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How to be a belly dance student


You don’t really think too much about signing up for a belly dance class but there might be some things to concider.

What to Wear:  Easy to move in clothing such as yoga pants and a tank top or T-shirt are great basics.  You can also dress it up with a choli top, crop top or body suit.  There are some fun practice outfits available on belly dance costume sites like:

Usually no shoes are needed for class but if you are in need of some I suggest ballet flats or jazz shoes from your local dance supply store.

Should you buy any supplies:

Hip Scarf- It is helpful to purchase a hip scarf for class and at home practice.  They are sold on belly dance costumes websites, Ebay or Amazon.  You might have a brick and mortar store near you that sells them too.  Some teachers do not like students to wear coins in their classes so you might want to find out first before purchasing.

Music- It is always great to get some music for practicing.

Veil- Most likely you will be learning veil in your beginning level class.  Your instructor may bring some to borrow while in class but it is nice to be able to practice the moves at home on your own.  There are circular veils and rectangle veils, I suggest a rectangle for first learning.  Again, you can purchase a veil at any belly dance costume website, Ebay or Amazon.

Zills- Some instructors do not teach zills until a higher level or some not at all, but I recommend learning them sooner rather then later.  For beginners a smaller size is usually best, Saroyan Nefertiti cymbals are great starters, but really any smaller light weight zills will do.

In Class:

  • Remember to be on time and have at payments taken care of before class begins.
  • Be respectful of peoples personal space while in class.
  • Don’t side teach- sometimes a fellow classmate is struggling with a movement, resist the urge to break it down for them your way.  Instead perhaps set up a practice time together outside of class.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.  Everyone learns at a different speed.  Some people might have prior dance experience or have been in the class longer.

Practice at Home: 

I can’t stress enough how important it is to practice at home.  The more you repeat the movements the more they become second nature to your body and brain.

There are some good practice DVD’s out that you can learn with at home. I like Cassandra – The American Dancer Introduction to Bellydancing, Belly Dance DVD and Delilah’s DVD’s

There are also some good videos on YouTube, but there are also some bad ones so be careful.

Other Ideas:

  • Listen to belly dance music – a lot of belly dance music has strange instruments and rhythms that you will want to get familiar with.
  • Watch professional dancers- It is helpful to watch performances of professional dancers because without knowing it, you are picking things up.  Look to identify movements you have learned and see how she puts them into the music.  Watch how she adds her arms into the dance instead of keeping them in frames.
  • Eat before class- In my experience, if you go to class hungry you cannot keep up the needed energy and your brain power dies.  You can’t remember the combos or choreography.  Also, one of the biggest reasons, when you are hungry and out of energy, you get careless and sloppy and are more likely to injure yourself.  I suggest keeping a granola bar in your dance bag or purse just incase time runs tight.
  • Don’t forget a water too!

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