If you know a belly dancer, whether he/she is your mother, partner, daughter, friend etc. and you would like to give them a present they will enjoy for Christmas (or other occasions, such as birthdays, mother day, St Valentine and more or just on a random occasion) here is a list of ideas. Being a belly dance practitioner myself, I know what would make them happy.
Presents can range from clothings and costumes to props; jewellery and accessories; DVDs, books and CDs; even technology such as cameras and Ipads; musical instruments; vouchers to classes and workshops and even trips to the world’s favourite belly dance locations! Make sure to scroll down this page to see all the possibilities.
There is a huge range of costumes and clothing you can choose as a present, depending on the level of dance experience, style of dancing and, of course, personal taste. For example, for professional dancers or those who are already serious about the dance and like to perform (and if you can afford it) there are designer costumes that can range, at the time of writing, between GBP200 up to GBP700. You can purchase them from sites such as Faridadance.com or Bellydanceboutique.co.uk which both have very good quality costumes imported from Egypt. For tribal style, another site that some friends of mine that practice this style recommend is Dahlal.com; they also have cabaret style costumes but a wide range of tribal too. For mid range (average GBP250) Egyptian costumes, try EverythingEgyptian.co.uk. These specialised sites all have a range of dance products and accessories, usually imported from Egypt or, for tribal costumes, from India or Pakistan.
For medium range to cheaper costumes, you can try sites such as eBay or Amazon:
If your friend or relative does baladi or saidi Egyptian styles, she may like a galabeya dress.
Instead of a complete dress, a possibility is to buy a belt and bra set. Your friend will then find a skirt to go with them. Or, you could buy a bra on its own. They make them for tribal style as well.
Skirts can be bought separately as well. A veil skirt would be good for a more traditional belly dance style, while a wider, cotton skirt is good for tribal:
For tops, one can choose from the bras with beads highlighted above or choli tops, which can be used for most styles of belly dance and also for classes and practice.
Instead of skirts, an alternative can be trousers, such as the harem pants in cotton or lighter ones made of chiffon. Another possibility are jazz/tribal pants, which belly dancers use a lot for practice.
Another idea for a present is to get a set of choli and trousers, which can be used for training, classes and workshops, such as these sets:
There is not much variety for men, unfortunately. Usually men wear a top such as a vest and harem pants. Alternatively, if they dance Egyptian folkloric styles, they wear traditional men galabeya, which are long and wide tunics.
Other objects that belly dancers will find very useful are props and accessories, of which there are many and I have listed some below.
Veils are a classic belly dance prop, they can be used one at a time or two at the time. They can have sequinned edges or not and can be made of different materials, such as chiffon or silk and they come in various lengths. Veils with sequinned edges are good to be used for short entrances and easier to handle, as it is easier to follow the edges with the hands without looking. Veil with smooth edges are better for longer more elaborated veil work, with spins and turns
Zils or ziller, also called finger cymbals or sagat are a music instrument that sometimes belly dancers play while dancing. There are many types from the lighter ones for beginners to slightly heavier ones, in gold or silver colour.
This is a prop used in tribal and fusion styles and it used to be hard to find but nowadays they have them sometimes on eBay and Amazon and Bellydanceboutique.co.uk have some. I bought mine on eBay, but I have seen some on Amazon.com and they seem harder to find on Amazon.co.uk
This is a new alternative to the traditional veils and it creates beautiful effects when dancing.
This prop is inspired by a New Zealand tradition. They are balls attached to strings that the dancer rotates as he/she dances. The belly dance version has veils attached.
These can be found a lot in Egypt nowadays but apparently they are an American invention and they are quite eye catching.
A cane, called assaya in Arabic, is a prop often used by belly dancers, especially those who do Egyptian style. They can be plain or sequinned, or there are also proper saidi canes made of thick wood, which are used in pairs. These are harder to find except in specialised belly dance stores or if you go to Egypt.
As well as costumes, clothing and props your friend belly dancer may like as a present a range of accessories.
These are the most basic but most essential accessory for a belly dancer. They will use them from a beginner’s level, throughout their career. Hip scarves come in an infinite variety of styles, lengths, materials and colours and the beauty of buying one as a present is that they can be adapted to any size and that your friend or relative belly dancer will always need a few. Broadly speaking, hips scarves for beginners have coins, to make it easier for the dancer to check that he/she is doing the movements right by seeing the coins move in the right direction and hearing the noise they make. More advanced dancers usually prefer more silent models with beads or tassel, as they will not need to be helped by the noise but they will still want something to enhance the movement of the hips. You can buy them on Amazon by clicking on the pictures below.
Another item that a belly dancer may need is a kaftan or abeya (a wide long tunic with buttons at the front). This is useful before a performance, to cover the costume.
Belly dance is usually performed barefooted (except for Turkish and Lebanese styles that often use shoes with heels), but sometime a dancer may want to use something to protect the feet, especially when dancing in a restaurant or on an uneven surface. There are golden or silver belly dance slippers available.
For jewellery you can choose between anklets, necklaces, headpieces, bracelets and all ornaments you can think of. Click on the pictures below to buy on Amazon.
All belly dancers will always be delighted to receive DVDs, books or CDs as a present. There are many available for sale on specialised sites, as well as on Amazon and you can find out more in my reviews and resources pages. Some more advice below.
For dancers who like oriental style, Hossam Ramzy is a classic (see for example Gamaal Rawhany) as well as Hassan Abou el Seoud (Shik Shak Shok). Alternatively they will like baladi, shaabi, pop or saidi music, such as:
Also, a good present may be a CD of music from a different Middle Eastern or Northern African countries other than Egypt, such as Morocco, Lebanon or Turkey:
For tribal there are also a few specialised CDs available, such as Tribal Dance, Tribal Drums
DVDs can be instructional or of performance. There are many available, teaching different styles, for different levels and different aspects of the dance. For tribal, one of the most popular choices is Serpentine: Bellydance with Rachel Brice, a very well known dancer in this style.
There are three most reputable producers of belly dance DVDs and they have covered almost any aspect of this dance you can think of. They are:
For books there is a huge choice, from those for beginners, to those that focus on the history of the dance, to the academic ones that focus on research, such as Belly Dance Around the World: New Communities, Performance and Identity. Click here for more belly dance books.
Presents do not need to be only belly dance oriented, as dancers often use technology. Below I list some technology items that a dancer may love.
These are essential nowadays, especially for teaching, as you can fit as many song as you want in a tiny object. Usually venues have sound systems that can be attached to iPods and the cables to connect. If they do not, a portable iPod deck is ideal. See:
I have never tried other types of tablet computers, but I can say that the iPad is extremely useful. I can take videos of dance with it, store music, take notes, check Youtube videos and more. These are things that the iPod can do as well, but an iPad is bigger and easier to navigate.
These are useful to take pictures and videos of dance. They can go from the more portable and easy to use models, to the professional ones.
Someone who is into professional photos and wants to take nice shots of belly dance for their professional site, for example, may need a backdrop and lights.
For more professional videos an HD video camera is useful and nowadays they are nice and compact. I use an HD camera to film myself dance during practice, together with a tripod. I find them very useful for practice and give myself feedback.
For those dancers who can also play instruments, you could also make them happy by buying them an instrument for Christmas or their birthday. For example, you could get:
If you have money to spare for a trip, destinations where you can book as a present and that any belly dancer would love are Cairo in Egypt and Istanbul in Turkey or, for tribal belly dancers, San Francisco in the USA. These would be dream trips for dancers.
Cairo is La Mecca for belly dancers, especially for those who like Egyptian style. There you can find costume designers, shops selling any dance paraphernalia and you can see several dance shows in the boats on the Nile. As for accommodation, there is a dancers B&B in Giza, run by Yasmina (a British born dancer who has lived in Cairo for almost 20 years) or there are hotels if you would like somewhere more central, such as the Sofitel in Cairo, near the Opera House (a place that anyone who loves music may want to visit). The Marriott Hotel in Zamalek, an area close to all the boats on the Nile where top belly dancers in Cairo perform. A more modest hotel but absolutely central is the Paris Hostel, within walking distance from the Egyptian Museum and from the Khan el-Khalili market in Cairo where there are several shops selling belly dance items, such as Yasser and Al Wikalah, a five stories shop with anything a dancer may wish.
Istanbul is a great see to visit in itself, but also for belly dance costume shopping, with its bazaar and famous costume designers such as Bella. For accommodation, in Istanbul I would recommend the Best Western Plus The President Hotel, only 100 metres away from the bazaar. Also, quite good and very central is Santa Sophia Hotel.
Finally, San Francisco, USA, is the home of Fat Chance Belly Dance, the inventors of the American tribal styles. Your tribal dancer friend would be forever grateful to see their studio as well as to explore a very nice city. As for accommodation, the Parc 55 Wyndham is very central. Another one that comes recommended is the Hotel G, also very central.
Finally, another idea could be to buy your friend or relative as a present a block of lessons if their local teacher gives vouchers or pay for them to attend a workshop. There are also online classes available for belly dance, if your friend likes learning online, such as Salimpourschoolonline.com. Paying for a course of online classes could be a good idea if this is what your friend would like.