A Lesson with Delilah

Music from “Rapture Rumi” by Steven Flynn
cut #4: Rhythm Dance, time 7:20

Listen to a sound clip or purchase Rapture Rumi from our Belly Dance Music page.

This particular piece of music is wonderful for practicing easy rhythm changes. The rhythm progression is:
6/8, 8/8, 10/8 back to 6/8 and then to 10/8

An Exercise in Time and Movement

The goal here is to create a simple repertoire of steps that fits with small increments of time 1,2, 1,2, and 1,2,3, 1,2,3, and 1,2,3,4, 1,2,3,4, then combine them to fit the rhythm pattern and flush out a dance. It’s fun!

Breaking down the counts allows us to be creative in combining steps and timing. Listen carefully and intuitively to the accents.


  • Review your repertoire of steps. See a short list below. Many are found on the programs: Delilah’s Belly Dance Workshops Volumes I, II, & III, Absolute Beginning Belly Dance and A Retro Choreography (on video or DVD).
  • Listen to the music and identify all the rhythms as they change.
  • As a coordination exercise, try clapping on each of the beats. Then try clapping on the first beat of each phrase (all 1 counts) as you say the count.
  • Experiment with the different combinations of moves and timing. The movements can be fast or slow. Play with the dynamics (the force of motion) of how they are delivered. Experiment with the speed of the movement. The object of the exercise is to loosen up the way you are thinking of the moves you know.

    Example: Construction of a Simple Combination
    Step 1: Hip Circle, done clockwise, parallel to the floor
    Step 2: Front Half Circle done counter-clockwise.

We will begin with a 6/8 count
Let’s use a clock face as a map (it’s an easy reference tool).
Begin at left (9:00)
1,2,3,4 = move clockwise, 1 complete hip circle (12:00, 3:00, 6:00, 9:00) then add 1,2 = half front circle right — 1 (3:00), then left in the reverse direction — 2 (to 9:00).
1,2,3,4, 1,2 = 1,2,3,4,5,6

Next, try making the first hip circle fit in to 6 beats and add a 2 half circles, one count each, right then left, and you have an 8 count combination.
1,2,3,4,5,6, 1,2 = 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8
Feel the difference in the application of time and the speed of your weight changes from side to side. I think of each one as having a different personality.

It’s not easy to learn belly dance from print, is it? It’s much easier to see the movement than to read about it and relate to it. That’s why video is so much more an effective and immediate educational medium for dance. However, puzzling this out is good for your analytical mind.

The specific movements are not important to this exercise. I am not going to write a bunch of combinations here. That’s the challenge I leave to the student. This is an intermediate/advanced exercise, and by this point in a dancer’s growth she should have many movement patterns, combinations and skills ingrained in her body and available for experimenting. Be creative and combine isolations in different areas of the body, as well as steps and hip patterns. Use undulations, hops, stops, vibrations, rolls, glides . . . you name it!

This can lead to hours of dance experimentation. By combining the smaller increments together, you will broaden your repertoire, as well as your ear for rhythm, and overall understanding of the dance.

6/8 section
Spoken in two parts: 1,2,3 -1,2,3 or 1,2,3,4 - 1,2 or 1,2, - 1,2,3,4
Spoken in three parts: 1,2 - 1,2 - 1,2
or 1,2,3,4,5,6

8/8 section
Spoken in two parts: 1,2,3,4 - 1,2,3,4 or 1,2,3,4,5,6 - 1,2
Spoken in three parts: 1,2,3 - 1,2,3 - 1,2
Spoken in four parts: 1,2 - 1,2 - 1,2 - 1,2
or 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

10/8 section
Spoken in two parts: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 - 1,2
Spoken in three parts: 1,2,3 - 1,2,3 - 1,2,3,4
Spoken in four parts: 1,2,3 - 1,2,3 - 1,2 - 1,2

Building a repertoire of steps

• Figure Eights
• Circles
• Pyramid Steps
• Persian Shuffle or Butterfly Step
•Tension Steps
• Hip Slides
• Hip Shifts, Lifts, Drops
• Rib Cage Isolations
• Shoulder Isolations
• Undulations and Body Locks
• Sustained Shimmies and Vibrations
• Sways and Swivels
• M, N, O
• U or Horse Shoe Step
• Open - Close Shimmy

and many, many more. . . .

Order of the song, Rhythm Dance

6/8 . . . 12 bars
8/8 . . . 40 bars
10/8 . . . 56 bars
6/8 . . . 64 bars
10/8 . . . 16 bars

To order Rapture Rumi, visit the Visionary Belly Dancing Music page