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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

How to Belly Dance for a Greek Restaurant Audience


by Amartia




Being of Greek descent, I have become the resident “Greek expert.” In that role, there are a few questions that other belly dancers often ask me time and time again when it comes to dancing for a Greek Restaurant audience.

So, let’s say you get hired for a Greek party, what should you wear?

In terms of costuming, you should wear a full skirt costume. This is not to say that your belly dance costume can’t be modern, but a skirt that has movement is usually preferred by Greek audiences. If your costume is a Greek theme with blue and gold, drapes, or you just look like a statue from the Parthenon, then you’re IN!

What should you dance to? What would your set look like?

A set of all Greek music will go a long way with a Greek audience. Make sure you know the music you are dancing to. Make sure it isn't a folk line dance - unless you're placing it at the end of your set and you want to get everyone up to dance. Your set will consist of an entrance, a slow piece, and a fast piece. It can have a drum solo, but I usually substitute with a bouzouki solo instead. In terms of props used, veil and maybe finger cymbals. You don’t need all of the other belly dance props to satisfy your Greek audience, they are more interested in your dance and your joy in that dance. Any dancer who shows skill and kerfi (heart) will wow a Greek audience.

What about audience participation?

Just try and stop them! Pretty much any Greek audience will get up to dance with you! Especially if you have chosen Greek music for your set, then this will occur. If you have included a line dance song at the end of your set, then definitely! Folk dances are a staple in celebrations; from young to old you will have their participation.

What about tipping?

Tipping is always a belly dancer’s preference, but Greeks like to tip. I recently had a patron of Greek descent at a non-Greek restaurant ask me why no one was tipping! Something else that you might see instead of body-tipping is the money shower. We love to make a show out of throwing money in the air. In a celebration this is done to bring luck to the guest of honor. In a wedding this is the happy couple, at a birthday it is the birthday boy/girl, at a baptism it is the little boy or girl, and so on.

What does "Opa!" mean?

You will most definitely hear this one called out – OPA! I can’t think of a concise English word that Opa means. It is used in the context of dancing and not much else. It is an expression of joy. Almost as if to say: Come on! Let’s dance, let’s have fun, get up and dance! Also if you like what a dancer is doing, say opa!

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Stereovision Photography, makeup and hair by Christine Beck-Millan.




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About the Author

This article was written by Amartia.

Amartia is a Baltimore native of Greek descent. She was involved in Greek Folk dancing from childhood to adulthood. She stumbled upon bellydancing class at a local gym and has never looked back! Bellydance appealed to her not only as an art form but a way to stay in shape. Hence one spectator commenting, “…massive melodic muscles of the Mediterranean aka killer abs...

Amartia is an award-winning bellydancer. She has traveled to compete all over the United States. She is the 2008 Jewel of the Nile and the first place winner for veil dance from Arabian Nights. More recently she was one of the 23 bellydancers chosen to compete in the first season of a reality web-show- Project bellydance! Amartia, Extravagent Entertainment in Maryland has also been featured in Fuse Magazine, written an article on Greek bellydance for Zaghareet, and was the July 2012 Bellydancer of the Month for Brandon’s Oasis.

Amartia also offers Greek translation services for dancers so if you’d like another Greek song translated, feel free to contact her! See

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Anton Marx.





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