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.

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)

7 Tips to Make Your Veil Your Friend

Seven Tips to Making Friends with Your Veil – and Getting It to Do What You Want!

Belly dancing with a veil helps make our dance much more interesting and exciting. Veil dancing is one of the most important aspects of learning belly dance (Oriental dance). Your “dance of veils” – if done right – can enrapture your audience. Veils help make your belly dance costumes more beautiful, complete, and satisfying.

Alay'nya with veil
Veil dancing: Alay’nya shows how a belly dancing veil can frame us and give greater expressiveness.

Not all belly dance lessons include veil technique. This blog post introduces tips to improve your veil dance, and give you links to some good belly dance DVD and YouTube resources. It will help you learn belly dance online with useful free resources. With some practice, you can do a “veil belly dance” that will add to your repertoire and let you be more artistically creative and emotionally expressive.

Nothing – absolutely nothing – increases our “glamour-factor” more than dancing with a good veil. It’s not just that our veils immediately give us more “presence” on stage. They also frame us (naturally, in the best color possible). They also extend our “reach” – allowing even the most petite of dancers to command the stage more readily.

Swirling, “big-scale” veil dynamics provide an exciting counterpoint to the often more delicate, understated, or precise vocabulary of undulations and pelvic techniques. For this alone, they are a valuable part of a dancer’s “expressive vocabulary.”

Veils give us an opportunity to build up the dramatic tension – the excitement, the anticipation – as we slowly unveil ourselves during certain dances. Also, they give us the most dramatic options for entrances and finales, especially when we are “circling the stage.”

In short, nothing enhances our expressiveness, our excitement, and our emotional range more than a good veil.

Some of us, though, feel that our veil is more of an enemy than a friend.

How do we “tame” our veil? How can we make it an extension of ourselves, so that we seem to naturally, gracefully, and effortlessly control the stage, command the veil, and compel our audience’s rapt attention?

This blog will present: Seven Tips to Make Your Veil Your Friend

Briefly, these are:

  1. Make Sure Your Veil is the Right Length and Color for You
  2. Make Sure Your Veil is the Right Material and Weight for Yourself
  3. Three-Point Control
  4. Learn How to “Frame Yourself” with Your Veil
  5. Put Enough “Oomph” Into Your Veil Moves
  6. Move Your Body When You Move Your Veil
  7. The Power of Nuance – It’s All in the Wrist!

Tip #1: Your Veil is an Important Part of Your Belly Dance Costume: Make Sure It is the Right Color and Length for You

While 2 1/2 yards was the “standard” length for years, many of us now use at least 3 yards. Over the years, I’ve moved away from shorter to progressively longer veils.

The most important length factor relates how long the veil is – when you are holding it – to how much length there is from the tips of your fingers to the floor.

My favorite veil – the one with the best length, color, weight, and “lift” – is 3 yards long. When I hold it in “basic veil” position – across my neck and shoulders, and down at each side, the each side of the veil is just 6 inches off the floor. This is a very good and workable length. I have about 18 1/2 inches of veil “trailing” from each of my fingertips. This is enough to be dramatic on stage.

Less veil (2 1/2 yards), and I lose stage drama. Too much veil, and it gets unwieldy; it’s harder to put enough “oomph” into it to keep the edges from getting fouled, and there’s increased risk of stepping on the veil.

To sum the length suggestion: About 6 inches from veil edge to floor, while you hold the veil centered on the back of your neck, is about right. For me at 5 feet, 4 inches, this means a 3-yard veil. If you are much taller – say 5′ 10″ or more – you could seriously think about a longer veil; up to 3 1/2 yards.

I’ve worked with long veils – 4 yards and more. They require more proficiency, and also more stamina. Longer veils mean more effort to keep them “floating,” so it helps to be in good shape and to have good technique before progressing to a really long veil.

Color is also important. If you haven’t had a professional color analysis done, use online resources to help you figure out your best colors. Your veil will reflect onto your face and body, so you want a color that will make you look your best.

For more on how to select your veil, you may wish to read Chapter 4: “Playtime for Grown-Up Girls,” in Unveiling: The Inner Journey.





Tip #2: Make Sure Your Belly Dance Veil is the Right Material and Weight for Yourself

Silk is infinitely preferable to any man-made fiber. Silk “floats” better, drapes better, and is more responsive. Katia teaches some wonderful moves for dancing with a silk veil in this Katia Silk Veil Dancing YouTube clip, based on her longer instructional DVD (see below). While sometimes silk chiffon can float beautifully, I prefer a heavier weight china silk – heavier than that used for linings. However, silk crepe is too heavy, and won’t give you the right “loft” in your moves.

Some dancers use rayon veils or polyester chiffon veils with lurex-stripes (mostly popular with beginning dancers). Aziza dances with a silk veil in Aziza’s veil dance YouTube clip. In this same clip, though, she also discusses rayon veils, as well as the issue of “trim” on your veil.

Some dancers prefer polyester – Petite Jamila (of Bellydance Superstars fame) works with two rather large and heavy half-circle polyester veils. But these are SO not for beginners! The simple weight of these makes for an upper-body and arms workout that would exhaust many weight-lifters.

See the link to Katia’s and Aziza’s instructional veil belly dance DVDs below; between these two, you can’t go wrong for good instructional basics, with some advanced techniques thrown in.

Two Good Veil Belly Dance DVDs

Katia and Aziza both have excellent introductory belly dance veil instructional DVDs.





Tip #3: Three-Point Control to Improve Your Veil Dance

When you take up your veil, and hold it behind you, you should “connect” with your veil at three points: in each hand (one point for each), and the back of your neck. That “back of the neck” connection is what gives you control. (This tip is courtesy of Anahid Sofian, who is one of the “great masters” of veil dancing.)

Tip #4: Learn How to “Frame Yourself” During Your Veil Dancing

Anahid Sofian, Master Teacher of Oriental Dance
Anahid Sofian, Master Teacher of Oriental Dance with impeccable veil technique and interesting veil choreographies

In the previous blog, I gave links to Two YouTube Veil Dance Resources featuring Anahid Sofian and her protégé Eva Cernik, who is now a master dance teacher and performer in her own right.

These two teachers, along with those given in this post, will give you a great sense of how to frame yourself when you hold your veil. For more hints, you can (again) read Chapter 4: “Every Woman Needs a Veil,” from Unveiling: The Inner Journey.

Tip #5: Put Enough “Oomph” Into Your “Dance of Veils”

Evalina Papazova - veil dance
Evalina Papazova in an exciting and dynamic veil dance

Veil dancing can be – and should behighly dynamic.

Evalina Papazova does some beautiful – and very dynamic and demanding – veil dancing in this YouTube clip.

Evalina’s dance is particularly interesting – she commands a large stage in a solo dance with a combination of veil spins and turns, coupled with good movement patterns across the floor. Her dance shows very well, even on a large stage – this is difficult even for experienced dancers!

Alay'nya with veil. Photo courtesy Crystal Barnes.
Alay’nya with veil. Photo courtesy Crystal Barnes.

Even if you’re new to veil belly dance, you can learn not only from online belly dance lessons and belly dance DVDs, but also from your own body.

From Unveiling: The Inner Journey, Chapter 4: “Playtime for Grown-Up Girls”:

“Now that you have your veil, play with it! First, find a “safe” time and a “safe” place. A safe time is when no one else is around. This time is for you … You need to get your feedback directly from yourself; from how your body feels, and what emotions you are feeling.” [p. 47, Unveiling: The Inner Journey]

Tip #6: Move Your Body When You Move Your Veil

Not many teachers include veil technique in their belly dance lessons. Even fewer teach students to use their whole bodies when they move their veils. All too often, dancers wind up using their arms alone.

Sira - dancer from New York
Sira, a belly dancer from NYC, demonstrates beautiful veil work.

Sira was featured in Anahid Sofian’s 2011 Atelier, showcasing some of NYC’s finest dancers. In this veil belly dance YouTube clip Sira’s beautiful vintage-style dance shows excellent and fluid veil work, including lots of spins and turns.

In this “vintage style” dance, I particularly like the hypnotic quality of Sira’s sustained spins; she demonstrates the important reminder that we need to stay with a technique long enough to give the audience the full impact of what we are doing – something that might seem “too long” for us will be just incredibly right for our audience!

Sira’s dance also included an equally hypnotic floorwork (taqsim) section, with exceptional hands and arms. It concluded with an exotic and exciting Za’ar (trance dance) finale; probably the best Za’ar that I’ve ever seen!

Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus.
Become the Jewel!

You study and perform belly dance (Oriental dance) because it brings forth a special aspect of who you are – the full range of your emotional expressiveness; both the sensual and sacred aspects of your being.

Join me – get the latest on how to become the jewel (a fully expressive you) in the heart of the lotus (your life, and all that surrounds you)!

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Aziza – showing beautiful veil dance technique!

Aziza is another dancer who has excellent veil techniques.

Aziza has a lovely veil DVD. However, you can learn good veil belly dance techniques online simply by studying Aziza’s veil dance YouTube clip.

The DVDs given earlier in this post provide good starting belly dance veil instruction. In future posts, I’ll provide my own YouTube links so that you can learn belly dance online, especially belly dance with veil.

Tip #7: The Power of Nuance – It’s All in the Wrist!

Kaeshi teaches belly dance veil technique online
Kaeshi helps you learn belly dance veil technique online in this YouTube clip

Study Kaeshi (of Bellydance Superstars fame). In this Online Veil Belly Dance Instruction YouTube with Kaeshi, you’ll see her demonstrate some very expressive and powerful veil techniques. Although it’s difficult to see her wrist action in this YouTube clip, you’ll find that you really need to work your wrists (and your whole body) to get the same effect when you practice veil dancing at home.

Kaeshi also has a performance YouTube clip, featuring beautiful veil dancing.

For “extra credit”: Study the vintage clip of Elena Lentini. Can you see how Elena has influenced Kaeshi’s style? One of fascinating study in learning belly dance online is to trace the influence of major dancers on some of today’s most well-known and rising stars! Kaeshi has been with Bellydance Superstars, and has a strong following in her own right. However, I’ve seen her for years in New York belly dance workshops with Elena Lentini and others, and have observed how she’s integrated important aspects of their styles and made them her own.

Many belly dance veil techniques require good wrist action – rotating your wrist and moving it in a “figure-eight” pattern – in order to control the far edge of your veil and to give it a good “swirl” in the air as it moves.

See Petite Jamilla’s DVD for good examples; her basic veil techniques often require good wrist work to be effective, so this is a good training DVD.


Belly Dancing with Veil: Summary

Veil belly dancing requires more strength, stamina, fine-tuned coordination, and movement than does “regular” belly dance. However, as you develop your veil repertoire, you’ll gain confidence and exceptional stage presence, along with a much more expressive “artistic vocabulary” for your dance. This is a challenging study, but so worth the effort!

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

Very best wishes as you make your dances more dramatic, interesting, and exciting by including a veil!

Yours in dance –

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

From Morocco’s Amazon review of “Unveiling: The Inner Journey”: “Unveiling – the Inner Journey” by Alay’nya (Alianna J. Maren, PhD.) is an important book that I wish had been written much sooner. It’s not just for dancers, but a book that mothers and aunts should give to the young women in their families before they go forth to forge their own lives and one I recommend others read to determine how close they are to “getting it.”

P.S. – Have you read Morocco’s book, You Asked Aunt Rocky: Answers & Advice About Raqs Sharqi and Raqs Shaabi? Should be on every serious dancer’s bookshelf!


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

Related Posts: Veil Dancing

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.