28th December, 2003


'Nothing is real until you experience it -

otherwise it is just hearsay'



I just loved your site.  It was so encouraging.  I had been lamenting that I discovered this dance at age 49 (now I'm 52).

I would love to become a professional but not only my age, but my size is against me.  I have been feeling so depressed about it and trying to find a way around this feeling without giving up the dance.

Your site made me feel a lot better and to realise to get out there and dance wherever I can!   Thanks again.

 Zaïda:  You still have at least 30 years of dancing ahead of you.  Age, size, shape, colour of your eyes have NOTHING to do with it.  ENJOY!    I know a dancer who still does ‘bellygrams’ at the age of 65!!!! And is still invited to dance at Lebanese Weddings! 

So the only thing holding you back is your mental attitude.  Drop all those old, worthless inhibitions and DANCE!




I have to say, your website is FANTASTIC!! 

Never have I been to a site that had everything in it that I was after... I'm just sad I never found your classes when I lived in Mackay 4 years ago. I'm now in the Brisbane area, and have been trying for months on end to find a great idea for a costume. Why your site never came up in searches before is beyond me... must be the wonders of the world wide web, lol!

  Your site has made my day, I'm not sure whether I would be classed as an older woman but at 30 I feel like it! I've loved Belly Dance for the last 15 years but back then you never heard of it, or it was taboo as my mother used to say, heathen, but she just never understood it.
  Anyhow, I will go, just couldn't go offline without letting you know how I feel! Take care and have a safe and happy Christmas & New Year!

 Zaïda:  Thanks for your MOST WELCOME comments.  ~grin~

I have only been teaching for just under 3 years, so I would not have been active in that sphere when you were here in Mackay 4 years ago.  PITY!  I would have loved to have met you.

As you say, Belly Dance used to be considered 'not nice'.  Aren't we GLAD attitudes have changed and more and more women (and men) are finding the real JOY of the dance!!!




A young Lebanese girl learned belly dancing with me, 20 years ago.  Now she is getting married and I have been asked to dance at her Wedding Reception - this is such an honour.

Zaïda: This is a real inspiration for all older dancers - a 65 year old dancer asked to dance at a Lebanese wedding.  EXCITING!




I have been belly dancing for over 30 years!  Back in the 1970's when belly dance first became popular in this area, I decided to teach it.  I had done many styles of dancing over the years, and had a natural skill for middle eastern dance. I had grown up around Lebanese and Syrian people (I am Irish/German American).  I love the music, the food, the people who brought us this dance!

The first class I offered was at a YMCA.      84 women showed up the first night!
I had a dance troupe "The Pharaoh's Phavorites" for many years.  We danced at nursing homes, local events, and seminars out of town.  We did a whole show with costume changes for Ghawazee, cabaret, and even some comedy.  

When the belly dance "fad" slowed down, my troupe went different directions to raise their families.  We recently had a troupe reunion to talk and laugh about the good old days.   One of my former troupe members begged me to teach belly dancing again.  So here I am at the age of 65 teaching 50 beginners to belly dance!  I also have a group of 25 intermediate students.  Next week I am having an informational meeting for 12 invited dancers who are interested in being part of my new troupe.  They are all 1/2 my age, but I have soooooo much to pass on to them.  My children (now 35, 38, and 42) are so proud that I am belly dancing again.  They grew up watching me practice.

The next thing I plan to start is a troupe for senior citizens (50 and over). I am going to call it "Shifting Sands".  We all shift the sands in our "hour-glass" figures as we grow older.  

To modify costumes to cover upper arms and still look like the arms are bare, I use heavy support panty hose in a colour to match my skin.  I cut the feet out and cut the legs the length of my arm from wrist to upper arm. Then I sew stretch sequin trim to the top and to the wrist opening of the tube.  It is like a long glove with a bracelet at top and at wrist.  It gives coverage and support and still looks bare from the stage. For an inexpensive tummy cover,  buy support panty hose in a larger/longer size than you normally wear, so you can pull them way up to your bra.  You can pin the waistband of the pantyhose to the bottom of your bra/top. You will have tummy cover and support, but you will look bare.  The seam up the front and back of the tummy can be covered with sequins or draped beads or fringe.  Even if you don't cover the seams, they don't show that much.

 My advice to older women is...move it or lose it!!!  Shake it or break it! Active muscles and bones are stronger!  Once you start...don't ever stop!  At my 45th high school class reunion,  everyone else got up and talked about their retirement and how they sit around and relax and travel.  I stood up and said "I have 3 children, 6 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren, and a retired husband....and I plan to dance till I drop!" 

Zaïda: I have used excerpts from your email…many women will find it inspirational.


Your comment that your older troupe only do slow, gentle stuff….I find my dancers (all aged between 56 and 75) can cope with everything I throw at them and some of the dances are very fast.  One dancer does an extremely fast solo to drums.

I usually start with a troupe dance, then a solo, then a troupe dance, then a solo etc and finish with a free for all where we try to get some of the audience on their feet.  Our program lasts almost an hour and as we add more dances, it extends.




A miracle of bellydancing--leg gets longer without chiropractor
I have a pupil, who started dancing on 26th August.   She does 3 hours with me every week, and 15 minutes daily at home.  

One of her legs was 2.5 centimetres shorter, because of her hips !!

In the middle of September, she told me that it seemed as if her trousers were not the same as they were before. Last week (mid October) she bought a new pair of trousers and they fitted perfectly - no difference between  her legs!   Her needlewoman told her that her legs are almost the same length, only 0.5 cm difference!!!
These things make me happy!

Zaïda:  Your story will strike a chord with many women.   Only a few weeks of dancing and problem solved.

I also liked your comment 'Belly dancing helps me to cure my soul hurt by everyday problems'.




I am not a sewer, can I have a costume made for an older woman?

Zaïda:  I am sure any seamstress worth her salt would be able to make a costume to any design.

Depending on your figure, you choose which parts to conceal and which to reveal…..your choice  ::grin::


There is no UNIFORM for belly dancing.  Design your costume to make YOU feel good.

Also, it needs to be comfortable and not restricting, so you can move all your bits and pieces without restraint.

Lastly, if you only have one costume,  I suggest you choose a material for the top, which you can at least sponge off when it gets sweaty…the skirt is not so critical as the skirt doesn’t get sweaty.


The colour, design, material, are all up to you – there are no rules.





I have recently experienced an alarming and embarrassing thing; a strange, clearly audible, grinding sensation around my breastbone - this started occurring actually after I'd had a couple of weeks off.  I was worried enough to go to my GP who checked me over and found nothing wrong, but asked if I had started any new activities, and suggested I either exercised more or took a rest!

I have been belly dancing for a  few months and there must be a connection with the odd feelings.

I was slightly reassured by the 'crick-crick-crick' email from the other lady, but even so it bothers me somewhat, and I wonder if mine is a unique experience.  I seem to be stuck with it now.


Zaïda:  I am so very glad you saw your GP and she found nothing wrong, but suggested exercise.


Belly dancing is VERY gentle and you go at your own speed….no need to keep up with an athletic woman yelling one, two, three, four, jump!


Your health will improve as your flexibility, breathing and POSTURE improves.  Belly dancing focuses on the torso, thus massaging the internal organs and getting them to operate at maximum efficiency…. arms and legs are 'add-ons'.


A very experienced local chiropractor, who was in a serious road smash and told he had only months to live, continued to live and worked out a computer program to help chiropractors with their diagnoses - has stated that 90% of spinal problems stem from poor posture.  


Also, I suggest you find an EXPERIENCED Shiatsu practitioner.  I have been having Shiatsu sessions once a month for the past year and am a rabid convert.   I liken Shiatsu to a garden hose which has a slight blockage, say a grain of sand, and you press firmly on the hose just above the blockage, then release the pressure build-up and that flushes the grain of sand, allowing normal flow through the hose.  Shiatsu does this with your 'chi', which is your life force.


I am sensitive to Salicylates, which occur in almost everything you ingest, touch, or smell. After a year of Shiatsu sessions, my skin has improved to the stage where I can eat a far greater range of food and don’t have to be so pedantic.  I still avoid anything containing perfume, or anything which has been preserved or pre-packaged.


Shiatsu also helped when I slipped and fell and hurt my hip.  Just one session and the pain was markedly eased - so much so that even the practitioner was surprised.  A second session a week later and I was well on the road to recovery.




Hello, I have really enjoyed your web site, I am planning to teach a class in September.  I am a little nervous about how to go about it. Could you give me a few pointers? I have been dancing at home for quite awhile and feel ready to branch out - what is the best way to start? Learning the movements - veil work or zills? Any information would be appreciated.


Zaïda:  You only have to keep one step ahead of your pupils, so don’t feel you have to ‘know it all’ before you start teaching.


I start my class with

Posture – correct stance – knees slightly bent so the muscles take the weight, not the skeleton

Bum tucked under to level the pelvis – head pulled back so that the centre of the ear is in line with the shoulder, tucking the chin in slightly.


Breathing – use the diaphragm muscle, which is a spreadeagled horse shoe shape just below the ribs.  Compress the diaphragm to breathe OUT and expand the diaphragm to breathe IN.  Your abdomen should contract and expand as you breathe.  Correct breathing is essential for stamina…see the Stamina page on my website


Warmup and warm down – I use a lot of stretching exercises to help them to loosen up their bodies and to show them that they have muscles they did not even know existed.  

My catch cry is, “If you feel PAIN – STOP!”  Many have very stiff shoulders and these usually generate pain until they loosen up those long disused muscles.

I use Yoga, Tai Chi and any other movements I feel would be helpful.  Warm down after a session is as important as warm up beforehand.  Stretching those muscles to relax them will dispel any build-up of lactic acid; which causes pain.


Movements – teach them four basic movements (you can expand on the number of movements as your class progresses).

Fit these four movements to a very short piece of Arabic music – and you have a DANCE.

Veils, Zills, Canes, etc. can come into the lessons as you feel the desire and as your class shows willing.

REMEMBER – it is FUN          so ENJOY!



I HEARD THIS ODD ‘crick-crick-crick’ NOISE

I was surfing the web this morning, and found "a 40 year old mom...non-athlete with a desk job, back problems, and bunions" on your 2002 Repartee. Well, she's now a 41 year old mom, who thought you might like to hear an update!


1) I'm still limited to a formal dance class once a week, but wow, has the practice in between class paid off! I'm doing splits at 41 that I couldn't do at 16! One day, I heard this odd crick-crick-crick noise over my breastbone, which had the sensation of those little "pop rock" candies that little kids enjoy. Suddenly, my chest had relaxed and opened up - it must have been stuck for years - and I instantly gained the posture of a goddess ballerina.


2) The "fitness center" at my place of work has allowed me to practice dance on my lunch hour with my girlfriend, who is in her late 50s. For her, dance has  worked miracles. After her breast cancer surgery, she's regained complete range of motion - and more. It was very intimidating for her to practice in a mirrored room at first, but now she is sporting stretchy dance pants, and is proud of her new-found figure. She's learning how to descend to the floor and rise gracefully - something she would have laughed at as totally impossible to do just a few months ago. It is wonderful to see her so "up" these days - and knowing that I had a hand in helping her there.


3) There's now many easily available videos and books that can help with dance practice, some of which I reviewed on Rania's Bellydance Fitness For Weight Loss, Atea's Dance for Fitness, and Neena and Veena's tapes immediately come to mind. Pilates workouts, using Ana Caban's Pilates Mat Workout tapes really helped me with hip control. I just purchased Suzanna Del Vecchio's Precision Motion Workout and her Lock, Roll & Flutter tapes, which are very challenging, but help keep me engaged and working hard.


4) I put together a scrapbook of the costumes I've made for myself and many wonderful dancers. It's turned out to be a great tool to help my costume customers visualize what they want their costume to look like, has provided me with a "conversation piece" for friends and relatives, and with delighted customers that get beautiful digital photos to take home with them upon their final fitting.


5) Lastly, my daughter dances. You can tell I'm proud - my stage name is "Um Helena ".

Zaïda:  Thanks so much for the feedback….you really gave my day a LIFT!




Thank your for this lovely site.  I found bellydance two weeks after my husband died and what difference it has made to my life.

I am 60 now and have been dancing for 6 years.  The colours, making the costumes, playing in the Nomadic Soul Drummers, making up solos pieces and spending time with lovely women, going to Haflas, performing in the Extravaganza in Brisbane……it’s a whole new life and such FUN.

I would encourage any woman who comes across the site, and thinks ‘It’s too late to start now’….please have a ago.  It’s never too late – JOY, HAPPINESS and your BLISS are waiting for you!!

Zaïda:  I am so very happy for you, that you found bellydance at such a sad time in your life and that it helped you to shape a whole NEW life.   Really wonderful!




Hello Zaida!!!!!!    Just wanted to tell you that I enjoy your site! I have visited several times and have found great stuff there and encouragement! So much so that I am attempting to create my own studio in a small town where I grew up!

I enjoy this style of dance and would love to pass it on to others. You have helped to encourage me ... at 50 and starting to get back into the work force (of sorts ...)  will take some work!  But I know that I'll enjoy it!

The question that I have (at this time ...) is are you aware of or have any contacts with wholesalers that deal with Studio Owners/Teachers as far as hipscarves, dance belts, etc., ... go???? Any suggestions you have would be appreciated! I do have a few at this time ... but would like to check further.

Thank you again for all of the great and interesting information you give!


Zaïda:  you will really ENJOY running your own studio.  You can do it YOUR WAY!  Which is very satisfying.

I suggest you ask that question, about dance supplies wholesalers, of Shira....I have little knowledge of the USA .  Go to my Links page and the first one The Art of Middle Eastern Dance is Shira's site.   Good luck and happy dancing.




As I read the Salubrity article on your website, it occurred to me that this would be great information to share with new students.  However, I didn’t want to download it and not inform you.

Zaïda: This article is merely a conglomeration of information I have gathered from many sources and written in a belly dance context.  If you find it useful for new students, I am most happy for you to use this or any other article on my website.   The whole aim of my website is to spread the word on the benefits of belly dancing.  ENJOY!




I have just taken up belly dancing and could not resist looking at your website to see if, at 49, I am classed as 'older'.  I'm not even middle-aged as far as I'm concerned.  

I was bemoaning the inflexibility in my lower back, considering yoga, but find this boring - my riding instructor (young enough to be my daughter!) took me along to her belly dancing class, and I cannot believe how great it makes me feel.

Many of the women there are older and/or fatter than me, and one of the good things is, it's changing my perception of women's bodies and beauty - after a lifetime of being told that it matters what you look like, suddenly I realise that it doesn't matter at all.  All of these women look beautiful, feminine, graceful.  

The dance movements are so natural and flowing, I think even I will be able to master them and be graceful, too.

My birthday is in late spring and I usually get something for my garden - this year I'm going to ask my husband for a costume!

Zaïda: I can't think of a nicer birthday present than a bellydance costume!



I just had to tell you how much I enjoyed your website!   It was just awesome!!!!!

I too am an older woman, in the prime of my life, 46, and I am looking for a teacher in my area.  This is something I have always wanted to do but never had time for.  Now I am MAKING the time.  It's hard to find a teacher in my small town in Texas but that is not going to stop me at all!!!

'The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.'

Zaïda: Thanks for that lovely quotation.... it is so true.



Let me congratulate you on your website.  As a middle-aged woman myself it was gratifying to find any site including Belly Dancing directed towards our age group.

I am an Australian from Sydney, married to an Egyptian and we relocated to Cairo 3 years ago. We sell Egyptian gift products and belly dance accessories and are looking for a contact in Queensland to sell our wares.  I am trying to organise a website but it is so daunting; however I can email any information or photos to anyone interested.

Zaïda:  Your comments are just lapped up ......more! more!   :grin:

I shall pass your information around and I hope you get some responses.  There is not a large belly dance population in this area, but it is gradually growing as the city expands.



I'm looking for any American Tribal Dance bellydance teachers in Australia; preferably Sydney or Melbourne.  Ideally, I'd like to relocate to Coogee Beach outside Sydney.  Please let me know if you know of such a teacher.

Zaïda: I suggest you contact Amera's Palace in Sydney.  Put Amera's Palace into your Search Engine.  Sydney is about half a continent away from Mackay, so I have no knowledge of the place, but I am sure Amera can help you.



My two grand-daughters who live in New Zealand, tell me that they learn belly dance moves in their exercise class in school.

Zaïda: Lucky girls.  I bet their teacher is a belly dancer.  I think ALL schools should include belly dancing in their program... it teaches poise and self-confidence as well as the physical aspects of stamina and flexibility.



I'm a big fan of your website and have been popping in and out of there for quite a while now.

It may please you to know that we dance at a Nursing Home regularly.  We don't charge them dollars and perform a 20 to 30 minute show (but usually keep going until most of them fall asleep anyway)........we charge them smiles, finger tapping, toe tapping and even grunts and groans!  Boy do we get all that we 'charge' them!  It is our favourite venue as we firmly believe that just because you are in a nursing home doesn't mean you can't have fun, and if you can't go to see a show then bring the show to them.  

The nicest comment I feel I ever got from an audience member anywhere was when an elderly gentleman wheeled up to me after the show in tears saying that he felt like he was in Cairo all over again.  I spent over an hour just talking to this fine 'young' gentleman who told me all about the war and the time he was in Cairo during the war and saw belly dancers for the first time.  That was a moment I will treasure forever and had a photograph taken with him.  The photograph was given to him for Christmas at our Christmas show we did there and he was in tears again with happiness. 

 Sadly, I now have the picture back and on my wall with a note in crayon on the glass that says simply "Thankyou. I will always love you and be beside you".  It was delivered to me by one of the nurses who told me that he had passed away on Boxing Day afternoon and had begged her to get him a crayon and give him the picture that morning so he could write his farewell to me.  He then told her that she was to give the picture back to me.  I am in tears myself as I tell this to you, but they are tears of joy.  If anything, in my career, I will never forget this man who was taken back to his happiest moments because I danced for him.

Zaïda: thanks for your lovely story..... it warms my heart!



I am impressed with your web page and I would like to learn more about Belly Dancing for Men.  Even though I am female, I have always been wondering about whether or not men can do it.

Zaïda: You will find several Links to male dancers on my 'For Men' page, and if you go to Ankh's page, you will find a great deal of information and more Links......



Dear Zaida, your site exudes warmth, encouragement and liveliness. There is something so communicative which is not so obvious in other sites. I was glad to find it.

I saw letters to you from our country. One had asked about lessons here -- there are good teachers, I would be glad to help in locating them.  The other had written to you about her trauma work, empowering victims of terrorism and tyranny.  I would be very interested in contacting her. Would you assist me in this? I live in Israel , am a dance movement therapist, writing a DMT thesis on vitality and belly dancing. 


Furthermore, the issue of age and dancing ----- you are really doing a wonderful thing in creating a  legitimate space for all the 'old ones' and the ones to be.  People don't dance enough. Older people the more so. At 46 I am not old and not young.  But ----- dancing does make us younger, both in looks and more so in feeling.


Keep dancing  and keep spreading the word!


Zaïda:  thanks so very much for your lovely email.... really lifted my heart.

I have forwarded your email to Rosa, in Israel and asked her to contact you.

I would be extremely interested in reading your thesis, when it is ready.........


I agree with you.... people don't dance enough.   They are so uptight about moving their arms and legs, let alone their hips and boobs.  One of my dancers is a beautiful dancer, but all her movement is hips and arms.   I keep urging her to work on the shoulders and boobs area and she really tries, but you can see her inhibitions holding her back.... oh well.... maybe she will make a breakthrough.

When they have been told all their lives 'don't wiggle', particularly their chest region, it is difficult to suddenly wiggle.    Especially when other people are watching....   ::grin::


I have had several grandchildren brought to class by their grannies, when they are babysitting, and it is astonishing how stiff these children are.  You would expect them to be supple.... they cannot even squat.