As Suhaila ended her decade of dancing professionally in the Arabic nightclubs in both the U.S and the Middle East, she began teaching her format that she had been developing since childhood. A problem occurred when some dancers, after taking only a few classes or workshops with Suhaila, would teach the content to others without sufficient understanding or mastery of the technique. This resulted in a few people contacting Suhaila about problems they experienced from practicing Salimpour technique they learned from other instructors. Suhaila worked with these students to find the cause of their issues and discovered that the problems were caused not by Suhaila’s technique; instead, students were developing imbalances and injuries due to incorrect instruction from an unqualified instructor.
This was not a new problem. Suhaila’s mother, Jamila, often lamented her frustration with students who would only study with her for a few months and then go out and make a name teaching her work without keeping connected to Jamila and staying current with her instruction.
Suhaila determined that dancer certification would be a means by which dancers could qualify for levels by passing standardized practical and written exams. The practical exams would focus on technique, choreography, and performance skills. Students would also learn more about Arabic music, history, and culture. As Suhaila always maintains an integral connection to the Arabic culture, so would her certified students. Certifications would be valid for two years and be renewable for ensuing two year periods by either successfully certifying in a higher level or completing Continuing Education Credits (CECs).
In 1998, Suhaila announced her certification program. The first Level 1 (100 level) students were tested and certified in 1999. To learn content, students attended multi-day workshops where testing was also offered.
As the first group of students began advancing through the certification program, Suhaila realized that many students did not have correct knowledge of or experience in Jamila’s step vocabulary. So Suhaila launched certification for the Jamila Step Vocabulary and its application in performance in 2007. Then, in 2008, she introduced online classes to give students support as they studied on their own long-distance.
In 2018, Suhaila offered online certification the 100 level courses: Suhaila Fundamentals and Jamila Vocabulary Fundamentals. This format allows students to study the content in their own homes with access to an instructor assigned to their group for guidance and questions; each course is followed by optional certification testing.
In 2020, the Suhaila Salimpour Institute of Online Education was created to house the certification program. Specifically designed for distance learners, the Institute gives students access to certification preparation and testing.
To learn more about the Institute, Certification, and Online Classes, see the links in the Learn More section on this page.