Category: Performance

In the past, though sadly not so much today, it was not uncommon to have a full belly dance show performed at a restaurant or nightclub. These shows generally followed a set progression that still influences how belly dance shows are laid out today. Today we’re going to talk briefly about that show structure, and about a new project we are about to start at the Shambling Shimmies School of Belly Dance.

The show structure commonly used in the 60s and 70s for restaurant dancing in the United States was a 7 part show.  Shira has a good article on her site [link] for further reading, but I’ll very briefly list the 7 parts here:

1. Entrance, to greet the audience.
2. Slow, flowing music with veil (previously wrapped and tucked).
3. Fast or medium-speed song to keep the show moving.
4. Floorwork, sword/tray balancing, or standing taqsim (slow).
5. Fast or medium-speed song to bring the energy back up.
6. Drum solo.
7. Finale.

In a 7 part show, each section is a full song. Currently, it’s less common for a dancer to be hired for such a long show, so she will often use a variation on the 7 part format, taking 3 or 5 of the parts, which still gives her the opportunity to present variety and an interesting progression, in the reduced amount of time more commonly available today.

While it’s rare, especially in Gainesville, to see a professional belly dancer hired for solo shows in a restaurant or nightclub, this totally still happens in larger cities. Today, it’s more common to see belly dance performed at a hafla (hafla means party, and is commonly used in the US to describe a party or similar event where there will be belly dancing).

At most haflas there will be multiple dancers, most likely with different skill levels and presenting different styles of belly dance. Haflas are huge fun because they provide a great opportunity for belly dancers to get together to support and enjoy each others’ dancing, and they also provide performance opportunities for students that are ready to begin getting practice performing for an audience. As an audience member, seeing belly dance performed in a club or restaurant show is different from seeing it at a hafla, and even more different from seeing it in a stage show.

When planning a hafla’s performance lineup, the organizer will often take into consideration the style of belly dance each dancer plans to perform, props they plan to use, or the music they plan to use, in order to lay out a pleasing and interesting progression for the audience. When possible, the classic 7 part show may influence the ordering of the acts.

Harkening back to this era in belly dance history, we’re about to start a new project at the studio. In our belly dance sampler class (currently on Mondays), we’re going to go through a 5 part show!

We’ll be including choreographies for:

1. Entrance
2. Veil
3. Uptempo (with Zills)
4. Taqsim (with Optional Floorwork)
5. Drum Solo

We’ll actually be going through them in reverse order (so that the pieces which will require the most practice are learned earlier in the series). When all 5 pieces have been taught, the group that is ready to perform will get a full set at the monthly Student Showcase! (Dancers do not need to commit to learn and perform all 5 pieces, students who have learned at least one choreography to a performance level will be eligible to participate.)

We’ll also be going through much shorter and simpler ‘tastes’ of all 7 parts in the belly dance party jam class on Thursday nights!

The belly dance stylization we’ll be using for this project is something that is perhaps best described as American Vintage – heavily inspired by Jamila Salimpour, the style includes a variety of movements from multiple middle eastern dance genres. We still call the stylization American because it came about in the United States when immigrants from many cultures came to the U.S. and people began to share their own music and dance with one another. Jamila Salimpour is a pioneer in the field that codified many movements and preserved a format that is still in use today. Though she’s very well known for her Bal Anat performances at Renaissance fairs, which used a tribal stylization and presentation (including a chorus or backline and featured dancers, still used today in both ATS and ITS), it may be less known that at the time, those same dancers changed costumes and performed the same movements to different music in shows at nightclubs and restaurants in the evenings.

Hope to see you in class!



Satchel’s Shakedown!

Last night we had our monthly student showcase, Satchel’s Shakedown!, and we had a great time as usual.  There were performances by a group of students from Inna’s American Tribal Style class (one of which was accompanied by didgeridoo!), as well as students from the Shambling Shimmies Improvised Tribal Style class, a wonderful duet from a couple of students, and solos from the instructors.  There were even some excellent audience members that were kind enough to join us onstage and learn a couple moves during the audience participation part of the show!

Native or longtime residents of Gainesville already know that Satchel’s Pizza is definitely something you must see – the venue is eclectically decorated, the pizza is delicious, and the employees are wonderful.  There’s even a junk museum out back (Lightning Salvage), which houses the stage where the showcase takes place.  If you are new to town – definitely go check them out at

We were also honored to have a very nice person (Elise Giordano according to the photo credit) from the Alligator in attendance, and a photo from the show was featured in today’s edition!


There was also a reporting student who interviewed a few of the dancers for a school assignment (whose name I have unfortunately forgotten because I did not write it down) – if you see this, email me using the contact link at the top of the page and I’ll update the post with your name!  I definitely enjoyed speaking with her and am sure that she’ll get an A+ on her assignment.

What a blast!  You really should have been there – but don’t fret, you have another chance.  The monthly showcase takes place on the last Tuesday of every month, and you can get details on shows and other events on our calendar or on the events listing for our fan page on Facebook.  We hope to see you at Satchel’s!

If there is anything Gainesville needs more of – it is belly dancing.

Luckily for locals, Lightin’ Salvage Enterprises is here to fill the belly-dance void with Satchel’s Shakedown [today] from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. behind Satchel’s Pizza, located 1800 NE 23rd Ave.

Satchel’s Shakedown, hosted by the Shambling Shimmies Dance Company, brings belly-dancing entertainment to the popular pizza spot.

The event will feature performances by the Shambling Shimmies, the Swamp Daises and additional guest dancers.  Open stage time is also available for guests who dare to show off their dancing skill.

Danny Lore, event coordinator for Satchel’s, said a former employee who brought her dance class to perform at Satchel’s introduced the restaurant to belly dancing several years ago.

“After it went down I asked her if she would just want to come back and do it once a month,” he said.

The Shakedown continues to occur on the last Tuesday of every month, just like it did when it began.

According to Lore the two girls who run the event now, Heather Fullen and Jules White, were students of the employee who started the Shakedown.

Fullen and White are the founders of the Shambling Shimmies Dance Company.  They began their business in 2011 with the aim of providing tribal and fusion belly dance classes and performance opportunities in the Gainesville area.

The Shambling Shimmies perform about once a month, Fullen said.

“The show that we do every month is a student showcase,” she said, “so it’s the student’s regular opportunity to perform whatever they’ve been working on.”

Instructors normally dance along side the students as well.

Fullen said at [today’s] Shakedown the Shimmies will present an Egyptian style belly dancer, tribal dance students and a cabaret style student giving her first performance.

In addition to the Shimmies’ showcase, anyone bold enough can sign up for a guest spot and dance for five or 10 minutes.

Lore said Satchel’s Shakedown, on top of being a popular event, has been a good way for new dance students to be familiarized with performing.

Satchel’s Pizza is right there too, of course, with pizza and beer.  Another reason to check out the Shakedown.

Anyone interested in more information about Satchel’s Shakedown and the Shambling Shimmies, or looking to participate in the dancing can visit the event’s Facebook page at

Patrick Kelly, 1/28/2013

Studio Open House!

We’re very happy to announce that we’ll be having an open house at our studio in the Unified Training Center on Saturday, April 28. Check it out!

Even if you aren’t interested in the workshops, we’d love to see you. We’ll be hanging out, jamming, shopping, and other fun stuff!

Click here to listen to more information! Open House Promo

Want to help? Hang a flier! OpenHouseFlier

Holiday Party @ Satchel’s

For our monthly show at Satchel’s for December, we had a bit of a holiday party!  Everyone dressed festively, and we had a few sets with Christmas music.  Tara & Kristin even did solos!

These are a few of my favorite photos from the show!  Check out our page on Facebook if you would like to see the whole album.

Julia and I also did a really silly duet (in honor of the upcoming New Year’s Eve).  It was hilarious, even if I do say so myself.  One can’t be serious all the time, after all.

Special Topics Classes

We previously have held pre-registered small group classes on Thursday evenings at 6 pm.  These have been fun, but they’ve required students to commit to and pay for the entire course up front or by payment arrangement, and we thought that might have prevented some interested folks from being able to participate.

So, for 2012, we’ve changed things up a bit!  We’re still going to have a small group class at 6 pm on Thursdays, and it’s still going to focus on special topics, but it’s going to be a drop-in class!

We’ll go through various topics (in segments of 2-6 weeks, depending on the topic and other factors).  Please see the event calendar to see what topic is going at any given time – I’ve just put up the proposed schedule for all of 2012!  There are a lot of great things – veil, tribal improv with balanced props, tribal improv with fire props, zills, shimmies – all kinds of fun stuff!

The class size will still be kept at 6 people or fewer (if we are blessed with a crowd, we’ll split the special topics into multiple classes), and the price will stay comparable to our small group focused courses.  The big differences are that you can drop in on single classes, you don’t have to pay in advance, and you can use your class card (which means you get to take advantage of bulk discounts on class cards).

Special topics classes that involve fire will be $20 per (or 2 punches on your class card).  In addition to the small class size and dual instructor format, we will be providing props to borrow if you don’t have your own, an outdoor space for lit practice during class (once enough material is covered), as well as fuel and safety equipment/monitoring.  The class is also just a smidge longer to allow time for preparing and cooling down props, etc.

Special topics classes that do not involve fire will be $15 per (or 1.5 punches on your class card).  These will have the usual small class size and dual instructor format.  There will be props to borrow if you don’t have your own for veil, basket, and zill classes.

The special topics classes also include performance opportunities at our monthly student showcase at Satchel’s, and at haflas held at the studio.

We are excited about the new opportunity to study special topics on a drop-in basis, and hope to see you there!


In a group dance format like tribal belly dance, changing up the lead is very important.  The shifting of the formation is visually interesting, and the variations in interpretation of the music from each leader will also add interest.  (Everyone has a few favorite moves that they tend to choose often, so if one person leads the whole song, you may not get as much variation in moves as you will get if multiple dancers take turns leading.)



  • Leader will begin to move backwards with any traveling move.


  • Within a few steps (especially if the formation has previously traveled forward), the second row has the option of following the leader in traveling backwards (if there is room), but after a few steps, the second row must come forward (the person who determines when the second row comes forward is the person on stage left – who would end up being the new leader after the lines switch).
  • Duets fade as usual AND then switch sides so that the new leader is on the left.


Cue into the circle:

  • Leader will begin whatever move they wish to circle in and then do a quick, un-cued half turn to the right to face the rest of the formation.
  • Everyone will make eye contact, back up slightly to prepare, and then begin moving in a circle on the next downbeat.

Cue to take the lead:

  • New Leader will yip as they approach the front left corner of the stage (or performance area) and turn away from the chorus to face the audience.
  • Everyone else will fall into standard formation (they should already be very close to their positions).


  • If the circle goes around once or twice and no one has taken the lead, someone should cue to take it back to the chorus.
  • See circle guidelines for options, guidelines, and cues for other things to be done in the circle rather than proceeding straight to another leader.


  • To keep performances interesting, leaders should (as a general rule) keep their time short and then pass off the lead to others.
  • It is always a good idea to know who is behind you and next in line to take the lead to avoid passing it off to someone who you know is uncomfortable leading (in performance).
  • If you are uncomfortable leading (or your mind just goes blank) you can always just fade back or go into a circle.
  • It is important for EVERYONE who performs outside of the chorus to understand how to change leads (including how to cue).

Cat Costumes!

We have the cat costumes for the Halloween show *mostly* finished, so we did a makeup test and rehearsal.  And here are some resulting photos!