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New Transaxial Belly Dance Method;
A Creative Approach to a Better Understanding of Belly Dance Isolations

by Delilah

Note: The numbers on the clock are backward because she's looking at it. This drawing is from her perspective

Belly dance is created from combinations of isolated movements. Instead of the entire body being animated, one part of the body is animated, while the other parts of the body remain still, giving the dance a mysterious quality. The hips, navel, rib cage, arms and hands or the head may be featured in an isolation. This means that the other levels are working to create stillness. For example, during the Full Hip Circle described below, the hips will create a full circle (parallel to the floor), while the navel, rib cage and head remain aligned with your center core. Though at times, an advanced dancer may engage multiple isolations.

For these series of exercises; you should print and cut out the five pattern pieces. Each pattern is a transaxial cross-section representing a level in your body, and you will use these to explore the dance moves in the instructions. The Dance Map is a basic grid to use as a foundation for studying movement patterns, body alignment and weight exchanges.


The basic perspective we will use is parallel to the floor (PTF) or earth and sky. You will have the perspective of thinking of the movements from an overhead view. Similarly the techniques explored can be applied to the planes parallel to the side wall (PTSW) where you stand, and also the plane parallel to the front (and back) wall (PTFW).

Pattern pieces

A. Feet
Download Pattern Pieces:

with costume

without costume

( approx. 388k pdf files)

Tell us which you like better: with or without a costume!

You'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the above files.

B. Hips
C. Belly
D. Rib cage at sternum
E. Head

F. Dance Map

Basic set up notes


These exercises are designed for you to explore. Relax, and allow your feeling body – not just your analytical mind – to understand the exercises. You’ll be amazed when you pick up these pieces how viscerally you will experience the exercises. When you push the pattern pieces around on the map, you will feel the dance. Try to imagine the flesh on the bones, the weight transfers and the motion within the drawing. Be creative and make discoveries for yourself. I am not going to give you all the “Ah, ha's!” I promise there will be many.


    You will need paper, pencil, a few colored pencils or markers, scissors, and a plastic Ziplock bag to store your pattern pieces.


    Print and cut out the parts. Study each piece carefully . . . Each represents a horizontal cross section of the body at a different level. We call them transaxial or transverse cross- sectional planes. We are going to think of these planes as being parallel to the floor so our perspective will be from overhead. The Diamond Points on Piece B (hips) and the Dart Points on Piece D (ribcage) are reference points to consider during certain movements.The feet are connected for simplicity but of course would not be connected in the reality of the dance. Just behind the ball of the feet is a fold line to lift the heels up. The feet will not be an exact model in all cases but will come very close. I think the model will be helpful in understanding the impulse of where to step as you explore the movements and the relationship between physical levels.

    We hope to have these drawings done professionally one day . I have a question for students
    " Do you think I should put clothes (a costume) on my transaxial model parts?"
    Please e-mail me your vote


    Print yourself a few empty Dance Maps so you can draw the designs on them with a pencil, and work out the different dance moves as instructed in each exercise.

    The core circle at the center of your body is very small, smaller than a coaster. First, imagine that your dance space is the size of an extra large pizza tray, and you are standing on it. We can move this circular association up to any level around our body, and make the circle smaller or larger. In our dance map, the outer circle is large just to reference a sense of space.

    The box will give you perspective on direction and space. It’s divided into quarters with the line running north and south being the median and north, or front at 12:00, 3:00 at direct right, 6:00 at back, 9:00 at direct left. The corners are the diagonal references: left front, left back, right front and right back .

    The intersection at the center is where the core pole is planted into the ground and where you will begin all the dance exercises.


    After you have read the instructions and explored the movement using the parts, you will stand up and try to do the move with your body. Allow your powers of visualization, body awareness and intuition to come to the forefront of your awareness.


    When we say figure 8 we usually mean it as an 8 on its side like an infinity sign (unless otherwise described).


    Imagine a pole is moving through your body from deep in the earth through the center core of your body and up to the moon. This image should give you plenty of stability.


    If you dissect a cross section of the core (at any level) you will find the center point of that level in your body.


    There are several possible reference levels we will use for isolations: Feet, Knees, Hips, Belly or Navel, Lower Ribcage, Ribcage at Sternum, Shoulders, Head, Jaw, Eyes, Crown. Here we are primarily concerned with these five levels in our Transaxial Model: Feet, Hips, Belly, Ribcage and Head.

  • FEET

    The feet are secret propellants in the dance. They don’t usually lead, but rather follow. You may get frustrated because you want to know where to put your feet. Trust that they will eventually follow the hip pattern. If you start by thinking too hard about the feet you’ll become a good tap dancer instead of a belly dancer. Belly dancing requires a different approach than Arthur Murray or Fred Astaire.


    We are very familiar with drawing patterns with our hands. We are much less familiar with drawing patterns with our hip, belly or ribcage. Before you begin, point your finger and make sure you can trace the given pattern in the air with your hand first. Once you have it established, it’s easier to transfer the association to the hip or ribcage level.

General Instructions
for all exercises

There are two goals. Work it out with your model first, then do it with your body. Do not skip any exercise if you wish to understand the process we are presenting. Each has a lesson and/or a new perspective to offer.

  1. Using a pencil, draw the exercise design on the map. One of the objects of the the exercise is for "you" to find the relationship between size and proportion of design and actual execution.
  2. Follow the prescribed directions in each exercise and trace the shape with the point of your finger over the map, allowing your wrist to twist and turn as necessary. It is helpful to stand up and look directly over the top of the model.
  3. Line up your pattern tool and push the pattern tool around on the map to gain a thorough understanding of the principles of alignment and weight transfer. Compare the relationships between the other levels by holding them at different elevations over the map. Take some time to fully explore the movements using the map and the various pattern tools.
  4. Then try to dance it with your body.

Initial Perspective


Print and cut out the Pieces A, B, C, D and E (Feet, Hips, Belly, Ribcage and Head). Stack the pieces on top of each other, lining up the center points. You should now have the perspective of looking down at a human figure. Cool huh?

Disassemble your human figure and let’s work with just one level at a time.

Mapping the Internal Realms; An Internal Work-Out

Dancing the Labyrinth

Other Exercises Utilizing Delilah's Transaxil Model

Mapping the Internal Realms
Labyrinth: Palace of the Intestines
Exercises 1-4

A Companion to Delilah's Bellydance
Workshop Series,
Volumes I, II, III


Visionary Belly Dancing
4115 Fremont Ave N Seattle, WA 98103 USA