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Popular Props Used In Belly Dance
Popular Props Used In Belly Dance
Props are additional elements found in Middle Eastern dance and tribal styles. Some are a part of traditional ceremony while others are just for show, executing a 'prop' is considered another layer added onto a dancers skill set. They are a challenge to learn and exhilarating to watch.
There are numerous items used as props -- even elements of Hawaiian dance like poi and toys like the hula hoop, stick ribbons, and yo-yo's are seen. Here are the ones most commonly found in modern belly dance.
Believe or not, this prop was NOT from the Middle East. It was a western invention. It was adopted by the rest of the world. There are 2 types: a square (or rectangular), and a semi-circle where the top edge is straight and the bottom edge is rounded. Either one is lovely to watch! "Double Veil" means that there are 2 standards used at the same time.
Give one a swing and find your flutter!
Photo of Sha'vei by Francisco X Guerra
This balancing prop in bellydance is also a western invention and it is one of the props most seen and associated with ATS or American Tribal Style, although it often drifts into raks sharqi and fusion bellydance styles.
Photo of Belladonna by Ceilo Productions
Courtesy of Belladonna Boheme
This prop is not usually not seen in smaller restaurants and venues. It is truly meant for a larger stage. The name is inspired by the Egyptian goddess of the dead (among other things). She is represented as a bird -- a kite -- in Roman and Grecian art and Egyptian hieroglyphs.
It consists of 2 pleated pieces of fabric which are then cut to form the wings. An anchor dowel is inserted into the end for the dancer to hold onto. It is usually made from lightweight plastic and to complete the 'wing span'.
Photo of Charlotte Doy by Michael Doy
This is called "raks al assaya" and it is the 'ladies" version as a playful take on the men's stick dance, Tahtib, which uses a much longer staff. The men's version is a show of agility and skill against an opponent. The ladies cane dances usually mimic (and mock) the soldiers and these weaponry games. In a dance setting for a soloist, it is also the prop often used for audience participation.
Often referred to as 'zills' (Turkish for finger cymbals) - these are the finger cymbals used to chime along with the accompanying music or musician. This is considered an instrument and there are finger patterns with a little practice, take no time to master. One important pattern to learn -- the zeffa -- which is played during a wedding procession. This instrument comes in all sizes and can be made from brass, silver, copper and other alloys.
Photo of Sha'vei by JP Photography
CANDLE OR TEA TRAY
This is a dance which varies from country to country with its own ritual meaning - the most familiar one is the Moroccan or Raks al Seniyya.
It is done as a show of hospitality to guests and often a mint type of tea is served. Like the Shamadan, it is wise to use LED candles over open flame until this prop is mastered. Always check with the venue to see if open flame is allowed.
Photo of Amustela courtesy of Amustela Dance
This is also a western invention -- these are actual fans that have a silk tail on the spines
of the fan so that the fan can still open and close.
There are several different sizes of fan span, tail lengths, and colors abound!
Photo of Sha'vei by Triformis Photography
This is the candlebra that is worn on the head and often dressed with a veil or pretty fabric. Until mastered, use LED tea lights over real candles. There are also fire codes prohibiting the use of real candles so be sure to check with the venue before using open flame. This prop is traditionally used in a wedding procession.