Ma*Shuqa Mira Murjan’s Dance Studio

Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

1. Why should I study with Ma*Shuqa?

- Ma*Shuqa has a private, air-conditioned with cork flooring and Turkish carpeted studio with mirrors, and a vast library of Middle Eastern music.

- Dancers receive the benefit of Ma*Shuqa’s 50 years of teaching with over 40 instructors of dance and music. Ma*Shuqa’s classes are “open-ended” with all instruction focused on enabling the student to immediately use technique and movements in dance. In Ma*Shuqa’s classes,

- Students can request instructional content making it possible for students to learn with the “drop-in” format.

- Classes are always individualized with Ma*Shuqa and she tailors instruction to fit the students’ needs, ability, and dance goals.

- Many students find it nice to ‘drop-in” for occasional weekly classes or Studio Workshops for a greater opportunity to lean how to personalize their dance, dance more proficiently and professionally.

- Dance students find that Ma*Shuqa’s Studio Workshops and class instruction offer them an opportunity to expand their knowledge of Middle Eastern dance and learn more about dance and topics beyond the scope of a typical 8-12 weekly class series structure/program.

Most teachers teach beginning, intermediate, and advanced level classes; and/or offer classes in 8-12 week sessions. With this typical teaching structure, basic dance movement and steps are taught in a graduated, step-by-step manner and dancers learn to perform movements and steps in drill format. For the serious dancer who loves this dance genre, it can be quite frustrating and limiting when teachers begin teaching the basics again at the start of another class series. With the typical 8-week session format, most serious dancers find themselves signing up for dance troupe rehearsal to learn choreography; even though what they really want is to learn how to perform individually. Dancers of all levels who are ready to really learn how to perform this dance come to Ma*Shuqa for lessons.

“I travel all the way from the Sacramento area to study with Ma*Shuqa, a tribute to her unique abilities as a teacher and mentor. Ma*Shuqa draws on decades of experience in this art form to provide the student with both context and technique. Well-organized, she summarizes her teaching methods with written handouts that the student can reference later, giving maximum benefit from her classes. Ma*Shuqa also has a special gift for helping her students develop their own unique style and expression, maximizing potential without sacrificing individuality. Ma*Shuqa and her husband Carl have been pillars in the bellydance community for decades. Her boutique studio is a beautiful oasis of talent, a gathering place of the loveliest of souls…dancers, musicians, and students alike.”  C. Sinensis

2. What is the “Ma*Shuqa Method” of instruction?

- Ma*Shuqa has developed a method of instruction that incorporates the fine art of providing direction, coaching, training, and guidance that allows each individual dancer to understand and personally find and feel their core, their personal best movements, and their own personal dance style. She provides appropriate instruction that targets and addresses differences such as dance ability level, body type and condition, and the dancer’s personal goals.

- Ma*Shuqa’s instruction includes: targeted training, honest candid and sincere feedback, demonstration, and guides for assisting you to create your own dance style.

- Ma*Shuqa is a tutor, coach, and mentor to dancers of all levels. Rather than a “one-approach fits all – follow me and do as I do” instructional approach, Ma*Shuqa’s Method focuses on providing explanations and different approaches that allow dancers to understand, and find “their own personal style of movement”.

- Typically, dancers who have been studying the dance for years will exclaim – “yes, now I can do the movement and/or dance the step as my body allows” – and “I feel wonderful, look good, feel beautiful, and can finally master the dance movement – my way! – for my body, and my personality.””

3. Can I drop in for 1 class? Or, do I need to sign up for classes by the month?

Yes, Ma*Shuqa’s weekly classes are open enrollment drop in - all classes offer both technique and performance options.  Classes suitable for beginners to advanced dancers because Ma*Shuqa Method provides the basic movement structure, rhythms, musicality - then offers embellisments, layering, and performance styling for the advanced dancer. 

7:00 pm - 8:30 pm Tuesdays and Wednesday Technique & Performance classes, great for beginner/intermediate level and advanced level dancers
1:00 - 2:30 pm Wednesdays Technique Performance class that focuses on improvisation, style development, and choreography.  

Drop in fee is only $20./class or, purchase a Dance Class Card for special class rates.
Flexibility of dropping into classes to fit your schedule is time and cost-effective.
The Dance Class Card is a good value (it never expires) - you only pay for the classes you take. 

Ma*Shuqa's classes are open to all levels of dancers, no previous experience is necessary. You must be physically able to rise from the floor unassisted as all dance classes end with stretching on the floor.

4. What is the usage policy for “Dance Class Cards”? When do they expire?
Dance Class cards (DC card) never expire.

- DC Card discount class fees. 10 classes $110/10 class rate, and $60/5 class rate. A DC card may be purchased for 5 classes; later 5 more classes can be added to the same DC card at the $60/5 class rate. New students receive a $10 discount on a Dance Card when purchased at the first class.

- Redeemable for weekly classes, the DC card may be used for any weekly class. Class cards never expire.

- DC card must be presented to receive the discounted class fee rate; otherwise the drop-in rate applies to the class. If you have forgotten or lost your card, the drop-in class fee applies. Cards will be punched for each class taken. Most students store their Dance discount card with a name tag at the studio.

- Transferable. The purchaser of the DC card or anyone presenting the DC card for class is entitled to classes at the DC card discount rate. Cards may be shared by dancers, but must be presented to receive the DC card discount rate or the drop-in rate of $20. applies to the class taken.

- DC cards may be purchased as a gift for another person. DC cards purchased as a gift may be redeemed for other merchandise from Ma*Shuqa’s Boutique (e.g. dancewear, costumes, hip sashes, or music), RSL Productions Image Products or services (Reel Sound and Light Productions photos) at full value. DC cards must be presented for redemption of cash value in services or merchandise.

- DC card discount rate applies only to weekly classes. Private lesson rates apply to private or semi-private group classes; however, the credit amount on the DC card may be applied to a private lesson.

- DC cards are applicable only to Ma*Shuqa’s weekly classes held at Ma*Shuqa’s studio. DC cards do not apply to Ma*Shuqa’s monthly Studio Workshops, or to Workshops scheduled at Ma*Shuqa’s studio with other instructors, or Ma*Shuqa’s instruction at other venues and events.

- See her website for class schedule changes Ma*Shuqa reserves the right to change the weekly group class schedule.

5. What are Ma*Shuqa’s Studio Workshops and how do they differ from weekly classes and private lessons?

- Ma*Shuqa’s monthly Studio Workshops are usually scheduled on Friday evenings or weekends.

 Ma*Shuqa presents special topics in a focused 2-hour format complete with handouts. Topics from the Studio Workshops may be scheduled as private lessons. Content from Studio Workshops is taught in weekly classes over a longer period of time. Studio Workshops are open to all levels of dancers. Fee is $25.

6. I’ve heard I can schedule “Group Private Lessons”, how do I schedule these?

- Many dancers schedule group private lessons with Ma*Shuqa (see group rates under Classes and Fees). Dancers scheduling group private lessons must agree upon a topic and content requested for the private lesson. One DVD recording will be made and is included in with the lesson fee, and may be shared with all dancers enrolled in the group private lesson.

- Special rate $5. /class discount for 4-private pre-scheduled/pre-paid classes
(e.g. pre-scheduled semi-privates, 1 hour lessons for 2 students @ $30. ea x 4 lessons paid in advance = $240. less special rate discount - $40. = $200. paid in advance for 4 semi-private, prepaid lessons.) Pre-scheduled Nonrefundable discount

7. How do I schedule a Private Lesson with Ma*Shuqa?

- To schedule a private lesson, simply call or email Ma*Shuqa to ask for a private lesson on a date and time of your choice. (408) 356-9473 or email
- Propose a topic or request specific lesson content for your lesson.
- Typical private lesson topics/content are: Polishing technique, learning how to improvise, learning how to play zils and dance, preparing for a dance contest, learning a new rhythm and dance steps, learning new dance style and steps (Armenian, Greek, Turkish, .…)

8. Why do dancers need to know Middle Eastern Rhythms and Zils (finger cymbals)?

If a dancer doesn’t know the rhythms, they won’t be “in time” with the music. If you know the rhythms, then you can play the appropriate rhythm pattern, and also play syncopated rhythms while you dance. Understanding the music and Middle Eastern phrasing helps you become a better dancer. If you understand the structure and rhythms of Middle Eastern music - you are able to dance improvisationally to live music.

9. What is the Ma*Shuqa Method of teaching Rhythms and Zils?

Ma*Shuqa has a very simple method for learning Middle Eastern rhythms – hearing the rhythms in the musical phrases and capturing the rhythms in simple notation. She has an extremely simple and effective way of learning to play cymbals and dance. She has heard from many new dancers that there were pleasantly surprised to find they could play cymbals and dance after only 20 minutes of instruction.

10. Can I schedule private lessons to learn how to teach belly dancing?

Yes, Ma*Shuqa can teach new instructors the best instructional methods to teach Raqs Sharqi or Middle Eastern dance with other cultural influences. She will gladly share her years of experience teaching Middle Eastern dance. Ma*Shuqa’s professional level instruction for teachers is supported by her professional education in instruction and curricular design at the doctoral level and her years of university-level education and curricular design work. Many dance instructors have come to Ma*Shuqa to learn her successful teaching secrets.  

Ma*Shuqa recommends scheduling a full weekend with her "Comprehensive Workshop Format" for learning how to develop your own approach to teaching. It's recommended that those who teach belly dance or want to become a belly dance instructor enroll in Ma*Shuqa's Diva Intensive Retreat - which includes many instructional notes.

11.  What is Ma*Shuqa's background?

Ma*Shuqa has the background to teach dance in a professional manner, her educational background includes: baccalaureates in Sociology and Psychology. Master’s degrees in Public Health/Health Education and Business Administration, and doctoral work in Educational instruction and curriculum development. She is a professional dancer with years of performance experience at private events, restaurants, parties and overseas in Germany, Greece, and Egypt. MaShuqa lived the professional dancer life in Germany - teaching aerobics and oriental dance, while performing nightly at Turkish restaurants and clubs with live bands. She has taught workshops throughout the U.S, Canada, and in Germany. She has been dancing for over 50 years, and teaching for 50 years. Ma*Shuqa is married to Carl Sermon, professional dance photographer with over  years of dance photography experience. Ma*Shuqa has studied with over 40 professional dance instructors and musicians. She teaches from an educator’s background and her instruction provides every level of dancer with a learning method that enables the learner to understand and dance, and also challenges the advanced dancer to incorporate performance into learning dance.

See a recent performance:

11. What does a successful professional Oriental Raqs Sharqi dancer need to know?

Ma*Shuqa works with dancers who want to become professional dancers and provides them the information they need to become successful dancers. Individual professional coaching includes: body form consultation and body strengthening exercise, make-up tips, costuming for performance, performance music, the structure of a great stage show and performance in other venues (parties, nightclubs, restaurants), performance with props, professional attire and behavior, business tips for getting and maintaining dance gigs, veil artistry, professional photos and professional packaging (business card, publicity photos, advertising, web) – your professional dance career and your personal life integration. Dancers value learning from a professional dancer who has “been there and done that” and is willing to share and assist you in becoming a first-class professional dancer. Most importantly, the Oriental dancer must understand the music and dance with tarab - the appropriate dance movement and quality that matches Middle Eastern music and taxim. (See Ma*Shuqa's article on Tarab at this website).

12. Where can I find Ma*Shuqa’s articles on Raqs Sharqi?

Ma*Shuqa writes informative articles on Raqs Sharqi for: The Belly Dance Chronicles: A Dancer’s Oasis (Dallas, TX), Habibi magazine (archives),, The Gilded Serpent,,,, and,, and

13. How does Ma*Shuqa work with dancers in Photo Sessions?

Ma*Shuqa provides dancers helpful advice to help them prepare for a photo session which includes: costuming information, photos for advertising, make-up preparation, and recommendation to conduct focused dance photo research. At the photo session,

- Ma*Shuqa is your professional dresser who makes sure your costuming fits properly and looks spectacular.    She carefully arranges your costuming for image perfection.

She is your coach helping you to pose to enhance your personality and costuming to bring out your best smile.

- She gives you performance posture, core strength, and dance lines coaching.  "I found that these tips translated well to my dancing and my teachers, other dancers, and friends noted the difference in the quality of my dancing."

- She will make sure that every strand of hair is in place, your jewelry hangs correctly, and your head, hands, arms, and veil and costuming are all carefully placed and beautiful.

- She will give you active motion technique tips to give you performance grade photos.

- She will work with you to be sure you project your personality by instructing you in facial expression, body angles, personal energy, and special smiles.   "A photo session with Ma*Shuqa and Carl is more than just picture perfect images - I learned a lot of performance tips that changed my dancing.  It was like having a special private lesson on performance and bringing out the real me - I walked out of the photo session a new dancer!"

See a gallery of posed studio photos by Ma*Shuqa and Carl Sermon, Photographer at  and at  See her custom Rhinestone Mask designs at this website.

Custom photo t-shirts and tote-bags with your photo image are available. See samples and order form at 

Carl can design a personalized "clock with your image" with your choice of Roman numerals, Arabic numerals, or Egyptian numerals.

Ask about framed prints and poster prints.