Photo of Shira



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

Belly Dance Tips for Arms


By Saqra




Table of Contents



Creating Illusions

Colored arm bands that match your costume bra make your bust look larger because they carry the color out to the side.

Gauntlets that go elbow to hands carry the color down and actually make your bust look narrower.

When your arms are posed down at your sides your elbows should be bent outward away from your waist. This not only gives a nice line to the pose, but it also takes advantage of something called a "corner illusion", making your waist look considerably smaller. This only works if your hands are at hip level, and not if your hands are at your waist.

It isn't about how big or small your parts are. it is about enhancing the visual separation between the parts by any way available.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.





Four Things Hands & Arms Can Do

There are four things your hands/arms can do:

  2. Be statically posed
  3. Be meshed with your dance steps
  4. Make large geometric movements that are NOT attached to your dance steps

All four should generally occur in a choreography.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.




Position Transition

When re-positioning your arms during a series of movements, bring your hands in to your chest before extending them back out into a new position. It will give a fresh and controlled appearance to many different arm placements.

Sample sequence:

  1. Both arms out at shoulder height
  2. Touch fingertips together just above and in front of your chest
  3. Extend one arm up and one arm out at shoulder height

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, Californa.




Avoid Underarm Flapping

Turn your elbows to the back when you extend your arms out to the side. This will help reduce underarm flapping (what people often call "Bingo Wings") when you shimmy.

Note: make sure you don't turn your palms to the back wall.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.




Don't Lock Arms

When you throw your arms out fully extended for a dramatic moment do not lock your arms!

Your arms can be straight as straight can be, but they should never go all the way to lock.

Why? Because most people's arms will appear to hyperextend and the elbows will look bent slightly backwards. This does two things:

  1. It makes an unattractive sprung armed shape.
  2. Most importantly, it breaks the 70% rule. The 70% rule says never move as hard or as far as you can in performance because your audience can feel when you have hit your maximum movement.

Your goal is to look infinite and timeless in your movement. Don't tell your audience you have limits. Your mileage might vary, but only if your elbows don't naturally bend a little backwards.




Related Articles

  • Expressive Arms. By Shira. Bring a fluid, emotional quality to your arm movements.



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



Copyright Notice

This entire web site is copyrighted. All rights reserved.

All articles, images, forms, scripts, directories, and product reviews on this web site are the property of Shira unless a different author/artist is identified. Material from this web site may not be posted on any other web site unless permission is first obtained from Shira.

Academic papers for school purposes may use information from this site only if the paper properly identifies the original article on using appropriate citations (footnotes, end notes, etc.) and bibliography. Consult your instructor for instructions on how to do this.

If you wish to translate articles from into a language other than English, Shira will be happy to post your translation here on along with a note identifying you as the translator. This could include your photo and biography if you want it to. Contact Shira for more information. You may not post translations of Shira's articles on anybody else's web site, not even your own.

If you are a teacher, performer, or student of Middle Eastern dance, you may link directly to any page on this web site from either your blog or your own web site without first obtaining Shira's permission. Click here for link buttons and other information on how to link.



Explore more belly dance info:

Top >
Belly Dancing >
Index to the Belly Dance Advice Section >
How to Belly Dance


Share this page!

On Facebook


 Top > Belly Dancing > Index to the Belly Dance Advice Section > How to Belly Dance

| Contact Shira | Links | Search this Site |