Resources for dancers

There are so many places to find bellydance material online these days! But it can be overwhelming, so I’m sharing some of my favourite resources with you. Where possible, I prefer to use Australian suppliers to support the bellydance community at home, but you can find hundreds of suppliers across the world.

Costumes

Ebay is a default for beginners because costume pieces are so cheap with a large variety of colours. But the longer you dance, the more you will want to invest in quality pieces to properly showcase your dancing ability.

For hand-sourced quality items straight from the Middle East, you can’t beat Amera’s Palace, one of Australia’s bellydance icons. Sydneysiders can shop in person, but they also have an online shop plus a hire shop (great if you just need something for a short time). If you’re looking for something unusual then talk to the owner, Ali, and she’ll usually be able to help you find what you need, or at least put you in touch with one of her suppliers.

You can also go online for quality items at reasonable prices from these places:

  • Belly Dance.com – for class wear and a good variety of both Oriental and Tribal costume pieces.
  • Belly Dance Store – brand name Oriental costumes (with a good range of bra sizes!) as well as some Folkloric pieces and exciting hip scarves.
  • Belly Stockings – if, like me, you prefer a little coverage around the tummy area then you can’t go past these body stockings. Lots of options and a big colour range to match your costumes. I bought my first one 10 years ago and it’s still going strong.

Want to make your own costumes? The best place to start is Sparkly Belly, where Mao shares patterns and video tutorials to help everyone from beginners just learning to sew the basics to experienced seamstresses making professional-level costumes.

Props

My favourite props are, without a doubt, anything which needs air – veils, fan veils and Wings of Isis top my list. Here are my favourite suppliers:

  • The Silk Bazaar – 100% silk hand-dyed in Australia. You can buy a huge colour range of both veils and fan veils, or you can commission a custom dye.
  • Dahlal Internationale – if you’re looking for some unusual patterns, Dahlal Int. has an exciting range, plus lots of other props, costumes and bellydance items.
  • Etsy – Etsy artists have some really unusual takes on traditional props. If I’m looking for something a bit different then I look here first. Be prepared to hunt, it can take some time to find the right search term.
Music
You can find music suitable for bellydancing in lots of places, but for some more direct sources try:

  • Bahar Bayram Middle Eastern Dance & Music Camp – Bahar Bayram is a week-long festival in Queensland dedicated to dance and music equally. I confess I haven’t been yet but many of my dance friends have and they’ve raved about the immersive experience. It’s high on my list of festivals to get to – if you’re going, please tell me and we can go together 🙂
  • Essential Rhythms – there’s nothing like dancing to a live drummer! Shayne re-kindled his drumming circle in Yackandandah in 2019 and I’m currently learning how to drum.
  • Keti Sharif – Keti is a Perth-based dancer with a musical family and extensive musical connections in Egypt, where she lived and danced for many years. She produces her own bellydance music and has done extensive research into Middle Eastern music. You can buy her music, take her online courses about musicality or, the ultimate, join one of her trips overseas to study and dance with live musicians.
Online classes
Showing my age here, but when I started you only had two options to learn to dance – in person or from videos (and I do mean VHS, lol). But these days, you can take regular online classes with teachers from around the world! If you know who you want to study with then check their website for online options. If they don’t offer anything, it’s worth contacting them directly to ask if they’d consider Skype sessions.

Here are some good sources to find online classes:

  • Datura Online – this site is fantastic for anyone interested in Tribal Fusion with classes from a regular team of teachers, particularly the world-famous Rachel Brice, as well as multiple guest teachers. It’s not just for Fusion dancers though, there’s also Cabaret, Egyptian, Indian, Pilates & Yoga classes on offer.
  • Cheeky Girls Productions – most of my earliest videos came from Cheeky Girls and, almost 20 years later, they’re still renowned for quality instructionals. They offer online classes via Bellydancer.com as well.
  • A few of my favourite online teachers are Cassandra Fox, a Canadian dancer full of joyous energy who I’m currently taking online classes with; Coco Berlin, a German dancer who has a wonderfully sensuous range of courses; and Helen Santa Maria, a British dancer whose clear teaching style has helped me learn some tough technique.
Research
Don’t stumble blindly through your bellydance journey. Not only does our dance have a rich cultural history which we should respect, but there is so much information out there which can deepen your understanding of both the dance and yourself. Whether you just want to skim the surface picking up random bits and pieces, or whether you want to immerse yourself in study one topic at a time, here are my favourite research places:

  • Shira.net – Shira is a prolific researcher who has generously been sharing her knowledge freely with the bellydance community for many, many years. She covers a huge range of topics, and also features expert guest writers, to provide everything from research papers on culture and history to advice on costuming, lyric translations and performance tips. I have to recommend this as your first port of call whenever you’re starting a new project – it will put you on the right path with research you can trust.
  • Bellydance Bundle – Tiffany created this annual package of bellydance deals to motivate us to study our craft. Every year she negotiates an incredible discount on a large bundle of products (from online classes to research papers, music studies to costuming courses) and it’s available to buy for one week only. I bought my first bundle in 2017 and I’m still working through the rich material provided by some of the biggest names in dance!
  • Bellydance Quickies – Mahin has been providing these snippets of inspiration for almost a decade. It’s a free publication which regularly delivers short tutorials, handy hints and inspirational videos. It’s a great way to get bite-sized exposure to the huge range of bellydance material available out there.
Australian connections
We have a strong bellydance community in Australia. These are all wonderful ways to meet other dancers, learn about events and get dance news from around the country:

  • Bellydance Oasis – Australia’s only magazine dedicated to bellydance. They’re currently switching to an online platform, but you can still get most of their hardcopies on back order.
  • Bellydancers of Australia – a Facebook page which publishes events, advice and other snippets. Message Helen, the admin, if you’d like to share your bellydance journey. Don’t be shy, she loves to hear from dancers of all ages and levels of experience.
  • NEMEDA – I have to mention our local network! If you dance with me then chances are you already know about this NFP organisation. Our aim is to connect and enable bellydancers in Albury/Wodonga & surrounding regions.

Just a note that I don’t receive commissions from any of these recommendations. I suggest them freely because I’ve had multiple good experiences with each and every one of them!