Professional Belly Dance Instructor
Happy Hips Belly Dance
- 8 Years Teaching Online
- 15 years Live Teaching Experience
- Melbourne, Australia
“I so love to Belly Dance, it’s a place where I can be curvy and not feel out of place. I never felt I fit in with other dance styles, I felt I was surrounded by “skinnie minnies” with their long legs and small hips. When Belly Dancing, I feel strong and powerful as a woman as well as attractive!”
Charni lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two children. She fell in love with belly dancing in 1995 when she started her first lessons. Until then, she had dispaired at never feeling like she fit in somewhere. She inherited her curvy small-waisted, large hipped figure from her Nanna, which turned out to be perfect for belly dance! “It was the first time that I had danced in a room of women of all shape and sizes and felt the dance made everyone look beautiful” she says.
She went on to dance in the 1996 Adelaide Fringe Festival, then continued her tuition with all the major belly dance schools of Adelaide and Melbourne after her move there in 2002.
Since then she has performed in a variety of concerts, fund-raisers, festivals and functions. She has choreographed and taught many group numbers for stage performances.
Charni started teaching at Box Hill Neighbourhood House in 2003 opening a second location in 2007 at Endeavour Hills Neighbourhood Centre. She loves teaching and gets a real thrill out of watching the improvement in technique and confidence in the students from one week to the next.
Charni started the Belly Dance Lesson Online system in January 2011, after students kept asking her if she held classes at different times and locations than what she already offered. Charni also knew that there were people without access to a teacher who very much wanted to learn, but couldn’t. Shift workers and carers found it especially difficult to commit to weekly live classes. She also found that sometimes students would love to come to a class, but felt it didn’t fit in to their schedule, or felt too shy to dance in front of other people.
Charni has a level 2 First Aid Certificate and always uses safe dance practices. She is also open to feedback, is always seeking to improve both her dancing and teaching. She loves it when her students request to learn more!!
What is Belly Dance Lessons Online?
This is my chance to share my love of Belly Dancing with as many people as I can, no matter what gets in the way, like: Being busy, shift work, travelling for work, living too far away to get to classes, or fear of looking silly.
I understand what it is like to learn Belly Dance from scratch, and not feeling like I fit in with all those skinny, coordinated women at other dance classes. Having found a dance style that suits ANY body size or shape, I caught the bug and hope you do too!
The Free Lessons are available for anyone who wants them, as often, and as long you want to learn. I can do this, because I have years of lessons in my monthly membership program Happy Hips @Home with Charni. Having personally taught well over 1000 students from the age of 6 to 86, with bodies that vary in capacity from various health issues (with medical consent) and mental disability, I have learned how to make my lessons engaging and easy to follow. I have taught in schools, libraries, special needs activity programs, community centres, hen’s parties and aged care centres, not just dance studios!
Dressing up is fun and helps you to get into the vibe with Belly Dancing, so with my student Members, I even send them costumers and props you will need for class, starting with a Jangly-Coin Hip Scarf in your choice of colour, and later, Veils and even Zills (Finger Cymbals)!
Learning to Belly Dance is a very personal experience, and I love to see how my students are progressing (it is the best part), so I give all my student Members a chance to get Personal Video Feedback every 3 months. It is not compulsory, so don’t feel like you have to do them, but I soooo love seeing what you can do!
If all you want is the Free Lessons, then that is wonderful! I am glad to help you on your Belly Dancing Journey, and if you want more, all the better. Thank you for giving me the chance to share my passion and fun for Belly Dance!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Belly Dance?
Belly Dance is the general name for all types of dance originating in the Middle East and North Africa. It is one of the few forms of dance suitable for all ages and body types, as it is more than simply learning a technique, but is also intuitive in dancing how the music feels. Finding this self-expression is a great confidence builder, as well as a great way to develop better fitness!
What type of Belly Dance do you teach?
The particular style that I teach is called “Classical Egyptian” or “Oriental” sometimes known as “Raqs Sharqi”. This means long graceful lines and good posture. I also teach the more “folkloric” styles, but that comes later down the track for the membership students.
I don’t know how to Belly Dance
You do not need any prior knowledge, as I break down all the moves and build up the difficulty and speed of the moves in a simple, powerful, easy to follow, step-by-step system with full support! I am with you every step of the way as you discover how to look good and feel great.
Belly Dancing does not have any prerequisites, except two things: the willingness to give it a go, and to be patient with yourself. Because it is something so completely new for you, it is best to give it quite a bit of time to feel comfortable with some of the moves. You will be asking your body to move in ways it has never done before, so it is best to give it a chance to work out just exactly what you are asking it to do! In a type of paradox, if you are patient with yourself, you actually learn faster! Surprise yourself with how quickly you can master the basics in around 20 minutes with my Free Lessons!
My personal experience, as well as that of many of my students, has been that Belly Dancing is an amazing way to help you become a more confident and graceful person, especially if you are not slim like a supermodel (I won’t say fat, but my sizeable bottom is actually an asset when I dance!).
I am so uncoordinated I could never do it
You know, I have heard this so many times over the years, and the reality is that it is very rarely true. Sometimes we might have been told as a child that we were uncoordinated and we adopt that as ’truth’. I often see the thoughts going through students faces as they are doing a move quite correctly, I can tell the exact moment, they think “I’m not doing this right” because they stop doing it right! Just like most things in this world, the way we see ourselves dictates how well we do. And just for the record, those very rare students who were quite uncoordinated, all they had to do was keep at it and work on it, and guess what? They learnt to move in time to the music and to follow the instructions. I have NEVER met someone who could not do it, and bear in mind that not only have I taught well over a thousand people in person, I also have taught groups with physical or mental disabilities. Have faith, and together we will get there.
Is there an age limit?
I have had students between the ages of 6 and 86. That is not to say that older and younger cannot participate in online Belly Dance! For the younger ones, it’s mainly about concentration abilities. For the more mature person it is about whether the doctor has recommended a gentle form of exercise and whether your mind feels young enough! I have had students with arthritis feel improvement, and you know the mantra “Use it or lose it!”. This goes for body or mind. Both get exercised during class. Students have told me that because they can do this high or low impact and is in correct posture, it allows for back problems to improve and is gentle on the knees, and improves pelvic floor muscles. What this means is, if you are a bit unfit and out of shape – this is a great place to start.
Why are you offering these Lessons for free? What’s the catch?
The truth is I am a Belly Dancer who is passionate about teaching. Over the years I have become frustrated when students have not been able to make it to class because they do shift work, or can’t get out of the house at that time, or live too far away. My goal is to make Belly Dance lessons available to anyone who wants it, as long as they have access to the internet. How do I fund this? Well in my aim to bring Belly Dance to the world, I also offer Belly Dance Lessons as part of a membership for Belly Dance Lessons Online. Students taking part in this goes towards funding the Free Lessons. I have information about the membership on the page with the Free Lessons. This is for your information only, certainly not mandatory. Enjoy the Free Lessons as often as you like, with my thanks!
Hi Charni, I just want to say that I am loving – totally loving – the eClasses. I really like the way you clearly break down all the moves and slowly build up that difficulty level. And the best part is that I can rewind it when I need to practise certain sections. And I can rewind as often as I want. I love the fact that this is a dance style that anyone, any shape or age can participate in. Who would have thought my curves would come in handy? It feels so good to do something for me. You know my friends have commented on the new spring in my step!
After talking to a friend about my secret yearning to dance, and laughing about it as I gestured to my rotund figure, she suggested I start Belly Dance Lessons Online. She said that Charni’s teaching style was so easy to follow and made it so simple that anybody could do it - and I could do it at home at a time when nobody else was around for me to feel self-conscious. So I tried it - after all with the money back guarantee what did I have to lose?
At first I felt completely out of my element, but Charni made everything so clear, I was able to follow her. I love the way the classes got progressively harder, I never had to worry about choosing from a big list, it was right there in my inbox.
I like the way she teaches so much, and she can teach you so much more than you think. The feedback videos are also very helpful, it makes you learn even more and gives you the chance to grow as a dancer.
I would recommend the eClasses to everyone even when you are not sure you can do it. Just give it a try and see what you can do and how much fun you can have with it.
Thank you Charni for being such an amazing Belly Dance teacher!
So I did the lessons, and I am SO glad I did. Bits that haven’t moved for years are feeling GOOD now. I have only been practising a short time, but I can’t believe how much better I feel. I really feel I can do this and it will help me a lot.
I've been wanting to learn belly dancing for a very long time, but had trouble finding the right class with my busy schedule. Most online videos don't take the time to introduce you to the dance, like you did. I really appreciated that. You are very friendly and fun to learn from and you make everything look so easy!
“With my job I travel a lot, so the online classes are really good because when I am not in town and staying at hotels, I can watch the videos on my iPad, which makes it really fun and I don’t miss out. When I’m doing the videos, I really like the fact that sometimes it does feel like she’s actually there, she’ll be like “keep your knees bent!” and I’ll be like, “oh yeah! How did she know that?”
As a newly single divorcee in her late 50’s, I felt a bit lost. While I treasured having my time and space be my own, I felt like something was missing, like I left a part of me behind when I got married.
I came across Belly Dance Lessons Online after seeing Charni give a demonstration at a seminar I was at, and was immediately taken by her openness and genuine caring nature as she showed us all some basic belly dance moves. I went up to her afterwards and she was so friendly and welcoming that I felt I could ask her any question without fear of ridicule. I started her Online classes the same day and haven’t looked back! I was surprised how her manner was just the same on screen as she is in real life, and her feedback videos in response to mine were always so encouraging!