Belly Dancing For Men


The Egyptian Ankh
The Ankh or "cross with a handle", is an ancient hieroglyphic symbol

for the afterlife and also represents the merging of the male and female


The loop represents Isis, and the cross, Osiris.

The key of physical and eternal life, the ankh was depicted in the hands

of many Egyptian gods and goddesses.

It was worn by Isis as a neckpiece or belt.

A similar symbol is used for Venus in Astrology.

The Ankh was adapted by the Coptic church as their unique cross, known

as the "crux ansata". The Ankh is an amulet for "health and protection".






     Click here to go to Ankh's Website..... 'Copyright of 1st Place Photo, Irving Texas' -  permission granted


It is rather difficult to define how Male belly dance differs from Female. There is no simple answer.

It is mostly a matter of body language, much as a Hula dancer tells a story, a Mid Eastern dancer paints an image. Mid Eastern dance in abstract is neither Feminine nor Masculine, but the body language we are used to seeing in the dance is predominantly feminine. The trick is to change the body language to masculine.

In Egypt, not long ago, it was (and may still be) common for males and females to ‘belly dance’ as couples in Disco’s.

So how do I do that? This is where it becomes difficult to draw lines or make rules. Take HAND MOTIONS – I suggest that a Male dancer avoid the ‘limp wrist’ look. This does not mean that a male should not do ‘snake arms’ or other similar moves that involve a supple wrist, but perhaps that a supple wrist should not be the focus except for a passing moment. It might be good for a Male dancer to stay off the toes a bit more than the ladies. A good trick is to choreograph dances with sections that have male and female roles; the female dance parts should lean toward smooth delicate motions of beauty (the Beauty – like a gazelle), the male dance parts should lean toward motions of power and grace (the Beast – think LION). The contrast of these sections shows audiences that the dancers KNOW they are Male and Female.

Attitude has a lot to do with the perceived Masculinity of the dance. A shy, demure look is better suited for the Female dancers; a Male should lean more toward the suave and diviner look. Just as the Female dancer flirts with the male audience, veil over the head, etc. the Male dancer should flirt with the female audience. Just use good judgement, or some hubby/boyfriend could cause a nasty scene – nothing new there except it is the wife or girlfriend who may blow up with the female dancer.

The dance costume should have a Manly look about it, bold colours, no pastels or washed out colours. Jewellery should be less dainty, perhaps of heavier construction.

Music is a major part of a dance performance, and for a solo Male dancer, should also reinforce in some way the Manliness of the performance. A stronger Beastlier beat is a good start. I would suggest staying away from delicate music, and go straight for the Industrial Strength Raqs Sharqi, or the like.

While putting it all together pay attention to the overall effect, if you could not tell the sex of the male dancer, could your audience mistake him for a female dancer? If so, what change would prevent that mistake? When layering motions, consider how they fit together, and if that combination ‘speaks’ mostly in female body language.

Most important of all – GIVE IT A GO – and ENJOY the dance. You will never be able to please everyone, so don’t sweat it. Be your own judge of what looks good on you and work at making it look all the better.

I suggest not avoiding learning any move that you think may not be Male enough, but rather learn the move, and if it doesn’t feel right, don’t use it. Instead, teach it to the ladies who are interested in learning the move. You may be surprised at what that move may change into later on.

My BEST WISHES to all the Dancers. 


'Special thanks to Ankh for this valuable advice  - Zaida'




Some more comments from ANKH


"Hey look at this, there is a GUY in this belly dance book!!"..

"Yea what's he doing in there?"


Now that I have your attention, let me introduce myself. My dance name is Ankh, from the ancient Egyptian symbol of life. Yes I am a male Mid-Eastern dancer.

For several years now, I have been training, rehearsing and dancing as a member of a very large (around 300 dancers) and stable troupe (over 20 years) "Isis and the Star Dancers" based in Dallas / Fort Worth (Texas USA). I am in the studio 12 or more hours a week on the average and perform as the opportunity arises. I also participate in workshops and seminars as often as I am able.

The largest of these that I have had the pleasure to enjoy was Rakkasah West, a solid week of workshops and a weekend of endless performances. Rakkasah is quite amazing, I highly recommend it.

My primary dance form is "Mid-Eastern Dance" also known as "Belly Dance", with "Raks Sharki" or "Free Dancing" being one of my favourite flavours. As a troupe we also have group choreography including another of my favourite flavours "Mixed Couples" involving choreography distinctly for males and females.

I am also involved with "American Tribal", an interesting challenge as masculine males or costumes in this particular dance style seem to be nonexistent.

What is masculine about "Belly Dance"?  Hopefully not a thing - when a lady is dancing. However, when I dance, my primary focus is the females in the audience and my goal is to have the impact on them that a good female dancer has on the male audience.

Male and female dancers have a lot of common ground. A good dancer will dance the music, be confident, entertaining, and demonstrate a level of skill to be admired. All the basics of the dance form hold true for both male and female, the dance and the dance moves are a human thing not a gender thing. The difference is in the presentation. The female dancer is a projection of beauty; soft, bold, coy, seductive or dazzling as the mood of the music strikes her. The male dancer is a projection of strength, power, control, romance; he is the warrior; he is the MAN.

It is a matter of costuming, body language and most importantly attitude. The beautiful girl is a "babe" the handsome boy a "hunk". 

Well it sounds good in theory at least, but how do you change effeminate dance into masculine dance? Lets take a simple example that has nothing to do with dance.

A gracious lady and a dashing man are introduced and are expected to shake hands. The lady offers her hand palm down with the wrist bent displaying the beauty of her hand, wrist and forearm. The man meets her hand palm to palm, softly but with implied strength, softly speaks a pleasantry and gracefully bows to kiss the back of her hand. The lady blushes, with a tittering giggle and hides her lower face with her fan.

In this example we have the contrast of the male and female intensified by the interaction of the two. How would it be if the male behaved just as the female in this encounter? Such is the way with the dance. It requires a bit of contrast in the male and female dance styles to remove the effeminate body language and attitude and replace it with the masculine.

Body language can be a very subtle thing, or can be quite obvious. Either way everyone reads it without even realizing it most of the time. This is especially true for observed performances. One of the loudest voices of body language is the hand. The phrases "limp wrist" and "talk to the hand" should make this point clear. Not too surprisingly the foot, especially when bare, is also quite important. Presenting a pointed foot can be quite effeminate.

Attitude is one of the most noticeable of the human characteristics. In our example the man was suave and debonair, the lady coy and bashful. Flip the attitudes and she would be a "hussy" and the man "immature".

Dancing with a masculine attitude will tend to remove the effeminate body language from the performance without any special effort. When you are being "the MAN" all this happens on a subconscious level, effeminate body language just does not fit. That is what the female audience wants to see. You just may find the "Wild Untamed Beast" or the "Romance Novel Hero" in your performance.

The costume, in which you perform, can add a great deal to the impact of your show. It can also totally destroy the image you are trying to project in your performance.

Back to our example, what if the man was wearing the same evening gown as the lady? Male costume cannot be the same as the female costumes without losing impact, or worse. I have seen performances in "unisex" costumes, and while they were excellent shows, a lot of spice was lost by making the male and female dancer look the same. You end up with a not really male, not really female compromise. That for me is the key word "compromise". It means you gave up something that you could have used to fuel the fire of your show. I know it is a very Broadway style of things, but I do have a personal bias, which I am expressing.

Male costume can draw on many sources, from folk-loric to fantasy. Lawrence of Arabia is a good look.   If you lean toward Flamenco - Spanish bullfighters had some very impressive looks.   Dress uniforms may also be your cup of tea.  Male mirror vests from India, especially with harem pants, are another good look. If you are a "Buff" fellow you might consider the Conan look.

A few observations I have made along the way about costuming include:

          Costumes that "tease" are effeminate.

          V shapes (belts etc.) in the crotch area are for females.

          See-through fabrics "tease" and therefore are effeminate.

          Short vests and shirts that leave the midriff bare, can work .

          Necklines of a masculine cut are crucial for a male look,

       especially with bare midriffs.

          All lines in common with a bra must be missing from torso coverage. 

          Fringe on a male should not cover bare skin, another "tease".

          Costumes framing bare shoulders are for females.

          Your complexion and skin colouring limit the colours you should wear;

                 some colours are just feminine.

          Less can be more, as in less exposed, less glitzy, less busy.

          Whatever your costume, be sure it will survive dancing - intact.


So you are still with me, I guess you are thinking about becoming a Male Belly Dancer?

Here are a few things you should know.

Reasons to give up the whole idea;

          You don't love the dance form.

  You don't like people.

          You don't respect women.

          You cannot accept women in a leadership role.

          You are not willing to push your limits, either physically or emotionally.

          The fact that some male Mid-Eastern dancers are "gay" 

                     and dance in a very effeminate style totally gives you the "willies".


Are you still with me? If so here is how to get started:

First and most important learn the Dance. Find a good teacher who will put up with the hassles of teaching a male student, and who, perhaps is familiar with how he should dance. 

Drill the basics.  Practice, and Practice.

Lose the extra weight, and tone up those muscles. Good warm ups and practice will do this on its own, if done often enough and of sufficient duration.

Put a dance costume together, it need not be elaborate, just appropriate.

If you can, video tape your performances, and use them as a tool to develop the stage image you wish to have.

Improve your physical appearance - good posture is very important!

Have close friends critique and help refine your dance.

Go for it, start with small informal venues, and keep dancing.

When you can, go to Mid-Eastern dance workshops and seminars.

Enjoy the dance and follow your heart.


Male dancers are not new to Mid-Eastern dance. Various historical references are made regarding males involved in the dance. True, this is often in a female impersonation role, but other references are to males dancing as males. One of the best-known and most experienced of male Mid-Eastern dancers in the USA, is Bert Balladine. If you ever have a chance to meet him or take a workshop with him, do so, it will be well worth your time.




Horacio Cifuentes


'If you dance with true expression and feeling, 

then you're opening doors that you never knew were there'.


Other Male Dancers