Belly Dance Class FAQ

FAQ on Bellydance Classes

by Sherezzah Bint al-Waha


As a teacher of Middle Eastern dance, including "bellydance," I often get asked questions about my classes, or bellydance classes in general. These are some of them:

What should I wear to class?
You will need to wear something you can move freely in. Although it doesn't necessarily need to be skintight or show skin, it should be something that fits close enough to your body that your teacher can see what you're doing so she can provide feedback. Good choices are what I call "typical dance attire," that is, leotard and tights or similar; or "typical exercise attire," leggings and T-shirt or similar.

In general, classes are for exercise and learning; they are not performances, so you aren't expected to be in a full-blown costume. However, if you have some nifty ethnic jewelry or other accessories that you enjoy, go ahead and wear them. They can help put you (and the rest of the class) in a pleasant mood.

It is also a good idea to have some kind of scarf or similar to wear around your hips. Triangular scarves with fringe work well, as do belts with coins.

Note: Some teachers have very specific rules about what to wear that may differ from the general rules I describe above.

What about shoes?
I personally prefer to dance barefoot, which works fine in the room where I teach my regular classes. Of course, I sometimes make modifications depending on what kind of surface I will be on. My next personal favorite is a soft ballet-type slipper.

I realize some people may have medical or other reasons to prefer a shoe with more support. That's fine also. The important thing is that you want a shoe that doesn't stick to the floor too much (so sneakers generally don't work too well). It's also good if you can get a shoe that allows your foot to flex; for example, a good jazz-type shoe would be excellent.

Are there videos that teach bellydancing?
Yes, many. Check out my troupe video page for some personal recommendations. Also check out the dancers with stuff for sale on my dancer links page.

Of course, one cannot learn by video alone. Video cannot replace having a real live teacher.

Do you teach finger cymbals (zills)? Where do I get them?
I teach them, yes... not in the very first beginner-level class, but usually around week 4 or 5. When that time comes, I have zills to borrow or to buy (and I would guess that most teachers who teach zills do the same). You can buy zills outside of class, but be aware there are a lot of "tourist" zills out there, that aren't really made for dancers. Zills that I recommend are Mid-East Mfg., Soroyan Mastercrafts, and Turquoise. (Zildjian also makes good finger cymbals, but they're more targeted for professionals.)

Where can I buy hip scarves and other costume items?
Sometimes you can find decent scarves in regular stores, especially around the December holidays (wait until after New Year's, then they go on sale!) Other than that, your best bet is to buy them from a vendor that specializes in bellydance goodies. There are a number of such vendors listed on my costume links page. You can also find a goodly amount of bellydance stuff on eBay. (I sometimes also see bellydance things in fancy boutiques, but they tend to be priced much higher than the bellydance vendors sell them for.)

Where can I get music to practice to?
Some music stores (like Border's) tend to have good International sections; look there for Middle Eastern music (it might also be categorized as Arabic, Egyptian, Moroccan, or Turkish). The vendors I mentioned above often also carry music, and you can often find it on eBay also. You can also find some on Some artists that are good to look for are Hossam Ramzy, George Abdo, and Omar Faruk Tekbilek. For some specific suggestions relating to my own classes, check out my music recommendations page.
Use the button at right to go directly to the Middle Eastern music section at

How long do I have to take classes before I can get a job doing bellydancing?
Frankly, I would not advise getting into bellydancing if your intent is to make money with it. For one thing, there's a lot of initial investment, not just time, that you need to make (professional-quality costumes typically cost from $500-$1200). There tends not to be a lot of demand, and there tends to be a lot of supply for all except the very top-quality dancers, so wages tend to be low.

So, if you want to try bellydancing, don't do it because you want to make money. Go ahead and do it, but do it because you think it will be fun, or that it will give you good exercise. Then, after a year or so, if you're still having fun and enjoying it, and you think you're pretty good and think you might want to try making some money doing it, then you might consult with your teacher about possible professional opportunities. Virtually all the dancers involved in this business do it because they love it, not because they make lots of money at it.

Comments? More questions? Contact Sherezzah at

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