Dancing with Props
Using a Veil as a Belly Dance Prop
Dancing with veils
Using a veil during your belly dance performance, can add an extra dimension to your dance. Veils are usually suited to music which sounds airy and which suggests ample, flowing movements rather than a more earthy sound. Hence, for example, the veil is not suited to a drum solo or to folkloric music.
Brief history of Veil in belly dancing
The use of veil in belly dancing was made popular by Samya Gamal (one of the bellydance legends during the first half of the XX century) who used the veil to improve her arms carriage. Since then, more and more belly dancers started using a veil as a prop. However, nowadays, in Egyptian belly dance style the veil is only used briefly at the start of the performance during the entrance. American dancers instead, have made an art of the veil as a prop. In American cabaret style the veil is used in a lot of different ways. Dancers usually enter on stage with the veil wrapped around their costume, which is then unwrapped and made to spin with dexterity. American belly dancers have also invented the use of two or multiple veils at the same time.
Veil types and materials
According to the effect you want to obtain, bellydance veils come is various shapes, sizes and materials. Usually the length of the veil should be chosen according to the dancer’s height. However, dancers who are particularly accomplished at using veils, can dance with particularly long ones (i.e. 4 yards). As for the shape, veils can be rectangular or semicircular. Rectangular veils offer more variety of movement, while semicircular ones are easier to use.
Veils can have plain or sequined hedges. Veils with sequined hedges do not float well and are more commonly used in Egyptian cabaret style, where they are dropped after the first few minutes of the performance and not used for spinning. Veils can be made of silk (the most expensive type, but the one that can create the best effects as it floats better), rayon chiffon, polyester chiffon or georgette. In general veils should be light enough to float gently in the air (but not the lighter they are, the more difficult they are to control for inexperienced dancers) and sheer enough, so that it is possible to see the outline of the dancer when she is posing behind it.
Go to dancing with a veil Part 2.
Interested in props? Learn about dancing with a snake!.