Technique, Practice, & Performance

Learning the Art of Veil: Essential Tips for Beginner Belly Dancers

Although only introduced to Belly Dance in the last one hundred years, the veil is nonetheless an important tradition in American Cabaret. The image of a dancing girl with a veil dates back to the times of the ancient Romans, and is perhaps an inspiration for this art form.

As you will soon learn, the veil tends to have a mind of its own. It is sometimes unfaithful to even the most experienced dancers. Here are a few tips to help make your first experiences with a veil enjoyable:

How to Belly Dance with a Veil - Ananke

Selecting a Veil

Fabric: Choose a fabric that is light and loose such as silk or chiffon. Remember, each fabric will behave differently in the air. Some movements are better suited to certain types of fabrics

Size and Shape: The standard size is approximately 2.5 to 3 yards, rectangular shape. This is the easiest to work with, although some dancers prefer circular veils or different lengths.

Preparing to Dance

Environment: The veil may not perform well in certain environments. Windy weather may interfere with outdoor performances. Watch for low ceilings, lights, or other potential snags.

Hold: Be sure not to grasp the veil in a tight fist. Instead, interweave the fabric between the extended fingers.

Posture: Remember that the veil is often used to accentuate the body lines created in dance. Concentrate on maintaining clear lines through attention to proper posture, especially in the upper body.

Dancing with a Veil

Transitions: Do not rush the veil from one movement to another but allow time for the fabric to breathe. The appeal of the veil is in its interaction with the air, so exploit these transitions.

Variation: Play with different types of movements including spins, wraps, frames, and tosses to keep the routine exciting. Vary the tempo and the complexity, and do not forget to include regular dance movements.

Working through Mistakes

Keep Moving: Even when you have made a mistake or lost your grip on the veil, keep your feet moving while you work to find your place again. This keeps the audience from recognizing the error.

Let it Go: If all else fails, do not be afraid to toss the veil aside. You may pick it up later and continue dancing.

Where to learn some moves?

There are a lot of great resources available to you. There’s instruction on YouTube as well as DVD’s. And don’t forget your belly dance classes and workshops, too!