How to Belly dance: Valuable insight into interpreting the Music

The most important aspect of how to belly dance is music interpretation. Belly dance comes from Egypt and really it’s just Egyptian dance. There are basic movements such as Hip drops, Egyptian walk and Figures of 8 that make the dance Egyptian, and they form the foundation of the art form. However in order for it to truly be Egyptian dance, the dancer needs to use these movements in order to interpret the music. It’s not enough to just do the movements – a mistake that a lot of dancers today make.

How to Belly dance to Violin, Accordion

Violin, Accordion, Mizmar, Tabla

In Egyptian dance, music interpretation simply means that the dancer should ‘look’ like how the music sounds. For example, if a violin is playing long, drawn-out notes, the dancer can interpret this with Figures of 8 and fluid arm movements. The sound of the qanun is best interpreted with shimmies. And the accordion has a very heavy sound, so a dancer’s posture should be very earthy and grounded when interpreting its melody – this instrument should not be danced with a ballet-like posture.

How to Belly dance to Nay, Qanun, Oud

Nay, Qanun, Oud

The sad truth is that the majority of belly dancers today lack an understanding of music, particularly with regards to how Egyptian dance music is composed. As a result they cannot and do not interpret the music. Still, the best dancer is ALWAYS the listening dancer. It’s not enough to just do belly dance movements – the instruments that are playing matter, how they’re playing matters, melody and rhythm matter.


How to Belly dance: Lessons on Music Interpretation from Hossam and Serena Ramzy

Thankfully, here are some really great articles written by Hossam Ramzy and Serena Ramzy on how to interpret belly dance music. Hossam is a Tabla player from Egypt and his articles explain how Egyptian music is composed, how to break down songs, how to dance to each instrument and more. It’s a wealth of info from an Egyptian musician’s perspective. Serena is a professional belly dancer and teacher trained by Hossam in authentic Egyptian dance. Her articles are enlightening and contain accurate info about belly dance, written from a dancer’s perspective. Together these articles are a must-read for any serious belly dancer, but particularly for professionals who have a responsibility to their audience (and students) to represent the art form accurately.


Been There, Done That, Read the Book – Hossam Ramzy

Drumming 4 Dancers – Hossam Ramzy

You Are a Musical Instrument – Hossam Ramzy

Just the Dance – Serena Ramzy

Zeinab (Baladi improvisation) – Hossam Ramzy


How to Belly dance: Lessons on Music Interpretation from Karim Nagi and Souhail Kaspar

For visual illustrations on how to interpret belly dance music, see DVDs by Karim Nagi and Souhail Kaspar. Karim is an Egyptian drummer and Souhail a Lebanese drummer. In the DVDs, the musicians explain how to dance to the various instruments, rhythms and melody. The dancers demonstrate the concepts.


Live Music & Movement – Maqam, Taqsim & Drum Solo for Dancers – Karim Nagi

Rhythm & Movement for Egyptian Raqs Al-Sharqi – Souhail Kaspar