Bellydancing for Fitness, Fun and Fabulousness!

Reach for the stars and follow your bellydance dreams

  • 5 Crucial Costuming Tips
  • Meet Zara of the Zouk!
  • NEW Beginner lessons in Maidenhead, Windsor & Wokingham
  • Teacher Training
  • Bellydance Dates for YOUR Diary
  • About Rachel
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&lt;&lt;First Name>>'s Costume Heaven

Haven't you been a good bellydancer, &lt;&lt;First Name>>?!  You deserve a costume treat!

This month we're taking you to costume heaven with professional bellydancer and  popular on-line vendeuse: Zara of Zara's Zouk!  Zara will be sharing her 5 crucial costuming tips with us and we can't wait to introduce her to you.  She began bellydancing at 17 and turned pro at 18; she's an expert who seriously knows her stuff!

What about you?  Want to take that giant leap and turn your bellydance hobby into a dream career?  Then check out our exciting new teacher training opportunity  in this newsletter.

Your 10th anniversary Summer Spectacular Student Show is on the horizon.  We're busy preparing in class and many of you are taking advantage of buying your discounted tickets before end June.  At some time or another we're all faced with costume conundrums and we want you to look your most fabulous for the show.  Read on and let Zara take you to costume heaven with her 5 top tips....

No matter your budget, you can look great for a performance. I have a mix of homemade and professional costumes – some that cost me only a few pounds to those that cost me nearly £500 but what do they all have in common? They all follow my top 5 costuming tips:
1. Comfort and security
Above all, you MUST feel comfortable and secure in your costume. Trust me, if you think anything like, “Oooh, this costume might ride up/ the straps might pop/ I look fat in this / will my knickers show/will the sleeves get caught/will I trip up the skirt???”  Then TRUST me it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE having any of those doubts when going out to perform and still be able to lose yourself in the music. And, if you have the doubt, it is probably true /will happen.
If you have any concerns - sort them out before hand! Adjust the straps/zip/length – JUST DO IT! Rehearse in it a few times before the performance. Get a friend to watch and make sure you’re not flashing anything when you spin around.
2. Get your sewing kit out
DON’T BE SCARED TO ADJUST YOUR COSTUMES. I have always had to adjust my costumes even those I have had made for me. Just show no fear and grab that dusty sewing kit – honest it is easy. A lot of my adjustments are to do with the first point – making me feel more secure. I often add more clips on the bra/ or sew the straps together, or add more elastic to the skirt so it doesn’t fall down. But, I also often do things like adding stuffing to the bra – not so my boobs look bigger but so they sit in the right position and the bra sits well.  Adding slits to skirts or adjusting the length can make a big difference too.
3. Do you feel good!?!
You should ALWAYS feel like a QUEEN when you perform. Bellydance is an all empowering, beautiful dance for women. It embraces the women’s form and figure – NO MATTER what that be. Think of all the famous dancers there have been and their figures, size and age - All are worshiped as goddesses and look stunning. So look in the mirror before you go out and really ask yourself the honest question: DO YOU LOOK GOOD IN THIS OUTFIT? Or are you wearing it because you think it is what you should be wearing? If you don’t honestly think you look great then change or adjust your choice. If you don’t you are robbing yourself of an opportunity to look, feel and embrace this amazing dance performance.
You are beautiful - make sure your costume is embracing, complimenting and showing that!
4. Respect and appropriate costuming
Above all, how you feel when you perform is the most important thing.  The whole reason for dance is joy, expression and self-discovery – especially bellydance and if you are enjoying yourself that’s good J
However, here in the West we do have to bear in mind that this is a dance from another culture and though there is soooo much scope for your own artistic interpretation and development don’t forget to truly understand the art form – the art form you are using to express yourself. Hence do your research. What style of dance are you doing? What is the traditional type of costume for that style? For example, oriental styles are usually done in a 2 piece costume or cabaret dress whereas folkloric styles are usually performed in more simple dresses and kaftans. Also, don’t just look at the history of the dance, look to modern times and how the dancers of today are dressing. What are the up to date fashions in Cairo? Not only check if the costume is right for the style, ask yourself  if it is appropriate for the audience you are performing to. Respect and invest time finding out about this dance  – Love it and it will love you back.
5. FINISH the look
Finally – you have a comfortable costume. You have made all the adjustments. You know you look great in it and that it is appropriate for the performance. PLEASE, don’t do all this and then not finish the outfit off by not bothering to do proper make-up and accessories! It just isn’t professional (whether you are a professional or not, when you perform you are representing all bellydancers and hence you should aim to be as professional as possible!) All too often I see dancers not bothering to do proper make-up?! And hair!! I am sorry but you are going for the complete look – make sure that your make up and hair is to the standard of everything else. Remember you are performing and regardless of your level, the audience, whether in a group or as a solo – you should be projecting yourself as a Queen / Goddess so don’t be lazy - COMPLETE THE LOOK.
Hope these tips were useful. Such are my passions for costuming (let’s be honest it’s the reason most of us started bellydance, lol) that I run an online bellydance shop, so do check us out at  Finally if you are ever passing through London and would like to check out the stock in person with no pressure to buy – do book an appointment to drop in!
If you have any costuming comments or questions do get in contact and if you enjoyed reading this check out my website and newsletters for more articles.
Love and shimmies,
Zara x

So Zara, when did you start dancing?
I started belly dancing at the age of 17 – teaching myself with vcrs that my mum had bought at an art fair. I quickly fell in love, joined a local class with Terry Hardy and bought myself a costume. I was hooked and did little else in my free time. By the age of 18 I was performing in restaurants 

Which Bellydancers inspire you? 
Without a doubt my favourite dancer and all time inspiration is Fifi Abdou. I love her whole dance persona, very ‘el bent’ the girl next door in her younger days and in later life ‘el set’ a relatable strong Egyptian woman character. Her moves look effortless and so natural when performing. Her musical interpretation is spot on. I never bore of watching her.

Where do you currently teach? 
I currently tour the UK doing workshops (you can find out details of those here) and also teach private classes from my home in London.

What's your favourite costume? 
Oooo it has to be my first ever costume– a pink dress. I had only been dancing a few months and went to a festival. I saw it in the souk and fell in LOVE - I begged my mum to help me to afford to buy it as it was nearly £300!! She said yes, but that I had better take this bellydance hobbies seriously and actually make something of it.
I wore it for my first solo– ironically the zip at the back popped open during the performance!
I still own it today and still perform in it – It inspires me to always ensure I am making something of myself as a belly dancer!

What's your top bellydance tip? 
Express yourself – you have to train hard in bellydance technique so you have the vocabulary to express yourself. But if you have nothing to say or express when dancing those moves are vacuous, robotic and I have to say torturous to watch.

What's your secret skill? 
Ooooo well I have a few but without a doubt the one I fall back on time and time again is that I feel I am quite good at getting the audience to engage with me and if they are on side … your performance is always a breeze

My favourite part of my body is.....
Ooo I just love my curves – so much fun to shimmy lol
In my bellydance bag, I'm never without....
A razor … I had the horror of once realising I had forgotten to shave my armpits before a performance and that feeling of fear has never left me. I find knowing I have a razor in my bag puts my mind at rest.

How do you boost your confidence? 

  • Self-acceptance
  •  acknowledging my achievements (it's all too easy to concentrate on what you don’t like/are not good at),
  • channelling my energy into bettering myself and not at being resentful/jealous of others
  • and finally making quite brave and daring decisions to take the steps to reaching my goals and dreams.

If you want something in life GO GET IT!

What's your greatest ambition?
Like so many: To go to Egypt and become a famous bellydancer!  

What's the last bellydance song you listened to? 
My set last night finished with That el sheback! A classic that I can’t help but sing along to whilst I perform.

My favourite food is....
Greek yoghurt covered in honey, coconut flakes, figs, dates, raisins and basically anything else indulgent in the cupboard !
Check out Zara's website: &

"Those who can, teach."

Rachel Bennett School of Bellydance has recruited 2 fabulous new teachers this Spring-Summer to teach NEW beginner classes in Maidenhead, Windsor & Wokingham this Autumn.  (Contact Rachel for details.Could you be a bellydance teacher too?

Do you thrive on helping others achieve their goals?

Are you ultra passionate about bellydancing and want to share the love?

Do you think you would make a fabulous teacher?

Want to enjoy a taste of teaching bellydance, to see if it's you?

This September we are launching our first ever Teacher Training Programme at Rachel Bennett School of Bellydance. Our Teacher Training Programme is designed to prepare you to teach your own bellydance classes.  By the end of the course, you will have gained the essential skills needed to instruct bellydance and enable students to learn bellydance.  You will also enjoy certification as a teacher trained in the Rachel Bennett School of Bellydance method.

The successful teacher trainee will also receive a bonus exclusive selection of teaching resources used by Rachel to inform her own best practice.  Rachel hopes that gift will assist in further equipping you with bellydance teaching knowledge and increase your confidence as a teacher.

Rachel is a fully qualified school teacher holding QTS and has 16+ years of experience teaching children, teenagers and adults.  She established the Rachel Bennett School of Bellydance in 2008 and is a full-time bellydance teacher and professional performer.  Over the years she has mentored several bright bellydance stars to establish their own bellydance classes and learn how to instruct and teach bellydance.  Rachel's unique and sought-after knowledge and experience is now packaged into an exciting Teacher Training Programme format to help you flourish.  See how you can benefit by reading compelling success stories and testimonials.

From September, Rachel is offering 1 exclusive student a prestigious chance to train with her as a teacher.  If you would like to apply, please contact Rachel to request an application form and full programme details.

Bellydance Dates for YOUR Diary

Rachel is performing at: Mangal Turkish Restaurant, Reading - Sat 13 June

Summer Spectacular Student Show - Celebrating our 10th Anniversary! 
Sat 11 Jul  from 7pm to 11pm
Doors open 6.30pm
University of Reading's 3Sixty Nightclub Theatre
Get your discounted tickets by end June!

Click here for details and tickets 

Relay for Life, Ascot Race Course - 10.30-11.00am Bellydance Taster
Come support this charity event for Cancer Research UK.  We'll be opening with Madonna's Material Girl then while Rachel teachers a beginner bellydance taster workshop, you can encourage the newbie bellydancers to join in and have a go!  Contact Rachel to take part.

Celebrating Dance Festival, Devon
Fri 23 - Sun 25 Oct 2015
Rachel will be teaching and performing as a Supporting Artist

About Rachel: Rachel Bennett successfully established her bellydance school in 2008 and her extensive performance experience includes theatre, long-standing restaurant residencies and national TV.  Rachel is a graduate of the Hossam and Serena Ramzy School of Music and Dance and a principal dancer with the Ramzy Dance Company. 

Rachel absolutely loves to teach and perform bellydance and is proud to have turned her passionate hobby into a full-time career.  She encourages her students to develop as bellydancers and reach for the stars!  Rachel also trains, coaches and mentors fledgling professionals and teachers to help them realise their dreams.  Read compelling student stories at

Rachel Bennett School of Bellydance - Fitness, Fun and Fabulousness!  Studio Classes, Private Tuition, Workshops, Coaching, Mentoring and Professional Development - Maidenhead, Twyford, Windsor and Wokingham in Berkshire, UK

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Rachel Bennett is a professional performer and principal teacher of Rachel Bennett School of Bellydance - Bellydance for Fitness, Fun and Fabulousness in Maidenhead, Twyford, Windsor and Wokingham, Berkshire, UK.  Rachel teaches beginner to advanced level students and mentors fledgling bellydance professionals to establish their careers as pro-performers and instructors.  Reach for the stars and follow your bellydance dreams!  For exciting student news, top tips, gorgeous giveaways, star interviews and the latest on fabulous bellydance activities delivered monthly to your email inbox or mobile, subscribe to our FREE newsletter  at

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