How to stay fresh and inspired

You just discovered belly dance and found this website while looking for information. Or you have been dancing for a while and you’re wondering how to get to the next level… or you’ve been dancing for a while, you feel tired and worn out and you think about quitting belly dance.  This post is for all of you!

Dancing, like any other skill, get’s better with practice. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to reach a level where we master our art form. Malcolm Gladwell suggests that it takes about 10.000 hours of deliberate practice. While this number is controversial, as a rule of thumb it works quite well. No matter what phase you are in, you have something to offer to you audience and you can have fun at any level. I enjoy watching beginners master the basic moves, I like how the face of intermediate dancers light up when they discover how to have fun and relax while performing, and I love the spark in the eye of the seasoned dancer who is at home in her body and sways to the music she knows so well.

Sometimes a long stretch of time can go by where I feel like belly dance is a lot of work. At those times I try to stay inspired and fresh, because I know how much I love dancing and that there are many reasons why I dance. I’ve gathered a couple of excellent articles for you with tips and advice on how to keep the fire burning. Is something missing or do you have suggestions? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list!

Sad because you don’t have a teacher?

What if there is no local teacher? -Shira

How to stay motivated and organized when you don’t have a teacher? – Mahin

How to overcome a plateau

From plateau to next level – Shira

Breaking the cursed dance plateau – Dance World Takeover

Overcoming plateaus and releasing inhibition in your dance – Caroleeena’s circles of joy

How to overcome your dance plateau and improve quickly – The Accidental Artist

Feeling like you have a dance burn out and want to quit?

Dance passion and burn-out -Gilded Serpent

Burnout, obstacles and over commitment – Dance advantage

Belly dance burn out -Leyla Najma

When it is time to walk away from belly dance – Belly Dance at Any Size

Quitting Bellydance – Sequins and Shimmies

Ideas to inspire you

10 ideas to renew your love for belly dance – Kyria’s Costumes (my personal blog)

Belly dance affirmations– a full set of affirmations to inspire you, as free downloadable pdf files

Here are some challenges to spice things up

90 day Belly Dance Challenge -Belly Dance at Any Size

Alia’s 90 day dance party – Program starts in February 2017

Datura challenge: learn a choreography and post the result – Not sure when the next challenge is, but it sure is fun!

Belly Dance Affirmations

Do you have a tiny voice in your head, beating you up while you dance?

Do you wish you could incorporate more belly dance in your daily routine?

Get inspired by using belly dance affirmation cards!

And the best of all? They are completely free!

I’ve been working on this project for a couple of months now and I am really excited that I can share the results with you. As a teacher, I often see my students struggle with their inner voice, comparing them to the other students. For my personal practice I noticed how a change in mind set can open up a world of new possibilities. Once I let go of negative thoughts, my range of motion improved and I was more relaxed when performing. I hope that you’ll experience these results for yourself by using these cards for yourself or your students!

How to assemble the cards

Material needed:

Printed affirmation cards, black and white, on regular paper

Spray on glue

Fancy printed cardboard stock


  1. Glue the printed affirmation cards to patterned cardboard with spray on glue.
  2. Wait for them to dry, then cut out each card with scissors. I rounded the corners with scissors for a more polished look. The cards now have a pretty pattern on the back, they are sturdy and they are nice to the touch.

How to use the affirmations

I like to draw an affirmation card at the start of my practice session to create a positive mind set, or put one card on my desk when I am working to add some good belly dance mojo to an otherwise boring task like doing administration or taxes.

I asked several dancers from around the world that inspired me to join me and share their affirmations with you. We created a digital treasure hunt so you get to visit every dancer’s page to see how they used the affirmation cards and download their PDF file. There are five sheets of affirmations waiting for you to get started!


Falling in love with the music and movements of belly dance is what got Kyria started, inspiring her students by teaching belly dance is what keeps her going. She is available for classes, workshops and performances in the Utrecht area in The Netherlands. After teaching weekly classes for over a decade she figured it was time to reach out to dancers all over the world and offer resources to students, teachers and performers on

Download her affirmations here


Andalee is an Oriental dancer and instructor from Durham, North Carolina, now based in Montpellier, France. Her dance style is based in Egyptian belly dance and American Cabaret belly dance. Her mission is to promote belly dance as a respected and valid performance art. She teaches her students that belly dance is truly accessible to anyone by exploring the different techniques and styles of belly dance. In 2013, Andalee founded Belly Dance at Any Size after learning about size-acceptance and Health at Every Size. The website is a resource for building self-esteem and a positive body image for belly dancers.

Visit Belly Dance at Any Size for Andalee’s affirmations


Khalida is a multi-award winning professional belly dance performer and instructor, born in Belgium and living in Germany. She currently offers personal coaching, instructional dvd’s and workshops as well as high-quality performances.  In August 2017 she hosts the first Movespiration congress in Wurselen, Germany. The goal of this weekend is to share her biggest discoveries, learnings and inspirations of the past year(s) in dance and movement in the form of a 2-day movement and dance intensive, featuring guest classes/workshops from teachers from different movement disciplines/arts, as well as personalized (belly)dance technique and movement guidance.

Visit Khalida’s blog for Khalida’s affirmations

maoMao Murakami

Mao Murakami is the founder of a DIY belly dance costume website, Sparkly Belly, where belly dancers can learn to sew and DIY their own costumes, even if they are new to sewing!

She turned her love of belly dance and costumes into one website, empowering belly dancers with sewing and DIY skills, and help them feel beautiful and confident on stage. What’s belly dancing without sparkly costumes that celebrate your uniquely beautiful body? 😉

Check out her free tutorials (65 of them and counting!) at

Visit Sparkly Belly for Mao’s affirmations

Zahra Zuhair

International performer, workshop instructor, and choreographer, Zahra is world renowned for her knowledge, authenticity, and dedication to the art of Middle Eastern dance. Raised in raqs sharqi from a young age, Zahra is known for her musicality and classic, elegant style. She is the artistic director of PoNaNa Dance Theatre (loosely meaning a blend of many things) and has written and choreographed productions intertwining Arabian tales and dance, since 1997. Los Angeles, California has been Zahra’s home base since 1984, where she has been one of LA’s most esteemed teachers for many years. Her always-evolving style keeps students, old and new, coming back for more.

Visit Zahra Zuheir’s website for her affirmations


About belly dance

There are many resources available that discuss the origins of belly dance. Most dancers agree that belly dance has been around for centuries in countries in the Middle-East. How belly dance got it’s current name is subject of speculation and backed up by research that points toward the Victorian Era, when a French reporter wrote about Algerian dancers on the World Fair in Paris and used the term danse du ventre.That got translated into belly dance and as the term is easy to use, it is now one of the most common terms.

In Arabic belly dance is called Raqs Sharqi, which translates to ‘dance of the East’. This can create confusion, as ‘the East’ could also be seen as the far East, like China and other Asian countries. In Arabic countries this is obviously not an issue, but Western audiences might have a hard time remembering and recognizing raqs sharqi.

What is bellydance and what should we really call it? – by Atea

History and origins of belly dance – World Belly Dance

Naming Bellydance –

Movement vocabulary

There is no universal chart or scheme for belly dance movements. This can create confusion when names of moves vary from teacher to teacher. Some dancers and dance schools have developed their own methods and scheme’s, but none of these is universally recognized. I have developed my own movement vocabulary for my classes. It utilizes the English names for belly dance moves as I find the English terms easy to use and remember for my students.

Belly dance terms: a glossary – by Shira

Glossary of bellydance terms – Wikipedia

Belly dance is an isolation dance, the dancer being able to move one body part in relative isolation. For example by moving the hips while the rest of the body remains still. I have one issue with this definition: our bodies are not a random collection of body parts. Creating a movement with one body part will always impact other parts of the body and the more you advance in belly dance, the more fluid and connected the dancer will become. So for beginners, we break down the moves into seperated  isolated moves. For intermediate and advanced dancers we work on combining different moves (called layering), creating fluid transitions and letting energy flow through the body.

The subtle art: isolation, integration and layering – online class by Datura (only available to paid members)

Styles of belly dance

As belly dance originated as a folk dance, there are a lot of different flavors and styles that you can explore. I made an extensive style chart that I send to my students in the form of a mind map. Melilah has an excellent example of a belly dance mindmap on her website. I challenge you to make your own mind map and add to it as you grow as a dancer.

The problem with dividing belly dance into styles is that most dancers consciously or unconsciously combine elements from styles into their own dancing. It is rare to find a belly dancer that is a pure bred *insert style here* dancer. Even dancers born in Egypt incorporate moves and concepts from other dance forms and styles. It is good to recognize and know the variations and cultural background of different bellydance styles. Structuring belly dance this helps us understand the roots of belly dance and nurtures cultural sensitivity. It is when we start to chastice others for not being ‘true to a style’, that the strucutre becomes our cage.