Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
About This Web Site

This FAQ is designed to answer the questions I get most often regarding this web site. I am not attempting to include frequently-asked questions about the dance itself. Please read this FAQ before sending me your questions. Thanks!

Belly Dancing Belly Dance Belly Dancers

Table Of Contents

General Questions About The Site

The Links Page

The Reviews Of Music, Videos, & Books

Finding A Teacher And Learning To Dance

Teacher and Performer Directory

Q: I can't find the Teacher and Performer Directory - what happened to it?

A: The Teacher and Performer Directory was discontinued because of the data privacy laws that have been emerging around the world, such as Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It is not possible for me, a lone web site owner who gets no income from the site, to stay informed of such worldwide regulations and ensure I'm complying. So I removed the directory. Back when I created it in 1998, web searching was primitive, social media didn't yet exist, and many dancers did not yet have their own web sites. Today, it's very easy for a dancer to use the web for self-promotion, so my directory isn't really needed any more, anyway.

Belly Dancing Belly Dance Belly Dancers

General Questions About This Site

Q: Which pages of this site get the greatest number of hits?

A: That is answered on my Behind The Screens page.

Q: There's a lot of information on this site. Where did you find the time to do all of this?

A: In summer, 1997, I left a job in the high-tech industry that I had been at for a very long time. I was badly burned out and desperately needed some time off before starting a new job, so I gave myself a 7-month sabbatical. I decided to use that time to update my technology skills by learning how to do a web site. I selected Oriental dance as the topic for my site because it's an activity I have enjoyed for many years.

Q: Can you help me find the lyrics to the song ____?

A: Have you looked at the book reviews for books that have translated lyrics for Middle Eastern songs? Have you looked at the other web sites I've linked to which offer song translations? Have you carefully looked at my lyrics menu, perhaps trying alternate song titles or spellings? If you've done all those things, and still not found the translation for the song you want, then I'm afraid I can't help you. You see, I don't speak Arabic, Turkish, Armenian, or Hebrew myself. I have to rely on other people who speak those languages to share translations that they have with me. Often, my translations are given to me by other dancers who have asked a friend of theirs to translate the song for them. So I don't have any control over which songs come my way.

Q: How can I find out when new things are added to this web site?

A: There are several ways. Pick the ones that work best for you:

  • Use the Search page to search for pages that have been added or changed within the last "n" days. (You get to specify how many days "n" represents.)
  • Use the Table Of Contents page, and look for which items have the New!or Updated!! icon in front of them.
  • At the bottom of each major menu, look for a section called "Recent Changes To This Menu." Read the list that itemizes which selections on that menu have been added or changed recently, along with the date each change occurred.

Q: Do you publish articles written by other people on this site?

A: Yes! I welcome contributions by other people in the following areas:

  • Any advice, tips, how-to's under the "Advice" menu, including costuming information
  • Artwork, poetry, opinion essays under the "Poetry & Art" menu
  • Humor, puzzles, and cartoons under the "Fun & Frolic" menu
  • Insights into Middle Eastern culture, including song translations

I do not accept reviews written by other people of videos, books, music, seminars, shows, or festivals. That's because I've made a policy decision that all reviews will be written only by me.

I do accept material that has previously been published elsewhere, such as belly dance magazines provided that you retained the right to resubmit your material to other places. If your contribution has appeared elsewhere, please tell me the name of the publication that printed it and the date of the issue when it appeared.

Q: What are the copyright terms regarding material that you accept for publication on your web site?

A: I request from you the right to present your work on The Art Of Middle Eastern Dance web site for an ongoing, open-ended period of time. I will assume that I have the right to keep your material on my site until such time as you explicitly ask me to remove it. If my web site should change its URL, I will continue to display your contribution as long as the fundamental focus of the site remains Oriental dance -- but I will attempt to notify you via e-mail of such changes so you can evaluate whether they impact your willingness to continue having your creation appear on my site. You retain all other rights to your work.

A practical application of these proposed copyright terms: If I receive inquiries from people who would like to publish your poem, artwork, fiction, cartoons, or other work in another medium, or read/display it at an event, or otherwise use it, of course I will tell them they need to contact you for such permission. Typically, this means they will be attempting to contact you via the electronic mail address that you provided me to include with your biographical information on the page with your material. So, if your e-mail address changes, please notify me of either your new e-mail address or an alternate way to contact you so that other people who would like to showcase your work have the means to reach you to request permission!

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Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

The Links Page

Q: May I link to your web site?

A: Yes, you may. You don't need to ask me for my permission first. But if you'd like to send me an e-mail telling me you've linked to me, then I'll be happy to link to you in return.

Q: Do you offer graphical buttons to use for implementing the links?

A: Yes, I have a selection of about 15 buttons to choose from. First take a look at my Behind The Screens page to see a couple of the most popular buttons. If none of those seem right for your needs, you'll find a link there that will take you to an entire page of additional buttons to choose from.

Q: How do I get you to link to my web site?

A: First, put a link on your own web site that points to and then send me email suggesting that we exchange links. I will visit your site. Once I have an idea of what it's like, and once I've found the place where you link to mine, then I'll add you to the appropriate category of my Links page. If you need help figuring out how to link to my site, see my Behind The Screens page.

Please note that I rarely link another dancer's site unless they also link to me. After all, it seems only fair that if you're asking me to promote your site, then you should be willing to promote mine in return!

Q: Do you ever refuse to link to anybody?

A: Yes, it happens, but not very often. I might decline to link to your site if one of the following applies:

  • You haven't linked to my site. (This is the most common reason I say no. But once you've put a link in place, just let me know it's there and then I'll link to you.)
  • Your site is obviously not finished yet. I prefer not to link to sites that have lots of empty promises: i.e., choices that either don't go anywhere, or go to "Under Construction" screens. If I find when I visit your online home that you don't yet have the panes of glass in your windows or the electricity isn't working yet, I'll decline to link to you until it looks a little more finished. (I don't say no for this reason very often. If I say it to you, just drop me a line once you have everything operational and I'll be happy to link to you then.)
  • Your site contains, in my own personal opinion, content that I prefer not to be associated with. I respect your right to say whatever you want to say, but I'd rather not link to sites that contain hate speech, hard-core pornography, or other content that I fiercely oppose. (I've never declined a site for this reason, but I reserve the right to do so.)
  • You've been unbelievably nasty, rude, unethical, and/or obnoxious to me in my past dealings with you. (Since I first started my site in 1997, only twice have I refused to link to someone for this reason.)

Q: I'm moving my site to a new online home, and the address will change. How should I let you know?

A: Send me e-mail telling me what the old address was, and what the correct new address is. If you're also listed in my directory of Find Teachers and Performers, you'll also need to look for the "Update Your Entry" form and use that to ask me to update your site's address in the directory, too.

Q: Why do some listings have stars like thisStar?

A: In the section of the Links page titled "Individual Dancers & Troupes", I've put stars in front of selected entries. An entry with a star means that when I visited the site I found at least one article on the web site that I found to be entertaining, educational, or inspirational, and sometimes even more than one! This article might have been historical information about the dance, tips on dancing, reviews of music and videos, a poem, humor, etc. Sometimes people surf the web looking for merchandise or local teachers/performers. There are hundreds of web sites providing information about the classes, performances, and merchandise that people are offering. But sometimes web users are looking for interesting articles about belly dancing. The purpose of the star is to help these users quickly identify which web sites may have such articles.

Q: What if my web site has one or more articles but it appears on the Links page without a star?

A: Maybe you added the article after I originally visited your web site. Or maybe I missed it when I visited. In any event, if you have a full-length article (not just a paragraph or two) that you feel can pass my test of "entertaining, educational, or inspirational", please drop me an e-mail with the following information: 1) Your name & e-mail address; 2) The address of your web site; 3) Where on your web site I can find your link to; and 4) Where on your web site I can find your article(s).

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Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

The Reviews Of Music, Videos, & Books

Q: How do you decide which products to review?

A: It varies. Sometimes I review items that already exist in my own personal collection. Sometimes a friend loans me a product that she wants me to review. Sometimes the publisher of the item sends me a review copy.

Q: What if I have created a book, music, or video that I would like you to review?

A: You may send me a review copy if you wish. Here are the guidelines for sending me review copies:

  • Send me a private e-mail indicating that you have a product you'd like me to review. Include a little information about the product. I'll respond with information on how to proceed.
  • Please note that I usually don't return review copies. If you expect your item to be returned, please include appropriate packaging and postage for me to use in returning it.
  • Please understand that sending me a copy of an item does not guarantee a favorable review. Even if I like the overall product, I still may point out specific areas where I may have felt it was weak or could have used improvement. I feel that in order for my reviews to be credible, I must identify both what I liked and what I didn't like.
  • I usually review products in the order received. So, if I already have 3 other books, videos, or music collections sent to me by other people, I'll review theirs before I get to yours. The exception is that if you send me more than one item (for example, if you send me 3 videos), I'll review one when your turn comes up in the queue, then I'll look at items received from other people before I come back to look at another of yours. The reason for this is to prevent my site from becoming too weighted to a particular artist's products.

Q: How long can I expect to wait before your review of my product appears?

A: It depends partly on the product. I review music by listening to it over and over and over in my car over the course of several weeks, taking notes as I do. For reviewing books, of course, I need to read them, which may take a few weeks depending on how much time I have to curl up with a book and how long it is. As for videos, I try to watch each one 2 or 3 times before publishing the review, and I have to find time to do this when my husband is not around the house. That's because he doesn't particularly like belly dance videos and prefers that I spend my time with him doing something together we both enjoy when he's around. All of this is a long way of saying that you should allow a few months for me to complete a review after I've received the item.

Q: What criteria do you apply in your reviews?

A: I look at several things when I review an item. I've written entire articles to explain my instructional video review format and my music review format. For full details, you'll want to read those articles, but here is a summary:

  • How polished and professional is it?
  • Is it well organized or scattered?
  • How valuable and accurate is the content?
  • Which level of dancer is the content suitable for?
  • For videos, does the lighting and camera work make it easy to see the instruction or performance? Is it too dark? Does the camera focus on the right things? Do the changes in camera angles keep it interesting to watch but without being distracting?
  • For both videos and music, is the sound quality clear and easy to hear?
  • Would a buyer get his/her money's worth?

Q: Do you publish reviews written by other people?

A: No. I've made a policy decision that I will publish on my web site only reviews that I myself have written. Here's why:

  • In the belly dance magazines, I've seen many a glowing review or award conferred where I knew, due to my insider knowledge of the scene, that the reviewer/conferrer was a personal friend of the product creator merely writing a glowing review to do a friend a favor. Not all reviews or awards are truly objective evaluations of the product. This existing relationship is rarely disclosed in such reviews, so the people reading them have no idea that the review is probably not objective. If I write the review myself, then of course I know what my prior history is with the product creator, and I will fully disclose any relationship I may have with that person. You, as my reader, can look at the disclosure and draw your own conclusions about whether my relationship with the creator may have influenced what I wrote about the product.
  • If you read enough reviews by the same person, and compare those to what you thought of a given video, music CD, or book, then you'll start to see a pattern. Maybe you'll find that you usually agree with me, or maybe you'll find that you almost always disagree with me. Either way, since the reviews on my site will consistently feature my own opinion, you'll soon be able to decide what role my reviews may or may not play in your buying decisions.
  • Sometimes, even though a reviewer is not affiliated with a dancer, s/he may base an opinion on criteria that I disagree with. For example, I've seen some reviewers say nasty things about a video just because they thought the dancer featured on it was too thin and they resent Western culture's idiotic emphasis on thinness -- they don't even consider that maybe the dancer is thin due to medical problems. Or they might claim that an entire instructional video is bad just because they don't care for the dancer's performance skills in a brief 10-minute demonstration at the end -- in contrast, I might complain about the performance but still praise the instructional section if I think it was well-organized, appropriate content, and well-explained. Another example: I really disliked the frequent camera angle changes on the video "Deer Of Paradise", but someone else praised it because she found it added drama.

Q: Why don't your reviews mention the awards that certain products have won?

A: For the same reason I don't publish reviews written by other people. I made a decision that the reviews published on my web site will reflect only my own opinion. Awards reflect other people's opinions and therefore don't qualify for mention in my reviews.

Q: Why don't you review seminars, workshops, festivals, and shows?

A: Because I think it's a waste of time to review one-time events. Let's say you read a review in which I praised a show. What good does that do you? That show will never occur again, so you won't have an opportunity to go see it even if you want to. I prefer to focus my limited time on reviewing products because those will remain available in the marketplace for some period of time and you can use my review as a decision-making tool in deciding whether or not to buy it.

Back To Table Of Contents

Belly Dancing Belly Dance Belly Dancers

Finding A Teacher And Learning To Dance

Q: How do I find a teacher in my community?

A: Please see my article titled Learning To Belly Dance: Where To Find Instruction.

Q: What if I can't find a teacher in my community?

A: Please see my article titled What If You Can't Find A Local Teacher, Or The One You Found Is Barely More Than A Beginner? 

Q: What books, music, and videos do you recommend?

A: Please see my Reviews menu for my reviews of books, music, and videos. Please note that I do not recommend everything that appears on that menu! I review both things I like and things I don't like. So, read the review carefully and compare how that item scores against how I've scored similar items that appear on the same menu.

Q: I'm really overweight. Am I too fat to dance?

A: That question is answered in the Dear Shira section of my Advice/How-To menu.

Q: I'm ___ years old. Am I too old to dance?

A: That question is answered in the Dear Shira section of my Advice/How-To menu.

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Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Projects for School

Q: May I use one of your articles for a paper I'm writing?

A: It depends on what you mean by "use". You may not just put your name on my article and turn it in. Your teacher expects you to do your own research and write your own paper, not just copy what I said, and I agree with your teacher. However, if you want to quote one or two sentences from one of my articles, PLUS quote other articles or books written by other people, you may do that. I expect you to identify my web site as the source of your information.

Q: I need a bibliography, will you please give me one?

A: Your teacher expects you to do your own research and write your own bibliography. When I was a student, I had to learn these skills, and I agree with your teacher that you should learn how to think for yourself. That's the whole point of your class!

Q: May I use a photo or a piece of artwork from this web site?

A: I normally don't give people permission to use my photos or artwork in their class projects. If you feel that nothing else but my pictures will meet your needs, you may send me email and explain why you need this. I'll consider your request.

Q: May I put one of your articles or photos on a web site I'm building for a class project?

A: I don't allow my articles to be placed on other people's web sites. But you may link to my web site if you wish.

Q: May I please quote from one of your articles in a paper I'm writing?

A: You may, but you must use appropriate techniques (such as footnotes) for identifying my words as being a quote, and you must identify me as your source. Ask your teacher what techniques are appropriate for identifying my text as a quote.

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