About the 8 Elements™


The 8 Elements™ approach is taught through multi-phase intensives which explore 8 key concepts, building from the simple to the complex, with the purpose of developing a healthy dance practice while demystifying the process of dance making. 

These intensives, and the assignments between them, are designed to impart a strong, creative, and dynamic foundation for belly dance practice, and as a way to complement and converse with the many belly dance styles. The intention of this process-centered approach is not to teach a set style of belly dance, but to explore the underlying architecture of many dance styles, honoring traditions, while encouraging discovery, excellence, innovation and joy.

Check out the video below for an inside look at the 8 Elements program and the objectives of each of the 4 phases.


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The 8 Elements Training Schedule can be found here.

The 8 Elements™ Instruction

The 8 Elements™ approach encompasses biomechanics, vocabulary development, improvisation, choreography, musicality, practice development, tribal belly dance history, costuming, and performance preparation and experience. Participants in intensives will come away with a toolbox of methods and concepts to improve technique, stimulate creativity, and build effective and dynamic dances, whether improvised or choreographed, solo or with others.

Recognition and Certification

The 8 Elements™ intensives are intended as an approach for exploration and development of one’s personal dance practice, with the opportunity to join a network of other practitioners and teachers who have displayed a degree of commitment and proficiency in the approach through testing for recognition at each phase and two culminating certifications:  A Practitioner’s Certification and a Teaching Certification. 

The Practitioner’s Certification will be offered for participants who complete Phases I - III, and who satisfy the requirements and testing for each phase. The Teaching Certification will be offered after the completion of the Practitioner’s Certification and Phase IV, the Teacher Training phase and its requirements. A document of recognition at each phase will also be provided for those who complete and have passed the testing for each phase. Participants who complete all phases and testing, earning the Teaching Certification, will be certified to teach the Datura Style™ approach. More information about Datura Style™ can be found here.

 Our First Intensive: April 2011 8 Elements™ Initiation Attendees

Our First Intensive: April 2011 8 Elements™ Initiation Attendees


Phase I: Initiation

Initiation, Phase I of the 8 Elements™ training, introduces and explores 8 key concepts building from the simple to the complex with the purpose of laying a foundation to unlock the "how" of dance making and healthy dance practice. Through Initiation, participants are introduced to the key concepts of the approach which encompass biomechanics, vocabulary development, improvisation, choreography, musicality, practice development, belly dance history, costuming, and performance preparation and experience. Participants in this intensive will come away with a tool box full of methods and concepts to improve technique, stimulate creativity, and begin to build effective and dynamic dances, whether improvised or choreographed, solo or with others. 

Initiation is open to all levels of dancers, from the familiar beginner (1+ year of experience) to the seasoned performer seeking to strengthen the foundation of their dance.

Phase II: Cultivation

Cultivation, Phase II of the 8 Elements™ training, continues the focus on technique and creativity as engines for expression while expanding the dancer’s creative ‘toolbox’ for building a unique approach to vocabulary, musicality, adornment, improvisation, and choreography. This intensive goes deeper into the fundamentals of belly dance technique and yoga asana, exploring Rachel’s dance vocabulary, shared vocabularies, while practicing solo and group improvisation. Participants will create original combinations, expand proficiency in musicality and learn common arabic rhythms, and explore design for adornment. Initiation is an overview of a well-rounded dance practice, and in Cultivation the approach is advanced and refined to support the dancer’s process of development and discovery.

Cultivation is open to dancers who have completed Phase I, Initiation.

Phase III: Culmination

Culmination, Phase III of the 8 Elements™ training, continues with the refinement of technique and musicality, and focuses on improvisation, choreography, and performance elements of belly dance. In addition to daily technique training, participants will create original compositional studies. We will discuss group rehearsal, challenges presented by rehearsal and performance, and optimal conditions for group work.
At the completion of Phase III, participants will receive a document recognizing them as Practitioners of the 8 Elements™ approach. They may then be eligible for application to Phase IV, Teacher Training, provided that they complete all requirements and have consistently displayed respectful and positive behavior toward other participants and themselves throughout all three intensives.

Primary objectives of Phase III:

  1. Honing Datura Style™ technique: Polishing and mastering technique to become a certified 8 Elements Practitioner
  2. Collaborative work: Gain experience with dance composition concepts, group rehearsal dynamics, and prepare for your final project composition

Culmination is open to dancers who have completed Initiation and Cultivation.

Phase IV: Transmission

Transmission, Phase IV of the training, focuses on transmitting what has been learned from these trainings and other performance experiences to other dancers. Subjects will include demonstration, observation, corrections, different teaching styles and methods, ethics, positive communication, critique, inspiration vs. imitation, and the business of belly dance. Participants will also have the opportunity to gain hands on experience practicing teaching during the intensive.

In Transmission, participants will learn:
    •    teaching approaches for each of the 8 elements, including musicality and finger cymbals
    •    to teach Datura Technique Studies™
    •    to teach Datura Conditioning Sequences™
    •    classroom management strategies for groups
    •    effective unit planning
    •    curriculum design
    •    principles for creating your own sequences

Participants who complete all phases, projects, and testing, earning the Teaching Certification, will be certified to teach material from the Datura Style™ approach.  More information about Datura Style™ can be found here.

Transmission is open to dancers who have completed testing and requirements for Initiation, Cultivation, and Culmination.


"This program is unique in that it meets each dancer where she or he is. From beginners to professionals, the 8 Elements approach provides a solid foundation in all aspects of belly dance--and it's the most motivating, inspirational dance training experience I've ever had the good fortune to participate in!”

Sarah Kate Moore, Seattle, WA

"The 8 Elements experience gave me invaluable inspiration and tools to better craft my dancing, much more so than I ever expected.  What I didn't expect at all was how the experience and the 8 Elements community would creep into my heart and become a source of continual inspiration, insight, and support." 

Lauryn, CO

“The 8 Elements Intensives offer a holistic approach to the art of Middle Eastern Dance, which can be extremely beneficial for the artistic growth at any level or stylization of belly dance.  Rachel Brice fosters a supportive environment which nurtures a dancer's creativity and confidence levels, while also emphasizing a strong technical foundation in dance and yoga.  I've been waiting for Rachel's program to emerge for years and look forward to growing as her student for many years to come.”

Michelle Manx, TX

“The 8 Elements is the first real Belly Dance theory we have been able to study in this format. I think it is a great way to honor our dance form, cultivate a deeper understanding of our history and lineage, as well as a deeper understanding of the body, movements, and integration of the essential components of a well rounded dancer.”

Lacy Dickerson, Chattanooga, TN

“8 Elements is not just about physically becoming a better dancer, though training with Rachel goes a very long way in that regard.  It's about questioning and breaking through our own limitations, thereby catching a glimpse of our true potential as dancers, as artists, and as beings.”  

Absinthe (Kate Darling), Elgin, IL

“The 8 Elements Initiation has genuinely accomplished all of its intentions. This unique, dynamic, diverse & supportive program has indeed caused a process to begin, it has magically stimulated my own creative growth, it has enriched & enhanced my perspective to new ideas, and has given me a new set of tools & skills that have allowed me to further my dance education and career to its greatest potential.”

Luna Moon, Northern California

“Rachel's Initiation course was an inspirational gift to me at a point where I was feeling in a creative rut in the personal evolution of my dance. The course taught me techniques for building a dance from beginning to end, and building upon each individual movement. Rachel's class helped me to find the ability and re-find the passion to push my own personal limits, and an invaluable skill set to realize the truth: Personal creativity is limitless.”

Carlissa, Portland, OR

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