Monday, July 21, 2014


Dancing   to Issam's drum solo at The Baladi Tour CD Release Party, Studio Iqaat, LA  Photo: Maharet Hughes

  Hope you’re having a terrific summer!
  Mine has been jam-packed with lots of fun stuff and new projects…   seriously, I feel so blessed to be able to have my job be something I love to do!

I’ve been working on follow-ups to The Belly Dance Handbook, and Showgirl Confidential, which wills both, be out sometime in the middle of 2015.  And there is talk of a new instructional DVD- keep your fingers crossed, you’re gonna love this one!

 This summer has been non-stop dancing and touring to teach and perform by myself as well as with Issam Houshan on our BaLAdi Tour. We’ve hit Eugene, Oregon, Wichita, Kansas and El Paso Texas, and we’ll be teaching an performing a lot together next year, nationally and internationally. Like The Baladi Tour on Facebook:

Baladi Tour Party Performers, photo: Maharet Hughes

 Our new Baladi Tour CD just came out; the release party was off the hook! Some of the best dancers in LA performed, many of who are internationally known, like Rania, Aubre Hill and Stefanya (all former members of Belly Dance Superstars) DeVilla and Nathalie, Olu, Adrianne and Qabila Folkloric Dance Company, directed by Aubre.

  If you missed it, the party streamed live and will be up on the internet for the next two days at Get the CD here:

 In between workshops in Oklahoma, The Theatrical Belly Dance Conference in New York City and Cairo Shimmy Quake in LA, (both festivals were amazing!)  I shot a movie last month with director Steve Balderson; called “Hell Town”…it’s a horror movie about a faux soap opera, and very tacky-on-purpose.  I play a very naughty and murderous nurse in the film…and I got to have blonde hair!  I also got to watch myself get killed in the movie-   cause I died off-screen. That was an experience, I tell you!

Photo: Maharet Hughes

 As of right now, I have space for two dancers in my  Star (Em)Power  Professional Development  And Mentorship Program.
  This   highly individualized course of study  will be fine-tuned to your individual needs and  help you  make your dance goals and dreams turn into reality.  It  can be accessed  from all over the world, we’ll work on your goals through live Skype lessons and discussions,  video reviews, and a plan of action, with  homework  assigned via email. Candidates are generally advanced intermediate through professional level dancers.
There is an audition process-  for more information on this opportunity, please click here:

  Here are some up coming dates for the rest of the summer, hope to see you someplace soon!

  Show at The Rumba Room with Amani Jabril, me and live Arabic with Jonatan Gomes Derbaq & friends music plus local dancers!  Friday Aug 1, 303 S. Main Street, Memphis info:
 Workshops in Memphis Aug. 2-3
Info & registration:

 Book reading & signing party for:
Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance 500 Bishop Street North Suite F-6 Atlanta, 30318
 21 or older, wine will be served with price of admission $7
Info: or 404-550-4692

 AUG. 9 & 10 Atlanta, GA
 Summer Extravaganza!
 Belly dance & burlesque workshops all day and into the night at Atlanta School of Burlesque, 1745 DeFoor Place, Suit D Atlanta…. There will be a show on Sunday Aug. 10th, too, where I’ll be performing both styles!  Info:    

AUG 16 & 17, 2014, BILLINGS, MONTANA
  Yellowstone Valley Belly Dance Festival

AUG. 24, 2014, SUNNYVALE, CA  (SF Bay Area)
Assuit Fest:  workshops & book release party for Dawn Devine’s new book on Assuit, “The Cloth Of Egypt” info:

 Get a signed copy of The Belly Dance Handbook  here:

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Photo by Maharet Hughes/GraphicVibeLA
For years, dancers from all over the world have been  emailing me about  how to pick out a sword and where to find  the perfect sword for their style or experience level!   And in the past week alone, I've gotten  three emails  on this subject! 

 Here are some sword selection  points  to consider:

Finding the perfect sword for belly dancing can be a daunting task. This is especially true if you are about to purchase your first scimitar, or if you are shopping for a sword on the Internet, and don’t have the opportunity to try it out in person.

For someone who is just beginning to dance with scimitars , the best are those that are perfectly balanced, height-proportionate, and not really light but also not a big heavy weapon, because you may need to increase your strength and work up to that. Medium size well-balanced dance sabers are pretty inexpensive, so once you get used to working with them, if you want a flashy, heavier sword, it wouldn’t break your bank to buy one after a few months of getting used to your "starter" sword- and that way, you will always have a spare on hand.

You want a saber that'll stay on your head without rocking, and one that won't kill your neck and upper muscles until you build up the necessary stamina and strength. Also, durability figures in- you want it to stay balanced if- and when- it gets dropped, and believe me it will get dropped!

Your selection will depend on a few different factors: aesthetics and personal taste is important. One dancer might want a gleaming new-looking sword that shines under the stage lights, while another may desire a weapon that looks more rustic, like it’s an authentic antique. There are also many shapes and sizes of swords to choose from, ranging from those with relatively thin blades without much curve to blades that have a deadly, sharp curve and get thicker at the end, towards the tip. The way the hilt (handle) looks and feels is also a factor. Some swords have a very utilitarian, simple-looking hilt with a flat cross guard, others are highly decorated, and ranging from ornately carved rounded or pointed pommels to dragonhead motifs. I even have a sword whose handle features a cast-brass figure of a leaping jaguar chasing a rabbit. If your sword features a cupped cross guard and you are left-handed, make sure it fits your hand properly, or get an “ambidextrous” sword with a flat cross-guard.

Your  sword choice will also depend on your size. A larger sword might be too heavy or dwarf a smaller performer onstage, while a smaller, shorter sword might look comical on a taller, more statuesque dancer.

More importantly, your sword selection should be based on how experienced you are, as well as in the strength of the muscles in your neck, upper back, shoulders and arms. Remember, you are going to be balancing it on top of your head and will have to remain very stable while doing so, and that takes strength. You will also be arcing and swinging the sword while it’s held in your hand, and so it needs to be light enough for you to easily handle it.

Another factor is price: swords can range from about $25.00 to $500.00, depending on quality, size, whether the sabre is custom-made or antique...but don’t think you need to make a huge investment in order to get a decent sword.

There are many inexpensive options on the market today, so if you are a beginner and unsure of what to get, pick a slightly smaller, relatively affordable sword- you can always work your way up to a larger, heavier and more expensive one later.

All swords balance differently, depending on the weight of the blade, the heft and angle of the hilt-or in laymen’s terms, the handle area- which includes the cross-guard and pommel, which is the decorative bolt at the top of the handle. When buying a sword for dancing, pick one that stands up straight on it’s edge (the blade edge) and doesn’t flop over flat. There are many scimitar options on the market today which are made strictly for dancing and are balanced already, so you will not have a problem finding a sword that suits you and your unique needs.

When shopping for a sword in person, check it out and find the median balance point by testing the blade on the top of your wrist, then try it on your head. The balance point of the sword itself won’t be dead center; it will be more towards the sword’s handle. The optimum balance point on your head will be different depending on what type of sword you are using as well as what is easiest for you. For swords, my balance point is just in front of the center of my head- but everyone’s skull has a different shape. With some practice, you will find what is your most comfortable spot.
o it becomes gummy will add a little traction. Some dancers glue a very thin strip of sandpaper along the edge at the balance point. This will not be visible from the stage but it does help to “catch” on your hair. Some types of swords come with grooves already cut into them at the balancing point- but I myself don’t find this helpful- usually the grooves are too wide for them to be able to work properly. And there are also dancers who don’t use anything, just a bare blade. Again, this is your choice.

And one last word to the wise: even if a sword was made specifically for dancing, it still has the potential to injure you. Remember to warm up completely before you work with your scimitar. If you feel it sliding while you are dancing, take a moment, remove the sword and replace it back to your original, comfortable balance point, and then proceed with your act.

 The main thing to remember when rehearsing or performing with swords is: SAFETY FIRST!


 The article you have just read is an excerpt  from 
 ...  get an autographed copy here:

 I also have three  instructional sword dancing DVDs  featuring more hints, tips, sword tricks, choreographies, and costumed  sword performances on that page  : )

Here's a link which features many great dancing swords…tell them The Princess sent you!

Friday, July 4, 2014


Impersonating a mermaid at White Sands National Park, New Mexico, using the make up  concepts mentioned below

Stage makeup for dance needs to be powerful, bright and heavy, so the audience can see your features clearly.  But now that summer is here, many of us are performing outdoors, and that’s a whole different animal!

 I’ve gotten many requests lately asking for a guideline to daytime gigs where you will be performing up close or in the sunlight, like at an afternoon party, a fair or a street festival…so here are my tips for looking your best before dark.

 During the day, you’ll need less make up than for a large stage or a dark nightclub, but   you still need to apply more – and different- makeup than you’d wear on the street. This could, of course, mean using more liner or applying powder shadow a little darker and a vivid shade of shade of lipstick… but there’s also more to consider.

Begin your make up application with sunblock.

 You’ll definitely need it, and should be using it every day, anyway. There are many non-greasy formulas on the market today made just for use on the face, so invest in one of them. I like to use sun products formulated for babies, because they are the least irritating, but I also like Neutrogena’s sunblock, too.  And a word to the wise: make sure to cover – at the very least- your arms, neck, chest and torso with sunblock, too, cause sunburn and tan-lines in the pattern of your costume are not attractive!

After your sunblock has dried, you need to apply foundation-even if you don’t wear it in real life- because it will make your complexion appear poreless and perfect.  Since you won’t be on a theatrical stage, you could use a sheer formula or a tinted beauty balm or BB cream, but in either case, you’ll need to powder over it, to set it, cause you’ll be sweating a lot at an outdoor gig! For work onstage, many performers like to use a foundation that is a shade or two darker than their natural skin tone, because it makes their face appear brighter, more robust and healthy under the harsh stage lights.  I would definitely suggest this for an outdoor gig as well, because the sun can wash out your features just as much as stage lighting does!

 Go over the perimeters of your face- forehead, cheekbones, and jawline- with a matte bronzing powder, both to contour and to make your face look healthy and glowing. Iridescent, sparkly or glittery bronzers are best saved for evening.

Color in the apples of your cheeks  (only) with a vivid color: rose or berry tones for fair skin, coral or reds with an orange undertone for olive or darker skinned performers.

As for your eyes, you’ll need them to be really deeply colored and noticeable, but you’ll also want to stay away from flat black or muddy browns that will make you look haggard under direct sunlight.  Nice russet tones and rich, chocolate browns look pretty on everybody. Again, steer away from pearly or irridescent  hues,  go for matte shades. A great option is to line your eyes with navy blue. It looks good on everything and makes the whites of the eyes appear brighter.  Then do your lids in the brown shades, and don’t forget a thin pearly white highlight just under your brows.

For daytime gigs, I stick with powders and gel liners only.  I never use cream blush or eye shadow, and I skip any sort of pencil, because all of these formulas tend to melt, smear and crease in summer sunlight.  I don’t even use eyebrow pencils- too waxy. I fill in my brows with powder, using a small slanted brush.  And as for brows: since I am dark haired, I use black onstage, but for day time gigs I use a much lighter brown, because in direct sunlight, black brows say “Groucho Marx”, not beautiful dancer!

  If you don’t like wearing false eyelashes, then  you must use waterproof mascara…or you’ll wind up looking like Alice Cooper!   Pile on a few coats of it, leaving ample time for each layer to dry. But false eyelashes are way more foolproof for outdoors gigs. I use what I call my “daytime audition lashes”. They’re short but thick, and define the eyes really well, making harsh, heavy liner way less necessary.

As for lips, matte formula lipsticks are much better for day work than shiny ones like slick glosses or softer, more easy-to-melt products. Select a lip color in a bright “natural” shade, like a blue red (makes the teeth appear whiter) a youthful rose pink or a nice peachy-coral tone. Even if you’re dark skinned, stay away from anything too dark, like burgundy, brown or taupe. Apply the lipstick, blot your lips on a tissue, powder over your lips with a translucent powder, re-apply the color and blot again for maximum staying power. If you want to give the illusion of lustrous lip gloss, dip the pad of your finger into the same pearly white eye shadow you used as a brow highlighter, and apply a dot of it to the center of your lower lip, which will mimic the pretty sheen of lip gloss, but will stay in place, and won’t be greasy.

Since you’ll be outside,  fun accessories like big   blingy earrings, glittery bindis and rhinestones around the eyes all look completely fabulous sparkling in the sun.  But it's not like I have to tell any of you readers to wear more bling, right?

One last  thought-  Remember to keep  your costumes  for daytime and  outdoor gigs family friendly.

Remember to bring  some dancing shoes… because pavement, stages , sand and even  the grass and especially Astro Turf  get very hot when  direct sun has been shining on them for hours, and you could literally get burned.  Shoes are mandatory.

 Have fun  Day Dancing in the great outdoors!


  For more tips on make up, costuming, gigging and dance in general, get an autographed copy of the Belly Dance Handbook here:

Photo & Design by Maharet Hughes, GraphicVibeLA