Week 2 – Random Acts of Bellydance

Week Two of the New Year already!! Hope it’s looking like a good one!


1 : Practice Upper Body Isolations.

Get those upper body isolations under control. Practice while you’re sitting down, standing up or walking around the house.

2 : Make plans for your next costume.

I’m sure you’ve got a few costuming ideas floating around in your head. Make a pinterest board, or a physical vision board. Start collecting images that inspire. Think about colour, shape and style! Do check out Sparkly Belly if you’re planning to make stuff yourself. Dawn Devine also has some fantastic books on offer.

3 : Sign up for 2017 classes.

Get ready for another great year of bellydancing! Sign up for classes with your favourite bellydance teachers!

4 : Practice Undulations.

Undulations! So much fun and so much you can do with them! Practice layering pelvic undulations with shimmies, travelling, level changes, upper body isolations and different floor patterns. You can also practice full torso undulations, arm undulations (snake arms), hand undulations (palm waves), side undulations – as many as you can think of!

5 : Play zills to a not-so-favourite rhythm.

You know that tricky rhythm that you try your best to avoid? Check out some rhythm guides or search your music collection for a simple example of the rhythm and play along. (Ask your teacher if you can’t find one). Start with the skeleton and add fills/variations as you get more comfortable. Remember to walk around while you’re playing so you can eventually dance to it!


Wishing you all a fun week of bellydance!

– Sam.

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.

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!