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4 Steps to Foolproof Your New Year's Resolutions for Belly Dance

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

"I'm going to practice my belly dancing every evening after work." —does this New Year's Resolution sound familiar?

Don't Make the Mistakes I Did!

If you've written that same Resolution, tear it up now, because it is doomed for failure. I know, because in fact, this is a Resolution that I actually set for myself in the past, and a couple weeks into the New Year, it had already crashed and burned.

Text graphic of checklist of New Year's Resolutions

The good news is that practice makes perfect, and now I know how to craft a New Year's Resolution that will really work (and that can actually be started at any time of year). And I want to teach you how to do it, too.

Get Your Pencil and Let's Do This Together

So, join me for a New Year's Resolutions this "workshop," and I'll teach you my foolproof method to make truly effective New Year Resolutions for your belly dance practice.

Why our Typical Belly Dance Resolutions are Doomed

Let's say we want to be better about practicing our belly dance at home during the week. So we set a Typical Belly Dance Resolution—like the one above:

"I'm going to practice my belly dancing every evening after work."

The New Year is here, and we start practicing every night after work, and it's going great...for a week...maybe even two weeks, but then...wait—someone's going to invite us to dinner. So we say, OK, I've been practicing. I'll just take this one night off. Then the next night—oh, I just have to swing by the grocery store, and I'll practice when I get home. But, when we get home, we find we're actually too tired, plus we still have to make dinner. Then, the next day is a rough one at work and we get home late, and etc., etc., etc. Now we've lost the momentum, and we feel that we've we just give up. It's barely a couple of weeks into the new year, and already we feel like crap and our belly dance certainly isn't leveling-up like we intended.

So the problem with this Typical Belly Dance Resolution is that it is UNSUSTAINABLE in the real world of our busy lives. So let's fix it with...

Jensuya's Foolproof Steps

Foolproof Step 1

Set "expansion and contraction zones" for your belly dance practice.

Here's what I mean—first make your "contraction zone." Set your resolution to start with just a little bit more than you're already doing now.

The Contraction Zone

Start small. For instance, if in the past year, you've been putting off practicing your belly dance for week after week, start your resolution with, "I'm going to practice just once (not every day) per week after work." Maybe that day is Monday because you still have energy and momentum from the weekend. Or maybe it's Wednesday because donning your hip scarf mid-week gives you energy to face the rest of the work week. Start with a particular day, but don't feel like it has to be the same every week—that way you'll have wiggle room for those other things that come up, like an invitation to dinner at a friend's.

You just have to make sure that you've made time for a practice ONE TIME sometime during the week.

The Expansion Zone

After you've set that "contraction zone," make your "expansion zone." Add just a little bit more to your resolution, like..."And at least one week per month, I'm going to practice a second time that week." Not every week, just one week out of four, practice two times that week. This is the bonus that's going to help you level up your willpower. And be most likely to be sustainable because it pushes you, yet is realistic enough to allow for the stuff that happens in life. So...

Belly Dancer New Year Resolution Rule No. 1

Set "expansion and contraction zones" for your belly dance practice.

Foolproof Step 2

Be specific about the belly dance skill you want to improve in your practices.

Now, after setting your "expansion and contraction zones," choose a specific belly dance skill that you want to improve, like, for instance, making your figure 8's bigger and more precise, or being spot-on with hitting the beat with your step-touch, or learning to layer a chest circle onto your shoulder shimmies.

The key is that the resolution needs to be defined so you can practice the specific skill and it needs to be measurable so you can see where you started and how you're progressing over time.

You can even take it a step further and film yourself before you begin you Resolutions practice sessions so you have a baseline to see your improvement. So...

Belly Dancer New Year Resolution Rule No. 2

Be specific about the belly dance skill you want to improve in your practices.

Foolproof Step 3

Break the belly dance skill into manageable parts.

Now we get into what I think is the really fun stuff—determining what, in particular, we need to do to level-up that belly dance skill. For instance, let's say in Foolproof Step 2 we've chosen to improve our horizontal hip figure 8's. If we leave the Resolution here—this broad a description—how are we going to know when we’ve accomplished that Resolution, when we've improved the skill?

In order for the Resolution to stick and to keep us motivated to keep going with it, we need to make our resolution actionable and measurable with specific exercises to level-up the skill.

For instance, in our example of improving our horizontal hip figure 8’s, we can break the move into specific goals:

  • getting our horizontal hip figure 8's even in size on both sides

  • hitting the beat accurately with each hip in the figure 8

  • isolating the motion to the horizontal direction

  • layering the figure 8 onto a walk

Then we can create the specific exercises to do in our practices to help us reach our goals. The important thing is that each specific exercise should be focussed on just one aspect of the move (like our examples above) so you we can improve it and see measure our progress.

For instance, let's create a practice exercise for "hitting the beat accurately with each hip in the figure 8." We could start by counting the beat out loud as we hit the same spot within the figure 8 with each hip. We could create another exercise by doing the same thing while chanting the rhythm (Beledi being my favorite for practice). We could create another exercise by playing a favorite song and hitting the beat with each hip as we dance figure 8's to the whole song. So...

Belly Dancer New Year Resolution Rule No. 3

Break the skill into manageable parts.

Foolproof Step 4

Create milestones to track the progress of your belly dance skill.

I think this step can start out by being the toughest, because honestly, it's really hard to critique our own dancing, especially if we are only judging our progress by looking in the mirror as we dance.

One of the ways I created milestones for myself in my early days of dancing (before the proliferation of YouTube and online classes) was I would focus on copying a move exactly as I saw my favorite dancer do on a DVD. Then every few weeks, I'd have my husband film me doing the same move. Then after dinner (when I would be a little more "removed" from the dance), I would watch myself along with the DVD of my favorite dancer and critique myself to see if I reached the goal—the milestone of being able to do the move like my favorite dancer.

It takes a bit of effort, and frankly, I found it really embarassing to watch myself at first because I just didn't look like that dancer that I felt like inside. Be persistent! Keep feeling that inner dancer, and focus on improving your skills of communicating her/him through the dance. You will get there. Enjoy the process of continuing to learn new belly dance skills.

Belly Dancer New Year Resolution Rule No. 4

Create milestones to track the progress of your belly dance skill.

Here's the SHORT CUT

If you want an easier path to practice your belly dance skills, our Range of Motions Series of Classes and Practice Drills is what I do myself several times a week (but not every day! 😉)

You're probably already familiar with Jensuya Belly Dance School, and I encourage you to watch the preview videos of each level of classes and accompanying drills. Begin with the Level 1 Classes and Drills where we start at the very foundation of the motions making up belly dance moves and how to actually match them to the music. The Level 2 classes build on Level 1 and the Level 3 classes build on Level 2. Check out the preview videos in the links for more details about the classes.

Watch this video to preview our LIFETIME ACCESS online belly dance classes. Yep, you'll use them over and over and over! 😉 I do.

Share Your Progress

Share your Resolutions with us in the comments. 💕 Aiwa Habibi. Let's get dancing!

To see all our ONLINE COURSES, click on the image or click here:

Graphic of Jensuya and Bob and text for Jensuya Belly Dance School

© Jennifer Carpenter-Peak & Robert Peak 2023

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Hi Jensuya!

I am doing very well with both the drills and the zills! Practicing the Beledi rhythm along with the motion drills helped me a lot. I have a four minute practice routine that I made up some time ago and I am now able to play Beledi mixed with various gallop patterns while dancing. I am very happy about that.



Aiwa Habibi! That is wonderful! It can get really tricky to coordinate moves with Rhythm Beledi on the zils. Sometimes, it's a matter of simply slowing down your moves and your playing so that your body can learn to coordinate the two. You may find it helpful to pause the class video and chant Beledi as you play it on your zils and do the moves. Match the part of the move to the sound on the zils just like when we are chanting Beledi. 💕


Isn't it funny that something that seems easy, like the shoulder rolls, can actually be really challenging to do while playing ails?!! For me, too, that was a tricky one! We are, indeed, kindred spirits, as I feel exactly the same—dancing helps me to "forget all the crap..." 💕


I bought your Range of Motion Level 1 bundle and I am loving it. It compliments my practice sessions and I really enjoy working with the drills. I am looking forward to purchasing the Level 2 bundle in the near future.


It's been two months are you doing with playing Beledi on your oils and doing the Range of Motion practice drills? 💕

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Rhythm Practice for Belly Dance - Beledi

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