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A Review of

Zaïda: Belly Dancing for Older Women

by Phoebe Kathrine Carter




This book is a print version of the articles that appear on Zaïda's web site, also titled Belly Dancing for Older Women. It explores the benefits that belly dancing can offer mature women and provides practical advice on logistical issues such as costuming and where to perform.



Fact Sheet


Zaïda: Belly Dancing for Older Women


Phoebe Kathrine Carter



Publisher, Inc.


Non-Fiction: General Belly Dancing



Number of Pages


Published In





This book consists of a collection of articles that originally appeared on Zaïda's web site, titled "Belly Dancing for Older Women". She decided to publish a book for the benefit of potential readers who might not be willing to read the articles online, but would feel comfortable with a book. The theme that runs like a thread throughout the entire book is that of encouraging older women to try belly dancing and providing them practical advice for doing so.

The articles have been transferred directly from the web site to the book, each forming a chapter. Topics include benefits of belly dancing, creating a costume, dealing with psychological barriers, learning to teach, performance pointers, choosing music, and health benefits of belly dance.

In what seems like a rather odd digression, there is a chapter on belly dancing for men written by a male dancer known as "Ankh". I'm still trying to figure out how this topic relates to the book title, Belly Dancing for Older Women. The advice it offers for male dancers is fine, it's just puzzling to see it in this book.

A chapter titled "Interesting Moves" provides text descriptions of how to do some belly dance moves. I personally don't believe a person can learn to belly dance from text on a printed page, but I feel this chapter could have merit as a means of offering alternate explanations to help students work through something that may have confused them in class.

The book closes with several "Repartee" chapters which reproduce the content of emails Zaïda has received from users of her web site, including her responses to them. These chapters might appeal to people who enjoy reading Letters to the Editor in newspapers and magazines.



Is It Right for You?


You Will Probably Enjoy This Book If...

  • You are an older woman who is intrigued by belly dancing, but hesitant to try it.
  • You are seeking practical advice on costuming and performance environments suitable for an older dancer.
  • You feel somewhat uncomfortable with using the Internet.
  • You like having a tangible book to hold in your hands, rather than reading a computer screen or loose pages printed from the Internet.
  • You realize that web sites can vanish overnight and want to archive Zaïda's in printed form.


This Book Probably Isn't Right for You If...

  • You would rather just read everything on Zaïda's web site free of charge, without paying anything for the printed book.
  • You'd be annoyed by reading a book that appears to have been assembled without much attention to continuity and overlap.



What I Liked, What I Didn't


What I Liked:

  • This book is easy to read, using simple language such as that used in ordinary conversation. It's the kind of book I could relax with at the end of a busy day without thinking too hard.
  • Zaïda's love for belly dancing comes through. It's always fun to talk with enthusiastic people, and her writing style bubbles over with enthusiasm for belly dancing.
  • Zaïda's advice on health, posture, performing for older audiences, and teaching is solid.
  • The chapter on male dancers provides practical advice for male belly dancers. Every teacher who has a male student should read it.


What I Didn't Like:

  • The book's style is disjounted. It gives the impression that it consists of notes that the writer has jotted down, rather than being a finished product. It lacks cohesion
  • The book is quite redundant. Many things are repeated multiple times. For example, the same instructions on how to do "Zaïda's Shimmy" appear in two completely separate chapters. I grew very weary of Zaïda's frequent comment that belly dancing gives you a "party piece" you can perform for your friends.
  • Although the chapter on male dancers contains useful information, I couldn't quite figure out how it applied to belly dancing for older women. I can't quite imagine suggesting to a male student that he purchase a book titled Belly Dancing for Older Women in order to obtain advice on how to be a credible male belly dancer.




If you have access to the Internet, you can read the contents of this book on Zaïda's web site at . She created the book for people who aren't likely to be surfing the Internet, which is probably a valid assumption for many older women. Even though it's all online, you might enjoy having the information bound neatly into a book for archival purposes, since web sites come and go.




Zaïda and I have exchanged links for many years, but our correspondence has been minimal. I purchased the copy of the book that was used to create this review.



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