1. First of all, decide whether or not you want a stage name.
Things to think about are where do you want to go with the dance. Are you dancing just for fun? If so, it might be fun to have a stage name. Do you want a dance career? If so, you might want a dance name that is unique to you.
2. Two Benefits of a stage name.
For me, having a stage name helped me overcome shyness and stage fright. I would take a few moments back stage (or in a bathroom stall for privacy) to imagine myself as Mezdulene. Mezdulene didn’t do dishes or laundry; she didn’t do soccer practice. Mezdulene was a divinely feminine belly dancer. Having a different persona really helped me a lot.
Another benefit of a stage name is that if you do end up making a career out of belly dance, you will have a unique and memorable persona. Performing under your birth name of Brenda or Jenny doesn’t help you stand out from the crowd.
3. Advice for choosing a stage name.
There are at least three ways to get a stage name. The most obvious is to choose one yourself. You can find lists of Middle Eastern names online and you can choose a name that you feel expresses what you want to express as a dancer. Often the lists also have meanings of the names so you can also choose by the meaning.
You can also ask your teacher to give you a name, but I would suggest asking her to give you the option of at least three to choose from.
Lastly, someone from the Middle East might suggest a name for you which is how I got the name Mezdulene.
If you do choose a Middle Eastern name, ask your teacher about it. Some names are very common such as Amara and Zaina and if you absolutely have to have such a name, it’s wise to add a second name. For instance I know two Zainas, Zaina Hart and Zaina Ali.
So why do you want to choose either an uncommon name or add a second name to a common name? The reason is so that you stand out from the crowd. At some point, belly dance might become your career and you won’t want to be one of dozen Leylas. Even if you don’t ever make it a career it’s still nice to have a unique name just for you!
4. Does a belly dance name have to be Middle Eastern?
The important thing about having a belly dance name is to have your own dancing persona. It’s nice to honor the heritage of belly dance by choosing a Middle Eastern name, but it’s really about expressing yourself. So, if you want to modify your legal name from Susan to Suzanna or Judy to Judith, that’s fine. If you want to honor an ancestor by choosing her name, that’s cool! If an Indian or Hawaiian word works for you, use it!
Your stage name is a unique expression of you and it’s your personal choice.
If you have any comments or questions, please respond in the comments below. And, if you found this email helpful, please feel free to forward it to anyone you feel might benefit by reading it.