Raks Sharki Belly Dance Combinations

SECTION A: medium tempo 4/4 rhythms



I learned that I did better at dance when I took notes. And when I began to teach, my students asked for choreography notes, so I started to standardize my dance notes when I wrote them down to make it easier to understand later. Most of the time, it works, but sometimes it is hard to understand even for me! But using videos and notes together is almost perfect!

Here are several pages of ideas for you to try, complete with glossary. You'll need a basic knowledge of Middle Eastern Belly Dance basics to understand these combinations. They're NOT meant to take the place of a real, live teacher! If you can, always take class and get live feedback from an experienced teacher.

My "Dance Tips" booklet also gives examples of mapping music with diagrams, and explains the actual structure of a single dance or full length show.

SECTION A: (this page)
SECTION B: Slow tempo (Chifti-telli)
SECTION C: Taqasim; and Creating Your Own Combinations
SECTION D: Structured Group Improv Style Combinations

GLOSSARY or LIST of Abbreviations

CCW=Counter Clockwise
CW=Clock Wise
F=Forward or Front
fl=Flat foot
LOD=Line of Dance
o=Ball of the foot
o/h=Over Head
t=Touch (not a 'weighted' step)

To Masmoudi Rhythm (8 counts each rhythm) Medium-fast

- Sequence 1 (facing Front)
Cts. 1-4: One 'Flat figure-8'* (arms out)
Cts. 5-8: Two 'Rolling figure-8's'** with plie and up (arms circle in & cross in Front, circling back out)
- Sequence 2 (facing Right diagonal; Right arm up, L arm down but not blocking hip)
Cts.1,2: 2 Rib drops
Cts.3,4: L hip circle down, back, & up
Cts.5-8: 4 L hip drops


*flat means 'flat as a pancake' (no lifting - parallel to the floor)
** rolling means 'like rolling hills' (up and down - parallel to the wall in front of you)

To Beledi Rhythm: (4 counts each rhythm) Medium fast

Count: 1+2+3+4+ (accented beats are underlined)
- Sequence 3 (repeating travel step with alternating starting foot; arms out to sides)
Cts. 1,2: Rock*LF, RB
Cts. 3,4: Step L (where you rocked before), (p).
Next 4 counts: Repeat to opposite side.

Add hip sways on cts. 1,2,3 with a slight torso twist so your sways are to the diagonal instead of side-to-side. (When starting with L foot/hip, torso face R diagonal through cts. 1,2,3, on the pause, you get ready to start the sequence on the other foot. Since this is a 3-step sequence, your feet go LRL(p), RLR(p), etc. Keep your heels down and your knees bent!)

One great variation is to insert a double-sway on the B Rock, so your sways are going single-double-single in each sequence; another is to do double-sways on cts. 1,2, and single on ct.3, so your sways are going double-double-single in each sequence!

- Sequence 4 (a fast travel step done in a large CCW circle floor pattern)
Cts. 1+2: RLR Step-together-Step (also called a 'shuffle-step' or 'step-ball-change')(arms to R**)
Cts. 3+4: Repeat on opposite side (LRL)(arms to L**)
Next 4 counts: 2 CW chaine turns (R L R L) (that's just a traveling 2-step turn)(arms out, curved to F, or curved RF,LB)
Repeat entire 8-count sequence around room. Feel the momentum!


*a 'Rock' is placing the weight on the foot, then moving the weight to the other foot (it's an uncompleted step).
**The motion of changing your arm position adds momentum to your steps, so make sure you keep traveling in your circle LOD!

To either Masmoudi or Beledi (medium tempo)

Sequence 5 (a repeating in-place move)
Cts. 1+2+: Double Hip-Sways on L, R
Cts. 3,4: Hip 'scoops' from F to B on L, R
Cts. 5-8: Large CCW Hip circle starting L, going B,R,F; ending at L on Ct.8

This works well with a diagonal arm position (L down by hip, R up).

Repeat sequence to opp. side (everything will start R, and arms will be R down, L up; to make the transition smooth, change to the next arm position during the hip circle).

Sequence 6 (a repeating in-place move with a half-turn)

Cts. 1,2: Torso undulation to LF corner (wght. L)
Cts. 3,4: Repeat to RF corner (wght. R)
Arms come in to F, crossing wrists at chest level on first undulation, moving down to hips and apart on second undulation.
Cts. 5,6: Rock LB (see sequence 3), R pl. (arms down at sides)
Cts. 7,8: L crossover-Pivot* to face B, SR. End pose: wght. R; L on ball.
A nice touch is to lift your arms up to o/h while pivoting.
Repeat sequence, end facing F.


*Cross your Left foot in Front of and to the Right of, your Right foot; lift your heels and pivot a half-circle CW (to your Right) to face the Back

Sequence 7 (travel step that goes "two steps forward, one step back")

Cts. 1-4: (start left/travel in CW arc) 4-step* w/dbl.down shimmy EXCEPT for the first step (ct.1+, on which you do a hip down, up. All flat-footed.
A diagonal arm pose looks nice with this (R arm up, L arm down).


*4-step = LF, R-pl, LB, R-pl (except since we're trying to travel, move your 'place' steps forward a little bit!); twist your L hip when you step with the L (i.e., twist F when stepping F; twist B when stepping B), keeping the torso facing F, to give the hip move more definition.

(The next two were inspired by Kajira Djoumahna's American Tribal combinations!)

Sequence 8 (in-place step w/fast spin)

Cts. 1-4: RS, L hip lift; LS, R hip lift.
Ct. 5: pivot CW on R.
Ct. 6,7,8: L hip lift; LS, R hip lift.
Repeat above 8 cts. but every R step will be a pivot!
The usual "hip lift" arm pattern of one arm up, one arm out, works well; and bring them in on the spins.

Sequence 9 (variation of above)

Cts. 1-6: RS, L hip lift; LS, R hip lift; RS, L hip lift.
Ct. 7,8: pivot CCW on L, R pl.
Repeat above 8 cts., but now it's all reversed (i.e., start w/L foot).

To medium tempo beledi

Sequence 10 (in-place hip-twists with half-turns - another tribal-style combination that will really get your tassels flying!)
Cts. 1+2: R hip twist to F,B,F*;
Ct. 3+: L hip twist to F, pivot CCW on L to face Back;
Cts. 4+: R hip twist to F, L hip twist to F.
Repeat above 4 cts. starting on the same side, end facing Front.


*when describing the direction a body part is moving to, spatial directions are referenced from YOUR body; that is, a "front hip twist" is the same move whether your body is facing the front or back of the stage.

Sequence 11 (a layered Oriental move)

Cts. 1-4: Side Step-tog-Step to stage R (R L R), with a CW pelvic "1+1/2" circle. The pelvic circle is F on ct. 1 & 3, ends to the R side on ct. 4.
Repeat above 4 cts. to the opposite side (everything reverses).
Now overlay a regular "up" shimmy (2 hip lifts per step) on top of the S-tog-S. Since you're pausing on ct. 4, you'll have 4 hip lifts on that step.
Now to make it extra special, do cts. 1-3 on releve, then let your heel come down on ct. 4. You can let your non-weighted foot extend to the front as your heel comes down for an added touch. Nice!

To medium tempo beledi

Sequence 12 (a "5-Step" combination with half-turns, good for any style)

Cts. 1,2: LxF, R pl (when your Left foot steps across your Right, turn to face stage R; then rock back onto your Right, and face F.)
Cts. 3+4: Step LRL in place
Repeat above 4 cts. to the opposite side, reversing the steps.


Arms are out at the sides, PO. Transition during LRL: in to F, wrist flips (complete hand circles) on cts. 4+ as arms go back out to sides for the Repeat to the opposite side.

Sequence 13 (good for beledi or saidi with cane)

Cts. 1,2,3,4: *fl-o-o-o (R flat, L ball, R ball, L ball)
During the flat step & first ball step (cts. 1,2), do a small torso undulation (rib F, up, B, down); on cts. + 3, do small pelvic Backs.


The first pelvic B comes before the second ball step.

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