Belly Dance Sword: Dancing with Danger?
Adding a sword to your belly dance performance adds a different dimension. There's a soupcon of danger (how sharp is it?) and the thrill of suspense (will she drop it?). The audience will "ooh" and "aah" as you balance the sword effortlessly on your head, your arms or even your hip, and admire the graceful shapes you can make with it. It can make a great entrance if you're dancing in a restaurant - it's a surefire way to make the audience put down their knives and forks and pay attention!
You'll often see beginners trying to learn sword using a cane or stick, but in reality, nothing gives you the same feeling as a real sword. A good belly dancing sword is much heavier than a cane, and the weight isn't as evenly distributed. If you really want to learn belly dance sword, the only solution is to beg, borrow or buy yourself one!
When you decide to buy your first sword, make sure you buy one that's specifically described as a "belly dancing sword" or "balancing sword".
Every sword has what's called a "balance point". For scimitars (curving Turkish swords), that point can be way up near the hilt (handle). If you try to dance with a sword like that, you'll find the sharp point hanging way out past your shoulder on one side (like Irina's in the photo on the right).
It takes a lot of practice to move your arm on that side without knocking the sword off your head - or worse, impaling your arm!
In the next clip, Princess Jasmina obviously has a perfectly balanced sword!
A sword designed specifically for belly dancing is more likely to balance in a more central position, so you can move both arms equally. That's a lot easier - and safer - for a beginner to deal with.
Some makers helpfully carve a few notches in the blade at the balance point - otherwise, find it by balancing the sword on your finger.
By all means, once you're more experienced, be adventurous and buy a non-belly dance swords - but to begin with, it's much safer to stick with proper, specially-designed belly dance swords.
Other Points to Watch
- Some teachers advise students to steer clear of chromed swords - lovely and shiny but also slippery! However you can get around that problem by sticking some sandpaper or skateboard grip on the edge of the sword, at the balance point.
- It's fine to buy a sword with a real, sharp blade - but have it blunted please! Even a blunt sword can be dangerous to dance with, and don't forget the point may still be sharp!
- I'm not a fan of brass ornamental swords with a rounded edge. They're more comfortable and safer - but the dull finish and thick edge make it very obvious they're not the slightest bit dangerous!
- Don't be afraid of a heavy sword - in fact, they're easier to balance because they're less disturbed by drafts or small movements.
For some great tips on working with sword - including the classic advice, "don't treat your sword like a hat"! - visit Shemsdance.com