Articles written by The Belly Dance
Widower (my husband, John), students, friends and links to other sites.
- by Peter Gilstrap of the New Times (11/21/1996), article is about
Yasmina and her TV show
Hi, I'm a Belly dance Widower
-by John Parker
to Choreograph a Belly Dance Routine
- by Yasmina
to Clean Kuchi Jewelry - by Yasmina
Night in the Desert: the
planning of a show - John Parker
The Painting - by Naseem
Articles by other dancers
I'm Worth It! the perils of pricing - by Caitlyn
Behind the Rates - Why Belly Dancers Charge What They Do
The Business of Bellydance
- by Keti Sharif
All Professional Dancers! How Much do You Charge? - by Nanna
the Certifiers - by Najia-El-Mouzayen
graphic design for dancers, part 2 - by Lida
Photography: 5 tips on how to pose for pictures - by Majnuun
on the Internet, part 2: #hashtags 101 - by Princess Farhana
Yourself as a Professional, part 2 - by Naajidah & Ashiya
Ethics and Standard Practices
in Bellydance - by Anthea
Mistakes Dancers Make on the Internet - by Pricess Farhana
Charge What You are Worth - by Michelle Joyce
to Use Basic Design Elements for Belly Dance Promotional Material and
Websites - Andalee
Me the Money - by Amaya
you Want to go Pro? - by Jasmin Jahal
Art Entrepreneur or Belly Dance Dummy? by Melinda Melina Pavlata,
Care of Business: dance performance contracts - Princess Farhana
You Need To Know Before Booking a Show - by Princess Farhana
graphic design for dancers, part 1 - by Lida
Dance Costume Alterations to Keep a "G" Rating - by Lorraine
Dancing Costumes - by Diaa Khalil
Fashionably - by Martha Duran
Foot Forward: belly dance footwear - by Princess Farhana
Costume Disasters - by Leyla Lanty, from The Gilded Serpent website
Flash Dance: what's
going on under that costume?
- by Princes Farhana
Avoid Costuming Catastrophes - by Jasmin Jahal
Silk - an
indulgent luxury - by Leslie Wood from Hawaii Belly Dancer Magazine
Have all the Cover-ups Gone? by Ashyia and Naajidah
the Greek Way - by Denis Kavemeier
Darkly: the phenomenon of Gothic belly dance - by Laura Tempest
Styles of Oriental Dance - by Shems
Dances - by Jasmin Jahal
of Fusion - by Laura Tempest Schmidt
in America - by Caitlyn from The Gilded Serpent website
Intro to Tribal Fusion Belly Dance - Jasmine June
ďThe Trouble with Tribal (Fusion)Ē - from Bellydance Paladin
CONfusion - from Hipmix.net
Fusion: an evolving dance form - by Jasmine June
Dancing Good For Women's Health - by Dan Even
Dancing: swivel your way to fitness - by Stephanie Smith, CNN
For Belly Dancing - by Wendy Singh
Strength? buffing up for belly dance - by Aruna from The Gilded
Dance: a proactive approach to creating health - by Mesmera
Your Boundaries - by Princess Farhana
physical, mental and emotional recovery from dance injuries - by
Oriental Dance (aka belly dance) - by Shems
for Dowries - by Andrea Deagon
for Dowries, Pt. 2 - by Andrea Deagon
The Oldest Dance? -
Century Middle Eastern Dance - by Kimberly A. Minardi (aka Narah)
Significance of Belly Dance - by Mimi Hathor
Really Gave Us This Dance? - by Sausan
Victoria was Queen...and the Ghawazi Ruled - by Edwina Nearing
Belly Dance by DVD: does it really work? - by Mala Bhargava
Etiquette Develops Character - by Jasmin Jahal
A Competent Teacher - by Ne-Kajira Jannan of "Tribal Where?"
Over It! - by Najia Marlyz
the Most out of Dance Classes: approaching learning with intention -
by Princess Farhana
Happy Hips: a few
practice techniques for great hip work - by Michelle
to Perform Ab-driven Shimmies - by Mahsati Janan
with the Finger Cymbals - by Jasmin Jahal
Sharqi Improvisational Taqasim - by Ma*Shuqa Mira Murjah & Yosifah
on Nadira Jamal's How to Build a Sustainable Practice Habit - by
Routine Roller Coaster - by Nadira Jamal
Zaki Singing with Her Body - by Francesca Sullivan
Taxim - by
to Bring to a Belly Dance Workshop - by Susan Caplan McCarthy
40 Days and 1001 Nights:
a woman's dance through the Islamic World" (new book project) - by
Uncommon Woman Nagwa Fouad, Queen of Oriental Dance - by by Shareen El Safy
Dancers Create World Record - from BBC News
Belly Dancing in the News
- Belly Dancing making news around the world. Browse the news archives or get the latest belly dancing news headlines on your website with live news feeds!
Makes Ripples Among Asian Women - from Dance News
Belly Dance 'in Crisis' - by Malcolm Brabaut, BBC News, Cairo
- article from Al-Ahram Weekly
Court Slaps Ban on Dancer - by Jim Muir from BBC
News. Article is about Iranian dancer Mohammed Khordadian
Kalbelia; the charming gypsies of Rajasthan - by Divya Venkat
Learning to Burn:
Farah Akbar attends the Oscars of belly-dance - from Al-Ahram Weekly
learning to talk - article from Al-Ahram Weekly Online
Belly-dancers Dazzle Istanbul - by Chris Morris, BBC
Dancer: the benefits of private instruction - by Princess Farhana
an International Belly Dancer goes home to Macedonia - by Paola
Sikidim - from Al-Ahram Weekly
Eaters: Sheiks condemn charity meals from bellydancers - from Cairo Bureau Chief Gayle Young
Under Wraps on
the Stage: women in the performing arts in post-revolutionary Iran - by Maryam Habibian
Belly Dance in Irag: Thaawumpf - by Meena
Dance Body Adornment - by Princess Farhana
Dance Stage Presence & Expression - by Ruth Rena
the Dots: making smooth transitions in your dance - by Princes Farhana
Great Stage Presence - by Princess Farhana
the Spotlight!: overcoming stage fright - by Lida
Inspired by Song: interpreting Arabic orchestral music - by Alia
Yourself as a Professional, part 2 - by Naajidah & Ashiya
Ethics and Standard Practices
in Bellydance - by Anthea
the Essence: dancing to live music - by Safaa Farid
and Sensuality - by Shira
your Dance a Face Lift - by Jasmin Jahal
Games: mental preparation for dance - by Princess Farhana
to Overcome Stage Fright - by Michelle Joyce
the Dance, On Stage and Off: professional development through the lens of
belly dance - by Wendy Meluch
the Language of Belly Dance - by Shems
taking it to the next level - by Piper
Quintessentail Performer: attitudes for the stage - by Najia Marlyz
Fright is a Gift - from Deep Roots Dance
Stage Fright - by Jasmin Jahal
Come on Baby Light My Fire: Raks Shamadan - by Princess Farhana
Belly Dance with a Sword - by Christina Jordan
Using and Strong Balanced Props - by Princess Farhana
When is a
Belly Dance Prop a Crutch? - from Hipmix.net
Tips About Dancing
10 Secrets to Better Bellydancing
- by Keti Sharif
Things Troupe Members Should Remember - by Shannon Townsend
on How to be Famous - by Amaya
Beware of Airports - by Amaya
and Body Image, Aging and Self-esteem - by Princess Farhana
Live Music - by Valeria
Look Better Naked, or in Costume...without Exercising - by Meleah
Quickly Can We Become Better?: 3 tips to improve your dance - by Alayínya (Alianna J. Maren, Ph.D.)
Joy (and Pain) of Collecting Tips - by Sandra
Your Venue: style and the savvy performance artist - by Laura Rose
Maximize your Teaching Methods for Great Bellydance Classes
- by Keti Sharif
Music Copyright Law for Belly Dancers (or for any Performing Artist) - by Yasmin
finger cymbal elastic - from Bellydance Stuff website
Opening a Bellydance
Studio: tips for success - by Keti Sharif
Welcome to the Stage... - by Princess Farhana
Your Dance on a Pedestal
- by Jania Marlyz
First! Belly Dancers, Back Bends and Hair Tosses - from Hipmix.net
Shimmy Shakedown - by Jasmin Jahal
for Becoming a More Dramatic Dancer - by Princess Farhana
Getting Tips - by Zaheea
Ali & the Birth of the Ghawazee - by Sadira, from the Gilded
Amara - from
Amara's website on various topics
Strippers Our Enemies? - by Shira
Articles - from
OrientalDancer.net on various topics
Tutorials - from Tribal Belly Dance.org
by Hossam Ramzy
- various topics
by Joyful Dancer - various topics
Articles on Dance
- from Anthea's website on various topics
Dance - from Eva Cernik's website on various topics
Basics: a long over-due swing of the pendulum begins - by Najia Marlyz
the Sheen: the life of a belly dancer - by Rachelle Hicks
Dance as Art and Inspiration - by Jonatan Gomes Derbaq
Dance Competitions: Through the eyes of Ahava
- by John Clow
Dance - new life of an old dance - by Avorodisa
Dance on the Edge - by Denis Kavemeier
Through the Eye of the Camera - by Ishtra
the Restaurant: how can we bring bellydance to a wider audience - by
Prodigy Grows Up, Reda D!: an interview with Reda Darwish - from the Gilded
Strategies - by Jillina and Lauren
Peace with Belly Dance - by Atea
Education: bringing Middle Eastern Dance into the mainstream - by
Trisha ďAshanaĒ Hanada-Rogers
for Dancers - by Leila
Journal - by Shira
Self Esteem and Body Image: attention...you are hot! - by Princess
Belly Dance Today: definition by presentation - by Tasha Banat
Donít Come Whining to Me!: an open letter to aspiring young belly dancer - by Naajidah and Ashiya
my return to dance - by Baraka
Gaining Respect for Bellydance Artists - by Yasmina Ramzy
Guest Stories -
stories by dancers on various topics from Oriental
Hip Life - interviews
& articles by Mesmera
Started a Bellydance Club in High School - by Shazadi
How Old is To Old
- by Leyla Najma
How to Deal with the Doubts of a Significant Other - by Elisheva
Belly Dancer, but...I don't like Middle Eastern music - by Asharah
Improvisation is Boring!
- a thread by Palika of Heavy Hips
Search of a Better Belly - by Jasmin Jahal
Bellydance on a Downward Sprial? - by Yasmina Ramzy
"Cabaret" a Dirty Word? - by Leyla Lanty
About the Trophy - by Salima
Jamila Experience -
an article by Yasmela from the Gilded Serpent
of Teaching - by Yasmela from The Gilded Serpent website
JUST DO IT: Making Your Belly Dance Debut - by Princess Farhana
- articles on various topics
Lost in Translation: fusion confusion
- by Marion Nowak
Your Belly - posted by Princess Farhana
Self-Esteem and the Search for the Goddess Within - by Fiorin (pdf
of "The Grapeleaf" 1976-1997 - by Sausan
Eastern Dance: a beautiful, ancient, yet misunderstood art - by Hala
- articles written by Morocco
& Style - by Yasmela from The Gilded Serpent website
Dance and Drama - article is about Moroccan music
of Belly Dance as an Alternative Spiritual Culture - by Ansuya
Mystique of Belly Dancing - by Tom Verde from The Savvy Traveler
So Steampunk Belly Dance - by Jasmine June Cabanaw
Original Mish Mish: the golden age of Tinseltown - by Kamala
Phenomenon of the American Bellydancer - by Atea
a Dance Name - by Shems
- by Sadira, from The Gilded Serpent website
is not a Dirty Word! - by Nadira
Shira - articles on various topics by
- meet various belly dance artists through their interviews on Oriental
More Dancing in the '70s - by Kalifa, from The Gilded Serpent website
From a Dancer's Perspective - by Najia Marlyz
Belly Dancer - by Jasmin Jahal
Tip of the Hat to the Fez - by Princess Farhana
of Beauty: inverting the gaze (pt.3) - by Shema
Fest Under Fire - by Gilded Serpent Staff
is Easy - by Sharon from Tribalbellydance.org
and Memorials - from Gilded Serpent
Belly Dancing Guide - by Jenn
Visions": how Belly Dance music was first brought to the United States - by Ray Rashid
The Vintage Fusion trend Ė Is it ďTribalĒ style? - from Bellydance Paladin
Dancer's Guilt - by Miles Copeland
Comparing & Contrasting - by Shira
Pop Culture Meets Belly Dancing; here we go again! - by Shira
White Punching Bags of Belly Dance - by Leyla Najma
Whose Dance is
This Anyway? where do men fit into the belly dance world? - by Lara
Why it is
Important to Know What The Lyrics Mean? - by Lennie Clark
Are A Musical Instrument - by Hossam Ramzy
Say Zills, I Say Sagat - by Yasmin Henkesh
How to Clean Kuchi
To understand how to clean Kuchi jewelry you must understand what this jewelry is made with.
The Kuchi pieces Iím focusing on is the inexpensive pieces made with a brass base also known as ďgilletĒ metal. The base is about 75% Ė 80% brass with either copper, silver, iron or all these metals mixed in. Then a thick silver plating is buffed on the surface and can last for years. Once this plating starts to wear off your pieces start looking brassy.
Some of your jewelry will also contain glass jewels and beads. These items are held in place with beeswax and can come out easily with wearing and cleaning. Donít leave your jewelry out in the sun or in a hot vehicle or use hot water to clean your jewelry you will melt the wax. I normally replace these jewels using jewelry glue or a clear drying gloss medium like Glossy Accents that can be purchased at any craft store.
Since Kuchi jewelry is brass based you will see green oxidation in areas. It is difficult to get rid of this oxidation; using baking soda will help. Mix your baking soda with water into a paste and using a soft toothbrush to get into any crevices, this should remove the oxidation or most of it.
To clean your Kuchi jewelry use a mild dish soap and a soft toothbrush being careful around any glass jewels. Make sure you completely dry your pieces after cleaning.
For really dirty jewelry you might want to try other things like toothpaste, diluted lemon juice, ketchup or baking soda. Use a soft toothbrush or Q-tip to clean in those hard to reach areas.
There are cleaners on the market for cleaning silver and brass; I donít recommend these cleaners. Remember you are dealing with gillet metal which is a mixture of different metals. What will work on one piece may not work on another. Use a Q-tip and test an area of your piece to see how it will react you donít want to remove the silver buffing on your jewelry.
When you have finished cleaning your jewelry use a jewelers cloth to buff your pieces. After wearing your jewelry use your cloth to keep your pieces nice and clean.
Hi, I am a Belly Dance Widower
by John Parker
That is what I would have said a few years ago. Being the husband of a busy dancer you
feel abandoned. I mean I can not dance or play zills, so there is no place for me at the
performances. So, what do you do? If you are like me and have two left feet and no rhythm,
you can not learn to dance or play a musical instrument. Plus stage fright might be
another reason. So I decided to become a part of what was going on. I was watching TV one
day and saw a program about Public Access. I suggested this to my wife, Yasmina and we
decided to look into it. Because Belly Dancing is so misunderstood, this would give her a
chance to spread the word about how wonderful the dance is. This is how I became part of
the dance community. I became the Director of "The Joy of Belly Dancing" TV
Now the TV program is going on to other things, video production. This is a whole other
ball game. In video production there are so many other things to think about. Copyright
laws, royalties, time limits, studio time (which costs a bundle), quality of reproduction
to name a few. After the tape is finished, how to distribute and market it. Then making a
profit. Just think, to make a half hour video, it will take you at least eighty hours of
work. You have to plan the video, make sure the star practices, schedule studio time,
contact the musicians for permission to use their music, find out fees, photo session for
the front cover, film the video, edit to final product, the list goes on. The first time
around seems endless. Remember ask for help. Most people in the video production business
are very willing to help as long as you do not have an attitude. Remember sharing your
experience is one of the best parts of doing this.
One thing I have learned is that the dance is a very versatile way to express yourself
beautifully. As a viewer of a dance performance I look for the enthusiasm, beauty and
enjoyment of the dancer and her dance. All this talk about some are not catering to the
Middle Eastern Community seems backwards to me. These people have come to America to enjoy
some change in their life. Change is the essences of what has to happen. Learn from the
past, keep it, improve it, make people understand it. Make your audience, no matter who it
is, love it. Let this dance spread. Lets get more people to enjoy it. The Dance community
needs to work together and support each other. Everyone has something to give.
Being involved with the dance and its community has made Yasmina and my life together
better. Hope to see you at some of our future endeavors.
Seven Veils Production
to Create a Choreographed Belly Dance Routine
I recently taught a workshop
called, "Putting it Altogether" on the topic of how to
choreograph a dance routine. When doing my research for my workshop
I found there wasn't a lot of information on the topic which I thought
rather sad. I know so many dancers have a difficult time creating a
dance routine, hence the reason for my workshop.
I started to write a handout for
this workshop and it turned into an article. Below are the steps I
use to choreograph a routine for personal performances and dances I teach
Sometimes this is easier said than done J
On occasion I will hear a piece of music and I know immediately
thatís the song for me! The
song gives me chills; it makes me feel good and I want to get up and
Most often Iím creating a dance for class and I
know the style or prop Iím going to teach so I know the type of song
Iím looking for. It needs to
be short, slow or fast, it needs a certain flare since Iím doing a
fusion piece and the culture needs to be present in the song, etc.
So how do find this perfect song?
I start listening to music while Iím working, driving in the car,
Iíll bring a CD to class for warm ups, put something on to just dance
around the house; whatever Iím doing Iíll put on music and listen.
Bring out those old CDs you havenít listened to in ages you just
might find that right piece. Sometimes
I have students that let me know of a song, a group or CD they like and
Iíll find that right piece with their suggestions.
2) How to
Create Your Masterpiece
When I find that wonderful
song that moves me; you know the one that gives you goose bumps the dance
will fall into place. It puts
itself together and boom 20 minutes you have a dance!
Okay in the real world this doesnít happen that often; so how do
you go about creating this fantastic dance?
Once you find that great piece of music the fun
begins!!! I first listen to
the song to get the feel of it and start thinking of moves to incorporate;
than Iíll start dancing to the song playing with it. Turn
the lights off and just dance youíll be surprised how creative you are
in the dark. With paper and pencil in hand Iíll jot down moves that I
like in certain areas. A lot
of time the music lets you know what to do.
For example: when to travel, when to shimmy, accents to hit, when
to put in a favorite move or combo; these are the easy parts of the dance.
Some dancers like to dissect their music and write
down the time and what they hear before starting to choreograph.
At a certain section the song will go into a different feel or
rhythm. It might go from
instrumental to a singer or a change in instruments if the song has no
vocals or it may go from rhythm into melody.
I have dissected a piece of music on occasion when Iím really
having a difficult time putting a dance together.
Below is a sample of what Iím talking about:
Song is Ballad E by Pete List
:00 Ė :15 Ė guitar only
:16 - :29 Ė guitar and drum (dumbec)
:30 - :43 Ė guitar, bass, drum & voice
:44 - :57 Ė guitar, bass, drum, voice and drum set
:58 Ė 1:12 Ė all of the above
1:13 Ė 1:26 Ė all of the above
1:27 Ė 1:40 Ė all of the above
1:41 Ė 1:54 Ė voice, drum, drum set, bass
1:55 Ė 2:08 Ė voice drum, bass
2:09 Ė 2:22 Ė voice & bass
2:23 Ė end Ė voice only
This song started out with one instrument than added
various instruments until the middle of the song and started eliminating
instruments until the end where it ended with voice only.
I choreographed a sword dance to this piece of music
and it came together rather quickly do to the structure of the song with
all its changes. What made
this dance so easy to create I knew the sword moves I wanted to put into
this dance. The various
balance points and positions of the sword and the moves fell into place.
When you dissect your music you may put other
notations like, chorus (repeated section), singing starts here, mood
change, song break, baladi rhythm, tempo change, etc.
Use terminology that works for you.
Now the work begins; the beginning of the dance!
To me this is one part that is the most difficult to
create; the ending is the other part.
You want to capture your audience right off the bat; grab their
attention. Your entrance and
ending is the most important part of your dance.
Your audience remembers your entrance and the end of your dance.
You donít want to throw all your special tricks or fantastic
moves right up front you want to save them for later in your dance.
Listen to the first 20 seconds or so to figure out
your opening. You might ask
yourself do I make an entrance or start on stage.
Depending on what this performance is for, a show, restaurant gig,
belly gram, etc. and how the music starts will answer these questions.
Some pieces of music just start so you have no choice but to start
on stage. Unfortunately these
days when you are asked to be in a show you only get 5 minutes to shine so
we need to be creative in how we edit our music.
The song you pick my have a beautiful entrance piece but the song
is 6 minutes long so there goes the entrance left on the editing floor.
When you enter you want to use your area be it a
stage, someoneís living room, restaurant floor, etc.
You are making an entrance, be confident and remember your posture.
If your music starts right into your dance this also
takes planning. Do I start
with my back to the audience or face them.
Do I start in the middle of the stage or start stage right or left
and work my way onto the stage when my music changes to a traveling
section. If Iím using a prop
do I start with it or have it placed on stage, have someone hand it to you
or hidden (tucked) in your costume or on your body.
There is a lot of planning before we even start to choreograph.
4) Body of
you have your entrance!!!
for the body of your dance; work in small sections.
If your sections are time codes or phrasing with the music itís
much easier to work on smaller pieces than the entire song all at once.
may have sections already done when you first listened to your music.
Now itís just filling in the in between areas.
I like to add a new combination I just learned or created into my
dances. I find I remember
these combos when I use them in choreography since I drill them when Iím
learning a new routine. Use
moves that you have in your dancerís tool belt.
Your favorite moves you always fall back on are great but change
them up a little bit. This
works great with a song that has a chorus that repeats several times.
You can use the same moves during these sections just change the
direction or angle, layer a shimmy or another move on top, change the arms
or add a level change.
choreographing the body of your dance incorporate the use of stage.
No matter how small or large your dance area is use every inch!
Even if you are dancing on a postage stamp stage you can still move
forward and back, side to side and angles.
This is where level changes can really add spice to your dance when
you canít travel a lot.
use your dance space around you to add more flavor to your performance.
Front, back, sides along with up and down.
Start planning in your strengths, those trick moves to build your
dance and keep the audience attention.
you are in planning mode here the fine tuning comes once your dance is on
paper and you start practicing and putting the dance to memory.
You want to get your ideas down on paper first.
Now you are at the end of
your song and how are you going to end your piece.
Does the music just stop where you can end in a pose or does it
It is always nice to have
an exit to your dance, something to get you off stage or out of the room
if you donít have a stage. This
can be short you just need a little music to exit with.
If you canít exit to
music remember you are still ďonĒ even though the music has stopped.
The audience still sees you and they are watching until you are out
Please what ever you do
donít bend over and pick up your veil, props or anything you may have
left on stage with your back side to the audience.
Do you really want to audience to remember your ďbuttĒ as the
last thing they see? Have
someone pick your items up for you after you have left or dip down so your
side is facing the audience to pick up your things.
I know Iíve said this
before, your audience remembers your entrance and exit.
Yes they do remember the highlights of your dance but the main
thing is your entrance and exit. Make
sure your entrance and exit is powerful and what you want them to remember
6) Your Notes
Once Iíve finished my
choreography, my notes are all over the place.
I use short hand, I have arrows in the margins when Iíve
miscounted and I had to add another 8 counts or phrase; my pages are a
I go to my computer and put
my choreography in Word. You
can use any software you like you just need to put it some where for safe
keeping. Once Iíve entered
my notes I print it out for my classes if itís for a class routine along
with the name of the song, CD and artist.
I do this incase I run across this dance years later and remember
the dance and how fun it was but what was the song I used?
This brings up another tool
I use; video! I will video
tape the dance which really helps me remember it.
Sometimes its years or months later when I find the routine and I
want to perform it again; I find the video and amazing how quickly I
remember the dance. I love
video itís a great tool to use not only to critique yourself but to help
in remembering your dances.
Flavor and Spice
Now you have your dance on
paper; itís all planned out, now what?
This is where you add all
the details, your arms, use of dancer space, drama & emotion, half
time the music, etc.
To me arms are the most
difficult part of your dance. You
donít just want them at your side they can add so much to your dance.
Create arm paths on your moves to add to your dance.
Dancer space I touched on
earlier. Use your area that is
in front and behind you, side to side and up & down.
Add drops, level changes, lunges, torso stretches, back bends etc.
to your dance to spice it up.
Drama and emotion really
adds flavor to your performance. Your
music really helps you convey emotion.
Get lost in your music when you perform and you will add even more
emotion to your performance. Donít
over do facial expressions add drama in other ways like in your moves.
A simple walk across the stage can be very dramatic.
Half time your music when
you perform this will add variety. You
donít want to dance the same speed from start to finish believe me the
audience will get really bored and stop watching.
Half timing your music, you slow it down in areas moving half the
time of the music. Add poses
or stay still for a few seconds to add variety also.
When I choreograph a dance I also phrase with the
music instead of doing 8 counts here, 8 counts there; to me it adds more
depth to your dance.
I think of the song having many changes throughout
just as our dance does and we as dancers are a layer on top of the music.
Our layer is how we interpret the music we are dancing to in our
emotion, costume and that time in space we are performing.
Even though our dance maybe choreographed when we perform it itís
always different. So many
factors play into each performance you never know what will happen.
I hope you find this information helpful when you go
to choreograph your routine. You
donít need to choreograph your entire dance leave areas for
improvisation if you like. The
most important thing is to have fun when you perform.
Project this when you dance and the audience will love it and you
will enjoy performing even more.
A Night in the Desert: the
planning of a show
by John Parker
After our show in May at Tasty Kabobs Restaurant, Yasmina and I talked about how
went. We had such a good time, I thought it would be nice to do something else. We should
do a show case, something special. We talked more and more about it. We compared shows
that we had seen before and talked about what we liked and disliked about them. Then we
decided on a live band. Something that has not been done much. Then the fun really began.
Where do we hold it, what dancers to ask and where do we find a band.
The first step was where to hold the show. This was not easy. After many calls, either the
places were to small, to expensive or already booked. We finally found a room with a great
stage. Yasmina was unable to look at it, so I got to go. I inspected it and was impressed,
but I am not a dancer. So with my recommendation she said OK. We have the place, now for
We sat down and talked about who we would like in the show. We made a list consisting of
what I thought would be nice, and what she wanted. Than came the confrontation. I told her
what I disliked about other shows. To long, boring and lack of variation. We finally came
to an agreement on the dancers. I think each had something to give the show. Luckily
everyone could do it. Now for the band.
We asked a lot of people about musicians they knew or had heard play before. After
contacting some of them we thought this might be hopeless. We thought that rooms were
expensive. But Morgiana was the one who came through for us. She told Yasmina about a
group she had worked with several years ago, but was not sure if they were still together.
She hunted for the phone number and got back with us. Yasmina called and spoke with one of
the brothers. The Nights of Athens was a Greek band and was use to working with belly
dancers. This was perfect. We had a place, dancers and a band.
Now the work really began. We decided on a two hour show. Anything more than that would
start to get boring. We wanted to leave the audience wanting more. We decided on 8
dancers, so time would have to be limited. Yasmina talked to each dancer about what they
would like to do. Some of the dancers had specialties that we wanted to show case. Then
the line up, who will be first and so on. This line up was changed a few times over the
months from June to August. We asked for bio's, not an easy task for anybody to write
about yourself. One bio we received was more like a feature article for a
belly dance magazine. It was very important, but to long for the program. Soon we had received
all the bio's. We made a few programs sending to the dancers for proof reading, which we
were glad we did. We made a few mistakes. Yasmina kept in contact with the dancers by mail
and the band by FAX machine. We wanted to keep everyone informed. We sent maps, room and
stage dimension and how the room would be setup for that nights performance. Trying to
keep any questions answered and surprises to minimum. Trying to call people is difficult
and the band was very difficult to get a hold of, so Faxing was the easiest way to
Advertising was something else to consider. We wanted more than just the dance community
to experience this night. We made hundreds of fliers and passed them out at events, dance
classes, restaurants, college campuses, every place we could think of. We sent and gave
them to friends and co-workers. We submitted news releases to the newspapers and the New
Times. We made about 800-900 fliers. If only 20% of them showed up we would have been very
If you came to the show you know the stage was huge. So we attempted to build some props.
The camel and pyramid turned out great. The moon and palm tree never made to the stage.
Everything is done. Dancers and band are ready, props are made, programs and tickets are
printed. Everything is piled in the spare bedroom ready to go. Now we wait for Saturday
night. Four days before the show only, 45 tickets have been sold. We were sweating it a
bit. But what the heck, if it doesn't pay, we will have one hell of a party.
I must admit, the night of the performance was great. The dancer's were in great moods,
really looking forward to performing. The band was a little late, but when they started
playing the place came alive. Everybody was excited, really excited. I have never seen an
audience so interested in what was going on. Hardly anyone talked. They moved around so
they could see better. Every dancer was on top of things. I have never seen so much
energy. I felt by the end of the night, it was a success. Then counting the ticket stubs
and finding out we had sold enough, was an added bonus.
We had such a good response from this show, we decided to do it all over again. We located
a theater for the next show, which was much better for filming, and had 4 cameras at this
performance. This night was even bigger and better then our first attempt. Both shows are
now available on video, see our ad in this issue for ordering information.
Thank you for your support.
The Belly Dance Widower
I do not know the name of the painting, nor do I know who painted it. Small children do
not let their minds be cluttered by such mundane things. I do know the place where the
painting hangs is somewhere in Dayton Art Institute.
My family took me there often when I was small, and this painting captured my attention. I
would stare at it for what seemed like ages, transported to another world. I would find
myself standing on a dark street somewhere in the Middle East. Drab dirty buildings rise
up around me. A crowd of onlookers surround the most beautiful woman I had ever laid eyes
on. Her skin is creamy white, and her moves sinuous. She is a belly dancer. Her head is
thrown back, hair cascading down behind her, and her eyes focus upwards, towards the
heavens. The light converges on her, especially her rounded pale belly.
I want to be like her. She seems so strong, to stand before such a crowd and dance alone.
Every eye focuses on her, the epitome of beauty. Hence, my mind equated her beauty and
strength with the ancient dance she performed, and it became my goal to learn this dance.
I tried to copy the moves of the belly dancers I had seen. It wasn't until I started high
school, however, that I really learned the dance. I signed up for classes and found a
wonderful teacher. I studied and progressed, practicing for hours at a time, and began
When I dance, nothing is planned. I often dance to live music, but even when I dance to
taped music there is no choreography. Whirling and twirling, my hips move to the music. I
feel beautiful. I become strong. All eyes are focused on me, and I dance for the joy of
Being alone on stage has given me courage to come out of my shell. This ancient dance has
completely changed my outlook. I now feel as if I can take on the world. I used to be
afraid to speak out in class, fearing the attention, but now I am willing. Presentations
in front of people no longer fill me with dread. I am outgoing where I was once quiet and
Belly dance has also allowed me to immerse myself in a culture. I play Mid-Eastern music
on a drum called a doumbek. I perform in Mid-Eastern restaurants and sample the food. I
know the long history of the oldest dance on Earth, an ancient history that is passed down
from dancer to dancer.
The community of belly dancers is diverse. We are all ages, and come from many
occupations. We have different levels of involvement; some dance every once in a while,
others are completely immersed. All are welcome, however, in this great network, and all
are valued. The seasoned dancer who has been performing for years has a wealth of
knowledge and experience to impart, while new dancers bring a freshness. Belly dance
provides a camaraderie for all who love and understand it.
There is a mystery to the dance I cannot put on paper. Words cannot describe it. Anyone
who watches the dance, however, sees it. It comes from the ancients, from the sacredness
of the dance so many women have performed through the ages. It is the spiritual aspect of
the dance that only another dancer can come close to understanding, although it is
different for each individual.
I have become the woman in the painting. I am strong and beautiful. The eyes of the world
are upon me. I know her movements, perform those same movements. I cast my eyes upward to
the heavens. I am part of something greater than myself.