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

Learning Choreography Tips for Belly Dancers


By Saqra




Learning choreography is a skill most adults do not do regularly. Therefore, here are a few observations to reassure belly dance students that whatever they are experiencing, it isn't their imagination!

When you first learn a choreography, it will probably be taught in segments. This is because expecting people to absorb an entire dance in one session is insane.

Tip: Name Each Segment

Name each segment to yourself as you go. Call the first move of the segment what you would call that first step, or call it something the step reminds you of: "Big circle!" "Swishes!" "Flaming Chainsaw!" 

Say the names to yourself as you work through the choreography, and it will impress the order into your mind.

You can also make a simple cue sheet and tape it to the wall using the segment names to cue you as you are learning it.

Tip: Breaks

Take breaks from learning it and think of something completely different. I tell my belly dance students to drink some water while I tell chicken stories.

You will also find that choreographies are more easily retained if you let them set in your mind overnight.


Choreographies exist in alternate time dimensions. When you are initially learning a choreography, the music seems insanely fast. However, over time the music seems to slow down and you start to have time to think. 

Don't get tempted to add things besides some refining details. It is easy to clutter up a choreography you have learned.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo of Saqra by Michael Baxter.

Other Thoughts

Don't wait until you know the current segment to learn the next segment. Just do 2-5 repetitions and go on. 

It works like this: You learn the first segment and your ability to do it stinks. You learn the second segment, and your ability to do the second segment stinks, but the first segment gets a bit better. You learn the third segment and your ability to do it stinks, the second segment gets a bit better, and the first segment starts to get pretty decent....


If it is your choreography then commit. Learn it the way you wrote it and don't change things around until you are completely confident in your choreography as it is.

Your mileage may vary but you will know where you are going.




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About the Author

Saqra (Seattle, Washington, USA) is a powerful dance artist and a master instructor. Her fluidity, grace, and technical skill is highlighted by her friendly demeanor and clear joy of the dance. She did not inherit the diva gene.

Saqra won titles in Belly Dance USA (Oregon), Belly Dancer of the Year (California), Belly Dancer of the Universe (California), Wiggles of the West (Nevada), and many other competitions. She was voted "Best Kept Secret of 2005" and "Instructor of the Year 2008" by readers of Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra's journey in this dance form began in 1977 and has led her to study with many of the best dancers in the world, including in America, Canada, Turkey and Egypt. Saqra continues to travel and study both in the USA and abroad and prides herself on proper research for anything she teaches. Folklore, fakelore, and stage creativity: all three are valuable, and Saqra clearly presents for each what they actually are. Saqra is constantly expanding her expertise in the traditional ethnic forms of the dance, the modern stage variants, and the continuing evolving fusion techniques, all these areas combined keep her material fresh and current.

Saqra is widely known as an event promoter, musician, music and instructional video producer, and a registered hypnotherapist in the state of Washington. That is enough stuff to start explaining what she has been doing in belly dance since 1977. Visit her at

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California. In the photo, Saqra is holding her Teacher of the Year 2008 Award from Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra with Award



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