Sometimes I invite interested drum students to join me playing percussion at our haflas and belly dance shows. See some of our drummers and dancers onstage together in this photo gallery by Free Lance Star photographer Robert A. Martin: belly dance show photos.
Years of training on piano and organ helped me develop an ear for music and rhythm, and I use this ability when dancing to interpret the music; and I strive to pass on this awareness to students by providing knowledge of the structure behind the dance such as timing awareness, compositional techniques, and of course, by teaching students how to play finger cymbals. When you understand the underlying patterns in the music and rhythms, dancing becomes much easier and artistic.
When I choreograph dances, I create visual diagrams of the music, using the beat and rhythm of the music as the basis for choreography, as you can see in this example of a music diagram: Zeina music breakdown.
Another good example of using timing in belly dance is when doing hip shimmies. Most shimmies are countable by the beat of the music. You can see this in my instructional video on regular and 3/4 shimmies: How to do the 3/4 shimmy. Shimmies are not just random shaking of the hips, they're actually micro-movements on the beat. That's why using the term "3/4 or three-quarter shimmy" should refer to a certain timing of the movement, not just any shimmy! Many dancers are confused by the timing of these shimmies because they don't understand the rhythms.