24 Oct

Stomach Action…

Belly Roll

This is an extremely advanced and complex movement where you isolate the stomach muscles in three sections (the lower, middle and upper). Each section is tensed and released at different times. This creates a rolling effect, whether ‘rolling upwards’ or ‘rolling downwards’. The rest of the body remains still. The back must not be used as this will end up creating a body wave. Of course, layering one move over the other is integral to the art of belly dance, it is best to practise the belly roll on its own.

Undulations and Body Waves (the camel)

Bring the left foot in front of the right, move the weight of your body forward and back. First, lift the chest up and forwards, then pull it inwards and back, now gently tuck in the stomach and shift the weight of your hips from front to back. Your feet will be taking your body weight alternatively as you move forwards and backwards. Imagine you have a pole directly behind your back, you first want to touch the pole in between your shoulder blades and upper part of your back, then run the spine in a snake like motion down the pole until your coccyx is resting at the end. You should end with the weight on the back of your right heel.

Abdomen Flutters/Pulsations

Pull in the stomach using the upper part of the abdomen and release at a medium or fast pace to create abdominal ‘drum’ movements, or ‘flutters’.

Upper Body Movement

16 Oct

Arms & Shoulders:

Shoulder Roll

Bring right shoulder forward, up, back and down then alternate bringing left shoulder forward, up, back and down.

Snake Arms (side)

Arms are out to the side. The same principle as the shoulder roll but then bring the elbow up and down, followed by the hand – as though you’re painting the wall. This move should be delicate and smooth and never bring both up at the same time, they must be alternating. Act as though you are brushing the back of your hand up the wall and as you come down stroke the wall with the palm of your hand. As one comes down, the other should be doing the opposite.

Snake Arms (front)

Arms should be out in front of you. Roll the shoulder forward, up, back and down as you do move the elbow up and then down, followed by the wrist. Then do the same on the other side. Never do both as the same time, they must be alternating.  So, as one elbow comes down, the other should be raising up etc. Create the snake movement all the way to the finger tips.

Standing Shoulder Shimmy

Arms should be out to the side, elbows relaxed, palms facing down, wrists dropped and hands curved right to the finger tip (as though you have a small thimble between your thumb and middle finger). Punch the right shoulder forward and back rapidly, as you do this the left shoulder will be doing the opposite. So as you punch forward with the right, the left is towards the back.

Forward & Back Shoulder Shimmy

As you do the shoulder shimmy, stand with the right foot in front of the left, resting on the ball of the foot and lean forward, shimmy and lean back, shimmy. You can also do this facing to the right and then to left and incorporate a cross-over step. So when you’re facing left, your left foot is in front of the right resting on the ball of the foot.

Right, Centre, Left Shoulder Shimmy

Lift and twist your upper body to the right, shimmy, come back to the centre, shimmy and twist over to the left and shimmy. You can add a curved ‘U’ motion to this, so as you move into each position you’re following the shape of a ‘U’.

Rib Cage & Chest:

Horizontal Rib Cage Circle

Move to the chest to the right, then front, then left and back. In a smooth circular motion, the upper part of your back will also move in motion. These can be big or small circles. Imagine there’s a small hula-hoop stationary around your waist and you are following it.

Vertical Rib Cage Circle

Lift the chest and pull it forward as though someone is pulling the centre of your chest with a piece of string. Twist over to the right, lift up and over to the centre, then over and down to the left and end back in the centre. Imagine there’s a circle directly in front of your chest and you are following it.

Chest lift

As the description sounds you lift your chest and drop it back down, these can be singular or repetitive. Remember only to use the muscle under the rib cage and not the lift shoulders or arch your back.

Chest Taqs

This involves lifting and dropping the chest at a fast pace to reflect the rhythm of a drum.

Forward Figure 8

This is the same principle as the hip figure eight, only you are using your chest and shoulders. Move the right side of your chest and shoulder forwards, then round and back. Slide over to the left, and now your left shoulder should be forward, move it out and round to the back.

Backward Figure 8

You reverse the forward figure eight and move the right side of your chest and shoulders to the back, round and then forward. Slide over to the left, back, round and then forward.

Horizonal figure 8

Imagine you have the figure of eight on its side in front of your chest. Move the right side of you chest and shoulder up from the centre, now move it out to the side, round, down to the stomach and into the centre. Then sway over to the left side, move that round, out and down. Imagine a pencil in the middle of your chest and now try to write the fallen down figure of 8 with this pencil.

Dancing Posture

2 Oct


Stand with your feet slightly apart, approximately hip or shoulder width, with both feet flat on the ground and your toes pointing forward. Your weight should be evenly distributed between both feet and you should feel solidly connected to the ground. Knees start out slightly bent, relaxed and flexible. Hips and pelvis are centred and held level to the ground. The ribcage is pulled gently up with the stomach held comfortably in. Shoulders are relaxed, back and down.

Be aware of your centre axis, or vertical body alignment. Imagine a line running from the top of your head, through the centre of your torso and exiting between your feet.

There are many arm positions and arm movements that can accompany the basic stance, but it’s eas

iest to just hold the arms in a graceful and comfortable pose. As a beginner, I find it best to begin with my arms out to the side, elbows relaxed with a slight bend, wrists flopped as though in ballet and palms facing the floor.

Always remember to warm up before starting any form of dance. This will involve stretching all parts of the body.


You’ll notice a tremendous difference in your dancing if you take even as little as five minutes to do some form of deep breathing exercise immediately before dance class (or performance). The breathing goes through your entire spinal column to pull together all the forces within yourself and focus everything towards the dancing.

Three-part inhalation: First, exhale completely until there is absolutely nothing left to exhale. Pause, and begin your breath through the nose, with the mouth closed. Start the breath and expand the lower abdomen. As that area fills, let the breath move into the diaphragm area and up to the sternum under the ribs. As the area up under the ribs fills, let the breath expand to the back of the ribcage on either side of the spine. The final part of the three-part breath is to let it

expand to the top of the ribcage and all the way up to the base of the neck, not to forget the back of the ribs as well. You’ll feel the breath expanding into the shoulder blades which will help release muscular tension.

Three-part exhalation. Now reverse the process by exhaling from the top, then moving on to the middle, and finally the lower abdomen. Feel yourself completely let go and retract each area from the shoulder blades, right down to the lower abdomen. Resist the temptation to bend forward and keep the entire spine up through the shoulders completely straight. During the exhalation, feel that all the stiffness, lethargy, and tension are exiting through the base of the spine.

It is important when dancing that you breathe through the mouth when executing movements. This is to avoid any stiffness in the jaw.

Head Position

The head is used for not only expression but balance and control. When facing the front the chin should be lifted and the head pulled up. Imagine a piece of string is attached to the crown of

your head and you’re being pulled to the ceiling. When turning, try to focus on one point in the room and keep focused on that point until your body has turned, you bring your head round last and end by focusing back on the starting point. When leaning back, it looks effective when you tilt the head back as well, but remember not to tilt it too far. It should be just enough to create the arch of a semi-circle. The head can also follow arm movements that flow out to the side and upwards, but so long as they are not done too often or too quickly.

Finger & Wrist Positioning

Fingers should always be relaxed and the thumb and middle finger almost touching as though you are holding a thimble. When you turn the wrists , turn as though you are placing the thimble onto a table, then picking it back up again. The fingers and hand can be used to add snake-like effects or ripples. The wrists should be gently tilted downwards, similar to the position used in ballet.

Feet Position

For a lot of Egyptian belly dance, the feet are flat, some walks are performed on the balls of the feet and sometimes alternate feet will kick out in a scraping motion to the front, tap to the side or the entire foot may turn out to the side.

Movement – Introduction

2 Oct


Most of the movements in belly dancing involve isolating different parts of the body (the hips, shoulders, stomach etc), which appear to be similar to the isolations used in jazz ballet, but are often driven in a different way.

All belly dancing movements take into consideration the entire body, but it is best to practice each move individually to build on your isolation techniques, which enables you to make a smooth transition from one move to the next. The hips and pelvic area play a key part in the art of belly dancing, however, the position of the head, shoulders, arms, legs and feet are crucial to each movement.

There’s no rule book that says how you should put the moves together to create a dance, but they need to be arranged in way that allows you to flow elegantly into each position without looking clumsy. Egyptian belly dance, like any other dance, needs to be creative and expressive as well as reflecting the rhythm of the music. It is important to understand the history and culture of Egypt and the Middle East to appreciate the art form and the music that accompanies it.

Historical Belly Dance Art

20 Sep

Dance is a form of creative expression, as is painting. Paintings can capture a moment in time and represent truth or fantasy.  A truly talented artist can interpret emotion and movement in a single painting alone. Here are some historical images of belly dance paintings, that i hope invite you to their time and place – A form of inspiration…


MK Pride Event

14 Aug


Our belly dance group, Bahiti, joined a host of performers in Milton Keynes for its first gay pride event on Saturday. The day included live music, dancing and various stalls in Campbell Park, as well as the main parade through the city.

It was our biggest audience yet and as we took to the large stage, we were surrounded by around 500 gay, lesbian and transgender residents, families & friends who were holding their heads high and enjoying the performances on offer. We were lucky to have such sunny weather and a very supportive crowd.

The atmosphere was so chilled out that the nerves soon disappeared and as far as events go, this was the most enjoyable to date. Joint organizer Jo Green told Milton Keynes Citizen newspaper “Our aim is to raise awareness and encourage inclusive behaviour. Milton Keynes is vibrant, young, energetic and colourful and we should be allowed to celebrate this.”

The event was also supported by the openly gay MP for Milton Keynes, Iain Stewart.


Interview with…Maëlle Roger

17 Jul

Interview with…

Maëlle Roger

Love to Belly Dance caught up with London-based belly dancer Maëlle, the winner of Bellydance Trophies 2012. Here she tells us about her experience in the contest and how her passion for the dance began.

“I grew up in a little town called Arras in the North of France and started performing on stage at the age of 4. I first felt the urge to perform when my parents took me to see a children’s musical. I was so ‘wowed’ by the whole thing that I told my mother that’s what I wanted to do. Every day I would ask her about it, so, to satisfy my curiosity she arranged to meet the director of the show.  During the visit, I saw all the kids rehearsing and couldn’t hold myself back, I just had to join in and that’s exactly what I did. The director initially told my mother that they didn’t accept children under 6 years old but when he saw how excited and happy I was, he couldn’t say no. I then went on to do the show for 10 years. During this time I also trained as a rhythmic gymnast where I experienced the demanding and stressful side to competing.
As I matured, I began looking for something different, something which would allow me to express myself and grow as an artist and that’s when I discovered Middle Eastern Dance.  During the year 2004 while still living in France, I fell in love with the beautiful style of my first teacher, the lovely Aida. I moved to London in 2007 and started to go to Jo Wise classes. Since then, I have never looked back.”
Did you have a lot of experience as a belly dancer before entering Bellydance Trophies?
“Most of my belly dance performances have been since I moved to London where I featured in the ‘Shafeek Ilham Show’ in 2009, then straight after, I was lucky enough to join the very prestigious Johara Dance Company directed by the talented Josephine Wise. We toured the UK and France during the summer of 2011. It took us two years to prepare for this show and I learnt so much about performance skills and artistic creation. I also met some wonderful ladies who became my closest friends, and we are now a new dynamic collaboration of belly dance artists called ‘Ahnémon’. We combine traditional, alternative and experimental characteristics to create a sensory phenomenon unlike any other. Anyway, to sum it up I have been dancing all my life and belly dancing for nearly 8 years.”
Why did you decide to enter the competition?
“After the tour with the Johara girls in the summer of 2011, I was still on a high and I needed a new challenge for myself. This is why i decided to enter Bellydance Trophies – but if I was asked to enter a year ago, I would have said no! I was very scared of competitions as a kid but the show’s organiser, Farah Nasri, convinced me that new challenges make life interesting and I also needed to prove to myself that as an adult, I had the strength to handle it and I did.”
How do you feel about the competition now you’ve taken part and won?
“Bellydance Trophies has a very unique and original concept a bit like X factor, it’s not just a one-day event but more like a marathon. Taking part was like having to prepare for the olympic games decathlon final every month! We all had a coaching session, I had mine with Anne White and she made me feel so special, more confident about my dancing and gave me very useful feedback. The competition was a real learning process and you have to learn fast. For each stage we had a new challenge, for example, in the semi finals I had to choreograph a moroccan Shaabi which wasn’t easy considering that my training is mostly in Egyptian style.  After lot’s of research, head aches and help from friends, I did it and I’m actually very glad and proud of myself. I would never have had the courage to try and perform this style if I hadn’t been pushed to. Bellydance Trophies is a very special competition where dancers help and support each other. I feel blessed to have met such great girls and inspiring artists, some of the competitors remain great friends of mine.”
Has winning the contest changed you as a dancer?
“Well yes and no, I’m still the same dancer and am still nervous before going on stage but I feel stronger and more accomplished than before. I guess I feel more grown up somehow. This challenge has been very tough in many respects, so the fact that I won made the long hard road worth the journey. I can’t find the right words to thank enough all the people who surrounded and helped me throughout.”
How many costumes do you own and do you have a favourite?

“At the moment I have 9 costumes with me in London. They are all very special to me, each one of them represents a style, the music, feelings and a choreographed piece.  Sometimes I get inspired by them, and in the past I have even choreographed a piece only for a costume. My favourite one at the moment is a beautiful fully silk costume designed by Amalura Bellydance Artiste, a fellow dancing friend of mine. It looks both wild and elegant and is so comfortable to wear.”

And finally, where do you hope to take your dancing next?
La Où le vent me portera – Where the wind will bring me… As we say in French.  I’m always willing to learn new styles, set new goals and dream another dream. I have started teaching classes in the heart of the City (since last November) and I’m available for bookings at restaurants, private parties and weddings. My dancing is not just a hobby or a career, it’s a passion, so I keep learning and never stop developing my skills and techniques.”
Thank you so much for agreeing to the interview, you are an inspiration to us all! Here is a video of Maëlle performing at Bellydance Trophies. If you would like to attend classes with this beautiful dancer they are every Friday between 5:45 and 6:45pm at Fitness First, Broadgate, London (nearest tube Liverpool Street Station). If you would like Maëlle to perform at your event then drop her an email at:  maellebellydancer(at)yahoo.co.uk

Bellydance Trophies

5 Jul

The winner of the 2011-12 Bellydance Trophies competition has been announced as:

Maëlle Roger

Winner of Belly Dance Trophies

Bellydance Trophies is an intense competition recognising talent in the Oriental scene and is open to any performer of raqs sharqi, fusion, tribal and other variations of bellydance, whether professional, semi-pro, non-professional or student.

Contestants are expected to perform over a period of 9 months to a panel of 4 judges. The composition of the jury changes at each selection stage consisting of three internationally recognised professionals of the Oriental scene and one member of the audience randomly selected on the day.

The contestants must demonstrate and develop skills in a variety of styles some of which are chosen by them and some that are imposed at different stages. They are supported by a coaching programme throughout the competition.

Our perspective is to give every passionate dancer the time and the chance to showcase their talent, knowledge, hard work and fair play.” Farah Nasri, organiser of the London contest.

Entries for 2013 NOW OPEN visit: http://www.bellydance-trophies.com

Janelle Issis – TV Stardom

28 Jun

Belly Dance Finalist

So You Think You Can Dance USA

‘So You Think You Can Dance’ USA has unveiled its finalists, including a belly dancer in the top 20 for the first time. Janelle Issis is a 24-year-old, full-blooded Palestinian living in Alabama. Janelle is an Honors graduate of the University of Alabama with a Major in Dance and currently holds the title “Queen Belly Dancer of the Southeast”. Believe it or not, she was discovered in church and also performs regularly at nursing homes.

The routine for her first audition was performed to a hip hop track boasting modern, fast and authentic movements. Although she is skilled in other areas of dance, It’s clear she loves belly dancing and enjoys how positive it makes her feel.  She has the sweetest personality and amazing skill. Go Janelle!

The Diamond Jubilee

6 Jun

The Diamond Jubilee

The Belly Dance ‘You Tube’ Video Collections


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