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

Connector (Transition) Steps for Belly Dance Improvisation

by Saqra





So... you have always danced with troupes or groups following cues or performing choreography, and now you want to learn to do improvised solos!

Choreography in solos is especially needed for certain segments or situations such as drum solos, competitions, and times when you cannot take a risk (competitions, formal shows, high school reunion). However, you can take a risk at Shimmy Night at Dave's Coffee Bar, or your group's performance on the Community stage at the Enumclaw Farmer's Market, the local convalescent center, and many other more casual situations that offer us dance opportunities.

Admittedly, you could always choreograph the whole dance... "Right, left, turn and smile" or you could make an attempt at learning improvisation techniques.

I have a billion ways to create your improvisation plan. In fact, I'm absolutely certain most teachers do. However, I'm going to restrain myself and give you one technique to play with: a transitional step.

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




The Transitional Step

Pick out a 4/4 time step.

Okay did I lose you right there?

Here: Find a simple step that can be done to a count of four.

A common one would be step, hip, step, hip. Another would be a simple rock step: step forward, step center, step back, step center. Still another example would be a basic grapevine: cross front, step, cross behind, step.

It doesn't have to be complex, it only has to be something you can easily do more than a few times without looking like you are completely confused — no backbends or the patented "flaming chainsaw move"!

Now take that step and use it to create transitions:

  • Put on some straightforward music.
  • Do the transition step a few times, transition to the new step you want to add to your dance, and go back to your home step. 
  • Repeat that same combination until you feel confident with it, and until the transition is smooth. Aim for at least 20 times before you move on.

Now, whenever you are doing the transitional step your body memory already knows how to go to any other step you have practiced with it. You can simply proceed by choosing one of the steps you practiced, instead of needing to both choose a step and figure out how to transition into it while you are dancing.

This is also a great way to introduce new material into your dancing that you have learned in workshops. Create a transition into the new step and back out, which will integrate it into your mind and body. This way it won't just languish in the bottom of your purse with the receipt from the workshop.

This topic is a little complex, so if you need more explanation, send me a message.

Your mileage may vary, but I don't want to take you around the long way.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo of Saqra 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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