Updated: Jun 9
by Aliza Shoshana When Shakira’s famous Hips Don’t Lie music video was released, I was absolutely mesmerized by her hip and chest movements, her figure, and her curly hair. Finally, a Latina rocking curly hair and other relatable aesthetics. It was my first introduction to the world of shimmies, body isolations, and chest circles.
From choir to musicals to dance, art has always been a part of my life. I began in elementary school at a magnet school that focused on performing arts. When I got to university, I came across the University of Florida’s Belly Gators club. After my first belly dance class, I was hooked. After graduating from UF, I joined the Gainesville Belly Dance Company and became a professional belly dance artist. It’s been quite a journey learning about the culture, history, and techniques of this dance style.
My first performance season with the professional belly dance troupe was completed in a borrowed creamsicle orange, blinged-out belly dance costume, dance footies that rolled down my feet as I moved across the stages, and a lack of essential items to help me power through the show sets. Performing isn't always glitz and glam.
Sometimes it's really cold at outdoor festivals and venues. Or you may find that the ground is scorching hot. A lot of times, there will be random debris that makes dancing barefoot unsafe.
The performances were great, and of course, I survived, but if I could go back in time, I'd be equipped with my favorite products that make life as a belly dancer better.
Since that first performance season, I learned to always think ahead and over plan. I've purchased a few items that have been what felt like lifesavers. While they didn't exactly save my life, they did make performing in different elements comfortable so that I could focus on entertaining audiences through the art of belly dance. Having a dance bag filled with items that make your dance shows easier is so important.
Whether you perform belly dance or dance other dance styles, the 5 products below are great to keep in your dance bag! Here are my must-haves for belly dance performance season, gigs, and events.
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1) Latin heels for belly dance
Latin dance heels with a lower heel are really comfortable to wear because they are designed to support your feet while you dance. What makes these dance heels extra special is that they are bedazzled! The silver color and sparkles make these Latin dance heels great to wear with all of my belly dance costumes.
The quality of the heels is nice. I have worn them to dance at various restaurants on different types of flooring for multiple months. I love how they have held up. There are different heels lengths and colors to choose from.
2) Mini Dance Shorts for belly dance costumes
Having the right color dance shorts to go underneath your belly dance costume is important. The right dance shorts will compliment your dance costume and feel comfortable on your body. The shorts should also give you the amount of coverage you need for the costume.
You can match the color to your costume or go for a skin tone or neutral color. The nude shorts are my go-to for most costumes because they work on multiple costumes. They’re great to have in my dance bag as an extra pair in case of an emergency. I always pack an extra pair of dance shorts with me in my dance bag because you never know if your clothing will get stained or damaged when dancing at different types of environments like festivals and restaurants.
I also love the blue shorts that I wear, specifically with my blue belly dance costume.
3) Nude Ballet Shoes for Belly Dance
Ballet shoes are a staple for belly dance practice sessions in studios with flooring that are harsh on the feet. There have been many instances where I need to dance on brick roads, cement, tile, or grass. For example, at the Florida Bat Festival, performers dance on the grass. Our troupe brings our own rug to dance on, but the Florida sunshine can be brutal with heating up the rug during the festival. It helps to wear my nude ballet shoes when the dance stage brings unpredictable conditions.
My favorite thing about these ballet shoes is that they are nude instead of traditional ballet pink. These nude ballet shoes look nice with many different costumes and practice dance attire. Once I got these ballet shoes, I began to wear them to every dance rehearsal where the dance floor wasn’t ideal. The only drawback of the ballet shoes I received is that one shoe fits looser than the other one. However, it was a minor difference between the two, and now that I’ve danced in them for some time, they are more even. Since they are an Amazon Prime item, it’s easy to request a new pair through easy, free returns. I kept mine because there was a performance coming up, and the difference between the two shoes wasn’t significant.
4) Blanket Hoodie for Winter
Florida had a few really cold moments in late 2022. I knew the traditional belly dance costume cover-up, a kaftan with a winter coat over it, would not be enough to keep me warm. I’m a Florida girl, and anything under 70 degrees Fahrenheit is chilly for me. The days at the Gainesville Downtown Fall Festival and Arts Show felt freezing. The rain did not help. I opted to purchase this fleece-lined blanket hoodie that is like the new and approved Snuggie.
While you will turn heads from people wondering where you got the blanket hoodie or maybe questioning your fashion choice, you will be comfortable and, most importantly, warm. Many people asked me for information on where to buy one, so this must-have will be a hit when you wear one.
The biggest bonus of the blanket hoodie is that the length is past the knees and will cover up your belly dance costume so you can freely walk around and enjoy your performance venue or outdoor space. I also love that the hoodie protected my curly hair from frizzing in the rainy weather. It’s available in different colors.
5) Travel Sewing Kit
A must-have for any dancer is a sewing kit that fits in your dance bag. You never know when a hook or zipper will break on your costume. Or when a string of fabric is loose on your costume, and you need to quickly clip it off or sew it back into the costume. Having the basic essentials in a handy kit is essential for performers.
This sewing kit has everything I can imagine needing while backstage at dance shows. I have used this kit to safety pin my belly dance top together as an additional safety measure for the hooks sewn on the belly dance top. I have also used the kit to fix a belly dance skirt where a piece of the costume came loose and needed to be clipped off or sewn on. You can’t go wrong with having this in your dance bag.
These items are my must-haves for belly dancing, but there are more items I always stash in my dance bag. If you’re interested in learning more about what I keep in my dance bag, please connect with me on my website or social media (find me by searching @lilishimmydance).
Aliza Shoshana is a belly dance artist performing in Central Florida at the Casbah Cafe, Beirut Restaurant, and more! She’s a member of the Gainesville Belly Dance Company, Sahara Entertainment, and a former troupe member of the University of Florida Belly Gators. Shoutout to the dance teachers that bring so much inspiration & joy to Gainesville, Florida -- Oralia, Najmah, and Karen! Website: https://lilishimmydance.wixsite.com/home
Social media: @lilishimmydance