Getting ready to dance… students and professionals all put their belt on the same way.

Well, sort of – I was trying to come up with a dance related metaphor  for ” putting your pants on one leg at a a time”, and that was the best I could come up with in 10 seconds of thinking…

Onward we go.

In our area, we have an assortment of opportunities available to us to perform, depending on your level, interest in generating dance opportunities < pros- advertising your availability to restaurants and for private parties; students, nagging your teachers to give you a chance to dance >.



While there are better pics of Halyma, this shows a bit of the veil and skirt from Shibori Borealis...


And there are some standards that help making the transformation from your everyday gorgeous self ….

to your super powered dancer self.

As we are approaching my own Big Bi-Annual OCCP < Ottawa Community Class Party >, I spent the end of my final rehearsal time with one of my student groups listing a pile of things to think about as they prepare to dance that night.

And I thought some of you might find it helpful, interesting, and can add your own little tidbits in the comments, especially to help the new and up and coming dancers have more information! HAS A GREAT ARTICLE TOO -SO CHECK IT OUT!!

These are not in any particular order, just how they pop into my head, so prioritize based on your own process!

Know your music.Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 8.07.29 AM

Do I need to say more? Unless you are improvising to a live band you have never met before, in which case, just dance!!

Know your routine with your eyes closed.

Dancing a choreographed piece with other students? Know your routine with your eyes closed < literally, yes, I mean it>,  while still being prepared to adjust if everyone else suddenly forgets and you are the only one “doing it right”.

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 8.08.54 AMPractice Your Smile.

Unless your piece calls for a different facial expression, in which case, you should practice that.  It’s muscle memory once you don’t have to think about it, and that will make those pics of your look great.


Stand up straight, from the ribcage, and keep your butt tucked under to both protect your lower back and keep it from looking like you are doing some sort of Booty dance – unless you are doing it ironically, of course!  AND LOOK UP!!!


On stage, the lights are bright – your face will fade into a neutral blob unless you define your lips and eyes. Here’s my cheesy video for applying make-up:

IMG_2098Nails and feet

You don’t have to go out and get an expensive mani-pedi, but take a moment to make sure your nails are neat and even, add polish if you like, but well groomed is the key. And shoes or not is also your choice, but it’s good to have a pair with you, just in case the space you are dancing in requires shoes, or is simply safer for you with shoes.


YES. There are some costumes that make it difficult, but Bellydance has enough of a PR issue without the audience being distracted by the accidental viewing of more than they expected. And yes, I’ve heard that “in the old days” dancers didn’t wear underwear, so I’ll add that this is my OPINION, with which you can do what you like… but think about it…

Cover-up/Galabeya/robeScreen Shot 2014-12-06 at 8.35.03 AM

Wear one for wandering around the audience. Yes, your veil can work in a pinch, but if you have a loose dress/ long tunic/ something comfy and pretty, save the viewing of your actual costume for when you are on stage. It also allows you to eat and drink – so that you don’t faint – without risking getting stuff on your costumes.


Your choice, but remember that MANY people have allergies/ sensitivities/ coughing fits around freshly sprayed hairspray, so TAKE IT OUTSIDE to a separate area where you can spray and return to the dressing area without overwhelming your colleagues.

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 8.26.51 AMPERFUME -NO.

Just no. It’s really not needed in this day and age of hygiene, and think about it – if you are on stage, no one is going to smell you anyway; and if you are dancing in a restaurant, shouldn’t the patrons be enjoying the smell of good food and drink? And that goes for essential oils, incense, and any other heavy scents – again we have society that has a number of people with sensitivities or should I say “Scentsitivities”, some of whom will actually become nauseated or get migraines from perfumes. Please be kind and just don’t. < lecture ends here >

STUFF– I treat this like I treat camping:

  • Pack light;
  • Keep your site clean
  • Make it better than how you found it;
  • Take home everything your brought with you
  • Recycle and clean up your garbage

Arrive on time or a little early

You may not get the chance to walk through your routine, but at least if you can check out the space you will be dancing in/on, you can take a few moments to prepare any modifications you might need to.  We’ve danced in shopping malls, in parks on rickety stages, in parks on uneven grass, and in theatres where it’s simply glorious, and every situation has required a quick run through with the group to establish entrances, exits, placements on stage etc.

Have you music in multiple formats

Click here for great Cd Art

Click here for great Cd Art

These days, in  my opinion, cd’s should be gone the way of cassette tapes < which is what I started with!> but many venues are still using cd players for their sound system. So, while I always inquire in advance, I usually bring my music on my iPod  < not my phone, that risks a disturbance in the force while dancing>, a USB stick and in rare cases, if absolutely required, cd. Most modern DJs have their laptop in place and can take your music right off a USB stick – but having it in more than one playable format is good.

What else do you do to prepare for a show?

Leave me some comments and if you have questions, pop them in the comments as well!


October 17th Dancers’ Bazaar – come vote!

Hey folks – in a few weeks it’ll be time to go shopping again!  Start saving your loonies and get ready for another fun SUNDAY Afternoon at the Ottawa Dancer’s Bazaar!



Sunday, October 17, 2010

12:00 PM to 4:00 PM

260 McArthur (Knights of Columbus Hall), Ottawa, Ontario.

The largest gathering of Ottawa area dancers with the best selection of new and used costumes, fabrics, music, accessories and more to buy, sell, swap and trade!

Open to all – free admission

Meet teachers, check out class schedules, get costume information, and much more!

Something for everyone – young and old – men and women! Come on out and enjoy the afternoon!

The Dancer’s Bazaar now hosts over 40 tables of goods and services to appeal to the shopper in us all! All booked with a variety of local and out of town vendors for your shopping pleasure!

Looking for zills? Sticks? Veils? Skirts? Music? Anything you can think of, and many things you might not have thought would come in handy – tote bags and cover-ups, baladi dresses, and accessories to complete any outfit! Whew! There will be new stock from Egypt, Turkey and of course from our local artisans and designers. And be sure to check out the many deals for used costumes as well.

If you have never been to the Dancers’ Bazaar before, come check out the Shopping Guidelines here for some ideas on how to make it a fun day!


– you can choose as many categories as you like!

DNEF – BellySurfing #3

This is a guest post from Renee – enjoy:Remember to click on any coloured and underlined text for more detailed info!

Bellysurfing #3 Jalilah’s Journey by Renee

Back in January, I signed up for a beginner’s belly dance class at the Greta Leeming dance studio . Our instructor was Lorraine Chamas or Jalilah.


Click on photo to see more pics by Howard Sandler

After a few classes, I began to notice that Jalilah had a diverse approach to belly dancing. She taught various forms of shimmies that I had never seen before. She diligently dissected dance movements and emphasized the importance of hand and arm co-ordination with each step. As I watched her demonstrations, I almost felt that Jalilah had a spiritual connection to her art form.

It turns out the Jalilah has been practicing Oriental dance or Raks Sharki since the 1980’s. She travelled throughout Europe performing with “The Musicians from the Nile”. She danced in 5 star nightclubs and hotels in Egypt and Morocco. She was featured in two television documentaries and in a Spanish TV production and she had something else, music. Wonderful music.

Around lesson five, I knew nothing about Jalilah at this point; I had to ask her where she bought her CD’s. In her lovely gentle voice she replied, “I sell them.” At first I thought that she meant she sold them for a friend or bought them through a distributor. I couldn’t have been further off the mark. “I’ve produced 6 CD’s, “ she said. Produced? Did I hear that correctly?

Jalilah happily conveyed her business adventures with Piranha musik , the German record company and with Ishan Al-Mounzer , the composer/musician that conducted and played on the recordings.

Below is a short interview about Jalilah’s musical journey.

Why did you want to work on this project?

I lived in Berlin, Germany from 1980 to 1995. I went there originally to study and got involved in the dance in 1984.

Around 1989, I was performing at least 5-10 times a week, and going to Egypt regularly to study with various instructors. I worked with Piranha, which at that time as well as producing CDs was an agency for artistic talent. They were booking tours for me, and I knew that they produced records as well.

Piranha music started sending me samples from recordings sent to them by various artists to ask my opinion. These tapes were often heavily synthesized, even the violins and the qanoon on them weren’t real, and I didn’t like most of them. This was the type of music that was very popular in this genre in the late 1980’s and early 90’s: lots of synthesized sound.

What was the motivation behind the records?

I told Piranha that I liked the style of music that I heard in Cairo during the dance performances. This music had a full orchestra with violins, oud, qanoon and nays. There are excellent albums of this kind produced in the 70s on LPs.  By the late 80s, there really weren’t many productions with that type of sound. Nowadays that is no longer the case.

Dancers today don’t realise how lucky they are to have so many good recordings! After listening to all these new synthesized music tapes, I asked myself, “Why don’t I produce my own music, in the traditional style that I keep hearing in Cairo?’ and so the idea behind the “Jalilah’s Raks Sharki” series was born! I approached Piranha, and while they were hesitant at first because of my inexperience recording, they decided to give me the go ahead.

It took two trips to Cairo in 1990 to find and interview people to work with. I was up against a huge barrier: I was a woman, a dancer and from the West. They had the image of me as a “dumb western dancer” and did plenty to test me. People would come up to me, with tapes from old productions that had been already done years ago, and try to pass them off to me as original. Or would ask me to pay them outrageous sums. It was unreal. But I finally met Mokhtar Al Said, and knew I could work with him.

Jalilah - Mokthar Al Said: Raks Sharki 1He completely understood what I wanted. He was easy to work with, so I decided that he would be the one to help me with the album, and I returned to Germany to make the arrangements. In October 1990 I returned to Cairo for the recording. I was in the recording studio the entire time of the production (dancing I should add!) as well as during the postproduction, mixing and so on. The result was the first CD “Raks Sharki- Mokhtar al Said.”


Jalilah - Raks Sharki 3: Journey of the Gipsy Dancer

Since then I have also worked with other musicians/arrangers like Hossam Shakir (Volume #3 Journey of the Gypsy dancer) and Ihsan Al Mounzir (Volume #5 Stars of the Casino Opera and Volume#6 In a Beirut mood)


Jalilah - Raks Sharki 6: In a Beirut Mood

What did you do as an artistic producer?

Aside from playing finger cymbals, I don’t play any instrument. But as the Artistic producer I find the arranger and his musicians. I select all the songs, decide their order, and which instruments highlight in each song. I write most of the sleeve notes on the CD cover as well.

Where did you find the musicians?

I always let the arranger pick his own musicians. It is easier that way, however I always insist on taking a dancers drummer and not a studio drummer. At first I had to really fight for this!

Who is your inspiration?

Aisha Ali an American dancer who in the early 70s went to Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria to record music.

She put out 3 LPs, Music of the Ghawazee, music of the Oulid Nail and Music of Tunisia.


Jalilah is also an accomplished writer herself, with her latest article on the Gilded Serpent, an online magazine with fabulous resources!

Her next workshop: Understanding and Interpreting Middle Eastern Music in Ottawa hosted by Julie Tierney is filling up quickly!

Thank you to Renee and Jalilah for their time and effort to produce this article!  If you enjoyed this article, please add you comments below!T/H


Dancers’ Newsletter Extra Feature – Guest post!

Please welcome Renee and her first contribution to the new Dancer’s Newsletter Extra Features!


Salutations from Renee D    

My journey with belly dancing began last year.  Every Friday a group of women meet at a local bead store.  We sit around and chat, admire each other’s work and talk about the world.  
In early April, one of our ladies was working on a marvellous belt that was pieced together with jump rings, coins and metal fishing lures. Gradually, one question lead into another and before you could say jackrabbit I was taking my first belly dance class. 
Apart from all the obvious elements that make belly dancing so spectacular, I quickly became aware of the music.  Unexpectedly, I discovered fresh tempos mingling together with age-old instruments that absolutely compelled my body to move.
I rapidly searched my CD collection to find this “new to me” sound. Fortunately, I did have some examples but I realized that I needed a broader variety and this is where I started my Bellysurfing.
I’ll begin this exposé with the late legendary Egyptian trumpeter Samy El Bably. Critiques describe his style “as woozy, sinuous and sometimes beguilingly sleepy.” According to the world famous percussionist and friend Hossam Ramzy, “He made this western style horn speak like a Nay flute mixed in with a singing violin with a mixture of an Armenian Duduk without the slightest change to the instrument itself.” Oddly enough, there is very little information on his life yet he was considered the Miles Davis of the Middle East.
As obscure as this musician is, you might be surprised to know that many of you are already dancing to his music!! Instructor Julie Tierney often plays the track Asrar El Ein from the Cairo Nights: Bellydance Bar CD, in her warm-ups.  Want to listen?  Just click to this link: and select PREVIEW. Asrar El Ein is the first track but do have a snoop around the samples.  If you like what you hear, you can order this CD either on the internet with a reliable seller or place an order at Chapters.




“We don’t know who we are until we can see what we can do” -MARTHA GRIMES
Please feel welcome to add your own comments to this post – add to the discussion and offer your own thoughts!