For years many a student and teacher has been hit with the same issues, what to call certain movements, or traveling to teach workshops and you find each group has a different name for the same movement you are going over. What to do? 


Of course we all know about Jamila Salimpour and other notable efforts by our mentors and peers, but what if we had one concise place to get all of this? Wouldn’t that be great!


This is where creating an online, totally accessible guide to all of the movement vocabulary got my wheels spinning. Why not reach out to some notable instructors around the U.S. for starters and finally get this sucker going!


So on the eve of Halloween, this is precisely what my nerdy self is going to begin undertaking. I would love to hear everyone’s additions as well though in the process of reaching out to some instructors and scholars in this field.


What other names do you have for the basic vocabulary below. Over the next year, hopefully, through all of our collective efforts we can have a nice big, juicy reference se-book!


So here it goes, please comment below and add what other names you know these belly dance movements by, and any other movements you wish and their name/explanation 🙂


Phase 1: Basic Bellydance Movements


Hip Raise

Hip Drop

Alternating Hip Raises/ Piston Hips

Bicycle/Barrel Wheel/

Taxims /upward maya’s


Hip Slides


Hip Circle

Hip Crescent

Hip Twist

hip figure 8



Chest Slides

Chest Lift

Chest Drop

Chest Circle

Lateral chest circle

Vertical Chest Figure 8

Lateral Chest Figure 8


Snake Arms (two variations): 1. Shoulder lifts, elbow lifts, and then wrist lifts above the head, and then arm relaxes down. What is specific name for this in your area? __________

2. Same as 1. but arm does not go above second position. What is the specific name for this variation in your area? ______________

Shoulder Shimmy

lotus hands/wrist circles



pelvic raise

pelvis drop



belly roll down

belly roll up

stomach vacuum


Abdominal push

Half Roll


American Shimmy

Arabic Shimmy

3/4 Shimmy

3/4 Sliding Shimmy

Egyptian Shimmy

African Shimmy

Bedouin Shimmy

Hagalla Shimmy:


Basic Egyptian: step forward with one leg, other leg comes forward in showgirl position (heel lifted, ball of foot on floor), and that forward leg does a hip lift. “step, touch, step, touch”. At the same time, one arm is extended forward, other arm is bent touching the head, and after each step positions alternate.


Phase II: Common Combination names


Tornado- when you alternate lateral chest circles and hip circles continuously


Can’t wait to hear all of your responses. if you wish to email me instead please do so via my contact me page. have a great night and will update this as I go!