Friday, February 14, 2014

Books for Belly Dancers

Recently, one of the main elements I've been absorbed with related to belly dance has been happening outside of the studio and away from the mirrors. And that element has been reading.  At first that sentence might not make sense, because dance is about the physical movement of dance, right?  Wrong. With belly dance there is so much more.

For myself, and I think safe to say for most belly dancers, we were first drawn to the art form for the appeal of the dance itself.  Maybe swayed a bit by the glittering costuming as well.  But as we continued to learn our art form, we realized that belly dance is part of bigger picture.  There is a wealth of history and culture that goes along with the dance: learning about the origins of the dance, the countries that have shaped the movements, and the stars that have ignited the path for future generations.  Many of us started out focused on raqs sharqi (what most Americans would deem to be belly dance) and then progressed to learn about the many related folkloric and gypsy styles of dance: the khaliji of Iraq, the debke of Lebannon, the bandari of Iran, and many more.  With that mindset, I'd like to share a few of my favorite belly dance related books and media that helped me further my explorations and hopefully will for you as well.

  1. You Asked Aunt Rocky: Answers & Advice About Raqs Sharqi & Raqs Shaabi, Morocco
  2. The Belly Dancer Reader, Lynette Harris
  3. Bellydance: A Guide to Middle Eastern Dance, Its Music, Its Culture and Costume, Keti Shari
  4. The Belly Dance Handbook, Princess Farhana
All of the above listed books are available on  And as an added bonus, I also encourage checking out these free online resources.

Blogs & Websites
  1. Princess Farhana’s blog at
  2. Online edition of selected editions of previously print magazine, The Best of Habibi, 
  3. Online magazine, The Gilded Serpent,
  4. Articles about the history of belly dance and its stars

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