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5 Reads for a Lazy Fall Afternoon

5 Fall Reads for Belly Dancers - Titles from the reading list of the book, "Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage." by Sara Shrapnell , Dawn Devine, Alisha Westerfeld, and Poppy Maya.

Fall is here, and there is nothing quite as satisfying as cuddling up with a cup of hot apple cider, a comfy blanket and an interesting book.  Over the summer, I’ve been collaborating on an upcoming book entitled, “Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage.”  I’ve been tasked with putting together a suggested readings list for this upcoming book.  This project involved re-reading old standards, exploring new titles, and crafting a select bibliography to get the reader started if they are planning on continuing their research and exploration of our dance art. So without further ado, let me present a few faves for lazy-day reading.

The Belly Dance Handbook: A Companion for the Serious Dancer by Princess Farhana.
If you are on a trajectory into the stratosphere as a belly dance star, or if you just want to read a really good book about belly dance, then get this book! I’ve read this book a couple of times, first casually for entertainment. Then I sat down and really savored the information in the book. It’s full of great “from the trenches” tips on how to manage a belly dance CAREER.  But this book is also an enjoyable read.  Princess Farhana is warm andA7B193B4-36EC-463E-9913-1227161CF46C generous in the text.  She doesn’t just tell you what you need to do, she tells you why.  She tells great stories that really illustrate the often not-so-glamorous behind the scenes world of the belly dance profession.  You will laugh out loud, you will find yourself saying “awwww,” and don’t be surprised if you also have a few “Ah-HA” moments as you work your way through this book.  My personal favorite section is the costuming section, but I really think the professional insights throughout this book are worth their weight in gold.

Buying this book directly from the author provides her with the biggest financial payback for her hard work! Visit her website to pick up your copy, and be sure to tell her I sent ya!
BellyDance-CoverBellydance by Keti Sharif

This is my favorite general reference guide book to the art of belly dance.  Keri Sharif did a great job in putting together this overview of belly dance.  It’s a quick read, with lots of beautiful imagery, and lots of information about what makes this dance unique.  Bellydance provides a lot of interesting background information about the history and development of the style.  But the thing that I love most about this book is the delicious full-color photos.  Sometimes it might be a little difficult to read because of the lush layering of text and imagery, but frankly, I actually enjoy that.  I’ve had this on my shelf for years, and still pick it up and casually thumb through it to look at photos.


The Belly Dance Reader 1 and 2 edited by Lynette Harris of Gilded Serpent Magazine
If you want to read some of the most current research, thought, and trends in dance today, check out the pair of anthologies produced by Gilded Serpent eZine.  The articles vary in topic and length and there’s a topic that will appeal to almost anyone involved in the community of belly dance. There’s information on history, culture, process, theory, costuming, and much, much more. From academic scholars to celebrity dance stars and everything in between, Lynette really searched out pieces that showcased the broad diversity within our art form.  Even if you don’t agree with every point of view, it’s great that these books present a variety of opinions.

The Belly Dance Reader 1
The Belly Dance Reader 2



The Art of Manipulating Fabric

For my fellow costume making junkies, be sure to get a copy of this amazing book. The two best ways to save money on costuming are:
• To do it yourself
• To use less expensive materials creatively to create visual interest, texture and contrast.

This is the best books for introducing the art and technique of fabric manipulation. It’s so good, it’s required reading for my costuming students. I’ve found this book endlessly inspirational, and go back to it again and again.

The Art of Manipulating Fabric

C79F3885-40A2-4841-A3A7-54A3611574CCBead & Sequin Embroidery Stitches
by Stanley Levy

If you’ve looked at the crusty goodness of imported belly dance costumes and thought, “maybe I could do that,” then this book is a great start. Although the author was writing with textile and fiber artists in general, the methods presented in this book provide a good foundation to use for progressing towards the more complex designs. Informative and inspirational for budding costumers, and an essential for any costume designer’s bookshelf.

Bead & Sequin Embroidery


41ZoBc+54bLI want to shout out to my collaborator Sara Shrapnell of  Teaching Belly Dance, a great book for budding dance instructors and my co-author on the upcoming Becoming a Belly Dancer.  These titles and many more are included in the suggested reading portion of our book.   Visit her website for more information on her past, current, and future projects.

To follow the development of Becoming a Belly Dancer, from Student to Stage, you can sign up for our mailing lists, and come over to FaceBook to join the conversation.

Happy Costuming and Dance!
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
Oct. 4, 2015

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