This week’s post is a deep dive into the 8 Elements program thanks to Flissy Om Chantress! She is a professional dancer in the Baltimore/DC area and a wonderful dance friend She has offered to answer a list of questions that I compiled about bellydance certification programs and in this case, the Rachel Brice 8 Elements program. Without further adiue, let’s get to it!

Why was the certification program created?
My understanding is that Rachel Brice wanted to present a holistic program that would help dancers craft dances and give them a foundation to explore musicality, history, performance, or whatever dance-related interest they may have. The technique and vocabulary used in the training is Datura Style, which is a fusion of ATS, American Cabaret, and other influences, though it is a tool to teach concepts about improvisation, performance, learning skills and more, so I would say it’s not so much about a brand as some other dance certifications out there.The program culminates in a practitioner’s certificate at Phase III, which incorporates performance and dance composition skills, and there is also a teacher training at Phase IV, Transmission.
There is more specific detail about the 8 Elements training at the website:

How long does it take for each level?
Each phase includes a 4 – 8 day intensive, and depending on the phase, can include three months or more of preparation work plus several weeks or more work after the intensive to complete testing materials to submit. It took me four years to complete all four Phases.

Does it mean something?
Personally, when I see someone is an 8 Elements Practitioner, I expect them to be dedicated, have a strong foundation in fundamental belly dance skills, and because there is such emphasis on building good community in the 8 Elements program, I trust that I will have a positive experience working alongside them. Because Rachel Brice has such a stellar reputation in the belly dance community, and because Datura Online is a widely used practice tool, I think the positive impression of both of those extends to the 8 Elements program. The certification itself, even at Phase, helps boost a dancer’s credentials, but more so, the training itself provides tools for dancers to be ethical in their business dealings and grow into ever more proficient and artistic performers.
That being said, I don’t think it’s recognized outside of belly dance whatsoever!

If you complete a level but don’t test, is there an indication for that?

Are there CEC credits required similar to a fitness certification?
None are required, however, for Certified Datura Style Teachers, our most recent continuing education is listed within our profile.

Are there rules about the area in which you can teach- competition clause?
There’s no competition clause and collaboration among teachers and practitioners is highly encouraged.

Is there a process via which the certification can be found out to be fake? ie someone saying they are trained in the format and they are not?
Names are listed for graduates of each phase at the website:  It’s kept up to date, so it’s easy to confirm whether someone is certified or not.

What do you feel are the positives of a certification program?
A certification program can provide comprehensive and in-depth knowledge and experience about a specific topic. Taking a test can help gauge whether or not you understand the material and give you motivation to truly integrate the information included in the program. In-person intensives are also a great place to build long-lasting friendships. The piece of paper “certificate” is secondary to the experience of growth.

What do you feel are the negatives?
People do not always recognize the hard work that goes into a certification. There’s such a broad range of things that exist! Some certifications require only time in class, and some require rigorous preparation, testing, and/or follow up work. If you go into a certification only for recognition, there is a good chance you will be disappointed because there’s no guarantee that anyone else will care about the certificate or the hard work you put into it. Travel and time spent in certification intensives can make it cost-prohibitive or inaccessible.

Anything else you would like to add?
The 8 Elements program has been a truly transformative experience for me! I learned how to be more consistent and productive in dance practice, how to be a better collaborator with colleagues, and how to learn new skills, alongside learning technique and vocabulary for a specific style of dance. It’s a very comprehensive and growth-oriented program that I recommend highly.

Thanks again so much Flissy for offering to answer all of my questions! This has been super informative and amazing.