Belly Dance Moving Across the Floor (I)- Technique, Playlists, and YouTube Links

Classic New York-Style Belly Dance with Veil (I): Class Notes, Playlists, and YouTube Links

Step-Touch (Linear Walk), Step-Ball-Ball, and Rocking Rhumba

First step is opening up and getting our connection flowing again.


Warm-Ups (In-Place)

  • Simple drop-down-and-reach-up, with veil (use music Diaspora from Spain, see link above),
  • Simple in-place gyrations – emphasize whole-body movement – with veil (same music as above).


YouTube Vids for Reference

A more complex walk, the “Turkish Walk,” to do later: Learn to belly dance: the Turkish walk .

Related Blog Posts

Master Class Study

Preps for Turns and Spins


Very best wishes as you use Oriental dance (belly dance) for personal growth and healing!

Yours in dance –

Alay'nya - author of <a href="">Unveiling: The Inner Journey</a>
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus. Become the Jewel!

Founder and Artistic Director, The Alay’nya Studio
Bellydance a courtesan would envy!

Check out Alay’nya’s YouTube Channel
Connect with Alay’nya on Facebook
Follow Unveiling: The Inner Journey on Facebook



Alay’nya, Unveiling: The Inner Journey





Copyright, 2016 (c). All rights reserved.

Winter Quarter Studies, 2017

Dear All – We had a great kick-off class on Saturday, Dec. 3rd!

Here are some links to help you start your at-home practice, as an adjunct to what we will be doing this Winter Quarter:

Winter is the Season of Pentacles; it deals with the element of Earth. So, during Winter, we do grounding and anchoring types of things. We work with solid, percussive rhythms that help us connect with our Earth-Mother. We work with zills and complex rhythms. We do drum solos.

Here are some posts-from-the-past on these topics:

And since this site is getting a total overhaul and update, why not begin at the beginning? The very first blog post – from 2003:

Too Cold to Get Out of Bed?

Belly Dance When It’s Just TOO COLD!

Sometimes, it's too cold to get out of bed.
Sometimes, it’s too cold to get out of bed.

Sometimes, it’s just too damn cold.

A self-respecting cat will just stay under the covers.

But with the cold – and for many of us, the snow-shoveling – our lower backs get tight.

More than not fun, this actually gets a little dangerous.

Risk of pulled muscles, all that.

So what’s a cat to do?

Stay under the covers and stretch!


Yes, Sometimes We’re Amazon Warriors

Robert Fusaro Sensei, 8th-Dan, Shotokan Karate, <a href="">Midwest Karate Association</a>.
Robert Fusaro Sensei, 8th-Dan, Shotokan Karate, Midwest Karate Association. (Photo from

Years ago, I studied Shotokan karate with world-renowned Robert Fusaro Sensei. (He’s now Eighth-Dan; that is – 8th-degree black belt – first and only Caucasian to reach that rank, I believe.) He still teaches in Minneapolis, MN, where it is even colder than it is here in the Mid-Atlantic this week.

Fusaro Sensei has brought many of his students to a high level, including several women who have reached 4th and 5th-Dan (4th and 5th-degree black belts).

Fusaro Sensei has always shown great respect for the dance art, and has particularly complimented Cassandra, who teaches Oriental dance in Minneapolis. (At one point, Fusaro Sensei and Cassandra shared studio space. Not the same classes, mind you!)

Here’s an Unveiling excerpt about studying with Fusaro Sensei:

One winter morning, with the temperature about 15 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit), I showed up with other students for the 6:30 AM class. The furnace had gone out over night, and they were awaiting repairs. The top floor dojo was icy cold. Harsh, northwest winds buffeted the exterior walls, stripping away the meager warmth provided by kerosene heaters. Our feet cringed against the frigid floor as we donned our karate gi’s. Leading us slowly and carefully through warm-up stretches, Fusaro Sensei gazed at us firmly. “This is Bushido [“way of the warrior”] training,” he said. Fusaro Sensei taught us to take all of our life experiences as part of our training and overall development – including an early-morning cold dojo!

From Unveiling: The Inner Journey, Chapter 23: “In Praise of a Few Good Men,” p. 324.

Bushido training appeals to us when we’re in our Amazon Warrior mode.

But sometimes, we want to be in Hathor mode; accessing our inner goddess of sensuality and pleasure.

So what do we do when our backs are tight, and when there’s still more snow to shovel?

We do The Most Luscious, Nurturing, Feel-Good Thing You Can Do. Yes, this is my post from this time, last year. And if you’re going to read just one post from me – read this one. (Hint – it’s about figure-eights – and their connection with our vital energy> – and you can practice in bed!)


Raising Our Internal Energy (When We Don’t Feel Like Moving)


Sometimes, before we even change into dance clothes, or do warm-ups, we need to get our energy going first. Then we can get the physical body into action.

Check out this lovely Energy-Raising YouTube with energy healer Carol Tuttle. The clip itself is only about six minutes, and once you’ve learned the energy-raising techniques, you can do them in about a minute. You can do this while waiting for coffee to brew, while microwaving a quick breakfast, or even to take a break at your desk. (Not that obtrusive, and you don’t need special clothes.) Check it out – I just did, this is fun!


Very best wishes as you use Oriental dance (belly dance) for expressing those aspects of yourself that come out only when you dance!

Yours in dance –

Alay'nya - author of "Unveiling: The Inner Journey"
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus. Become the Jewel!

Founder and Artistic Director, The Alay’nya Studio
Bellydance a courtesan would envy!

Check out Alay’nya’s YouTube Channel
Connect with Alay’nya on Facebook
Follow Unveiling: The Inner Journey on Facebook






Copyright (c) 2014, Alay’nya. All rights reserved.

Related Posts: Winter Dancing

Related Posts: Winter – Esoteric Energy Dance for the Season of Pentacles (Metaphysical Element of Earth)

Dancer’s Archives: Classic Drum Solos (DVD & YouTube)

Dancer’s Archives: Classic Drum Solos (DVD & YouTube)

Morocco in Bahlam Beek & Drum Solo – the drum solo starts at minute 7; a solid 3 1/2 minutes.

One of the most fascinating things about watching the really great dancers is their sense of humor – something missing from some of the younger ones.

Morocco accompanies the drummer throughout on this piece with expertly-played zills (at a tempo and with patterns that few dancers today can match). Generally, playing zills during the drum solo is a “no-no.” The idea is that the only musician playing during a musical “solo” is – indeed – the solo musician. Zills are a musical instrument, hence, the dancer should not compete (musically) with the drummer.

However, great dancers can break all the rules.

This one is worth watching.

Dalie Carella opens an improvisation with a drum solo.

Mid-East Darbouka Drum Rhythms

Five drum rhythms: baladi, ayube, masmoudi, malfouf, & karsilama

Malfuf rhythm

Top ten drum rhythms: Maqsoum, Baladi, Ayub, Malfuf, Saidi, Masmoudi, Chiftetelli, Fellahi, Khaleegy, Wahda

Four Ways to Play the Maqsoum, posted Dec. 10, 2016, 7PM.

Veil Dancing – A Beautiful Instructional YouTube Clip

Belly Dance Veil Instructional YouTube Vid by Imei Hsu Shows Softness, Sensitivity, Technique

Too many of us in Oriental dance have performances that are heavy on the glitz and glamour – all brightly-colored, sequined and beaded costumes, big smiles – and not enough sensitivity and depth of emotional feeling.

One of the best ways to enrich our emotional repertoire is by dancing with a veil.

Anahid Sofian, Master Teacher of Oriental dance.
Anahid Sofian, Master Teacher of Oriental dance.

Veil dancing gives us mystery and depth.

I learned this from two of my master teachers in Oriental dance, Anahid Sofian and Elena Lentini.

Both of these teachers were renowned for their flowing and expressive veil movements.

In Chapter 4 of Unveiling: The Inner Journey, I describe one of Anahid’s favorite veil drapes, the “Turkish turtleneck.”

In Unveiling’s Chapter 26: Selective Revelation, I share a powerful lesson that Anahid taught me.

Unveiling: The Inner Journey currently has twenty 5-star reviews. It includes many vignettes of studies with leading teachers of Oriental dance.
Unveiling: The Inner Journey currently has twenty 5-star reviews. It includes many vignettes of studies with leading teachers of Oriental dance.

From Unveiling: The Inner Journey:

What was it that Anahid had, and that I had totally forgotten?

Simply, it was the power of holding something back.

In my dance, I had started the way that many dancers start these days; holding my veil behind me, and using it to frame myself as I moved across the floor. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, if the music is very active and dynamic, theis can be a great dance opening! However (and this is important), this approach lacks the power of mystery and suggestion.

In the dance that Anahid showed me, she started by staying in one place, with the veil wrapped around herself. She held the veil edges in such a way that her hands were covered. She held her hands high enough so that, with the veil wrapped around her from behind, it covered her face as well. [pp. 359-360]

Where Can We Learn Good Veil Techniques on YouTube?

Imei Hsu does Veil Bellydance for Emotional Performance as a YouTube video clip.
Imei Hsu does Veil Bellydance for Emotional Performance as a YouTube video clip.

In last week’s Alay’nya Studio blog, I shared one of my favorite recent finds – a YouTube vid veil performance by Imei Hsu: Bellydance Veil for Emotional Performance.

Today – in preparation for this week’s class, and for those of you who are studying with me “virtually” – let me recommend two of Imei’s instructional vids.

Basic Veil Openings and Movements

If you are just beginning your veil work, start with: Imei Hsu’s How-To Veil Basics. Although she starts even beginners with a 3 1/2 yard veil (and recommends 4 yards for taller students), her techniques are very accessible; within a short time, even a beginner can be using these techniques and looking very good.

Soft, Graceful, and Emotionally-Rich Veil Openings and Movements

Melina, of Daughters of Rhea, teaches Greco-Turkish Oriental dance.
Melina, of Daughters of Rhea, teaches Greco-Turkish Oriental dance. Photo by Najmat.

Imei has a second, slightly more advanced tutorial: Imei’s Advanced Belly Dance with Veil YouTube Instructional Vid.

If you have problems loading this clip by clicking on the link above (YouTube is being just a tad bit tetchy today), then open a browser in YouTube, and enter the key words:
Imei Hsu Belly Dance Seattle Classes How To Dance With a Veil – you’re looking for a vid clip that is 8 minutes 14 seconds long. That should get you there.

Once again, here’s the link to Imei’s Advanced Belly Dance with Veil YouTube Instructional Vid.

I like this clip because it breaks down several of the techniques taught to me by Anahid and Elena. Imei credits Melina (of Daughters of Rhea) with some of her techniques.

Here are some special points to note:

  • Longer-than-average veil allows more flexibility with dance opening moves. Imei favors a 3 1/2 yard veil. Most veils today come in 2 1/2 yard and 3 yard sizes. When you go to a 3 1/2 yard veil, it is a bit more difficult (especially for shorter dancers), but the increased vocabulary range makes it worthwhile.
  • Emotionally-compelling dances often begin by keeping yourself fully veiled from view. Imei shows two lovely variations on how to enter covered with your veil, where one of the long ends is tucked into your hip belt. The veil can be draped so it covers your head and torso, either coming up from the front, or swooshed to the back and draping down over your front. Both are lovely and give a subtle sense of mystery and drama to your opening moves.
  • Your longer veil gives you more options for framing and partial draping. Imei shows how you can frame yourself from behind, or throw your veil over one shoulder and arm – while still keeping the tail end tucked in your sash. There’s a lot of choreographic and expressive flexibility with these moves.
  • Lovely way to frame your hips for shimmies. Imei shows a very pretty and useful way to have the veil close-held and yet frame your hips, about 3 min, 40 seconds into this clip.
  • Beautiful “Z” movements – can be combined with turns. This section is very reminiscent of some of Elena Lentini’s movements; about 5 minutes into this clip. A dramatic flip-up, followed by “double-Z’s” is very reminiscent of what I’ve learned from Elena! (About 5 min, 40 seconds in.)
  • Veil work – with back to audience – can be a lovely lead-in to shimmies. See a section about 6 minutes in. Imei shows the same movement she just did previously, with back to you (the audience; the camera), followed by a little in-place shimmy. Delightful!
  • Play with your veil as though it were your dance partner. Imei’s concluding technique demonstrations – starting about 6 1/2 minutes in – show a beautiful veil change-of-pattern embedded into an in-place turn; this was new to me and very worth learning. She follows with a segment on holding the veil (more or less) steady in front while doing a turn – I prefer to hold the veil more taut for this. (Petite Jamilla shows this beautifully on her DVD, Unveiled.) Her concluding techniques are both lovely and dramatic, and well worth mastering.

If you are studying with me – either in-person or virtually – please review both of these YouTube clips before class on Sunday.

Right after Sunday’s class, I’ll post a very quick little “class review notes” blog. It will cover techniques and micro-choreographies that will be our homework for the coming week.

Whether you’re with me in person or at a distance, please do chime in with your comments as we move through Autumn Quarter, devoted to emotionally-expressive movements in Oriental dance!

Very best wishes as you use Oriental dance (belly dance) for expressing those aspects of yourself that come out only when you dance!

Yours in dance –

Alay'nya - author of "Unveiling: The Inner Journey"
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus. Become the Jewel!

Founder and Artistic Director, The Alay’nya Studio
Bellydance a courtesan would envy!

Check out Alay’nya’s YouTube Channel
Connect with Alay’nya on Facebook
Follow Unveiling: The Inner Journey on Facebook





Copyright (c) 2013, Alay’nya. All rights reserved.

Related Posts: Veil Dancing

Related Posts: Autumn – Esoteric Energy Dance for the Season of Cups (Metaphysical Element of Water)

Beginner’s Lesson 1: Warm-Ups, Energy Work, Techniques, & Choreography

Beginner’s Lesson 1: Introduction to Esoteric Belly Dance with the Alay’nya Studio

Warm-Ups, Energy Work (the Cabbalistic Cross), Energy Circulation (Introduction), Principles (Anchoring), Basic Techniques, Introduction to Music and Rhythm, Introduction to Choreography

This is a study guide and reference serving three groups:

  • active members of the Alay’nya Studio,
  • those who are visiting from out-of-town, or coming in for an “introductory visit,”
  • those who wish to study with us “at a distance” – you can be living in any portion of the world, from Athens, Greece to Athens, TN.

Look throughout this blogpost for homework assignments; follow the links and be prepared to use what you’ve studied with the online materials when you come to class!


We typically use the same warm-up music each time; Cuts 1 – 7 (all or in part) of Beyond the Sky, by Omar Farouk Tekbilek and Brian Keane. We’ll have the same warm-up pattern each time. You’ll get detailed handouts in class (“Warming Up with Alay’nya”) until you’ve built up a notes collection for the entire warm-up sequence.

Energy Boundaries: The Cabbalistic Cross

Our first step with energy work is to define our space. We do this by setting a boundary – circumscribing the area in which we will work. To do this, one of our mainstay “practices” is the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. (Please note: All words within this ritual are to focus our attention on aspects or emanations of G*d, or to invoke the protective presence of the archangels.

In the first class, we will learn and practice a dance version of the Cabbalistic Cross, which is the first part of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP). The words that you will learn and vibrate are:

(Those of you who are steeped in the Christian tradition of reciting the Lord’s Prayer, or in the similar Jewish tradition, will note that these phrases are drawn from those prayers.)

Our music for this etude will ultimately be Anahat on Zaman by Kairo by Night.

Energy Circulation and Breath Control: Drawing Energy (Ch’i) Up Your Spine

In the Beginner’s Series, we develop a number of energy-circulation movement patterns (or etudes). Our first one helps us to bring energy up our spines. We bring it to each of seven different “energetic way-stations.” (Later on, we’ll learn how to connect these to chakras.)

Our music for this etude is the beautiful Gayatri Mantra on Saffron Blue by Rasa.

As you listen to this music (do so online), you’ll note that the word-sequence or change is repeated seven times. We’ll ultimately use all seven; each for a different energy center.

In preparation for the first class, listen to the music, and read along using the translation.

While doing this, we’ll use a series of mudras, which are hand gestures that help open our energy centers, circulate energy, and encourage certain mental/emotional states. Specifically, we’re going to use two mudras that open our two lower chakra areas. Note that the two sounds that we’ll use are LAM and VAM, with the two respective mudras.

As we do this etude, we will also incorporate a breathing pattern – a very simple aspect of pranayama. We use only a very simple three-part breathing pranayama for this etude. We will have a pause (or retention of breath) after each inhalation and exhalation. We’ll use the four phrases of the Gayatri Mantra to cue our inhalation, retention, exhalation, and pause.

First Principle: Anchoring

We take a Principles-based approach to learning the dance movements. Each Principle gives us a kinesthetic and internal-image “cue” or “trigger” that helps us to align or move our body in a certain way. There are seven basic, or Static (non-moving) Principles that we’ll seek to learn during the Beginner’s Introductory Classes. The first Principle that we’ll learn is Anchoring. This is discussed in Unveiling: The Inner Journey, in Chapter 22: “Looking Like a Dancer (Even If You’re Not).”

Techniques: Hip Drops and Hip Thrusts

When we use the first Principle of Anchoring to align our pelvis, then all our pelvic and hip techniques come about automatically. We simply “discover” that they are there, waiting to be used! Over the first several weeks of the Beginner’s Introductory Classes, we’ll learn an etude that lets us practice lots of different hip movement techniques, particularly hip thrusts and hip drops, together with transitions, step patterns, pelvic circles, and other moves. Our music for this will be The Magic in Your Eyes (Cut #1) on Hossam Ramzy’s Source of Fire.

Music Analysis

We will start our musical analysis with the opening portions of Hossam Ramzy’s Source of Fire. There will be a take-home worksheet for this.


Dream Dancer

Time permitting, we will start two or three mini-choreographies. Specifically, we’ll focus on creating “choreographic units” – small sections that we can match onto a section of different pieces of music.

Cool-Down & Meditation

We’ll close the class with a cool-down section. We often use Beautiful Friend on Dream Dancer by Light Rain as a gentle and beautiful cool-down. This is something that we can develop later for arm and hand work, along with undulations and some turns and rhumba movements.

See you in class. Namaste – Alay’nya

How to Prepare for Your First Class in Belly Dance

Advance Preparation Makes All the Difference in Learning Oriental Dance (Belly Dance)

Darlings – I have a confession to make.

If you’re tracking this blog at all, you’ll know that we’re having our first Open House in over two years. For all practical purposes, I had closed the Alay’nya Studio while doing the final rewrites, edits, proofs, and publication of my most recent book, Unveiling: The Inner Journey. And then, a first year of guiding it through public introduction. Think of it has having a baby, where the last three months of “gestation time” that we need for a human child transferred into 2-3 years to bring Unveiling from raw draft to finished product.

Now, of course, it is not only available (in both trade paper and Kindle download form), Unveiling is actually the first required reading for people who want to study with me.

Obviously, though, this is a dance class. And I’m having to get my “dance groove” back on, just as you will when you join me. (Mark your calendar NOW for our Open House on Sunday, Sept. 9th, and contact me for directions and details.)

So I’m practicing. And in addition to the yoga, core, and conditioning basics, I’m back to practicing dance (and developing lesson plans, reworking choreographies and practice pieces, and all sorts of things necessary to launch a great season).

One of my favorite training DVDs is Kathryn Ferguson’s Mid-Eastern Dance: An Introduction to the Art of Belly Dance.

Years ago, this was my most significant instructional tape; then available only in VHS form. During a summer when my dance teachers took a break, I had just refinished my living room. This empty room beckoned as a new “dance studio.” The big challenge was: could I get myself to practice all on my own, without the structure and security of a dance class to guide me?

My next big question was: could I ever look like Kathryn?

I was entranced and inspired by her tape. What was most mesmerizing about her presentation was that after each (well-explained and well-demonstrated) technique section, she’d have a little vignette in which she used those techniques in an improvisational dance.

I wanted desperately to look like her, to dance like her. Even after finding my “master teachers” (Anahid Sofian and Elena Lentini; read about them in Unveiling), Kathryn remained an icon. And her VHS tape was always my reference standard for introductory teaching.

Now, I’m using her material again. This time, she’s (so thankfully!) released it as a two-volume DVD. You’ll have to contact her to get a copy; it’s not available through Amazon, and not even as a “store item” from her website. But contact her directly. (I may place a bulk order for the class, once everyone has registered for the first quarter.) The extra effort is worth it. This still remains, by far, one of the most fascinating, beautiful, and useful introductory DVDs to this beautiful and gracious art.

But my confession? Right now, I’m looking nowhere near the way that Kathryn does in her teaching DVD. Full circle. I’m back to being a student before I can be a teacher again.

"Structured Curriculum Support"

Dear Ones –

This dialogue supports Alay’nya Studio members who want to give inputs to one of our major goals for 2005: “Structured Curriculum Support.” All of you in the Studio are invited to comment!

This theme got started during a post-workshop coffee-session on Sunday, Nov. 14th (2004) between Dancers Kriste and Linda and Alay’nya. The question was: What would support you (the dancers) most for this coming year? The answer, reduced to essentials, was: More focus, more “completion” (e.g., whole choreographies, start-to-end), and more “curriculum support.”

As Dancer Kriste put it, “We have the discipline, we just need the structure.”

Very well said, Kriste!

Many of us come to Mid-Eastern dance (belly dance, Danse Orientale, Raks Sharqi …) to tap into an inner expressive core that we all have – one that lives in an entirely different world than that of our 9-5 (and occasionally 5-9) jobs. In dance, we cultivate our access to our “feeling-sense” mode, rather than our every-day “cognitive-thinking” mode.

Yet Kriste’s and Linda’s points are very well made. We do need technique mastery in order to excel in this art. For many of us, structured choreography is a “path of confidence” into the “structured improvisation” that underlies true expressive dancing. Being able to do an entire choreography – and building a repertoire of choreographies – is an important part of developing not just skill, but confidence.

Many of our Studio members can only make class once a week, but are very willing to practice at home. The challenge that they find lies in figuring out just what to do when they want to practice at home. (I do remember this stage in my dance development; it very much is part of the path.)

So the idea that I suggested to Kriste and to Linda – and which met with their enthusiastic support – was to select a dance for each quarter that was already choreographed and commercially available on DVD or analog video. We would also need to have the music available for this dance. I would prepare teaching materials for that dance and teach it in class. Studio members could then follow up with at-home practice, using both the instructional DVD/vid and the music. This would give them reinforcement for the dance choreography, plus a structure with which to work for home study.

Additionally, I am going to try to select a technique-oriented instructional DVD/vid for each quarter, and teach the material in class, and correlate the class instruction to the appropriate DVD/vid sections. This will be an alternative at-home practice. Studio members can do either or both at-home studies (choreography &/or technique); I’ll do my best to make sources for the quarterly selections of DVD/vid and accompanying music available via my website (

Any thoughts / comments?

Best to all – A.

P.S. – One of the other ideas that we came up with during the coffee-session was that we would get a blog going, and use it to build community and share thoughts on topics like this – so that we could each access the blog at our leisure, and read / comment on whatever interested us at the time. So starts our Studio Blog!