Reassessing your Belly Dance Career


After writing my book, I got to thinking about how important it is for dancers to reassess their belly dance careers and why it’s even necessary. I guess it’s because I came full circle after writing my book and realized I didn’t have anyone say, “What do you think of belly dance now that you have been doing it for so many years?”

This past week, I have talked to two friends who have been in the belly dance business a long time and they are finally coming to terms with their mortality in this business. It’s almost as if experiences and memories are squashed away by fears tumbling into their protected sanctuaries, crashing into the walls of accomplishments. A woman seeing herself for the age she really is, will unintentionally find holes and cracks in the once flawless and alluring representation of her image and career. It’s always been the feminine faux paw to have such an uncanny ability to be able to see what isn’t there or to see what no one else can. This has nothing to do with age but more so the feminine quandary of social standards, expectations and unrealistic beauty. Age is thrown in there as the final blow or better yet the last nail in the coffin. So what’s the difference between too old in this business versus old school? Read more

Private Parties and Belly Dance Gigs

Leyla Najma Belly Dance Gigs and Parties

Many students have asked me to tell them stories about private parties and gigs that I have participated in through out the years. I do have stories, but I was thinking that it might be a good idea to share tips for dancers,  especially since some of the experiences I have had, were close calls. Sometimes it’s hard to know ahead of time, how something will work out. But all dancers want to get to that level of the working belly dancer. Parties and gigs are the next step to the belly dance rite of passage. Not only are private parties and gigs money makers, but they are the icing on the cake during holidays and special events that we otherwise wouldn’t be apart of. Read more

The Unusual State of Affairs in the Belly Dance Business

Belly Dance Business

Just last week I was surfing the internet and found that one of my articles is posted on a “pole” dancing site. At first I was like, “It’s got to be a mistake.” And then as I saw my article in all its glory underneath a photo of a gal spreading her legs dancing on a pole, the reality sunk in. I commented on the site stating belly dancing and pole dancing are on opposite ends of the spectrum. I was not a happy camper about it but I realized that as my name and articles get out in the world there’s no telling what can happen. It occured to me that I had to keep up with my belly dance business image and content.

A couple of years ago we found one of my videos up on an adult website and thank God Daniel was able to get them to take it off  but only after writing a serious and to the point email. I had actually written to them three times asking them to take me off their site and they ignored me. Daniels message hit home and they relented. I was finally able to relax because it really bothered me that this website put me up without my permission. But as each one of you becomes more well known in your career be aware that you may find your photos or videos on websites that leave a lot to be desired.

Another aspect of our dance field and business is having your ideas, articles and shows plagiarized by other people. I had an article plagiarized by a well known dancer and I actually had people write me to tell me it looked like my article. It pretty much was except for the fact they made it look like she was being interviewed. It was a sly cover up but people aren’t stupid and after a while of writing for various magazines it became clear this was a possibility that unfortunately came true. I think it backfired because you can’t respect someone who doesn’t come up with their own ideas especially in the writing arena. Everyone has their own way of thinking and talking that eventually when put down into words sounds just like them. That’s the beautiful part about creative expression and why I like to write.

So what I want to do is to share with all of you ideas of what to do if you feel your creative expression is being plagiarized or used without your permission. Copy Right all your work which includes, videos, articles, website, blog and curriculum. If you come up with an idea and you put forth the effort to make your idea or thoughts into a reality, then protect them. Also every once in a while type in your name and see what comes up. If you see yourself up there with pole dancers, adult stars or questionable content take action and get your intellectual property, photos or videos off the site by writing them and making them aware you know you’re up there. Most sites that do this think you won’t find out at least until it’s too late.

There are belly dance sites that have my content up and I am always honored that my peers put my articles or quotes up. So I think you have to use discretion when you find your work is up on another website. I feel that as a community that if there’s anything I have to say that someone agrees with then go for and put it up. But I’m talking about my belly dance community not exotic dancing or questionable films and magazines.

And I have to include this one in because this can also happen to unsuspecting dancers. Years ago when I was in Dallas a group of dancers ganged up on another dancer that was being a snot to them and they put her up on a call girl site. I know they got a good laugh out of it but it caused problems for this particular dancer because she actually got calls. I don’t know what happened because I left while this was all taking place but I can tell you that this kind of behavior only makes the community look bad. Personally I would hope that our fellow dancers would have more integrity then this but sometimes it just isn’t the case.

So be aware of what can happen if your name gets out into the world. Understand that a photo of you can be on questionable websites or that you can be placed on a website that has nothing to do with belly dancing at all. Be vigilant and aware of your image because it is the one thing we have the right to be in control of.




From a Scary Dream to a Light Bulb Moment

Scary Dreams and Light Bulb Moments - Lelya Najmas Belly Dance Blog

Just the other night I had the weirdest dream full of strange symbols, and images of women dancing and laughing in bizarre positions. It was almost like the exorcist movie except the main characters becoming possessed were belly dancers. It was a really scary dream and I woke wondering what the heck that was all about!

Actually when I wake up in the mornings I can look really scary myself so I just chalked it up to our strange weather we are having meaning snow in May. So pretty much I was thinking that all our senses are a little out of wack these days along with the weather. Read more