Belly Dance 101

While some of you readers may be well versed in what Belly Dance is, I’m sure there’s a few who are a little confused, or are curious to learn a little more before you take the plunge on your first belly dance class.

So without further ado, welcome to APB Dance Belly Dance 101!

What is belly dance?

Belly dance is the western phrase that was given to a group of dancers done by middle eastern (aka. northern African. Mediterranean and gulf), people. It encompasses many different styles from Cario stage to street style Shaabi, Saidi folk cane dancing, Debke, Classical Persian, Turkish, Khaleegy, Romani and many more.

The term also includes many newer styles that have developed outside of it’s traditional roots such as American Tribal Style, Tribal Fusion and American Cabaret.

For most people living in the western world, their first interactions with belly dance usually occurred either through watching music videos of Shakira, or by visiting a Lebanese, Turkish or Egyptian restaurant.

Where can I find a teacher?

You have many options for finding a teacher. After all, you’re reading the blog for one right now! But on the chance you’re not in Melbourne, Australia where I am, you have some other options available too.

  • Sign up with a local dance teacher. A quick internet search will find you a long list of teachers who are around the corner from you.
  • Sign up for online classes or buy a DVD. While not so great substitute for having a teacher’s eyes on your technique when you’re still learning the basics, if you can’t get to a local teacher or none exist in the style you want, online classes or DVDs might fill the gap. You’ll need an extra dose of motivation though, as you won’t have that “leave the house to get to class” push that even the most dedicated of dancers occasionally need.
  • Take a workshop with a visiting interstate or international teacher. As air travel is now a lot less expensive than it once was, many areas have guest teachers who will teach a one-off workshop day or weekend where you can learn different skills or styles from teachers you wouldn’t normally have time with.

It looks hard! Can I really do it?


Like most movement based skill sets, it takes a little practice before it really starts to look good. Some people will pick it up a little quicker as they already have the connection between their brain and muscles a little more developed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

Will I get to perform?

Yes. Many schools have regular shows through out the years and there are always community events that student performances are welcomed at.

That said, however, you do not have to perform just because you are learning to belly dance. Many people have been life long students of this art form and never actually stepped foot on a stage and are extremely happy with that!

I’m not a skinny, fit, young, able-bodied woman. Can I still do it?


The best part of belly dancing is it is accessible to everyone.

It doesn’t matter if you are tall, short, young, old, able-bodied, disabled, male or female-presenting. Anybody with a body can get into belly dance. Some schools may restrict class age groups or genders to provide a sense of safety for the dancers in the class, but this shouldn’t deter you from giving it a go.

I personally know of a dancer, who after injuring her leg and being unable to stand, went on to perform at a community show from a stool in the middle of the stage. She hobbled out on crutches in her costume, sat and performed a beautiful piece from her stool. Now that’s performance skills!

How do I get started?

This is the easiest part of all. You only need to do 2 things.

  1. Pick a class and book yourself in. Many classes will offer either discounted or free first classes if you’re new to the school.
  2. Turn up to class.

So what are you waiting for? Get started today!