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Bellydance Q & A
have a question or an answer about bellydancing, dancers, costumes, Middle Eastern
Culture, Gypsies, etc., send it to Email
and we will try to find an answer for you, and post it on these pages. Thanks.
Questions and Answers:
Christian Belly Dancers
Hairstyles for Belly Dancers
Dancing into the Ocean?
of Bellydance and Origins?
Belly Dancers Jewis or Arabian or both?
of Light in Bellydance Shows
in the Bible, high sounding cymbals??
of belly dance props, i.e. swords, canes, candles, flowers, veils, zills, glasses,
tamborines, and scarves?
Dances of Yemen: Costumes?
it Cabaret, Middle Eastern Dance, Raks Sharki, or bellydance?
dancers be tattooed, and how does that affect their image?
do I perform undulations?
Flipping, Dollar folding, Rolling quarters on the stomach
on the body
wigs and falls
dance - bellydance - politically correct or not?
about Male Belly Dancers?
I lose 25 lbs. in 30 days with Belly Dance?
we hire a snake charmer with a Cobra?
Movie with Belly Dancing
|Hi, I found your web-site looking for information on different hair-styles for belly-dancers like the styles that tribal bellydancers wear. So far I have trouble finding anything about how to style my hair. I would also like information on clip ins and how well they stay in for "big hair toss moves" My hair used to be down to my hips and it was aggravating so I cut it short. I've wrestled with the idea of having to have long hair as a bellydancer for a long time. The long hair seems to add something to the impression that is made. So, I'm interested in clip ins that won't go flying in someones face while I'm dancing or become partially undone. Preferably ones that are tribal. I really like the style where the dancer wears some kind of bun on each side at the back and to the top with strands of hair coming down. Or even at the back. It looks awesome and very regal!
Thank you! Siobhan
Hair styles for Belly Dancers?
|Greetings! I was wondering if anybody can give me tips or advice about
dancing into the ocean. I encountered this on Delilah's website, but the
article talked mainly about the process of costume-making for this. I'm
wondering if anyone else has ideas for how to go about this, and if it would
work in a lake. (I'm 1500 miles from the nearest ocean). My thanks! Mandy
Topic: Dancing into the Ocean, or a Lake?
Hi, I'm relatively new to bellydancing and am having a hard time with the chest figure 8. Specifically doing it without moving my shoulders. Any suggestions? ~ Paulissa aka Shalimar
Hi, Shalimar, We have several videos that cover figure 8's pretty well. Carrie Konyha's The Dance, Volume I is one of them. Also the book by Neffertiti gives some illustrations and instructions. Below is a link to a page from her book that gives instructions for doing a Figure 8. -- Penny
Doing Figure 8's - any suggestions?
question to you concerns fashion. I've been learning bellydance for about six
months. I love to dance barefooted. I'll soon be performing to my first audience,
and I was wondering if it matters what color of nail polish I wear on my toes?
I've seen some videos where the dancers are wearing dark reds and purples, and
some wearing light pinks or no polish. My costume is dark blue and although blue
nail polish is the rage today, I think it would look ghastly on my toes. My husband
thinks it should match. Do you have a preference of toenail color or does it depend
on your costume? Please respond asap. I'm very nervous and don't want to look
foolish. Thank you. Sincerely,
Esther L" |
the blue polish. BUT choose a red or pink with a blue undertone. No tomato or
orangey reds (CLASH!), and no orange. If it's a light blue, stay soft with the
pinks. If it's strong and dark, use one of the fuchsia or blood reds. Soft and
sweet needs the lighter touch. Dark and intense can handle the darker, more dramatic
colors. Esthetically speaking, the trendy American colors don't translate into
Answer thanks to our costume
Toe Nail Polish
Can we hire a snake charmer for our
Festival of India Exhibit? Debbie C., Curator of Education, Port Huron Museum,
work with a mechanical cobra which is sound activated or with any one of several
non-poisonous snakes of your choice. Otherwise, you may want to call around Hollywood
for animal extras and trained handlers to avoid any problems since East Indian
snake charmers work with venomous snakes and would be legally required to have
what is called a "hot permit"- especially in any event where the public at large
is concerned. I believe live cobras are illegal in public and if not, anyone with
one would have had the poison glands and fangs removed- or the mouth will be sewn
shut for the show. Not so nice for the snake either way. Or - Contact some reptile
breeders through reptile magazines found in any pet store. There are people who
specialize in venomous snakes. They might tell you more than I can." M.
Cobras and Snake Charmers
I have a
question about belly dancing I haven't yet found the answer to anywhere. Is it
really true that some dancers can move objects, like glasses and coins on their
stomach, using their stomach muscles alone?
seen various styles and performances, but never anything like that, I've only
read rumors. If it is a fact, is it a sort of a virtuosic skill or a common talent?
Yours truly, Mikko P
question - and what it boils down to is - is this easy or not? A resounding NOT!
Yes, I have seen some exceptional dancers, who used to do this routinely in their
dance performances, demonstrate for those of us who attended their workshops/retreats.
Of all the women in my sessions, only one seemed to be able to QUICKLY imitate
with any success. It takes concentration and practice of muscle isolation to get
this to even look like a feat of agility or fine motor response, and not an agonizing,
writhing contortion of a would-be Houdini.
flipping, dollar folding, rolling quarters - all mysterious skills that seem to
be from performers and performances long past!! I think perhaps we are truly not
seeing much of it now BECAUSE of the Egyptian style influence that is currently
popular. Egyptian style is very upright, and elevated - not performed on the floor,
and less and less performed with a bare "belly."
"tricks" require both floorwork and bare tummies, so....
who is still available to see these amazing skills demonstrated: check out Delilah,
of Seattle, WA. She includes a "how - to" segment in her instructional videos
- just in case you feel inspired to continue this legacy!! I have watched her
turn quarters, laid in a row of three on her belly - all at once, one at a time
in order, AND on request (which one now, the middle or the end?) She is terrific
at snapping the diaphragm and popping a silver dollar into a small cup on her
abdomen. But, remember, regardless of her natural abilities as a dancer, she has
years of experience and practice behind her, and she has dedicated a good portion
of her life to advancing this art form. So she can make it look easy!
Personal note: tried for awhile, and was able
to turn the quarters, but believe me, it wasn't pretty!
have also seen Suzanne Del Vecchio execute some marvelous belly maneuvers, but
am not sure where in her videos. She is another dancer who carries on many of
the dancing traditions that Americans fell in love with during the 60's and 70's.
I have seen her belly rolls that look like tidal waves. She does floorwork with
her sword on top of the belly rolls, ending with a muscle pop that bounces the
sword high enough to clear her body and land in another spot! Quite impressive!!
So, I guess the message here is : Yes, Mikko,
there is still a faction amongst the dancers who do this, and will continue to
pass the skills along.
most of us who love floorwork, we must seek these performers out, and bring it
back to center stage. Perhaps you will be one to join the ranks of the performers,
and help preserve this part of our art....Thanks for the intriguing question.
Back to TOP
Coin Flipping, Dollar folding,
Rolling quarters on the stomach
May I ask you a question about dance style and
terms? Are Delilah and Del Vecchio cabaret style dancers? In my surfing, I haven't
come across any articles discussing what the different dance styles are. Is "belly
dance" an appropriate term or is it degrading? I have gotten some mixed feedback.
I do not mean to offend but I do not know if Middle Eastern Dance Oriental or
Raks Sharki is the "belly dance" that I mean to refer to. Why is "belly dance"
a bad term for some people?
Hi Khrystynne! (great name)
Please forgive me for returning your message
now as I have had problems with my computer - but all is fixed now.
for your great and informative comments regarding our video. We will be coming
out with more videos series - instructional. The last set was more fitness oriented;
they should be released by x-mas.
belly dance was a misconception and mispronunciation - it was really called "belady
dance", which means "dance of the people." It was a dance of celebration for women,
and by women. We have family in the Middle East, and we're not offended by the
word "belly dance." Some Egyptians prefer the dance to be called oriental dance.
I'm sure the other dancers explained alot of your questions by now. Hope it helps!
Love Veena & Neena (The
Is it Cabaret, Middle Eastern Dance, Raks Sharki,
"I was just wondering if you could
help me with choosing my first pair of Professional Finger Cymbals. I have been
asked to do some Belly Grams for people that I know. I am just starting out Professionally
and feel I can start performing. Anyway, I need a pair of Professional zills.
My hands are very small. I know small ones don't have that great of a sound, but
do you know of a good size for professional use for a Dancer with small fingers?
They can't be too large because of the size of my short stubby fingers. My fingers
are like a child's, except they are chubby. I am an adult. Which sound is the
most preferred by Dancers, high or low pitch, bell-tone, or mellow?
do you know of any finger cymbals that sound like bells, are not too large, and
that you would recommend for me? Is there any such things as a bell sounding tone
in a finger cymbal? Like the bells worn by East Indian Dancers? Which size would
you recommend for me to get with the consideration that I want quality Profession
type Zills, but they can't be too large as my fingers are really short and they
can't over power me. Thank you for your help.
you and please reply soon"..Diana
question regarding zills for small hands that can be used in professional dance
jobs has many answers. Don't worry too much about needing really big zills for
your dancing, especially if you are just starting. I really would only recommend
large zills for performances in large spaces or outdoors. If you are starting
with bellygrams in restaurants, private homes, then consider only the zills with
the sound you like, that feel comfortable and feel easy to keep the rhythm to
Saroyan carries a variety of zills
of the intermediate category, (don't be fooled by the term "intermediate," you
can easily use them in paid gigs....) that are almost as small, probably about
2 1/4" diameter, and light as the beginner weight. You can order in the same diameter,
with either the light or heavy metal content. Weight of the zill, as well as SHAPE
of the bell on the zill, affects the sound, tone, pitch of the zill. Heavier and/or
larger also equates to more advanced, more difficult, "more" professional. (The
Pink Gypsy carries beginners zills)
personally like the sound of the ones with the ridges in a flared bell. One of
my students only buys the ones with the concave bell shape. I continued to use
my Saroyan Nefertiti beginner intermediate zills for several years of performing,
and enjoyed the sound and the feel. Now I have 3 very different sets from which
But, bottom line, you will overpower
your audience with BIG zills in the intimate setting. The larger the room, the
larger the zill you will need to be heard. Out of doors makes for a sound vacuum
- no surfaces to bounce the sound waves back to your ears. In those venues, feel
the need to exceed.
One final note on size:
small zills are easier to play; larger ones are harder. When you are first beginning,
you may prefer the smaller for performing - they will make you sound good, until
your zills are second nature to you. BUT, practice with the big ones - your fingers
will simply fly when you switch back to the smaller ones in your performance.
If you aren't sure which tones are best, trust
your own ears. I gave away a set of zills because *I* couldn't stand to hear them
for the whole performance. A good place to test them - one of the local events
sponsored by associations like MECDA,
SAMEDA, etc. You will find vendors like Harry Saroyan, with his complete arrange
of bells, or Ali of Turquoise International, who has a line as well. PLAY with
all of them. Trust your ears, and try them on for size. Sometimes you can find
used ones that are perfectly good - give them a ring.
to use: imported sets with beautiful curved edges and (here's the problem) one
single hole for the elastic to thread through. These have less control of the
bell, and they wobble around on the finger, sometimes causing needless and unexpected
contact with each other - CLANG! Later, they can be a fun challenge (truthfully,
I enjoy the sound of these butterflies, but they are tough to learn to control).
Thanks for the question, hope you find some answers
How Big is Big Enough?
My question concerns hairstyles
and the belly dancer. Is is absolutely necessary for the serious belly dancer
to grow her hair long and flowing. In my search of internet sites I have yet to
see a short haired belly dancer. I worry that a wig would fling off and headscarves
make me appear even older than I am. If you know of a website that features a
short coifed belly dancer I'd love to view it.
"Try shoulder length or upper back with bangs
- curly and full around your face - sort of a gypsy look. Add a scarf and beaded
head bands to hold wig on and frame your eyes. Go to a wig store and play. And
don't buy a cheap wig, it will soon look like a wet cat. If you are going to do
it, check into falls and real hair. That is danger zone to skimp in. Have an expert
fasten it on, and show you how. There is someone at Cairo Carnivale and
was at Rakkasa who does wigs for dancers. Lots of them wear wigs. Get a good stylist
who will listen to you. Interview them, cut pictures out of magazines, etc. Remember,
its a fantasy. You are a fantasy." M.
No need to wait years for the hair to catch up
with the burning desire to dance! Many dancers have worn wigs, falls, various
hairpieces, for years without mishap. Our own Marta Schill carried her flowing
locks in a dance kit to each performance. One of my favorite dancers, Dyan, is
virtually incognito without the mane of curls she wears at showtime. Ditto Michelle
Fornier, (ex-CA), as I saw her in a major competition a few years ago, now in
Washington, D.C. For some insight, check out Morocco (the DANCER, not the country),
from New York. She's been a valuable resource for M.E. dance for years, AND, she
has short hair.
Depending on your dance
style, costuming can enhance the overall look. American Tribal and ethnic dance
forms can incorporate the turban and other head wraps. Look at FatChanceBellyDance
- No hair is visible, at all! These dancers do floorwork, sword work, drops, spins.
No problem. Short, and sleek, the hair is very dramatic. I think you can use it
to your advantage to create the persona of your dancer. Take a tip from the flamenco
dancers - try keeping it close to the head, and embellish with simple adornments.
A local (So Cal) dancer, who chooses the elegant Egyptian style Raks Sharqi, has
a pixie-type cut, and wears a simple, sequined head band. She keeps her whole
look smooth and close to the body - from dance form to costuming.
looking, and keep using the styles that are most becoming to you in general. Some
of us just don't look our best in long hair. It's just the 'stereotype' we all
see. Dance for the inner dancer, whoever she is."
thanks to our costume expert, Catharae
Back to TOP
Long Hair, vs. Short Hair; Wigs,
"Hi, gypsy. I'm a Brazilian belly
dance student and I should like to ask you about the relation between the belly
dance and the four elements (fire, water, earth and air.) Thanks, Ra-ma"
dancers have invented a relationship for ritual or theatrical purpose. Middle
Eastern dance is no exception. Specific examples of possession, wards against
the evil eye, imitations of the movements of animals, war, hunting, fishing, exorcism,
etc. in folk performances only. Remember, invention is the key word here. Sufis,
in their turning with left hand to earth, right hand to sky- are conduits for
spirit. Kuwaiti dance has references to waves and nets in the motion of the thob
nashal- a women's dance specifically. None of this is belly dance. All folk. Modern
belly dance everywhere but in America is a sensual expression specifically- there
is much discussion about whether it reflects childbirth, lovemaking, etc. Some
East Indian dancers claim it originated from temple dance in India- but these
are origins, not modern uses.
is classicized, eroticized, de-eroticized, etc. and many choose to believe that
if one is Egyptian, studying in Egypt, or emulating any middle eastern teacher
of the dance that this is the correct form. Ask an Egyptian woman about ritual
belly dance and she will look at you cross-eyed or worse- and then possibly agree
with you and charge you big bucks to study her own invention of the "elemental"
But make of it what you will. Ultimately
on top of its beauty, sensuality and exhibition of women's flexibility it is fantasy
and invention." M.
It suppose you could say it's both a spiritual
and ritual thing. In many Pagan religions, "calling the quarters" (the North,
South, East and West) and acknowledging the associated elements (Earth, Air, Fire,
Water...not necessarily in that order.) and any deity/ies is part of "casting
the circle" . Opening or Casting the circle is simply opening a safe, ritual space
within which spiritual work is performed.
some Pagan rituals, oftentimes the practitioner will turn in a circle, or walk
in a circle to do this. Most times counterclockwise to open the circle, and clockwise
to close it when they're done with their work, again acknowledging the elements
and thanking the "higher power/s" for being present. Sometimes a practitioner
will simply look in each direction and/or visualize a circle of light around them
to accomplish this task.
ritual can be extremely elaborate, involving many people and ritual tools... but
it depends on the person and the goal. Either way the elements are usually involved,
even if only in thought.
There are many,
many, many, variations between different practitioners of Pagan religions so not
all rituals will be the same, even between two people who follow the same path.
Each is tailored to fit that person, persons, or the need of the moment. It's
very personal, but in general, that's the readers digest version.
non-Pagan religions, you could kind of compare it to holding hands at the dinner
table during a prayer... It creates a kind of recognition of purpose and a spiritual
Many people feel a strong connection
between Middle Eastern dance and Paganism. IMO, because most forms of Paganism
( in general ) acknowledge and have equal (if not greater) respect for the Female
and the women's solo dance form can be conductive to that for some. Plus there's
lots of ancient connections between women and dance and worship. Of course, that's
just my opinion, YMMV.
Either way, many
people use dance as a form of spiritual work... and/or they may be spiritual in
all aspects of their life and include that in their dancing, so they may include
that "opening of sacred space" when they perform or practice.
should be noted that not all dancers are Pagan and not all Pagan's include their
spirituality in their dancing but some are and some do. So,that's probably what
Hope that helps explain things...
Shanna, Sunnyvale, CA Back
The four Elements and Belly Dance
was invited to a fancy dress party. But my partner needs to be dressed accordingly!
Please could you help regarding an outfit for my boyfriend?
dance costumes for men! What a striking image that request conjures up! Depending,
of course, on the venue, it can be very basic with harem pants, a fringed hip
scarf, full sleeved shirt or tunic, and maybe a vest to top it off. The costume
can be created from different FABRICS to change the look. Basics, again, would
be the simple, natural fabrics. Rayons, lightweight cottons in solid or ethnic
looking patterns all make splendid combos. Make the vests and belts from flexible
upholstery yardage, and you'll be surprised at how it adds texture to the look.
Step up the glitz with shiny fabrics, including lame's and jersey lame's, sequined
fabrics, or fabrics with metallic threads. Add coins as trim, and, closely sewn
together, for SOUND - great addition to the belt and the vest. Another terrific
costume pairing - loose caftan top, harem pants, with fringed hip belt on top.
Striped fabric caftans have that ethnic look; shimmery metallics are great stuff
for cabaret. Toss in a twisted fabric headband across the forehead, (or turban,
if you're really into it), and the look's complete. Plain or fancy, you can make
the male dancer a treat for the audience's eyes! And we all know, you just dance
better when you're in costume....."
thanks to our costuming genius,
Costumes for Men
"I'm a student who is researching
different styles of dance, particularly belly dancing and was hoping you could
spare a few moments of your time to send me a few words describing your personal
definition of belly dance and what it represents to you.
you for your prompt response."
"Belly dancing is possibly the last
frontier of improvisational dance, and properly performed, represents a glorification
of female sensuality and strength rather than the debasing of it." M.
What is Belly Dance?
"My name is Melissa,my fiance just told me I need
to lose weight and I'm not sure how. I saw a show about belly dancing on Lifetime's
New Attitude. I'm 5' 3 and weigh 140lbs. Alot of my weight is from a steroid Prednisone
that I have to take for Chron's disease. Is there a way your dance can help me?
Is it possible for me to lose 25lbs in 30 days. I am also doing Tae Bo daily.
Thank you for your time, I'm desperate."
the Tai Bo (carefully - unless done gradually, you can seriously injure yourself
with too much jarring too soon), change your diet and dump the fiance. I'm 5'4,
about 132 lbs, have an attitude, and people like it. You will lose weight with
the Tai Bo, but do the dancing because you would like to learn to enjoy your body.
Find yourself, then find a man. M.
I don't believe that any exercise will cause you
to lose weight if you eat too much food. But it will tone up your body and give
you more energy and belly dance especially gives you self confidence and poise
as you learn to hold your head high, throw back your shoulders and proudly project
your chest as a woman and a feminine goddess.
my boyfriend told me to lose weight I would get a new boyfriend. He should love
you just the way you are.
The Pink Gypsy
09/05 -- I agree with the first 2 replies to your question. A
REAL man would not tell you to lose weight. Losing
weight should be something to do FOR YOURSELF, not for
some 2-bit ape high on himself and body image. I am
5"2" and weigh 145.. and I dance! It's time to do
things for YOU.. Forget about him! He obviously has a
self esteem problem which you do not need to carry on
your back for the rest of your life. If he is saying
things like that in this stage of your relationship,
RUN!! It will only get worse as time goes on. I know. --
Can I lose 25 lbs. in 30
days with Belly Dance?
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