Watching the belly dancers at faire might be my favorite entertainment at the renaissance festival. It’s been a while, but I’ve taken belly dance lessons and absolutely loved learning to belly dance. If you find yourself resisting the urge to shake those hips when listening to the beats at faire, I encourage you to take belly dance lessons. Learning to belly dance is a fun way to move your body and increase your coordination in ways you never thought possible.
By the way, belly dance is for everybody. And I mean every body. Yes, even yours! You don’t need to be thin and toned to learn belly dance. You can learn to dance at any fitness level. And yes, guys can be amazing belly dancers too. One of my favorite male belly dancers is Rashad.
Just a heads up, the links in the pictures are affiliate links, which help me keep this site running. I’m not good enough at belly dance to shake my hips for a living just yet.
Types of Belly Dance
As you watch videos about belly dance, you’ll notice it doesn’t all look the same. I’m not an expert, but I’ve found the two main types of belly dance we see here in the United States is Middle Eastern and Egyptian belly dance as opposed to tribal fusion belly dance. They both are beautiful forms of dance. The Middle Eastern dance is more traditional and closer to what you would see in the middle east. Tribal fusion incorporates more western dance elements where you might even see some hip hop inspired movement. The music in tribal fusion can, but doesn’t have to be, more western as well. You’ll sometimes hear more synthesizer sounds or the dance will even be performed to western music.
What to Wear to Class
This will usually be up to the individual instructor, but for your first class, a safe bet is a yoga pant or legging along with a somewhat form fitting top. You’ll want to make sure your shirt isn’t too loose so you can see your upper body move. Most instructors will let you wear a hip scarf. Some people like to wear coin belts that jingle while others like to be quieter. Personally I like either depending on my mood. Click the pictures below to find yours on Amazon. Just a heads up, the links are affiliate links, which help me keep this site running. I’m not good enough at belly dance to shake my hips for a living just yet.
There are some basic rhythms you will learn in belly dance. The first rhythm is baladi (pronounced “bell-ah-dee”).
Another main rhythm is the saidi.
There are more of course, but keep an ear out for these rhythms when listening to middle eastern music. You’ll hear them a lot when watching a belly dance troupe perform, and if your renaissance festival has camping, you’ll likely to hear them on the drums around the campfire.
Your teacher will let you know what accessories you need for his or her class. Below are links to the types of accessories I needed for my class.
Zills are tiny finger cymbols dancers use to add to the music. Learning to play zill well is an essential skill for a belly dancer. I was a percussionist in high school so I love the percussion element it adds to the dance. The sooner you start on zills the better in my opinion. It gets you used to using your fingers while you dance. Click the picture to get yours.
I love the elegance of working with silks. When done well, silks create a sensual mystery the dance. The pic below will take you to different colors.
Learning to Belly Dance
In Houston, there are many amazing places you can learn to belly dance. I know all of these instructors, some better than others, but each of them do great work. If you have a great teacher in another part of the country, leave a comment.
Ahlam Academy Anna is the instructor I’ve taken lessons from personally. She teaches middle eastern and Egyptian style belly dance. I learned not only how to dance, but also about the history of the dance.