Week 4 – Random Acts of Bellydance

Heading into our fourth week of random bellydancing and here are 5 more little things you can do to add some bellydancing into your week.


1 : Check out a bellydancer’s blog.

There are so many amazing bellydancers out there willing to share their stories, their experiences and their hints & tips!

Mahin from She’s Got Hips
The Bellydance Blog
Lorna’s Blog: Bellylorna
Also check out HipMix.net’s list of The Best Bellydance Blogs

2 : Practice any 3/4 Shimmy Step

There are so many different ways to do a 3/4 shimmy step, and so many different names to describe them. This step has movement on 3 out of 4 counts creating a sustained accent on one part of the movement.

Whether you do it as an up-up-up, down-out-up, out-up-down, down-down-down, or some other combination, practice it up and down your hallway at home, at work (if you can!), or every time you travel a particular path in your home (eg: from the kitchen to the living room). You’ll be 3/4 shimmying like a pro in no time!

3 : Check through coin scarves for ones that need repairing. If they’re beyond repair, can you re-purpose them?

If there’s one thing we all know about coin scarves, it’s that eventually constant movement combined with the sharp edge of a stamped hole in a coin will eventually result in the thread holding it, breaking. If you’ve collected the dropped coins, you can re-thread them using a needle and similar coloured thread – or if you crochet, you can probably pull out a section and re-work it with new coins.

If it’s not a loved hip scarf, can you pull all the coins off and use it on a new costume, or bra? Can you use them to repair a well-loved scarf that is missing coins? Can you alter it for use as a head scarf? Use it to embellish a costume, decorate your dance bag or make a pouch for your zills?

4 : Spend a day picking up things with graceful arms and hands.

Take your graceful arm and hand movements into your every day for some extra practice and giving your body the opportunity to use those movements in positions and directions you don’t use in dance class.

Start with a single action, say making a cup of tea or coffee – think about the deliberate actions of a Japanese Tea Ceremony – and move your arms and hands “like a dancer” through that action, every time you do that action. Gradually extend that movement to other actions and activities until you find yourself moving in that way all the time.

5 : Play Zills to your favourite holiday tune.

Do you love Christmas songs, or is “Jingle Bells” getting on your nerves? Why not make the best of it and practice your zills? Playing patterns to songs you’re familiar with can help break through that “what if I’m out of time? what if I play the wrong thing?” mentality. Add some fancy accents, or just play along with the melody. Have some fun and experiment – no rules finger cymbals!

EDIT: Big thanks to the fabulous Rachel Reid for this link – just in case you’re having trouble finding the perfect piece of holiday music to play along to!


Wishing you all a joyful week in bellydance. Let me know how you get along with the random acts! Again, if you have some suggestions for future random acts, comment below – i’d love to include them!!

– Sam.

Week 2 – Random Acts of Bellydance

How was your first week of Randomness? I didn’t realise how much tea i was drinking until I had to shimmy through that kettle boiling – every single time! 😮

Another week of randomness ahead. Good luck & let us know how you get on.


1 : Practice that tricky move you’ve been avoiding.

You know the one, you fake it through when you can or just avoid it altogether. Break it down and build it back up again. If you need help, ask your teacher for some advice in your next class.

Maybe it’s a combination in a new choreography that you stumble over, or feel like you miss the timing on every single time. Drill it separately, then drill it with the combo that comes before it and the one that comes after it. You can get some great phone apps that will slow music down so you can practice it with the music at a slower pace, and work your way back up to full speed.


2 : Sort out your Dance Bag.

Our Dance Bags can get filled up with all sorts of stuff we don’t need, or we keep forgetting to put stuff we do need into it. If you’ve got a lot of bits of paper in there, put it in a folder (& some sort of order) so you don’t lose them! You likely want to have a notebook, pen, finger cymbals, a veil, a bottle of water, and maybe a practice skirt in there.


3 : Watch a Dance Video and be Inspired!

Head over to YouTube and watch some old dances, or check out new and innovative works from contemporary dancers. Maybe you’ve got a DVD at home you love watching. Be inspired by others to improve your own dance practice, or see if you can work some of their moves into your own repertoire.


4 : Practice Smiling and Sharing Joy

As entertainers, smiling & helping others feel good is a big part of the job. Some dancers find it really easy to let the joy they’re feeling just explode out of their faces. Other dancers find it a bit more challenging. If you want to master that natural smile, practice smiling at people today – or all week. Note how you’re feeling while you do it, what is the intention behind that smile? Work on it until you’re feeling “Hey! I feel happy and I’d like you/the whole world to know that” or something similar. This is a pretty stressful time of year for a lot of people – maybe your smile will make their day a little easier. 🙂


5 : Revisit and old, but loved, choreography.

Maybe it’s a choreography you learned as a beginner, or maybe it’s one from just last year. Find the music, and run through it – you might be surprised at what you remember! See if you can fill in the gaps with your memory, or by creating new sequences, or just improvising through those sections. Take a trip down memory lane and enjoy the journey.


6 : Check out Workshops and Festivals for 2017.

There are so many great Festivals and Workshops in your local and close-by bellydance communities. Use google if you’re not attached to groups that advertise upcoming events. Maybe check out the websites of Festivals you have heard of and find out when they’re holding the event again. Workshops and Festivals are great for expanding your repertoire, meeting up with fellow dancers and being inspired by new works!


7 : Practice zilling patterns to your favourite rhythms.

Grab your zills/sagat and find a piece of music with a rhythm you like, or use a loop from a rhythm-only album. If you don’t know any finger cymbal patterns, try looking some up, ask your teacher or just practice dancing along with a basic 1-2-3 (gallop, longa), and then see if you can follow along to parts or all of what the drum is playing. Have fun with it and experiment with sounds you can make.


Wishing you all a joyful week in bellydance. Let me know how you get along with the random acts! Also, if you have some suggestions for future random acts, comment below – i’d love to include them!!

– Sam.

In Search of Rhythm Guides

Sometimes it’s difficult to learn the names of the rhythm patterns we use in class. The more often you hear the rhythms, the easier it is to dance to them, and to play them on your finger cymbals, zills, or sagat (which ever style you’re using, or term you prefer). So, I’ve put together a few links for students, to help you source CDs and other resources.

Matt Stonehouse has a CD that I use a lot. Different rhythms and played a different speeds. It’s really useful to practice along to, both fast and slow.

Andy Busuttil has his Pulse of the Pyramids CDs available from his website. These are great for hearing rhythms played with and without zills/segat, and also have a sample of music using the rhythms.

Mas’ud al-Sha’ir has a great resource called the Quick & Dirty Guide to Doumbek Rhythms. Rythms are written down with open (skeleton),  simple, standard, busy and closed (filled) versions – great for visual/logical learners. There are also sound bites (these are not only useful, but make you smile when you can hear his dog barking along … musical puppy!). 🙂

The Middle Eastern Dance site has some good break downs of zill patterns, including hands (R-L) sounds (R-D-T-C) and spoken word. Again, great for visual/logical learners.

Shira has a listing of rhythms and zill patterns (including hands for right and left handed players). It also includes musical notation and spoken counts for each of the patterns listed. She also has a website jam packed full of information, so make sure you have a couple of hours free if you decide to go browsing there!

Zills on Fire has downloadable files, sound bites and more (inlcuding a CD). Very useful.

Solace’s Rhythm of the Dance has beledi, chifte-telli, masmoudi, saidi, kashlima, zar, moroccan, shoush and laz. to practice along with.

Let me know in the comments of any other great rhythm resources out there!