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

Belly Dance Costuming Checklist


By Saqra




Figures vary over time, and belly dance costuming fashions change over the years. Perhaps you have woken up and discovered you are out of fashion and out of fit.

Or maybe you don't care about fashion: "As god is my witness, I will never relinquish my fringe monsters!"


But no matter what the case, there are a few universal standards you can use to judge the quality of your costuming.


  1. Fits well. The costume is clearly correctly sized for the performer. Correct length. No bra gapping or awkward belt overlaps. Not too loose, not too tight. No obvious extensions.
  2. In good condition. The costume is clean and appears to be in good repair. Things that should be ironed are ironed. There should be no loose trim, threads, or tears.
  3. In good taste. The costume should be appropriate for the venue. If the venue is family then it should err towards conservatism, especially since performers are much more comfortable with exposure than your average audience. If guests are seated on the floor eating dinner perhaps you should check that audiences aren't getting an eyeful through a slit skirt. In a nightclub setting, NOT being too conservative.
  4. Dancer specific. The costume should be a good choice for the body type and style of dancer. Although there should not be appearance requirements to dance, we are still presenting a performance art, so we should avoid bringing in distracting elements and/or natural imperfections by covering and supporting anything that needs covering and supporting. And then we should select costumes that work with the style of the performance, either the cultural style (e.g. Egyptian, Turkish, etc.) or the personal style (youthful, tidy, ethereal, elegant, romantic, etc).
  5. Technically Appropriate. The costume should work for the technical aspects of the dance. It should not expose the dancer or fight the dancer during dance movements. It should take into account the actual movement style of the performer. (Aggressive dancers may need more coverage and skirt stretch, dancers who do floor dancing could use something that will stay in place or not be uncomfortable to sit on.)
  6. Musically Appropriate. The costume should work with the musical aspects of the dance: obviously Turkish for Turkish, Saidi for Saidi, street or Shaabi influenced costume for Shaabi, etc. However, the costume should also reflect musical content if alternative musical choices are used.
  7. Not Distracting. The costume should not distract from the dancer or overpower the dancer, perhaps by being too busy. It should not make the audience spend significant time speculating about what they are seeing or whether there are undergarments

Putting it all together into a costume selected to best present you and your dance will overcome most style issues and make for an enjoyable performance for any audience.




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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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