D's Blog

October 26, 2010   ♦   4 Comments »


Elisa Gamal

Elisa Gamal

Elisa Gamal is a master performer.

She is currently a guest instructor for the next 8 weeks.

This is an important class to take!!!

It’s not too late to join us.

Tuesdays at 7:45-9:00

Started Oct 27. . .

(There is still room. It’s a small class.)

• It’s open to all levels of belly dance experience because it’s not like the rest of belly dance. Some belly dancers have not had a veil class, ever.

Reasons to take a veil dance course:

• IF any of you are interested in performing? You should take this class.  (Since it’s an 8 week class, you can divide this class into 2 payments if you want. Please make sure we know we want to attend even if you have to miss a couple.)

• This is a skill and an adventure into powerful archetypal creative process as I will discus below. . .

• If you want to take an entertaining class, take this class.

Elisa is very fun!

Please help us with the success of this class:

IF you have friends interested in performing, do them a favor. They may not know about this class opportunity. (who can read all the email these days).

Please e mail them personally, send my little talk below as well as the and link this class so they can read the details and tell them it comes highly recommended!


NOTE: While our student out reach is mostly belly dancers, I feel all serious burlesque dancers should take a professionally delivered belly dance veil class. There are great skills here for you to use that many belly dancers are experts in. Please tell any burlesque dancers you may know.




Level of difficulty:

I  have had low attendance in my specialty “Veil Dance” classes and workshops. In fact I have been noticing over the past couple years that the importance of “Veil Dance” seems to be being avoided by students in relationship to other class offerings for some reason! What’s the deal? I ponder, why are belly dancers avoiding this course ? It is a great stretching exercise and has great aerobic benefits in a different way than Power Belly classes. It’s more like flying!

• Is it because it demands your arms get over your head?

If this is hard for you, maybe you need this class more than you will admit. A little bit of physical challenge is a good thing. To get aerobic benefit you have to get your arms over your heart. I know this can be hard at first, but if you try a little bit harder you will see more physical development. I know you can do it.

• Is it the spinning that detours you?

The secret is to do a few spins every day. Learning to spin grows better balance and core strength. Eat ginger to quell and queasiness (we always have it in the dressing room). Keep your glance at eye level, don’t blink nervously and relax your mind. Too much left brain thinking gets in the way of balance. Good spins are the mark of a good dancer.

Delilah Spins

Delilah Spins

If you have an inner ear problem can you still hope to dance well?

Yes, but you will have a small disadvantage of not being able to use the centrifugal force and momentum of a spin. You can approach it a little differently. You will have to work harder. Developing good body extension is key and learn to do half turns that are not really spins. One of our instructors has this problem.




This is a very mature talk. The veil’s esoterica is about female empowerment.

The veil dance is a part of the traditional belly dance routine as we’ve known it in America for the past 50 years and more. It’s an American innovation. It takes freedom and standing in ones own power to explore it and perform it effectively.

It is related to vaudeville and burlesque. How so? Both delve into the powerful esoteric’s of the art of revealing. It is a powerful mystery (even though it’s usually not discussed or taught this way very often). Non the less, if something catches our attention there is always something powerful behind it. Burlesque is very popular in todays culture there is no denying. Many women are deeply drawn to exploring it like moths to a flame although many would be hard pressed to explain why. “If they could explain it they wouldn’t need to dance”  said Isadora Duncan.

Veil dance was always a healthy part of the belly dance curriculum I studied and have passed on. The avoidance of veil dance I’m sensing in some of todays belly dance students is partly related to the fear of over exposure I’m guessing. Belly dance culture is made many more average women seeking simple means of self expression than extreme exhibitionists. Across the board women have plenty to feel vulnerable about these days; economy, politics, technology racing forward, and terrorism.  However, if you are find these these pressures of the day intimidation, I encourage you to resist standing still! Find the strength and courage to explore this powerful medium. Thus I want to explain more deeply about the power behind the veil dance.

It is related to vaudeville and burlesque. How so? The esoterics behind the art of revealing is to delve into a powerful mystery (even though it’s usually not told or taught this way). Non the less, if something strongly catches our attention there is always something powerful behind it. Burlesque is very popular in todays culture. Many women are deeply drawn to exploring burlesque.

The fear of veil dance I’m sensing in relationship to belly dance students is directly related to the fear of exposure. We have plenty to feel vulnerable about these days.  However, Ladies I encourage you not be a timid! You will find strength and power from being in expert control of this powerful medium.







Delilah by Chris Yetter

Delilah by Chris Yetter

As this art has developed in recent times, it’s become a high skill.  The act of veil dance is more than simply “dance”. The skills demanded are thoroughly dance ingredients; grace, balance, spins, extension, aerobic stamina, lots of arm passes and core work.

ADD deep personal soul access. It takes individual power from within to deliver a dramatic performance.

You utilize character, and the archetypal symbolic action of veiling and re-veiling and revealing. You learn to fortify and stand in your power. Mistress at the helm.


In the Middle East women live under a veil. Their culture says; women are too powerful, and men too weak to behave once that power is revealed. This belief gives them permission to separate men and women. A lame excuse in my book and  clearly a disempowering power play.  I think plenty of cultures prove that men can behave themselves.

So this cultural back story brings us to a major crossroads where Middle Eastern and American belly dancers differer in style. The evolution of belly dance in America developed veil dance techniques to a supreme degree.

All  arts are made of responses to the cultural environment they exist in. Thus belly dancers in the Middle East have not taken to do much veil dancing  like their American sisters do. We are the for runners of dancing with the veil. We received our inspirations from other sources; modern dancer’s like Loie Fuller (1890’s. . .) or ancient greece, or dramatic general stage craft. In the Mid East I think the relationship is psychologically taboo territory because they have a different relationship with the veil than we do. They do include a veil as a accessory with store bought Egyptian costumes but they sew bead on all the edges making it heavy and not designed with any aerodynamic  intention. It is just meant to cover up the dancer’s body while she is waiting to perform.


I’m sure the first time the light weight fabric came off the loom it was dances with. How could anyone resist? Give a child a veil and they get it immediately. It’s light and liberating. It involved the air that we breathe for existence. Thoughts and spirits ride the wind. It’s medium is transcendent in nature.


We veil things to keep the POWER contained; ritual objects get veiled,  we veil and close doors for privacy, the bread gets veiled so it will rise. Women wear a veil to morn the dead and for seclusion.

In the case of the art of belly dance what gets veiled and revealed is a deeper YOU.

As we unveil, the action or process causes us to deliver a power and essence that moments ago in the dance were covered up.

You meet your audience in intimate dance mode and with a deeper personal expression. Then, what they see is this spirited essence that unfurls and lifts into the air space and the ethers around them.




Maji by Freeman Mester

Maji by Freeman Mester


You are using your innate female life regenerating power of the Goddess. Your female body is a vessel for life, it represents the earth, our world.




We are all made of both male and female attributes. The feminine side attracts, contains, incubates, draws in. The male side expands, pushes out, challenges.

By nature of being woman we do possess the universal power of attraction within us. Without it, the universe would fall apart. However, we have a bastardized sense of what this power really is in todays society. We are taught it’s comes in a small pink package called  “pretty”. Ha! Pretty does not sustain life.

So the power behind the veil must be more mature. More powerful! It is far from superficial idea of pretty. The power is in it’s containment and it’s revelation. In it’s knowingness. Trouble is we do not know it very well in today’s world.

If you/ me/ we, want the power of the feminine to have meaning then more of us need to go there and both meet and explore this power head on! I suppose this challenges you to accept your own body. Duh! How else can we fight the stereotyping? We have to accept our own bodies first. Your body is a gift! You never loose this power. However you can ignore it, loose sight of it or simply not believe in it.

The power of the veil is not in the physical noun. The power is within the action of covering and revealing.

Many women today are afraid to use their power. Afraid they don’t know what it is, don’t have any power,  or it’s not good enough. I beg to differ. It’s only that  we are all busy subscribing to the commercial propaganda and adding to the collective fear. The power of attraction is a female quality, yes but it is a universal constant, not a commodity.

Confusion with the issues is good enough to lose strength. Thus we have no control. I tell you it is not about “pretty”.

Control of the veil is an exercise in demonstrates this power from within! The mystery is revealed. When we are lead to believe that it’s all about “pretty”; we as women are dissempowered by our culture this way. This is a daily message pumped out in media so we will stay occupied with superficial issues and keep buying things. We remain busy chasing the wrong goal and are disempowered.

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty

Exploring your self though movement and self expression in real time is a valuable effort . It’s vital life force you are accessing and utilizing.


What lays behind the veil could be an impassioned lover, a nurturing mother,  a playful child, a wise crone, a hungry cat, a delicate butterfly, an owl, a sprite. It could be an archetypal embodiment; Athena, Aphrodite, Isis, Kali the Medusa, Themis Mother of justice, the vagina dentata, or the gaping maw. It could be the raw power of seduction reminding us that it is essential to the workings of nature, not evil.

The personal expression could come in all flavors of emotional tones; tenderness, vulnerability, sadness or loss. It could be mischievous, dark, light, comforting, passionate, angry, lyrical, or chaotic- you get to creatively choose your muse.

Delilah at he High Dive

Delilah at he High Dive


The veil is usually 3 yards of silk or chiffon. It is learned to be smartly wrapped around the body of a dancer and then masterfully controlled as adeptly as a magician, who  mesmerizes the audience. It graces the air with color and shape shifting designs that are as fleeting as the smoke of incense.

The fabric is made of threads that pick up the vibration from the dancers emotional center. The dynamics comes from her core and reverberates outward from our hearts center into the threads. The veil becomes our wings; it is the closest you will come to flying.


The moon hides and then re-veils it’s self. A butter fly erupts into a glorious creature. The anticipation of the opening of a beautifully wrapped gift.

Lulu's Birthday veil dance

Lulu's Birthday veil dance

4 Responses to “The Power Behind the Veil Dance”

    1. Verna October 27th, 2010 at 9:40 pm

      I wish I lived in Seattle, I would so be there!!

    1. Jennifer Lakshmi October 28th, 2010 at 10:15 am

      Delilah, having a partner in the veil has made me a more confident dancer. I love the feeling of flying. Wouldn’t dream of dancing without it! Thanks for your article!

    1. Gypsy Ingram-Stow November 5th, 2010 at 4:06 pm

      i think the veils look magical n trained arms, i will be studying in kathryn fergusons’ classes, but would love to know which dvds r best to start work till class covers,there r so many dvds, i want to b sure i get good instruction on basics,love all your articles,gypsy

    1. Steve Paige February 4th, 2011 at 11:38 pm

      Dear D,

      Excellent veil article. Marina, my daughter and myself will be going to Rakkasah at the Berkley Marina in March. Has it really been that long? Lately been going to Yum sessions and Yoga trance dance. VERY busy with solar work. Good to see you in such fine form and teaching with such commitment.