New belly dance move! How to do a hip drop circle

Ask and you shall receive

Hello and welcome to this week’s blog! Today I’m taking on board a request for some belly dance technique, so let’s get to it.

I’ve been asked for some technique on hip drop variations, specifically a hip drop circle.  I happened to be watching some Fifi Abdou just the other day and I caught her doing this move and it looked incredible! Think juicy, earthy and luscious with this one.

Here’s my express, step-by-step tutorial on how to execute this move with ease.

Thank you so much for joining me for this week’s tutorial, be sure to leave me a comment on YouTube to let me know what you think!

Your Assignment

Once you’ve got the hang of this move, experiment with other hip drop variations and see if you can create your own hip drop combo.

Learn belly dance with me!

As you can see from my website,  my team of coaches and I teach weekly classes in Reading, UK. The awesome news is that we have a brand new Beginner Course starting in June! If you’re ready to hit the ground running and learn to belly dance, we’d love to have you on board. Get your early bird place before May 15th here.

Not local to me here in Reading? If you’d like to learn how to bellydance with me from the ground up, let’s hit the ground running distance learning style! Using my longer, more comprehensive classes, drills, choreography sequences, movement tutorials, technical preparation exercises at Santa Maria Bellydance Online, we’ll have you confidently bellydancing in no time 🙂 You can learn with me anywhere and any time you have internet connection. Go to to find out more and get started now!

Happy dancing to you, with love and shimmies,

Helen xx

Belly dance drill for agile hips

Hips, emotions and expression

Did you know that, apparently, our hips are the proverbial under stairs cupboard when it comes to our emotions?

I’m certainly no expert in the yogic intricacies of this concept, but I do know that my yoga teacher is obsessed with hip openers! As bellydancers, we all know how energetic, powerful and expressive our hips can be.

So this week, I’ve been thinking about a tutorial on how we can enjoy maximum expression through our hips during belly dance by keeping them artistically agile.

If you’re new to my blog welcome! I’ll let you know that, as well as updates and insights from me, you can expect a FREE belly dance video with each post. For this week’s blog I’ve put together a nifty little progressive belly dance drill to help achieve and maintain agile hips. Go here to get started now!


Your assignment:

Join in with me as you watch the drill and take note of which elements feel a little clunky. Then, check in with the drill on a regular basis to work past those sticky areas until it feels easy. Be sure to let me know how you get on!

Learn belly dance with me!

Here at SMBA in Reading, UK we are all in the honeymoon period of our brand new Summer term. New music, new routines, new challenges – the energy is amazing! Would you like to learn bellydance with me?

If you live too far away, feel too shy, can’t make it fit your schedule or have child care issues, why not join my online studio?

As a paid up subscriber to Santa Maria Bellydance Online  you’ll have immediate access to my growing collection of short choreography sequence workshops, my beginner bootcamp workshop, individual movement tutorials, practice drills and conditioning exercises, combination tutorials, warm ups and cool downs. It’s everything you need to learn and master this gorgeous art form. Go here, get your first 3 days for free and, if you don’t dig my online studio, you can unsubscribe anytime (even before you’re charged anything!)

Thank you so much for reading and watching.

Love and shimmies,

Helen xx

Belly dance shimmy practise

In this week’s blog, I invite you to take a short practice session with me to help gain and maintain a consistent, even, relaxed belly dance shimmy.

Join in with my express practise as often as you can and set yourself up for a Summer of glorious, enviable, sensational shimmies!

I believe it’s the small, consistent practices that help our dancing to flourish. If you struggle with having the discipline to practise your shimmies regularly, join in with me and we’ll do it together 🙂

Would you like to get started on your bellydance journey? Or do you know somebody who does? Our annual beginner taster sessions are on the way! We have places on May 1st and 8th here in Reading. Book your place now!

Our Summer term courses are filling up fast! The early bird course price finishes at the end of March, so be sure to book your place. Join us and be expertly guided through your next bellydance moves as well as polished to performance standard.

Would you like to start your bellydance journey with me? Now you don’t have to live local to the mothership here in Reading, UK! Go to to join my online bellydance studio where you’ll find all sorts of video classes and tutorials.

That’s it for now, thank you so much for reading 🙂

One quick question before I go: do you have a burning bellydance question, struggle or problem? Hit reply and let me know, I’d ve to help. Perhaps I can answer it for you in an upcoming tutorial.

Love and shimmies,

Helen xx

Ps. The upcoming Tango Fusion workshop with Ozgen is now sold out! We still have spaces for the sublime Romany Gypsy workshop on 27th May in Thatcham (near Newbury) Grab your early bird place before the end of March!

Pps. Take a look peek at the latest addition to Santa Maria Bellydance Online,

Do you struggle with coordination? This belly dance drill is for you

Copy of Express belldance cool down(2)Do you struggle to coordinate your hands, feet and arms when you dance? Don’t worry, it’s completely normal!

But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a bit of practice you can smash through that awkward feeling and enjoy artful, controlled and confident movement.

If you like to have a bit of guidance and “hand-holding” during your practice, then you’ll love today’s tutorial.

I’ve compiled a short belly dance coordination drill to help you practice harmonizing different movements simultaneously. The idea is to do it on a regular basis so you can make small, incremental, solid improvements to your coordination skills.

I’ll talk you through as we go, giving you prompts and pointers to think about. We’ll be using a basic camel action and layering on some arm patterns and positions. You’ll be gently challenged to combine different movements whilst maintaining a calm and cool composure.

And the best thing about this drill? The more you do it the better you get!

If you thought that your coordination skills were a lost cause, think again. I KNOW you can do this! All it takes is a little commitment from you to squeeze in just a couple of minutes of practice on a regular basis.

Let’s get started!

I hope you enjoyed the drill, I’d love to know what you think! Be sure to leave me a comment on youtube and give a thumbs up (so I know you dig this kind of thing). Thank you so much.

Are you ready to dip your toe in the glittery belly dance waters? Why not try a one off taster session with us! Our next batch of taster sessions are now open for bookings – woo hoo! It’s like Christmas – we only open these up once a year. Head over to our Beginner page and book your place now!

If you’re further along on your belly dance journey I’m happy to say that our complete Summer timetable is open for bookings! We have courses to suit all levels of dancer, so there’s something for everyone.

I’m incredibly proud of our SMBA coaching team who stretch their creativity each term to bring our students new and exciting routines. Our Summer term is no different! You can expect to be expertly guided through the moves and polished to performance standard throughout the 12 week course.

Go here to book your place now!

Thank you so much for reading, until next time …

Love and shimmies,

Helen x

Ps. Check out my Workshops and Events page to stay in the loop with the amazing upcoming workshops and showcases I’m involved in. Here’s the latest:

  • Casbah Cabaret the bellydance showcase for aspiring belly dance students and enthusiastic bellydance fans! Sunday 22 April, 7.00pm-10.00pm, doors open at 6.00pm,The Outlook 76-78A Kings Road, RG1 3BJ Reading. Early bird tickets £8 til tomorrow when prices go up to £10
  • Ozgen workshop places open today! After last year’s sell out workshops, I’m delighted to be hosting Ozgen once again! Tango Fusion for performance and Romany Gypsy are the exciting themes this time. Book your place now
  • I’m super proud to say that after watching my interview with Charlotte Desorgher about the Bellydance for Joy project, my Desert Pearls have organized an amazing Hafla. They’ve even invited me to perform! Check out the facebook event for more info.
  • Vintage Style Belly dance Choreography Workshop with Helen Saturday 24th March 2018, 2.00-4.00pm, Redditch, £20 – Sold out email Emma at to be added to the waiting list
  • Vintage Style Belly dance Choreography Workshop with Helen places available Saturday 28th April 2.00-4.00pm, Gloucester, £25 Contact Penny at for bookings and info
  • Coach Natasha Bradley will be teaching a masterclass workshop on Classical Persian dance featuring a choreography by the Persian dance superstar Helia Bandeh. 21 July 2018, Reading UK – save the date

Pps. Take a peek at my latest addition to Santa Maria Bellydance Online

Belly dance arm drill: the secret sauce for elegant arms

Copy of Express belldance cool down(1)

So what part of your dance would you like to work on today?

Whenever I ask my students this question I can bet my bottom dollar that arms will be a popular topic. I’ve even come to notice that my arm tutorials are among some of the most popular!

So in today’s blog post I thought we could work on arms.

The only thing is, there are gazillions of (really good) tutorials on arm technique out there in youtube-land. So, rather than add to those, I’m going to change the focus and get you to start working on achieving perfectly timed and placed arm positions. Why is this important? Because it’s how we can begin to figure out that ethereal thing called musicality.

We often think the key to achieving graceful supple arms is just about drilling technique. To a great extent it is, but I believe that dancers with seamlessly integrated rhythmical interpretation in their belly dance armwork are the ones that really stand out.

And I want you to stand out too! So today’s express class features a short drill to get you thinking about musicality with a focus on rhythm and timing, not just technique. I’ve been using this in class and seen some great results with my students.

I know you’re busy and possibly short on space, so I’ve kept it quick and compact (you’re welcome ;-))

I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog, if you did I’d be so grateful if you were to use the share button below and let your belly dance pals know about it! And of course give me a thumbs up and even a comment 🙂

Would you like to start your belly dance journey with me? Now you don’t have to live local to the mothership here in Reading, UK! Go to to join my online belly dance studio where you’ll find all sorts of video classes and tutorials.

One last thing before I go. If you’re starting or thinking of starting to teach bellydance, you might like to check out a series I was interviewed for recently about Growing Your Teaching. It’s by Nara Nemer and she asked me specifically about how to sustain your teaching, go here to check it out.

Thanks for reading and watching! Until next time … love and shimmies,

Helen xx

How to look after your bellydance body like a pro

Express belldance cool down

I’d love to know, when did you start bellydancing? And tell me, at what age do you plan on stopping bellydancing?

The first question is part of the usual kind of conversation dancers have all the time. The second question is kind of weird and not something we find ourselves asking each other as we don our hipscarves before class.

Personally, I plan on bellydancing into my 90s and beyond! Whether or not my body will play ball with that plan is another matter.

I believe that getting older is a privilege and something to celebrate. So as we get blessed with another day, week, month and year with the joy of bellydancing, let’s remember to care for our bodies as though they are a precious, sparking gem.

It’s time treat your body the same way as a pro dancer would. That way, you’ll be dancing for … as long as you want to!

What am I talking about here? Of course, it’s bellydance “after care” or cool down as we commonly know it.

Whilst drills and moves are great, it’s the tlc you give your body afterwards that will serve you well in the long run.

So for today’s blog post, I’m giving you a short cool down routine that you can add on to any practice session. Or you can even do it after your regular class when you get home.

Take a deep breath, here we go …

I hope I’ve helped you embrace the road to bellydance longevity. My aim is to bring spirit, soul and sparkle into your life – for as long as possible!

Be sure to give me a thumbs up on youtube so I know you dig my videos (and want more!) And I’d be so happy if you were to leave a comment too 🙂 If you feel the need to share the love, just hit one of the share buttons below.

Before I go, I’ll use maximum restraint from hitting the caps lock button (I’ll keep it to bold) when I say: the Santa Maria Bellydance Online sale continues! Get 50% off your first month when you use the promo code: SHIMMY2018. Go here to get started with me now!

In my online studio you’ll find a selection of warm ups, drills, combos, movement sequences, choreography, improvisation workshops and of course – cool downs.

Thank you so much for reading,

Love and shimmies,

Helen xx

Ps. 2018 Year Planner is shaping up nicely! Check out the events that I’m involved with below – perhaps I’ll see you there?

Upcoming workshops and events

* Vintage Style Bellydance Choreography Workshop with Helen: A Tribute to Katy Voutsaki – Sold out
Saturday 3rd February 2018, Reading, 11.00-1.30

* Vintage Style Bellydance Choreography Workshop with Helen Saturday 24th March 2018, 2.00-4.00pm, Redditch, £20 – Sold out email Emma at to be added to the waiting list

* Vintage Style Bellydance Choreography Workshop with Helen places available Saturday 28th April 2.00-4.00pm, Gloucester, £25 Contact Penny at for bookings and info

* Casbah Cabaret the bellydance showcase for aspiring bellydance students and enthusiastic bellydance fans! Sunday 22 April, 7.00pm-10.00pm, doors open at 6.00pm,The Outlook
76-78A Kings Road, RG1 3BJ Reading. Performance slots are open now, go here to apply to perform. Go here for tickets.

* Ozgen will be returning to Reading! Bookings will be open soon so stay tuned. In the meantime, save the dates 26th and 27th May 2018


100 hip drops bellydance challenge! Can you keep up?


Happy New Year! Welcome to my first blog post of 2018, thank you so much for being here.

Do you find January a tough month? I know how you feel, the idea of hibernating under a blanket in front of the TV with a nice cuppa and a biscuit has its appeal.

That’s why I always think that one of the best things about learning bellydance is being in a group of awesome people – it’s not a lone sport! If anything can get me (willingly) out of the house in January it’s the chance to teach a group of funny and fabulous people and dance together. Yes, I believe that bellydance classes can help us through what can otherwise be a grueling month.

So in this tutorial, I invite you to join me and some of our gorgeous students for my “Helen’s 100s” drill. A short, sweet, super simple drill that only lasts 2 minutes. 100 hips drops on each hip – deep breath, let’s go!

Imagine if you did this once a day for a week, that would be 1400 hip drops!

Would you like to join us for more bellydance drills, technique and choreography? Our Winter 2018 term starts next week! I’m blessed to have a cracking team of talented, creative coaches and between us we offer courses from beginner to advanced levels. Visit our classes page to find the right course for you and book your place.

Would you like to rise to the top of the class? Or do you live to far away to join our live classes? Well, I have great news for you! I’m embracing the spirit of January sales and offering you a whole month of full access to Santa Maria Bellydance Online for half price!

That means you can take drills, technique, movement and choreography classes with me anytime you have internet connection for a bargainous £7.50 for a whole month when you join up for a monthly subscription in January 2018. Just enter the voucher code SHIMMY2018 to get your first months discount.

Thanks for joining me again for another blog episode, happy dancing 🙂

Love and shimmies,

Helen xx


Bellydance doesn’t get more meaningful than this

Bellydance for Joy

This conversation was a massive eye-opener for me.  Both as a bellydance teacher and as a human being.

How can bellydance be life changing? Even life saving?

I asked Charlotte Desorgher about the Bellydance For Joy project she is leading which brings bellydance classes to women who have experienced the terror of violence and abuse.

We touched on some really interesting points and I was surprised by some of the challenges from a teaching point of view.

Just to give you a heads up, we won’t be shying away from the topic today. We’ll be hearing about women who have been through terrifying and traumatic experiences. It’s a tough listen in parts, but well worth hearing about the unexpected ways that bellydance has helped victims of violence and abuse.

The power of bellydance never ceases to amaze me. Do you know of a project or organization that is using bellydance in interesting and healing ways? Feel free to share in the Youtube comments and let us know about it!

Here’s how you can find out more and contribute towards Bellydance For Joy:

Bellydance for victims of abuse, rape and slavery:… Bellydance for Hospices (in memory of Yvette Cowles):…

Find our more about Charlotte:

Company of Dreams website: Facebook:…
Twitter: @companyofdreams Instagram: @companyofdreamsdance

Thank you so much for reading and watching this week’s blog.

Love and shimmies to you,

Helen xx

Ps. Are you ready to get your sparkle on in 2018? Early bird bookings are now open! Visit our classes page to see all our courses and book your place.

Choo Choo Shimmy Challenge! Can you keep up?

new documents created

Do you have a competitive streak? Even just a tiny bit?

Well, I want to tap into it today to help you smash your choo choo shimmies out of the park. My aim is to turn the choo choo from a move you dread into a move you love!

In today’s blog, I  invite you to join me for a 3 minute choo choo drill. Nice and simple, all you need is a small space and no interruptions for 3 minutes.

Join me now and let’s get started!

We’re all at different places with our fitness, strength and health, so do as much or as little of it as you like 🙂

Be sure to leave me comment on youtube and let me know how you get on. Imagine if you did it every day for 30 days!

Would you like some step by step help on how to achieve a strong, consistent choo choo shimmy? My new Choo Choo Masterclass is now live at SMB Online, yay! (a few of you have asked for this)

This is where I take you through some prep work with strength and conditioning exercises, an in depth technique session with oodles of tips, hints and visualisations, then some good old drills to let the move sink into your body ready for you to draw on any time you need a choo choo.Never dread choo choos again!

I hope today’s video helps you to build your confidence when it comes to choo choo shimmies. Keep on practicing regularly alongside me and enjoy seeing your choo choos get stronger and stronger.

Thank you for reading, love and (choo choo) shimmies to you,

Helen xxx

Ps. Here’s a sneak peek at my Choo Choo Shimmy Mastercass, now available within my extensive class library at SMB Online.


Superstar interviews with Helen Santa Maria: Ozgen!

Helen Santa Maria interviews Ozgen

Get ready for piece of blog post joy. A week or so ago I had the pleasure of sitting down to interview international dance artist, Ozgen and hearing him talk beautifully openly and honestly about his life as a dancer, his real feelings about being a “male bellydancer” (whatever that means!) and lots more. Warning: we went deep!

The only topic that was off limits was … nothing. Ozgen was happy to answer absolutely any questions I had, what a gem.

So get your self a cuppa, settle in, and enjoy.

Thanks so much for being here and watching/listening to this week’s blog! I hope I’ve bought a little more soul, spirit and sparkle to your life with this insight into Ozgen’s life as a dancer and his thoughts and philosophies on dance, dancers (and life!) in general.

If you want to keep in the loop with Ozgen, be sure to follow him on instagram and join him on facebook.

If you enjoyed it, why not share it with your bellydance buddies? And be sure to give a thumbs up over at Youtube so I know you enjoy this kind of thing. You can even leave a comment if any of what we chatted about resonated with you.

Katie(1)I was all prepped to promote my upcoming Vintage Style Bellydance workshop in this space. However, I’ve been bowled over by the response as it sold out within a day! Sorry if you missed out on a spot, please do contact me to be added to the waiting list. The good news is that it looks like I’ll be hitting the road with the workshop so keep a look out for that. (It’s not often that I leave the mothership here in Reading!)

Now, if you’re looking to expand your bellydance repertoire and rise to the top of the class, you need regular, consistent practice that you can weave into your lifestyle. Santa Maria Bellydance Online is open 24/7 anywhere you have an internet connection. There you’ll find hours of my classes, drills, exercises, choreography sequences, combinations, technique tutorials, improvisation workshops and much more.

You even get to try the first 3 days for free to see if you dig it before you pay. Check it out here! I’m happy to say that I’ve reached students as far as the US, Germany, Norway, Italy and even Kuwait! I’d love you to join them too.

Until next time, love and shimmies,

Helen xx

Ps. Here’s a peek at the latest workshop to join Santa Maria Bellydance Online. Are you ready to rise to the top of the class?