Belly Dance is freedom

Belly Dance has to be one of the most diverse dance forms. There are so many different styles and formats. Belly Dance often has a profound impact on those that participate. Every so often I will share the photo art and poems of Tahnee. This lovely teenager has been expressing her love for the dance through these 2 mediums and she has been so prolific that I think it a shame that only I get to see them so I have decided to share some of her work.


This was created by one of my gorgeous Dorrigo Dancers Tahnee!

She made this one after her first ever performance and she had only been dancing for one term!! Outstanding dedication!

World Belly Dance Day Bellingen 2012

A tribute to my students

I stumbled across the World Belly Dance Day website by accident back in 2008. At the time I was a student and teacher with the Awalim school of Middle Eastern Dance. I suggested to the other teachers we hold an event as well. Ruth and Shekhinah thought it a great idea and Bellingen’s first World Belly Dance day was born. That year we won “World’s most caring organisers”!! We hadn’t known such an award existed.

World Belly dance Day Bellingen 2012

I felt a bit like the pied piper! All the gorgeous girls following me.

In 2009 we were thrilled to have around 26 dancers parading, as this was 1% of the population!  (we live in a small town – Bellingen has a total population of 2600 people). This year my dance school, Jade Belly Dance, had 30 performers all on its own from the Bellinger Shire and several other schools had good numbers in attendance too (too many people in the photos for me to count them accurately! Maybe 70 dancers all up as a guess?).

parade improvisation at world belly dance day

Taking centre stage together – well done!!

What a beautiful day it was, you would hardly know we were only a few weeks off winter. Even I was hot and that rarely happens. Good photos were hard in the parade because of the copious amounts of sunshine in our faces but I would rather sun than shivering – it means you can show your belly without turning blue! After weeks of costume panics and dance practice it was such a relief to finally be there with so many of my gorgeous students.

pretty in pink

Dorrigo kids wrapped up ready to start their dance

The kids were armed with veils I had picked up in Egypt (really cotton head scarves but they are a good size for children) and off we went following the beat of the drum. Every time I turned I saw a sea of smiling faces following behind. There were two extra special moments for me in that parade, one was watching my friend Pauline (whom I had danced with for a decade) and her daughter Catie (a past student of mine), do a little solo together. When I have danced  with Pauline, I have always thought we looked a little silly together. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the energy but next to her I felt like a giant. Seeing mother and daughter dance together was just perfection. The other was when one of my current students, Lyn, struck out and did a spontaneous solo improvisation to the maksoum beat. WOW! Is there any greater feeling for a teacher when you see your students shine. Later 3 of them had a go together and I had a grin from ear to ear (so proud Lyn, Bess and Bec).

Finale of Abl Ma Anam!

Finale of Abl Ma Anam!

Next up was some dancing to live  drumming, then my girls took the stage. My Dorrigo kids classes opted to dance without my assistance or that from my more experienced Bello girls and they did a fine job. Only one disaster was poor little Izzy that had run off to the toilet and we couldn’t find her. She was so devastated to have missed the performance but she got to parade so it wasn’t a complete loss for her.

My Bellingen girls did the first ever complete run through of their dance Abl Ma Anam. They choreographed a good deal of the dance themselves with moves that reminded them of the lyrics (Houda translated for us- thank you!!). But as a child inspired piece it naturally broke with convention and thus  included cartwheels while holding veils!

The Dorrigo Ladies then followed with our mothers dance which was very appropriate for the day before mother’s day! It was partly choreographed by last years Bellingen class but with the addition of some tricky pinwheel formation work. I can’t believe they were all so brave to publicly perform after only 1 term of tuition! I refused for 3 whole years when I started out!!!

Other schools danced a variety of styles including Baladi, Khaleegy and fan veils. I didn’t catch as many acts as I would have liked due to costume changes, organising, photos and trying to keep an eye on my own little dancing daughter as she flitted around the market but what I did see was lovely and there was great music as well.

teal skirts - pinwheel

Mother’s Dance

At the end of festivities my Bellingen ladies performed our Bellynesian act (Polynesian mixed with Belly dance). I took my first Polynesian dance class in Hawaii when I was 15, I loved it and wanted to do more but it wasn’t available here. Eventually I took up belly dance and it has remained my passion for the last 13years but all along I have wanted to do a fusion of the 2. On World Belly Dance Day 2012 I finally got to fulfil that goal backed by my beautiful students.

5 gorgeous women - belly dance / polynesian dance fusion

Our Bellynesian number

The unseasonably hot late autumn weather added the necessary tropical feel and our fast and furious dance to Tahitian drumming was a triumph. My schools last offering was a sword duo by two of my more experienced dancers, they were told they were definitely doing it only 10 minutes before performing. It was then I also told them that I would not be dancing with them as I usually do. I wanted them to be the stars. They had a panicked look in their eye at first but rose admirably to the occasion.

So it is with much happiness that I congratulate the efforts of all of my past and present students that have bought me to this place in my life. Without your support I would not be a teacher and would not be writing this blog. You have come to me for lessons but have taught me so much in return.

Thank You,  Thank You,  Thank You,  Thank You!

Love Jade

mother and daughter

PS: If you have any photos or video of the day please send to

1 skirt – 4 simple looks

When you start out belly dancing most people acquire at least one or two items of costuming. Sometimes it was what was cheap and available at the time and other times it is an item that your teacher made you buy for a group performance.

Silver and teal belly dance costume

Check out the shadow!! I look so tiny!

So how do you get the most mileage out of what you already own?

How do you personalise a look for class or performances for your family?

Using one skirt, a teal petal skirt (the one I made all members of my Dorrigo Adults Class buy!!) as the base for all of them, I have come up with 4 simple and affordable looks. These are suitable for beginner performances and class wear. I didn’t go the whole way with accessories, hair styles and make-up as one should when performing but just threw together some things I had to give ideas.

Look one – I call this the Turkish waterfall look. Why? The beaded bra reminds me of a Turkish look and the silver the frothiness of water!

To get the look

Add one cheap, silver beaded bra top bought of eBay years ago for approx $20 AUD and one silver coin belt. This one I bought in Cairo but you can buy a silver belt from one of several online stores or eBay if you can’t make it to Egypt! (See gifts page for links to some sellers)

Blue tribal bra and lapis necklace

Collect pretty things and sew them on for an affordable look!

Look twoTribal flavour. Earthy it up with a tribal style bra and belt.

To get the look

I made a tribal look bra by getting as old bra that had solid cups and sewing on bits and pieces. I made this for under $15. It has a bit of an old embroidered bag, a curtain tie a broken earring, etc. I have written posts on inspiration for bras and what you need. For the belt you can either purchase one ready to go like the one I am wearing in the picture or create one yourself like the bra. A bra is quick and easy though so start there if you are unfamiliar with sewing and craft.

In blue - a nod to tribal aesthetics

Go for layers with harem pants and fringe belts

I tucked the petals of the skirt over the top of the waist band for a plainer line, shifted it around 90degrees and tucked a bit into the waist band to show off the harem pants.The harem pants cost me $7. The necklace is Afghani lapis and another eBay bargain but I have another similar one I bought off a market stand for $25 so keep your eyes peeled for a bargain.

Look 3 – Indian Inspiration

To get the look

Green and teal bellydance costume

You can cover up a bit with a sleeved top like this.

I bought this embroidered wrap around top for $6 in a bargain bin at the front of an Indian market stand years ago. The belt cost approx $20

Look 4 – Colour Carnival

To get the look

Another look to consider if you don’t feel comfortable in public in a bra – I bought the purple top from a friend closing down her business (Haven we will miss you!) $6. I teamed it with a simple belt another eBay special $25 and the expensive bit is the fancy vest from another costume set. Vests can be purchased individually from anywhere from $15 -$80. Or you can make one out of fancy fabric and save cash. I am also wearing a lapis necklace, I have several of these available for $8 each if you want one email me

Teal and purple beginners belly dance costume

Bright colours work well for performance. Be Bold!

Don’t want to show your tummy? Add a tight black singlet or better, buy a dance body stocking.

While this post was related to simple looks for beginners, the same principal applies to advanced dancers. Get out some of your fancy costumes and see if you can come up with a new look using different elements. You may have bought them as matching sets but sometimes you can get away with a bit of mix and match. I recently wore a beaded bra and belt from one set and substituted a full embroidered circle skirt with it. The colour match wasn’t quite perfect but it matched better with what my students were wearing and looked even fancier than the original look. The full skirt gave me better room for motion than the original skirt – I found it a pleasant change overall.

Last 2 days to vote for me in the Australian blog awards – please, please click the button on the right and look for Jade Belly Dance! Anyone can vote!

Hope that got some ideas flowing. What are your thoughts?

Have you had any mix and match triumphs? Comment below.

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