancers without certifications. It all lies with the dancer.

  2. Hi Kamrah!
    Yep I agree 100%. What's worse is I've seen dancers with certification be downright "unsafe" with their instruction. I mean it's no joke to teach body movement. Not only can poor, untrained instruction lead to bad dancing but it can lead to injuries.
    I do believe the fitness world, most of it anyway, is more stringent about certification. To work in most gyms or studios one has to have training, certification, CPR cards, etc. So you know going in that your instructor is going to have at least some background knowledge and experience. Going into a bellydance class not so much. BUT at the same time I would never want the dance world to be under such strict regulations. The responsibility lies with the instructors that do know better to continually educate themselves, their students and the public.

  3. I think the big difference between the belly dance world and the fitness world is that belly dance is an art that just happens to exercise you. But since belly dance does involve moving your body, our teachers should probably be held to the same health-related standards as fitness teachers (certifications, CPR, etc) in addition to having the artistic chops of a dance.

    I've toyed with the idea of a certification... I'd like to go to Portland and take Rachel Brice's 8 Elements workshops and certification. But I keep asking myself if the expense of a week in Portland and the intensive is worth what it would do for my dance at this point in time. I also need to do more research as to whether it is a "Pay your money and you pass" system, or if you have to actually WORK to get it. Because if I don't have to work for it, it isn't worth having.

  4. I see the value in SOME certification programs, but I see as more of a personal accomplishment than something you should hype to other people.

    Honestly, I sort of chuckle at those who need certifications to advertise themselves. Obviously, they don't have enough faith in their own dance abilities, so why should I?

    Of course, this could be my own personality. I oppose anyone or anything that tries to tell me how bad/good I am - unless I think that that person has the qualifications to tell me so.

    But, in my experience, the truly qualified tend to have no interest in rating other dancers - they're too busy creating wonderful ways to dance.


Thank you visiting and taking the time to comment. I truly appreciate it.


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