Category: Performance

New Videos!

The monthly Satchel’s show was held last week, and we had a blast!  Next month is going to be even better because we’re going to be doing something special for Halloween!  But, for the time being, while we get that all cooked up, enjoy some videos.

The first up is the video of Julia’s solo:

And then Heather’s:

And there are also several photos from the student performances, and the guest performance by Wyldfyre Dance!  Check them out here.

We’re planning something fun for the Halloween show at Satchel’s this year! (Oct 25)  There’s going to be a little bit of everything: zombies, ghosts, skeletons, and spooky black cats.

I’ll post more about the other characters as we progress into the month of October, but today we’re going to talk about the ghosts!  The level 1 students will be dancing as ghosts and skeletons, and we recently finished the ghost costume prototype.

The students will wear white pants and tops (and skirts, scarves, or other accessories if they have them), and we’ll be providing some additional accessories to spookify the whole thing.  The add-ons consist of a belt, shrug, wrist danglies, and a headband – all made out of ribbons, various types of yarn, and shredded sheer fabric.

The makeup is fairly simple – a white base with black ovals over the eyes and mouth.

Without further ado – here are some pictures!


Our Visit to a Local Girl Scout Troop

Last Friday we had the honor of visiting a local girl scout troop meeting here in Gainesville, Florida to provide a short introductory lesson in Tribal Belly Dance, and give a mini-show.  We had a group of about 10 people, some members of the troop and a few of their mothers, and together we went through a 30 minute lesson.

The girl scouts joined us for a group photo after the lesson!

During the lesson the students warm up, learn some basic isolations, and then learn 2 tribal belly dance moves.  These moves are taught with their associated cues, and practiced briefly as a group.  After both moves are covered, the students get a chance to try them out in the tribal improvised dance format when the instructors lead a short dance using the moves and isolations covered in the lesson.

After the lesson was completed, there was a brief question and answer session, and Julia and I (Heather) gave a very short performance in order to demonstrate how the larger vocabulary of tribal belly dance moves are used to create an improvised group dance.  We had a great time!

A quick pose during the mini-show.

We have a really fun weekend ahead of us!  This Saturday (9/17) we’ll be hosting a workshop – Super-Basic Introduction to Belly Dancing with Fire – and a Hafla!

The Workshop

The workshop will introduce torch adaptations for a small collection of tribal belly dance moves, that will allow students to give the torches a try during the hafla after the workshop if they are interested and ready.

There will also be a primer on fire safety and basic considerations for using the torches. We’ll even have a few pairs of spare torches (from our weekly fire class) available to share during the workshop and at the hafla so that everyone can have a chance to try them! (with supervision, of course)

For more information about the workshop, check out the Facebook event listing:

The Hafla

The party is really the fun part!  This is our second hafla, and we hope that folks had such a good time last time, that we get even more folks this time (especially since the weather is a little cooler now).  The students from the Intro to Fire – FIRE PALMS – Level 1 course that is just finishing up will have an opportunity to show their friends and family what they’ve been working on.

In addition to that, students from the workshop earlier that day will get a chance to try the torches out in a supervised environment.  Julia and Heather will be performing, and we’ll hopefully have a guest performer or two as well!

For more information on the hafla, see the Facebook event listing here:

And remember, if you are interested in lighting up at the hafla, for safety reasons please wear clothing made of natural fibers (such as cotton) and have your hair pulled up and off the face. (Polyester melts and loose hair is risky! Safety first!)

Costuming Guidelines

The following is a handout we provide to students with guidelines on costuming for performing with the class.

For more information about our belly dance classes, please check out the class info page.

Before we begin, I should note that we use the word traditional loosely.  Tribal belly dance has not been around terribly long – when we say that something is part of traditional tribal costuming, we mean that it is part of the norms established for recently invented tribal belly dance.  We do not mean that it is part of any particular culture’s traditional dance costuming.  That said, some items do hail originally from other cultures (and some don’t), there is much to be learned about these traditions, and it’s definitely worth doing some research.


Guidelines for costuming for casual performances (such as Satchels) and full performances (such as art fairs or more public performances).  See the ‘Costume Pieces Definitions / Explanations’ for further information on each costuming piece and further guidelines.


  • CHOLI OR HALF TOP – Either Choli / Half top or Halter / Dance Bra (or Both) Required
  • HALTER OR DANCE BRA – Either Choli / Half top or Halter / Dance Bra (or Both) Required
  • BELLY COVER – Optional
  • HIP SCARVES – at least one Required
  • TASSEL BELT – Preferred
  • SKIRT(S) – Either Long Full Skirt or Full Pants (or Both) Required
  • PANTS – Ether Long Full Skirt or Full Pants (or Both) Required
  • SHOES – Optional, but a good idea due to the location
  • JEWELRY – Required
  • MAKEUP – Required
  • HAIR DECORATION – Required
  • COVERUP – Required


  • CHOLI OR HALF TOP – Required
  • HALTER OR DANCE BRA – Optional unless otherwise noted
  • BELLY COVER – Optional unless otherwise noted
  • HIP SCARVES – at least one Required
  • TASSEL BELT – Required
  • SKIRT(S) – Required
  • PANTS – Required
  • SHOES – Optional
  • JEWELRY – Required
  • MAKEUP – Required
  • HAIR DECORATION – Required
  • COVERUP – Required


CHOLI OR HALF TOP – Shirt that cuts off around the ribcage area. Cholis are the traditional top for tribal bellydance.  The hard line creates emphasizes upper body isolation and movement.

HALTER OR DANCE BRA – Decorative halter or bra style top (often w/ coins, shells, mirrors, beads, etc.) specifically made for dancing.  These can (depending on cut and circumstance) be worn alone or over a choli or half top, though in tribal bellydance the more traditional way to wear them is over a choli.

BELLY COVER – form fitting shirt, leotard, or body stocking worn under the choli (optional in most circumstances).  MUST be form fitting to allow for visibility of undulations, etc. This can be opaque, sheer, lace, net, etc. It should coordinate with the costume and be contrasting in color with the top and bottom (or scarves) so lines are still made for visibility of isolations.

HIP SCARVE(S) – at least one scarf – fringed, beaded, coined, or otherwise – in colors that stand out from your skirt (and belly cover if worn) – these create lines that allow your hipwork to be more visible and can be tied to create more bulk at the hips which create shape and also make hipwork more visible.

TASSEL BELT – Belt or scarf with (usually yarn) tassels. Traditional tribal bellydance attire.  Tassels swing, bounce, and otherwise emphasize hip movement.

OTHER HIP DECORATION – coin belts, chain belts, etc.  – Add movement, sound, and adornment.

SKIRT(S) – In most cases full, long skirts – broomstick skirts, circle skirts, 10 yard skirts, 25 yard skirts can all work.  10 and 25 yard skirts are the traditional choices.  Panel skirts and shorter skirts can be layered over other skirts and very full pantaloons – especially with a lot of scarves and hip adornment, but by themselves they do not create a full enough (or covered enough) look.  Skirts should in most cases be worn with pants.  The exceptions would be in extremely hot and/or casual performances. In these circumstances especially, the skirt should be full and long and you should still be wearing at least hotpants underneath.  Skirts (worn over pants) can be tucked up in various ways to create different looks and shapes (frequently done in traditional tribal bellydance).

PANTS – Pants should with very few exceptions be VERY full.  Pantaloons (full pantaloons), flare pants, and palazzo pants are the primary acceptable choices.  Pantaloons are the only pants worn in traditional tribal bellydance.  The only time smaller pants are acceptable is under a skirt worn down.  In that case, less full pantaloons, jazz pants, etc are acceptable.

SHOES – Shoes (usually optional) should be flexible enough for your feet to move well.  The soles should allow you to turn.  Shoes made specifically for dance are usually the best choices: ballet shoes, jazz shoes, Hermes sandals, lyrical shoes, etc. No matter what shoes you choose – make sure that you have practiced in the shoes and are comfortable dancing in them.

JEWELRY – At least some jewelry should be worn at ALL performances.  A good guideline would be at least a necklace, a bracelet on each arm, and a ring on each hand.  This is a MINIMUM.  The tribal look is not understated.

MAKEUP – Makeup should be worn at ALL performances.  This should be performance makeup, which is much more than you would wear for a night out.  A face without makeup or minimal makeup will be washed out on stage and in pictures and its facial expression will disappear.  We do not require any specific makeup palate or decorations at this time.  You may use decorative markings if you so choose.  If you do choose to use any decorative markings, it is a good idea to research and be sure you know if they are purely decorative or if they have meaning in certain cultures and decide if you want to portray those meanings.

HAIR DECORATION – At least some hair decoration should be worn.  This can be as small as a decorative hair clip and as extensive as a headdress full of flowers and hairfalls and whatever else you can imagine.  Traditional tribal headdress is a turban. We have never done turbans in our tribe.

COVERUP – Outer garment worn whenever not actually on stage — should at least cover belly (even if you are wearing a belly cover with your costume).  In more formal situations, the more of the costume that can be covered up, the better (at least upper and particularly decorated portions of the costume – bra should be as covered as possible if you are wearing a costume bra).  Options can include scarves tied around over the shoulder (especially for more casual performances or performances in very hot weather), veils, caps, coats, caftans, etc.  The coverup should be attractive and present a nice overall appearance with your costume, as this is what the public will see any time you are not on stage.  The more formal the performance, the more your cover up should cover (full caftans are popular for this type of event).


Circle Guidelines

The circle is a really fun formation!  It’s a great way to change things up a bit, taking a break from the standard chorus and center stage group formations.  Circles are the only time that *everyone* gets to be dancing the same moves together at once. The visual impact of having everyone out there is nice, and there are some neat moves that really seem to look nicest in the circle.

There are some special things to keep in mind about circles though, because it’s not possible for everyone to see the leader at once, or even to easily tell who the leader is.  To account for this, there are some special cues and procedures for circles so that you can keep them looking crisp, and maintaining variation and interest.

So, without further ado, here are some guidelines to know for circling, so that you’ll be able to figure out what is going on if you’re following, and so that you’ll know how to take the lead when you’re ready!


  • The “follow me” cue is a quick, tight 3-step turn (to the left) on releve.
  • From Chorus to Circle – “follow me” cue in front of chorus line with long yip or zaghareet, then proceed to lead group into circle.
  • From Circle to Chorus – “follow me” cue with long yip or zaghareet and break off to lead the line from the circle into the chorus.
  • To take over lead in Circle – “follow me” cue with short yip and move into the next move you want to cue.
    • The person behind the new leader will mimic the “follow me” cue and proceed into the move the new leader cued.
    • Each succeeding person in line will do the same, such that the new move cascades around the circle, like dominoes.
    • A dancer will never spin and start the new move until after they see the person in front of them do it.
    • The person that cued that move will know it has made it all the way around when they see the person in front of them begin the new move.
  • From Formation to Circle – leader of formation begins whatever move they wish to start the circle in, and then does a quick, uncued half turn to the right to face the rest of the formation.  Everyone makes eye contact, backs up slightly and prepares, and begins moving in a circle on the next downbeat (with the move they were doing before the leader turned).
  • From Circle to Formation (4 people or less) – new formation leader yips as they approach the front left corner of the performance area and turns away from the circle to face the audience.  Everyone else falls into standard formation (they should already be very close to one of the ‘spots’ in the formation as the circle naturally passes over them).


  • Arabic Hip Twist
    • When this move is done in the circle pairs can cross the circle using Arabic.
    • When a pair is crossing, the circle stops moving and holds their places until they fully rejoin the circle and start it moving again.
  • Walking/Marching movements
    • Examples: Twist March, 3/4 Shimmy, Traveling Single & Double Hip Bumps, Maya, Taxim, etc.
    • When these moves are done in the circle, short solos (and duets if there is room) can be done in the center of the circle.
  • Egyptian
    • When this move is done in the circle, it cues that the circle will be doing stationary moves.
    • The move can start out stationary, from someone taking over the lead in the circle and then going into the stationary Egyptian facing the center.
    • The move can be started traveling, and then someone can choose to make it stationary (indicating their intent to go into stationary moves).
    • When doing stationary moves in the circle, everyone must keep track of who the leader is, until the next cue for a change of leaders.  (In all other cases in the circle, taking of the lead is done in order to cue a move change, and there is no ‘set’ leader – one must always claim the lead to change the move.)
    • When doing stationary moves in the circle, verbal cues are necessary for turns, since a portion of the circle cannot see the leader.

Chorus Guidelines

Since we’ve been spending a bit of time each week focusing on formations, Julia was nice enough to put together a handout on chorus guidelines.  These are things that are important to keep in mind when practicing and during jam time in class, so that you’ll already have them well in hand during the monthly student showcases.



The chorus should form a shallow semi circle open to the front of the stage or the audience centered around center stage or the center of the active performance area.  Dancers will face stage left (not straight on – they should be at a 45 degree angle or so to the audience).  The chorus should adjust in spacing/length, etc as people come into it and go out of it to maintain this shape (with people evenly spaced) and continue to frame the performance area (or when there is a lack of a clear performance area – frame the dancers that come out to do solos, duets, trios, and quartets).  The leader is the person in front of the chorus (farthest stage left in the standard form).


The chorus can turn around to face stage right for short periods of time.  To do this, the leader turns around – no cue is needed.  The turn passes down the line until it reaches the end.  Each person in line will do one repetition of the current move facing the previous direction, and then turn and proceed to continue the move in the new direction.  No one should turn until the person directly in front of them turns.  When the chorus is turned completely to stage right, the new leader is the person in front and they may change moves and turn the chorus back around whenever they wish.  Turning the chorus back around follows the same procedure.

The chorus can face the center of the line for short periods of time.  This would start as if the chorus were turning around, but the person just past the center of the line can make the decision not to turn around and continue to face the previous person.  This decision can only be controlled by the person in that position and that person becomes the new chorus leader.  At any point to bring the chorus back pointing one direction, either middle person can turn around and the turn will then pass the rest of the way down the line in that direction.

The chorus can face the audience for short periods of time.  To cue this, the leader of the chorus simply turns to face the front and this passes down the line just as any other turn in chorus.  The leader is the person on the far left (stage left).  To go back to normal facing either side, the leader turns to face that direction and that turn passes down the line.

Important: All turns in Chorus pass down the line one person at a time with each person completing one complete (both sides) repetition of the current move facing the previous direction before turning and passing the turn on to the next person.


Moves in Chorus should be kept relatively simple, and should be chosen to complement both the music and the moves of the formation in center (i.e. not distract from them or clash with them – you are their chorus, not the other way around).  Chorus moves also should not change as often as moves in the center formations.  When choosing moves, keep in mind the amount of space / crowding in the chorus at the time and adjust as necessary (arms may need to be kept small, for example).

Fire Fusion Belly Dance!

I’m so happy to finally have a decent video of our fire dancing!  This video is from a performance we did last week for a birthday party at the Sun Center in downtown Gainesville, Florida.

The dance style is a tribal fusion format that we’ve put together marrying belly dance technique and staff and flag twirling technique, with a dash of various other influences.  The format is improvisational, and has verbal and non-verbal cues, allowing for a follow-the-leader dynamic similar to forms of tribal belly dance that use group improvisation.

If you are interested in taking classes in the Shambling Shimmies Fire Fusion format, drop us a note for some information!