Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Count Your Blessings

With Christmas just around the corner, its a good time to think about how blessed we are.  No matter what your circumstances, if you are financially sound or not, whether you are physically challenged or have great health; there are many things we can be grateful for.

I remember a conversation I had with a young man several years ago.  He had a horrific home life.  No father in the house and a mother who was an abusive drug addict.  I could fully understand why he was depressed and felt he had no hope.  When I told him he was actually a lucky person, he thought I was crazy.  He just needed to change his psychology.  I told him every night before he went to sleep to think of 3 things to be grateful for. Initially he said he could not think of anything, so I helped him get started.
"I am healthy, I have friends, I am young, I have many opportunities to become anything I want to be, I just ate delicious hamburger today...."

And then I told him to start helping other people.  At first he did not grasp this concept.  I told him that if he just did some small thing to help someone everyday, it would change his life.  Helping does not necessarily mean giving someone money.  There are many ways to help someone that don't cost anything.  
Pay somebody a compliment everyday, someone you know or a stranger. Go visit someone in an adult care facility, pick a person that does not get visitors. Give somebody a flower.

This young man is now doing much better.  He's got a job and is on his own.

Suzy Evans

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Black Belly Dance Costume

Is a black belly dance costume like a black pair of shoes?

You just can't have too many belly dance costumes. Let's face it, costumes are half the fun of belly dance. As a matter of fact some belly dancers became belly dancers because of the costumes.  A friend of mine started her career in dance because someone gave her a cheap belly dance costume for Halloween.  She started taking lessons and got hooked.  That was about 15 years ago.

As far as owning a black costume, I think it is like a black pair of shoes.  You can't have just one pair. So ladies, don't feel guilty if you just have to have more than one black costume. Sure, men never understand it, its just a girl thing.

Belly Dance-O-Rama
Sadie wearing a fabulous black costume in Belly Dance-O-Rama

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dynamic Combinations Ava Fleming DVD

Dynamic Combinations - Traveling in Style with Ava Fleming was Ava's first instructional video produced by IAMED.

I approached Ava about what she wanted to teach on a DVD.  We tossed around ideas and decided on combinations, but with a twist.  Ava wanted to do something unique with her combos - they would all be traveling combinations.  These combos could be used to travel onto a stage, move you across a stage if you wanted to work the other side or use to move off stage.

Ava's combos on this DVD are truly amazing. They are complex and interesting.  Check out the video clip for this DVD on our site.  Click Here for more info and the clip.

Suzy Evans

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hollywood Babylon Anniversary

Its hard to believe:  This week marks the 10th Anniversary of the show Hollywood Babylon. How is it possible that 10 years have gone by?  It seem more like I was there just last year.

Our show Hollywood Babylon happened in December 2001. I would like to share some stories about that show.  It was a special show in many ways, and it stared some great talent.  Sadly, one of those talents will never been seen again in any show.  I'll explain later.

Here's the all star line up: Anaheed, Rania, Anisa's Orientale Beledi Troupe, Marula, Brandi, Dondi, Jillina and the Sahlala Dancers, Marguerite, Leyla and Saharan Silk, Princess Farhana, The Tut Sisters and Mesmera.

We had a combination of live music by Al Kimie and recorded music.  The show was held at the Burbank Center Stage in Burbank, California.  This is the only time IAMED produced a show at this venue.  I'd love to go back and do another show there, but its difficult getting a date locked in because the theatre holds its own productions.

The attendance at the show was not what I expected.  Burbank Center stage has about 200 seats, we filled about 100.  I believe the problem laid solely with the 9/11 attack which had occurred just a few months prior, and this is after all a dance from the Middle East.

Our photographer we hired was asleep at the wheel and most of the photos he took were not useable. Note to photographers: Be sure to always bring a telephoto lens.  Fortunately, Var Daghdevirian saved the day and took most of the photos that you can now view in on our photo gallery.

The show also served as a fund raiser for a local dancer who suffered a heart attack and needed help with her medical bills.  We had a great silent auction with wonderful items that were donated.  Most people in attendance bid on at least 1 item.  I don't recall the amount we ended up raising but it paid a big chunk of her medical bill.

Leyla, the dancer and director of Saharan Silk died in an accident in Hawaii several years after this show occurred.  She had moved to Hawaii and apparently slipped and fell to her death from a cliff.  During her belly dance career she won the Belly Dancer of the Year contest.  She is sorely missed in our community.  In Hollywood Babylon she danced with her newly formed dance company, Saharan Silk. If you watch the video you get a good taste of what she and her dancing was like.  I wish there was more of her performances out there on video.

And of course, what show is complete unless there is a controversy!  It was all about Dondi's costume.  Dondi, who graces the cover of the Hollywood Babylon DVD, was wearing a couture costume.  She bought it during a recent trip to Turkey.  It's very see-through with those few certain areas covered.  Geez... there was a lot of talk about that costume!  A few people were out right offended about the skimpy costume.  I myself, do not care for vulgar, non authentic costumes, but this costume was an authentic costume.  Its quite normal for Turkish dancers (the ones in Turkey) to wear very skimpy, revealing costumes.  Thankfully most people loved the costume and Dondi's performance in it.

Brandi gave us a rare treat with a Moroccan Guerda dance.  Her entourage included dancers and her own Moroccan band.

Jillina and her dance company The Sahlala Dancers put in some truly special performances.  The girls did a beautiful Armenian piece with candles.  Jillina and her dancers performed a pop Bollywood/belly dance number.  These numbers were later used in the Bellydance Superstars shows. 

Jillina put in 2 of the best belly dance performances in her career on Hollywood Babylon.  A superb drum solo and my personal favorite; a taxseem to Om Kalthoum music.  In the later she wore a gorgeous flesh colored couture Egyptian costume. 

Dondi brought down the house performing her now infamous Marilyn Monroe dance.  She perfected this performance just for this show.  Later it also appeared in the Belly Dance Superstars shows. 

Looks like Miles Copeland got ahold of the Hollywood Babylon video and decided to borrow the numbers and talent from this show.  Its certainly not the first or will it be the last time people copy what I produced. 

Marula and her dancers were all wrapped up as mummies and performed an interesting choreography billed as the Tut Sisters. 

Multitalented Marguerite not only turned in a beautiful American Cabaret performance, but she jumped in with the band as its singer. 

And then to top it off we had our very own movie star as our MC.  Lance Henriksen star of Millennium, Aliens, Aliens versus Predator, etc. introduced the performers.  Some of his fans found out he would be there and came to the show to see him. 

These are just some of the stories surrounding the show. I've shared as much as I can remember right now. With all the complications, controversies, etc it stands as one of my most memorable and favorite shows. 

I have put the Hollywood Babylon DVD on sale this month, because I think everyone should have this outstanding DVD.  Most of you were not at the show, but this is the next best thing and it was captured beautifully on video.  A clip of the show can be seen on BellyDance.org site.

See the following links for:
Hollywood Babylon DVD
Photos for Hollywood Babylon
Hollywood Babylon Video Clip on YouTube

Suzy Evans
International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turkish Belly Dance

If you took belly dance classes many decades ago you may have taken the classes from a Turkish dancer. Turkish belly dance is the foundation of what we call American Cabaret belly dance. From the costuming to playing zills and the dance itself, it is quite Turkish. If you were a belly dancer in the 1960s and 1970s, that is the style you danced.

Starting sometime in the 1980s the Egyptian style started becoming popular.  By the 1990s both Egyptian and Tribal had become popular.  As a result the Turkish style/American Cabaret became less popular, with fewer dancers learning the style.  I believe that some just thought it was outdated and some belly dancers evolved into the Egyptian style.

We are starting to see a new interest in this style of dance, and I am so glad that we are.

Two of the finest dancers in the field of Turkish dance are Eva Cernik and Elizabeth Artemis Mourat. If they are teaching anywhere in your area, you would greatly benefit from classes from them.  Or invite one of them to teach a workshop in your area.

Eva Cernik
The Second Awards of Belly Dance
Eva and Artemis are both featured in some of our performance DVDs and Artemis teaches Turkish Style belly dance.

Suzy Evans

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Give Thanks and Be Grateful

On this Thanksgiving, I would like to offer the following advice:

Before you go to bed each night, please think of 3 things you are grateful for. 
They can be big things or small things. 
You will wake up every morning a more grateful and better person. 

To all of you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Suzy Evans

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Magical Belly Dance Era of the 1970s

I believe that I was truly blessed to have started belly dancing in the 1970s.  It was a special decade for the dance.  Ask anyone that took lessons and performed or taught during that time. It was a golden era!

The 1970s belly dance era was post-hippie, but we still had a bit of that free spirit in us.  It was all about American Cabaret belly dance.  There was no other type of belly dancing at that time. Big chiffon 7 panel skirts, often times made of Persian lace.  A chiffon veil, coin and/ or beaded bra and belt.  Most us made our own costumes or had them made for us.  My first teacher made extra money by making costumes. No imported costumes from Egypt or Turkey.  Can you even imagine that?

I look back at pictures of me in those costumes. Some were rather simple, but I did save up the money to have a coin bra and belt made. Most of us only had 1 or 2 costumes.

And the music!  It was wonderful, it spoke to you!  No CDs back then, or downloaded music, it was all on albums.  There was no 1000s of titles to choose from;  record releases were few and far between.  It was Eddie the Sheik, George Abdo as well as others. We couldn't wait for the next record to come out.  And boy did we wear those records out!

I took belly dance classes at least once a week, sometimes from more than 1 teacher. It was the highlight of my week when I would drive up to Hollywood after work to take lessons from Marie Silva who owned a belly dance studio - a rare thing then.

Once in awhile some of us dancers would get together and go to one of the Arabic clubs/restaurants. I remember going to Haji Baba's and Ali Baba's and Abu Nawa (sp?).  I remember going to see Bal Anat,   featuring a young Suhaila, who came down from San Francisco at one of the clubs in Hollywood one Saturday night.

I think we cherished and appreciated the small thing more back then.  Probably because we were not inundated with "stuff" every minute of the day.  Life was more simple back then, at least compared to today. And maybe that's also what made it more special too.

I'll write more about the 1970s in future posts. It was so much fun!

Leave your 1970s experience in the comments section.

Yes, this is me circa 1977. Can't believe I was wearing glasses.
Suzy Evans
BellyDance.org  The International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Complete Look of a Belly Dancer

Let's examine the elements of the complete look of a belly dancer.

1. A good costume. That doesn't mean it has to be new or top of the line, just make sure it looks good.  Not frayed or cheap looking.  You can find inexpensive costumes that don't look like they cost $5.

2. Hair.  Brush it, style it, curl it, add extensions, do whatever you have to do to have totally rockin' hair!  Look in the mirror and make sure it looks good, front, back and sides.  No bank teller hair.  It's a pet peeve of mine.  A belly dancer will be wearing a $1000 costume and have bank teller hair; this is not what your audience thinks of when they think of a pro belly dancer.  Your bank teller hair is for,,, well working at a bank.

3. Makeup.  Not too much not too little. Learn what looks best on you. What looks good on someone else does not mean it looks good on you. Go to a makeup artist and have them show you how to apply and what colors look good on you. It may take you some time to master your makeup.  And yes, its another pet peeve of mine that you'll see a dancer with no makeup or way too little makeup.

4. Attitude. Have a great, positive attitude at all your gigs. Always remember you are a professional and a shining example of belly dance.  As a matter of fact it is your responsibility, as you may have people in your audience that will be seeing a belly dancer for the first time.

Suzy Evans
Vasha Hatal
Now this girl has got the complete look of a belly dancer down!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Free Shipping Now Thru November 15th

Get free shipping on any size order now thru November 15th at BellyDance.org
Use coupon code "shipit" at checkout.

Click Here to start shopping.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Do a Little Belly Dancing Every Day

Most of us do not have the time to rehearse and practice belly dance every single day of the year.  However on the days when we are not doing a full rehearsal, take a minute or 2 just to belly dance.

Here are some suggestions:
When you are sitting at a red light practice your zill patterns. You don't actually need the finger cymbals to rehearse the patterns. Use your "air zills".  (get it?)

Belly dance in the bathroom when you are brushing your teeth or doing your hair.

When you are home alone and just bumping around the house, turn on some Middle Eastern music and belly dance from room to room.  Great way to practice traveling steps or combinations.

If you are sitting at your desk looking at FaceBook or whatever, you can practice upper body movements; torso or arms.

You may not want to belly dance out in public on a street corner, as people have been locked up for less. :)

If you have other suggestions leave them in the comments sections of this blog.

Why should you do this?  Lots of reasons.  It gets you thinking about belly dancing, it could lead to more practice, its fun and it will up lift any day. You could turn a bad day around.

Suzy Evans
Please support us by visiting our website BellyDance.org

Here's a lovely photo of Lilla Varese
I bet she belly dances a little every day

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Belly Dance Performance Videos for Inspiration

A recent conversation with a belly dancer made me think of this.  Sometimes when we have been belly dancing for a year or more, you can get bored with your own performances.  You feel like you are doing the same moves over and over and in the same way.  Sometimes we just need to be inspired. Periodically watching professional belly dancers can be the shot in the arm that you need. Watching them can give you ideas to add to your dance.  If there's a showcase or show, go and see it.  Getting out a performance DVD that you haven't watched in a long time and viewing it again will inspire you.  Buying a new belly dance DVD and asking other dancer friends to come over one evening is another idea.  You can bounce ideas off each other.
Be inspired!

Visit our Belly Dancing Performance Video Section.

Suzy Evans

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Belly Dancing is More than a Drum Solo

I know. It's that flashy, fast, dynamic part of a belly dance routine that we all love so much. Drum solo classes and workshops are almost always the most attended.  Its also part of the performance that people in general associate with belly dance. Its the part of the dance when we shimmy, and everyone loves to shimmy.

But belly dance is a lot more than a drum solo.  Without all the other parts of a belly dance routine the drum solo would not shine. Whatever your performance consists of: a full five part cabaret belly dance with veil, or just a couple of changes of pace in the dance, it's important for your dance to contain more than a drum solo.  Its the changes of pace that make the dance complete. Its adds dimension and interest to the dance as a whole.

So learn all paces of the dance. It will make you a more memorable performer.

Speaking of a change of pace, Sultry Slow Moves with Sadie is a great belly dance video.

Suzy Evans

Friday, October 21, 2011

More than 100 Belly Dancers

I was just looking at the long list of belly dancers who have been a part of IAMED.  They have either performed in one or more of our stage shows and were then on the DVD version of the show or they are teachers on one or more of our instructional DVDs.

I counted at least 117 solo belly dancers and dance companies/troupes. Some danced only once, some numerous times.  Some like Jillina and Jamileh performed both solo and with their dance company. 

117 + is an impressive number of belly dancers, but as many of them that have performed or taught, I would love too add more.....More of our previous belly dancers and more new talent.  I am always looking for new great talent.  If you think you are that new great talent, send me a link to your performance videos. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ava Fleming - Sizzlin' DVD Set

One of the things I noticed about belly dance when I was a baby dancer was the importance of isolating parts of the body. One part of your body this way and the other that way, isolating muscles in various parts of the body. It's a very important part of belly dance.

Ava's Sizzlin' Torso and Sizzlin' Hips is all about isolations. Ava takes you through her unique technique in this set of DVDs.  Her style is based on relaxation within muscular and skeletal isolations and weight distribution. 

In the 2 DVDs she teaches muscle identification with exercises to help you connect to the specific muscles you will be using. 

This set is truly unique and there's nothing else quite like it anywhere else on the market.  If you don't already have this set, I would highly recommend them.  They will make you a better dancer. 

Click here to view the Sizzlin' Set.  Take a look at the video clips of the DVDs. 

Suzy Evans

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Story of the Half Tart

I bet your wondering what I'm talking about.  I'm referring to the IAMED logo. In the early years of IAMED it graced everything from my invoices to being embedded on our awards and on the BellyDance.org website.

The original artwork was done by belly dancer and graphic artist Brandi Centeno who also did the early Awards of Belly Dance flyers and video covers.  She expanded the artwork to be a full belly dancer with a skirt. But we mostly used the half tart logo.

Why was she called the half tart?  It's an inside joke.  We had a full belly dancer logo and half of one.  Not sure if it was Carolynn Ruth or I in one of our brain storming sessions who jokingly referred to her as the half tart the first time. As opposed to of course the full tart. And so the name stuck.  And that is the story of the half tart.

The Half Tart
In a future post, I'll have to tell you the story of the green troll with flexible dancing toes. :)

Suzy Evans

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What makes an excellent belly dance teacher?

So what does make an excellent belly dance teacher?

Experienced, well-studied, smart, passion for the dance are some of the elements.

Unfortunately belly dance is rife with unqualified teachers.  Too often students taking lessons feel they are qualified to teach themselves long before they should even consider it. If you've been taking lessons for a few months or a year or two; you should not be teaching.  It's just not fair to anyone that would take lessons from you. Because YOU are still a student.

Some dancers should not teach simply because they themselves, no matter how long they've been in belly dance or how many lessons they took, just are not good dancers.  Many rushed through the learning process themselves. These people just should not teach.  When they do teach, how good will their students be?  Not very.  They are doing their students a huge disservice.

Please put your ego aside and think twice about teaching belly dance classes. If you are truly qualified to teach, then teach.  If not, wait until you are ready.  Your students will respect you for it!

A good teacher should have at least several years of consistent, intensive dance studies and performing before considering teaching classes.

When choosing a teacher you should see her dance first.  Then ask yourself:  Would I like to dance like her?  Is she one of the most graceful belly dancers I have ever seen?

Follow my advice and you just might get this nifty cup!
Please visit our website:

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Beautiful Uniqueness of Belly Dance

I'm sitting here in front of my computer listening to a motivational tape and all of sudden I felt compelled to write about the how unique belly dance is.

What makes it so different from other dances?

Here's one of the things that make it unique:  Many of the movements of belly dance emanate from the torso.  Dances such as ballet, jazz, modern dance, many ethnic dances... most of the movements emanate from the legs.

Since the movements of belly dancing come from the torso this is what makes it a uniquely feminine and also a sensual dance. Belly dance costumes are specifically designed to show off the unique movements of the dance.

We don't know exactly who coined the term "belly dance".  We think it was mistaken for the term "baladi".  But the term "belly dance" isn't too far off for what it is.  And like it or not that name stuck.

Suzy Evans
Visit our Website:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You Can't Practice Enough

I'm not sure if I really need to say more than that.  If you want to be a great dancer, you know, the kind that you admire, like Aziza or Sadie, or Kaya, Ava Fleming, or whoever it is,,, then you have to practice a lot!

Take belly dance classes
Take belly dance workshops
Practice in front of a mirror
Video tape yourself, play it back, and look at yourself with a critical eye
Schedule time at least 5 days a week to practice
Make belly dance your obsession

And you will reap the rewards!

Suzy Evans

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Belly Dance Costumes

We now have a costume section in our store at BellyDance.org.  Take a look at our great costumes!
Click Here

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Get Your Hair Out of Your Face

Yeah, I know you've seen it too and maybe even guilty of it yourself.  You're watching a belly dancer at a restaurant or a belly dance show case or on stage and hair gets in her face.  Nothing wrong with that, unless of course it stays there.  Then its just darn annoying.

Funny, I always know when my hair is in my face and I brush it away.  And that's exactly what you should do when you are belly dancing.  Gently and in a feminine way, just brush it away from your face.  Make it as though its part of your performance.  Be creative.

Take precautions before performing and "secure" your hair.  "Secure" is kind of odd word for it, but that's what you need to do.  Make sure that lovely hair of yours is pinned properly to insure that it's not likely that it will fly into your face.  Test it before performing.

If your hair does get in your face, even if its multiple times while you are belly dancing,  brush it away from your face.  Because if you don't the only thing your audience will notice is your hair stuck to your face.  You could do the most incredible Turkish drop ever seen by mankind and your audience will be thinking "Girl....Get that hair out of your face!"

Suzy Evans

Click Here to Visit our Website

We Always Have Specials

There's always a sale going on at BellyDance.org.  Belly dance videos / DVDs, costumes, music CDs, hip scarves, finger cymbals, skirts, belts, bras, accessories.... you name it.  If it's belly dance we got it.

Click Here to view our specials.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Night in Irvine

I spent a wonderful (and unplanned) evening in Irvine Sunday night.  Leyla and Roland are on tour in North America.  Right now they are in Mexico.

Sunday night Dilek presented them in a show along with local and not so local belly dancers. Leyla and Roland performed twice. They had a Turkish band.  A nice change of pace since its usually an Egyptian band.  Angelika Nemeth and Dilek and her dancers performed.  And the food was great too.  It was good to catch up with Leyla and Roland since its been a long time since I have seen them.  Meet some new dancers and talked to Angelika and Lilla Varese too.  Even though we are all connected in belly dance we just don't get to see each other enough.

At the end we all got up and danced to live music.  A great evening, and it was worth giving up my tickets to the Hollywood Bowl to see and visit with my belly dance sisters.

Click Here for Leyla & Roland DVDs

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Spins & Turns with Marguerite

Spins and Turns with Marguerite was produced several years ago.  It was shot at Panavision Studios in Woodland Hills, California.  Needless to say they were thrilled to have something completely different and exotic as belly dance taped at their studios.

I was just thinking of the video and how much work was put into it how much fun we had.  One of the funnier stories was the naming of the video.  Of course from the beginning it was going to be named Spins and Turns, but we had alternate names for the video.  Most notably was "Whirling without Hurling".  Certainly a nice ring to it, but we thought it might frighten people away.  :)

At this particular shoot the teachers were wearing a mike on their bodies. And it always on except when we on break.  This can make for some interesting conversation from the teacher, including when they are whispering, or having a personal conversation, forgetting that the tech people can hear everything. Sometimes its too much information!

We also shot the Classic Cabaret Floor Work video with Anaheed during that time frame too.  I'll discuss that on a future post.

Click Here to learn more about Spins and Turns

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Life Coach

Life coaches seem to be multiplying like rabbits.  Unfortunately most of them can't manage their own lives and careers let alone tell you what to do.  It's just another way to relieve you of your hard earned dollars.

As I am writing this I am on a telephone conference call listening to one of them.  The conference call was free (I certainly would never pay for it).  In this case its someone who reads your hands and then tells you how you should run your life.  Sorry, not buying it.  Some of these aren't even worth the time you would spend on it. 

I know this has nothing to do with belly dance but I just wanted to put it out there that if you are paying money for any of these "life couches" make sure they are experts in their field and will give you real value for your money.  Tony Robbins is good or someone on that level. 

Suzy Evans

This photo has nothing to do with life couches,
I just thought you'd like to see a picture of one of my dogs.
And I think my dog is more important than most life couches.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere

I'm not sure why this happens, maybe it's just human nature, but most people don't ask advice even from experts in a given field.  Or maybe people are just a bit intimidated or shy to approach an expert.

Experienced belly dancers are flattered when you ask advice from them.  Yes, very flattered!  So do ask. It makes them feel good that you think highly enough of them to ask their advice.

Maybe its movement technique advice, or how you choice your music, or your costuming.  The best way to ask is in person, but when you can't do that pick up the phone or email.  Be sure to pay them a compliment.  Who the heck doesn't like compliments?  You could make their day!  As a matter of fact they could be having a down day and you'll be the "pick me up" they need.  And trust me, they won't forget you either.

So when in doubt, go ahead and ask their advice.  Both of you will benefit.

Suzy Evans

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New IAMED DVD Release: Star Combinations!

We have a new release:
Star Combinations with Ava, Sadie and Kaya.

Click Here for more information and to purchase.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Slow Down!

A common problem with newer belly dancers is that they tend to dance at just one speed - fast. Too fast. Even the veil and/or floor work part of the routine looks rushed. Much of this has to do with being too nervous while performing or just being new to belly dance.

I have 4 suggestions for a cure.

1. Practice - A lot! The more you practice and rehearse your performance, the more confidence you will have in your yourself. The more practice the less nervous you will be while performing. And therefore you will perform at a "normal" speed.

2. Breathe. Remember to breathe normally throughout your dance. And once and awhile take a deep breathe and let it out slowly - this will give you a pause and your audience will follow you.

3. Add to your performances changes in speed. Make some of them dramatic. Heck, you can even stop for a second or two and add just a little gesture. Add these changes of tempo during all parts of your routine. During the opening, taxseem and drum solo. This will give your performance drama and will keep your audience's attention.

4. Watch some of your favorite dancers perform. Watch their changes of pace. Learn how they add drama to their dance.

I distinctly remember the first time I saw FatChanceBellyDance perform. It was at Rakkasah. I think it was in the late 1990s. Besides their attire being completely different from a Cabaret belly dancer, what really stood out was the speed at which they danced. At least 1/2 of the performance was slow. Slow and very dramatic. Everyone in the auditorium had their eyes glued to them throughout the performance. They are a perfect example of adding change of pace, which results in a dramatic dance.

I hope these suggestions help you in your next big performance!

Suzy Evans

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Get the Money Up Front!

Yesterday I was asked a question that I've been asked numerous times over the years. "When I get hired to dance at a party, how should I get paid?

There's a little more to it than just getting paid, but I will just address this issue. Here's the answer: Get paid up front. When someone books you for a gig, be very clear on the terms of payment. Get a 50% deposit in advance and the balance at the gig before you perform. Generally speaking if its a regular gig, you can trust the employer to make payment.

I can't tell you how many dancers that have told me that they got cheated out of payment. It happened to me too when I was new to belly dancing. Wish I had a mentor back then.

Don't be afraid to stand your ground and get paid.

Happy Belly Dancing,
Suzy Evans

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ever Hear of Mid East Summer Madness?

Did you know that I produced a show in August 1996 that was titled Mid East Summer Madness? It was the precursor to The Awards of Belly Dance Shows that started in 1997. And it was just before I formed IAMED.

It was held at a beautiful little theatre that was located at the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn in North Hollywood, California. Delilah was the headliner and the show also featured Sultana, Siwa, Sabrina, Veena, Neena and others. Plus we had the live music of John Bilezikjian on oud and Souhail Kaspar on tabla.

I remember Fahtiem attended as well as my friends Sue Turner and Eileen Carhart. I emceed the show and threw in tidbits of humor and gave away silly prizes. My boyfriend at the time, Terry ran sound. My friend John was the video photographer. During the day Delilah taught a couple of workshops. They were well attended.

Mid East Summer Madness was a test run for IAMED and my future ventures in producing events.

I look back on this show with fond memories and I feel fortunate that I was able to get such great talent. I believe anyone that attended the show also felt fortunate that they attended the show. Even more so because while we taped the show, it has never been released on video.

Mid East Summer Madness was the beginning of great things!

Suzy Evans

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What Level of Belly Dance Are You Really At?

It's important to be realistic regarding the level you are at in the dance. In the end, if you are not realistic, you're only retarding your own growth as a dancer.

There is no such thing as an instant belly dancer. At least not a good one you would want to watch. It takes years of study and practicing to be a good, competent dancer. If it was really that easy all of us would be mega stars of the dance, touring the world with thousands of fans.

Over a period of time, I will write often about going back to the basics. If you were a ballet or modern dancer you do the basics everyday. It should be no different with belly dancing.

If you are just starting, don't try to take short cuts or circumnavigate the learning curve. Take your time and practice, practice, practice the basics. Only then start building on your movements. To be a graceful belly dancer you have to practice.

I can't tell you how many dancers I have seen, talked to, received their video in the mail and so on... that are delusional about the level of dance they are at. Heck, I get phone calls from dancers and I can tell by talking to them that they are at best a beginner. Most seem to think they are at the advanced or pro level. This has happened because they quickly skipped through the beginning and intermediate classes. Not good. Take your time and enjoy the experience of learning.

I would tell any of these dancers if they want to be a truly great dancer then they need to take belly dance more seriously as if they were taking ballet or modern dance. Take a step back and reexamine where you are at. Practice at least 4 times a week. Take at least one lesson a week - forever.

Never stop learning. Take lessons, workshops, private classes & buy instructional videos. You will never know it all. A professional dancer never stops learning.

I want to see you as the best belly dancer you can be!

Suzy Evans

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The History of BellyDance.org

In a previous post I talked about the anniversary of our website BellyDance.org. It went on line in January 1999. But we have been on the internet before that. It was common back in the earlier days of the internet to be a part of another website - because there were few websites on the internet and most people did not have their own domain name.

I don't remember the exact date we went on line but I believe we were on the net at least 1 year before BellyDance.org. So that would have been 1997/1998. I believe the site was called webaccess.com and we had some pages connected to that site.

Over the years the website has undergone numerous design changes and all were quite beautiful and unique. Although in the beginning is a bit amateur looking compared to what websites look like now. Initially there was no store program that came later. The store part of the website has also been re-designed and has had various looks and upgraded to make shopping and checkout easier. We've added video clips of all IAMED videos, which to date is now more than 60. The clips were important to give people an idea of the content of the full length DVD.

The site has added articles, photos, events page, history of belly dance, and hire a belly dancer page. One of the more recent additions is the IAMED stars of belly dancers page. It features photos and articles about the stars of the dance.

The latest news is our store is currently undergoing an upgrade which should be complete within a month. It will offer some new features. I will keep you posted when it is finished.

To view BellyDance.org Click Here

Suzy Evans

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Arabic Rhythms - A Must Have Belly Dance Video

I get emails from belly dancers all the time about what instructional DVDs I would recommend if say they could only afford 1 or a few.

One of our videos that always comes to mind is Arabic Rhythms with Tamra-henna. This is a must have for all belly dancers at all levels, beginner to advanced/professional.

What it boils down to is this: It's all about the music. Belly dancing is all about the music. If don't "get" the music, you can't possibly be a good dancer. Period. If you visit Egypt and go see the Egyptian dancers perform or see them on video you'll know what I mean.

I've seen too many dancers run roughshod over the music, as if the music matters not. And guess what, the audience does notice it and not in a positive way.

Tamra-henna's video on understanding the music and rhythms will give you the foundation you need to be a great belly dancer.

As an insider on the making of this video I can tell you this: This video was a real bear to produce. We probably put in more time, money and energy on this video than any other instructional video that we've ever made. To say that Tamra-henna put in over time on this one would be a gross understatement. The pre-production was long and very detailed. We ran overtime on the day of shooting. This one video took the equivalent time in editing of about 3 videos. This project was truly a labor of love. I felt the information was too important, not to produce it and make it available for dancers.

There is a 2nd volume of Arabic Rhythms in post production. I hope to release it by the end of the year.

Click Here for more information about the video and to purchase.

Suzy Evans

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Look Like a Belly Dancer

Anyone watch Mad TV? Reminder Ms. Swan's most famous quote: He looka like-a man. Borrowing that idea, I think you should looka like-a belly dancer.

This post was inspired from a call I received from a gentleman about a week ago who lived in another state and he was looking on line for a belly dancer for his sister's party. He told me he found a website with dancers in his area, however, he didn't like the pictures of the dancers because they didn't look like belly dancers. And he wanted the style and look of a belly dancer. He told me they were wearing boots and in other pictures pants. I think you get the picture.

Whether we like it or not, the general public still see a belly dancer looking like what we call an American Cabaret belly dancer. And that's not likely going to change. Full skirt, bar and belt, a veil and maybe playing finger cymbals.

So here's my advice if you are actively looking for dance gigs. And this goes for no matter what style you are into. Have at least a couple of photos of yourself in a traditional cabaret costume on your website. If you perform more than 1 type of bellydance list types that you perform. This way you won't miss out on opportunities to be hired.

Suzy Evans
BellyDance.org - Producers of the Best Belly Dance Videos in the World!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pictures - Its All About Pictures

If you are at the level where you are now getting belly dance gigs whether its a party, restaurant, wedding or a stage performance, you need great photos of yourself.

Photos are just one part of a professional dancers promotional package.

My best suggestion is to book a photo shoot at least twice a year. Put it on your calendar and make it happen! Promoters and anyone that would consider hiring you like to look at fresh pictures.

If you can't afford a professional shoot, find a friend with a camera, set up a backdrop with some good lighting and go for it. Post an ad at the local college for a photography student to take your photos. They will usually do it for free because they need it for their portfolio.

The best backdrop to use is white with no texture. It's a lot easier to punch your photo out of the background in photoshop. If you are wearing a white costume use a medium color backdrop. No texture is best for all photos. If you don't have a white backdrop, at least use a light color.

Do a photo shoot party with some of your belly dancer friends in your city. Invite some dancers you don't know very well. Great way to make new friends and its a lot of fun.

Don't forget your complete belly dancer look: hair, makeup, costume and maybe some jewelry.

This also reminds me of a funny story. One of my friends and I came up with the 30 Year/ 30 Pound Rule. Sometimes you'll see what is obviously an older picture of a belly dancer in a magazine ad or elsewhere and one of us will say: They're in violation of the 30 year/30 pound rule! Write 'em a ticket!

Don't get me wrong, we love the classic photos, BUT we would love to see new, hot photos of you! Everyone ages and some of us get a little chunkier - please don't let this stop you from taking new promo photos. You won't regret it.

I look forward to seeing your new photos.

Suzy Evans

PS - Remember,,, every six months. Just book it!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wishing You a Happy Dance-able Summer

The start of summer is just days away and many of us will be going on vacation. I'll be making short trips to Phoenix, Nashville, and Evansville, Indiana. (What an interesting combination!) BTW - Evansville was named after me. I'll also be attending my high school reunion in September. I'm not sharing how many years its been. :) And I will be attending concerts at the Hollywood Bowl.

I know that most of us are very busy during the summer months even if we are not going away. Please keep your belly dance practice and routine in place as much as possible during the summer. Attend whatever belly dance workshops, classes, and events that you can. I'd like to see you in the fall at your new next level up in your belly dancing career.

Have a great belly dance summer!

Suzy Evans

Thursday, March 3, 2011

This Week's Special: Buy 3 DVDs Get Sensations Free

Now through Monday buy 3 IAMED DVDs and get Belly Dance Sensations DVD free.
See this link to learn more about this beautiful performance DVD.

Belly Dance Sensations

Suzy Evans

Thursday, February 17, 2011

This week's featured article on Belly Dance

This week's featured article: Why I Love Belly Dance by Faridah Jizel Babaganoosh.
Click Here to Read
It's a short, cute article and while you are at it take a look at our other great articles.
Suzy Evans

Sunday, January 23, 2011

BellyDance.org's 12th Anniversary

BellyDance.org is celebrating its 12th anniversary this month. IAMED has actually been on the internet for at least a year prior to that. It was common back in the dark ages of the internet to be a part of another companies website. If memory serves me correctly, it was part of WebAccess.com. That company no longer exists.

I was pleased to secure the domain BellyDance.org in January 1999 and transfer and build the IAMED website. Since its inception, it has undergone several face lifts. Looking back on the last 13 years on the internet, I feel honored to have been there at the beginning.

We have other anniversaries this year. IAMED was founded in summer of 1996. My personal anniversary in the dance is nearing 36 years! Time flies!

Suzy Evans
IAMED - BellyDance.org