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.

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!