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  1. #1
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    Default Belly dance on a budget

    I've loved the dance from afar for a number of years, but it was only last year I was able to begin learning it. Now that I've started, I want to make belly dancing a larger part of my life - one hour a week just isn't enough! The problem is, I'm a college student, therefore by definition, I'm constantly scant on cash. I can't afford to take more classes or attend all the fantastic Chicago workshops available to me (in theory if not in reality). It's a dream of mine to someday perform in a troupe, but is there any way I can pursue that when I have to plan ahead just to buy a veil for the one class I'm already taking?

    A little help from the more experienced and/or crafty of you elegant dancers?

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Reen.Blom's Avatar
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    Welcome Porcelaine to the forums!

    Consider investing in a DVD for practice at home after classes to polish the moves and gain muscule strength! (that's what I do)

    At the moment I am busy crocheting a hip scarf, cos I cant afford buying one, and besides the cheaper ones tend to fall apart really quickly!

    I got 2 nice veils and a skirt at a second hand store check those out if you have any in your area. Also check sales for fabrics- I stitched the edges of the veils shut by hand- put on a light sequin thread - made it look really nice!

    Also I stitched coins on a sports top and it is so much more fun to preactice in!

    YouTube is full of inspiration and this forum is worth researching about styles techniques and just sharing latest belly gossip!

    Good luck and hope to see more posts from you!

    Love and hugs,
    reen.blom

  3. #3
    Senior Member Eshta's Avatar
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    Buy/learn fewer props, make sure you have good quality music to listen to so you can train your ear, and rather than spending your money, spend your time practicing and drilling.

    Also, share with your fellow students.

    And don't get carried away with hip scarves, they are twinkly pieces of temptation sent to seduce us (and it works )

    If you get the foundations of your dance good and strong, it will pay dividends in the future, and that costs only time and dedication.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator gisela's Avatar
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    The times where I don't have any money I usually pay the dance classes first thing (well, after rent at least) so I know I have them. I'll deal with the food issue as it comes along. A few years ago I ate oatmeal porridge and fruit two times a day for two months (almost) because I went to dance classes three times a week. I lost 7 kg. It's not a way of losing weight I would recommend but I wanted those classes SO badly that I just HAD to make it work.

    As Eshta and others said, less focus on the bling. You don't really need any fancy stuff in the beginning (even if it's nice).
    immer glimmer

  5. #5
    Member Ariella's Avatar
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    It is completely possible to learn how to belly dance on a budget. I have a recommendation for the veil. Instead of buying one online, go to a fabric store, and buy yourself some lightweight chiffon in a pretty color. Borrow a sewing machine(you said that you're in college? I'm sure somewhere in the theater arts department there is a sewing machine...) and hem up the edges.

    As for other accessories, it's pretty easy to find pretty looking scarves at thrift stores for very cheap. You may even be able to find something that could be used as a veil at the thrift store.

  6. #6
    V.I.P. da Sage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Porcelaine View Post
    I've loved the dance from afar for a number of years, but it was only last year I was able to begin learning it. Now that I've started, I want to make belly dancing a larger part of my life - one hour a week just isn't enough! The problem is, I'm a college student, therefore by definition, I'm constantly scant on cash. I can't afford to take more classes or attend all the fantastic Chicago workshops available to me (in theory if not in reality). It's a dream of mine to someday perform in a troupe, but is there any way I can pursue that when I have to plan ahead just to buy a veil for the one class I'm already taking?

    A little help from the more experienced and/or crafty of you elegant dancers?
    Take notes after class, so you can remember what you worked on. Don't be afraid to ask the teacher to go over something with you right after class, so you can get it right for the rest of the week when you practice at home.

    Practice often - you don't have to practice for a long time, but practicing several times a week really helps. Make a plan for what you want to work on - work on the hard stuff, but don't forget to review the things you "have down"...I know from sad experience that sometimes I lose skills if I don't practice them!

    A friend of mine did this. I'm not sure how long she has been dancing, but her technique is great, and when she was recruited into teaching last year, she was completely ready. All the combos and different movement descriptions were written down in her thick dance journal.

    Consider getting a completely free checking account, that you use only for dance stuff. If you bank $15/$20 each month, you'll have a little bit on hand for dance emergencies and opportunities. This is good for Paypal, too...invaluable for Ebay, and swap boards (where you can buy videos and costuming second-hand).

    Don't loan out your videos or CDs, unless it in trade for another one of equal monetary value. If your friends want to use them, make them come practice with you. This is one way to build your own troupe!

    Buy videos only with recommendations. Consider using Netflix to try different videos, before you buy.

    Get some music. Download it, check it out of the library, or buy CDs. You should be spending a little bit of your dance money on music; remember musicians need to eat, too. If you get a sterling recommendation, try to buy new...lots of dancers buy CDs, rip the music into their computers, and resell the CDs. This is illegal and lame, so counter that by trying to get as much of your music budget as possible directly to the musicians.

    Use freecycle and craigslist for mundane things you need, but don't have...like a full-length mirror, small TV (HDTV is causing a lot of people to upgrade), and a DVD player (eh, you might have to drop $30-$45 on this).

    Encourage your friends and family to give you bellydance stuff for gifts. Keep an Amazon.com wishlist for them to refer to. If they give you something too crappy to use, say thank you anyway, and try to quietly resell it. You don't want them to be afraid to get you the wrong thing!

    Thrift stores and Wal-Mart are your costuming friends (learn to hand-hem and replace elastic). You just need 1 hip scarf or hip-friendly shawl, 1 pair of black yoga pants, 1 tight t-shirt or choli-type top, and 1 full, ankle-length skirt for class, and most student performance opportunities.

    When ordering costume components, only send completely disposable money to overseas vendors. There's no telling what you'll wind up with in the end, it's a crapshoot. Otherwise, stick with well-researched American vendors. L. Rose has a sterling reputation. I've been very happy with my Sugar Petals items.

    You can also get some costuming from regular local dance stores and online dance stores. You will probably need lyrical sandals or similar foot protection when you start working on turns (depending on how tough the balls of your feet are). Don't buy them until you need them, but keep $20 on hand against that time. Buy locally, so you can try them on to be sure they fit. Later, you can buy the same size online for less.

    Have one particular place all your bellydance stuff goes, so you don't lose it! This is especially important for zills and foot protection. Guess how I know!

    And please, keep dancing and have fun!

  7. #7
    Moderator Farasha Hanem's Avatar
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    Big Grin Thank you, da Sage!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by da Sage View Post
    Thrift stores and Wal-Mart are your costuming friends
    *glompsu and waves work badge hysterically, even though Miss Butterfly Lady works in ELECTRONICS... ) I LOVE you, da Sage! (yay Wal-Mart!)

    Oops...sorry. But da Sage is right; we have all kinds of trim (including coin trim), notions, and pretty fabrics for veils and costumes, and if you know how to crochet, we have supplies for that, too!

    Beware of overpriced pre-made costumes. One of the students in the class that I take bought a costume online that cost her $50, and had to turn around and sell it because "one size does NOT fit all" (I bought it from her; was mesmerized by all the pretty gold jingly/dangly things). Turns out that it's not well-made; the beading and coins around the ankles started falling off first thing. Whoever made it had taken one LONG piece of thread and put all the beading on it, and didn't bother to secure the work in intervals at all. So be careful to spend your money well when you can afford costuming later. As others have previously mentioned, it's better to spend what money you have now on lessons and music; there will be plenty of opportunities to buy costumes later.

    The fair I performed at a couple of weekends ago had a used bellydance costume booth that sold beautiful pre-owned costumes for cheap, cheap, cheap (I bought a gorgeous green beaded top and matching veil for $15). When you attend events like that, keep your eyes peeled for bargains, and beware of vendors that will try to sell you overpriced costumes. Just a few booths down was a "gentleman" who was selling outrageously expensive costumes that were not well-beaded. Don't let fast-talking salesmen talk you into buying something expensive!

    Best wishes to you!
    Last edited by Farasha Hanem; 02-11-2008 at 02:28 AM.

  8. #8
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Spend your money on classes (and a mirror - if you don't have one). Listen to your teacher. Take notes; keep a dance diary. Practice at home and watch exactly what you are doing.

    You don't need hip scarves or costumes. Buy a length of chiffon and hem it as a veil and it can double as a hip scarf. (Actually I lend my students spare veils initially - but you do need your own once you start dancing with one so you can practice at home - see above)

    Ask you teacher for advice on music so there is no waste there. Consider getting together with others to do bulk buys.

    Enjoy!

  9. #9
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    Oooh, so much help, so fast! Sounds like I need to learn a few basic stitches. I really like the idea of a dance journal... other than moves learned, is there anything I can put into that?

  10. #10
    V.I.P. da Sage's Avatar
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    You can write down CD, song, and artist recommendations, from your teacher, and from any performances you attend.

    You can draw costumes you like, or take notes: "Suzy wore two plain colored shawls, one on either hip, and it looked great!", "Sarah got her cool wrap top online from Sharifwear," "The costume store in Duluth is at 123 XXX Street"

    You can write down choreographies you learn in class.

    You can keep a double list of dancers' real names, and their stage names (I have a hard time remembering even one name!).

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