Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage
A Stage Craft Handbook
By Sara Shrapnell, Dawn Devine, Alisha Westerfeld, and Poppy Maya

bab-front-coverWe have completed our 402 page epic book that will help you take your belly dance performance technique to the next level.  Sara Shrapnell came up with a simple concept – that she wanted to be that teacher in absence.  The trusted advisor there to mentor you though the process of evolving to the next level.  Everyone is at a different place in their dance journey, so this book is filled with tips, techniques, and tools for dancers at every level.  For the student preparing for performance, chapters 1 & 2 help you find quality instruction, overcome nerves and stage fright, and advise for choosing a style, honing in a persona, and mentally preparing for making that transition from student to stage.

But if you’ve already been performing for a while, chapters 3 & 4 will provide you with loads of advise on costuming, makeup, wardrobing and more.  These are my two favorite chapters, and though I worked on the whole book, these two, along with chapter 10, are like having a 128costuming book inside of this text.  Between Poppy and I, we put together more than 40 different costumes for this book, and in chapter 10, we offer a bunch of no-sew and low-sew tutorials for quick and easy “make it in a weekend” designs.

sara-dawn-alisha-poppyBecoming a Belly Dancer also has chapters on Music, Venues, Ethics and Etiquette, Sharing it With the World, and Going Pro.  We all put our heads together and brainstormed all of our best strategies for planning for progress, surviving, and thriving in this world of dance.  Sara is an experienced teacher, who writes with a warm, chatty, and very supportive voice.  Poppy Maya brought the perspective from the current generation of professional touring dancer who really understands the current dance scene. Best of all, we had our team couldn’t be complete with out our photographer, Alisha Westerfeld.  As a dancer she really understands Middle Eastern and Western music, so she’s able to effectively anticipate dramatic poses and capture all those most important moments of a performance. She patiently took more than 10,000 photos from which we edited down to the nearly 800 images for the book.

Pre Order a Signed Copy for $35 via Kickstarter

Right now, we’re offering the book alone, or bundled with other fun premiums over on the Kickstarter website.  From bundles of books alone, in various combinations of titles, or paired with dress accessories like jean jinglers, earrings, and assiut hair flowers, there’s many fun things to choose from.  Poppy Maya and I are even offering a limited number of “Treasure Chest” bedlah sets and a few custom “Assiut Embellished Bras” too!  Check out the campaign page for details about the available backer premiums.

Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage will be available for sale here, on Sara Shrapnell’s website, select specialty belly dance dealers, and on  We anticipate a mid November release date and our final price is TBA but will be somewhere in the $42-$48 range.

Be sure you are signed up for my newsletter to receive a notice when the book is complete and ready for purchase – but why wait?  At $35 the Kickstarter is an amazing deal!

Below are some of the details from our Kickstarter campaign page.


About this project

“Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage” Is a stagecraft handbook for belly dancers. It provides valuable information, learned-in-the-trenches tips, and guidance for belly dancers who are ready to take the step from student to performer.

Sara Shrapnell, author of “Teaching Belly Dance” and Dawn Devine, author of “Cloth of Egypt” and 13 other belly dance and costuming books, including the bestselling “Embellished Bras” and the now classic “Costuming from the Hip”, are teaming up to bring out a new book in the Fall of 2016. Between them, they have more than 50 years of combined experience as performers, teachers, dancers and costume designers.

Alisha Westerfeld is exploring the established and upcoming talent of the Bay Area to bring her beautiful photography to the project. International belly dance celebrity and costume designer Poppy Maya brings her own special brand of “Additional Awesomeness” to the book, and the input of a young dancer, currently making her living through belly dance.

The authors hope to bring the warmth, support, and humor of a teacher in absence, a true friend, and a trusted adviser who has only one main goal: you, the belly dancer.

Sara says, “We want to focus on helping you be the best prepared physically and mentally for the challenges of performing for friends, family, the dance community, and the greater society, both in person at public venues, and via media available on the internet.”

The book covers everything a performing belly dancer needs to know, from improving dance skills, good practice habits, preparing physically and emotionally, critiquing, picking your music and venues and dancer etiquette. In addition the book will include extensive sections on costume design and selection, sewing and no sewing costumes, accessorizing, hair and makeup and presenting to the world the very best belly dancer that you can be.

Dawn says, ” It is our hope that the reader will find this book a useful and inspiring tool that will help them be ready for the big day, so they can dazzle, impress and wow with talent and style.”

“Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage” is an 8×10 book with 402 pages packed full of nearly 800 stunning black and white photos. Alisha Westerfeld has done a magnificent job of photographing belly dancers of all ages and styles. We have also included photographs by Micheal Baxter and Kelle McAbee.

Backer Rewards

We’ve put together a collection of fun and useful things crafted by our team of authors for you to consider.  All the descriptions are in the bar at right.  Everyone who pledges at $35 and above will receive a copy of the book signed by all four authors.  Not only is this a great price – as our MSRP will be higher – but it’s one of the rare opportunities to get the book signed by all four authors.

If you’re interest in supporting our project, but not keen on having a book, we’ve got three ways that you could help us achieve our aims. You can pledge $3 which will buy one of our tireless authors, costumers, photographers, or dancers, a cup of coffee or tea.  You can also contribute $10 and choose a digital copy of Dawn Devine’s 48 page illustrated booklet, “Style File: A Visual Vocabulary of Middle Eastern Belly Dance.”  Or, you could select to receive our Digital Resource Guide which includes a bibliography, glossary, and research guide for pursuing your own studies in belly dance.

For a pledge of $35, you will receive a copy of our book signed by all four authors.

There are three options for folks interested in getting one of our handcrafted premiums. For a pledge of $55, will get a signed copy of the book and one of these wonderful costuming accessories.


If you’re building your book collection, we’ve created some special pairings for contributions in the $60 – $90 range.


For $150 – We are offering a 5 book bundle of “Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage” a great value for teachers who are buying for their students, or troupes who are teaming up to make a bulk purchase.

For $200 – You can also get all of Dawn’s Books, the full collection of 8 titles including her latest title “Zills: Music on Your Fingertips,” and “Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage.”   Also included is “Costuming from the Hip,” “The Cloth of Egypt: All About Assiut,” “Embellished Bras,” “Bedlah, Baubles, & Beads,” “From Turban to Toe Ring,” and “Skirting the Issues, Pants for the Dance.” For more information on each title in this bundle, visit her website here: 

Our two designers, Poppy Maya and Dawn Devine are also offering two custom costume options as shown below which includes a signed book. and costume pieces made just for you!


Chapter Summaries

Chapter One: Learning the Craft – Defining the styles of belly dance, selecting a teacher, attending workshops, home practice and goal setting.



Chapter Two: Mind over Matter – Motivation, stage fright, rehearsing, malfunctions, critique and evaluation.



Chapter Three: Five layers of Personal Appearance – Getting a professional look, from costuming to jewelry, make up and hair.



Chapter Four: Wardrobing Strategies – Putting together a working wardrobe, making wise purchases, selling costumes, storage and packing.



Chapter Five: Sounding Good – All things musical. Selecting music, editing, and planning a performance set.



Chapter Six: Performances and Venues – The variety of venues, planning performances and being the perfect dancer for every venue.



Chapter Seven: Etiquette, Ethics and Staying Safe – Class rules, social norms and protecting yourself and those around you.



Chapter Eight: Sharing it with the World – Marketing, promotions, photographs, business cards and websites.



Chapter Nine: Going Pro – The realities of dancing for a living, and other ways to make money from belly dance.



Chapter Ten: Simple Costuming Projects – Instructions and inspirations for full bedlah, belts, skirts, dresses and a cover up.



In addition we have lots of further info, such as the glossary, selected reading and further research ideas.

“Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage” is the stagecraft handbook the belly dance world has been waiting for.  With your help, our completed manuscript will become a full realized book in November.  We hope that you will take a moment to look at our premiums at right and join us in our mission.  Thank you for your support of our project.