I found an ancient link on www.shira.net to the old Beledi site with an article I wrote a billion years ago. I sent Shira an email to update the link and saved a copy of the article before deleting the page. It touches on pretty basic ideas but I will post it here in sections for old time's sake. Enjoy!
The Sensible Bellydancer
Here are some common sense tips for improving your art as a Bellydancer by Naima.
Try to observe as many performances as possible. Take note of what you see that you like and dislike during another dancers performance. Use this NOT to critique the other dancer, but as a guideline for shaping your own performance skills. Look for new movements such as combinations or travel steps you have not tried before. Keep track of body alignment and interaction with the audience. Did this dancer make you feel good when she danced? Why? What turned you off? Take these observations and incorporate them into or out of your own style.
The internet is your best friend.
One of the most important lessons I have learned as a Bellydancer is to research things for myself. Whether this is about music styles, costuming, terminology, authenticity, etc. Since Bellydance is handed down very much like the old oral traditions of a culture. Everyone hears a story that is a little bit different from the last. So the best thing to do is to research from many different sources and then make up your own mind about what your dance philosophy is. For example, here in the Mid-west, dancers can sometimes be far and few between. So, it can be really hard to get some educational answers to bellydance questions without someone else’s opinion thrown in. Combat this by reading articles available online by as many dancers and scholars as possible. This includes those from the Middle East as well as your own country. Not only should you know about the origins of the dance but also how it is being interpreted and represented in your own culture.
Secondly, Shop! You don’t have to purchase anything to learn how to judge the market on quality and price. Buying Bellydance goods anywhere in the world beside the Middle East = huge mark up for the vendors who import these goods. You really should have an idea about what the going rate is for a 3 tiered hip scarf or brand new Hakim CD. You can also browse online reviews of the product or vendors to make sure you are getting a good deal. Also, keep in mind shipping costs. A CD may be cheaper online than from your local Vendor, but after shipping and handling, it may end up pretty close to the same price. On the other hand, online vendors may have free or low shipping rates if you buy a minimum dollar’s worth. In that case, try to make all of your purchases from one place.
Continued in part 2