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

Belly Dance Tip: Finished Hands


By Saqra




Finished Hands

Arm movements start from your center back and continue out past your fingertips into the universe. But they come to a screeching halt and just hang there if your hands look bad. There is also a problem with beginners getting discouraged due to feeling like their arm work is a (seriously not graceful) fail when they see themselves move.... even if they are executing everything correctly.

Soooo..... general tips:

  • Try not to place your palms up facing forward overhead. It looks like you are either swinging from the monkey bars, or like you are being mugged.
  • Dancing with palms facing forward tends to make you look helpless and unthinking.
  • When your arms are out to the side, try to place your hands palm down or intentionally fully palm up. Palm forward looks like you forgot your hands were there.
  • And then the greatest and simplest tip of all: learn a good hand pose and lock it in.

So, teachers, here is a fast and easy way to train your beginners to have lovely hands:

  • Take a pen and place it crossways on top of the middle finger, and tucked under the ring finger and index fingers.
  • Relax the ring and index fingers into a curve over the pen. (This gets rid of what I think of as stiff "Three Stooges" fingers).
  • Rest the little finger on the pen next to the relaxed ring finger. (This gets rid of the poking-out "tea party" little finger.)
  • Bring the thumb in relaxed underneath the index finger instead of poked out to the side. (This is roughly where it would be if you were playing finger cymbals. It will move toward the hand and away a bit as you do things like rotate your wrist, but it shouldn't go out to "hitchhiking" position.)

Try doing hand ripples, floreos, fingertip circles and infinity loops with the pen in place until the positioning feels more natural. Keep bringing the fingers back into the side-by-side positions instead of splayed out as they often do for most people, and keep bringing that thumb back underneath instead of letting it stick out.

Um, then try it without the pen because you can't pass a couple of pens off as props. Or, at least that doesn't work for me, and I've gotten away with dancing with hamburgers and golf clubs.

Your mileage may vary.

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




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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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