baladi rhythm for belly dance image

Baladi Rhythm in Belly Dance

Baladi rhythm is a fundamental component of belly dance, particularly in Egyptian-style belly dance. It's a versatile and dynamic rhythm that we belly dancers often use to express emotions and connect with the audience. Baladi rhythm typically has a 4/4 time signature and is characterized by a driving, earthy beat that invites movement and fun improvisation.

Dum-Dum, Tek, Dum, Tek is how we learn it phonetically.

It's important to point out that Baladi rhythm can vary in speed and intensity, allowing dancers to adapt their movements accordingly. In fact, it's commonly used in both traditional and contemporary belly dance performances, and its lively energy often inspires dancers to showcase their skills in improvisation and expression.

Musical instruments:
In terms of instrumentation, baladi rhythm often features a combination of instruments, such as the doumbek (also known as the tabla or goblet drum), the mizmar (a reed instrument), the accordion, and sometimes the violin or the oud (a type of lute). The rhythm itself is often played on the doumbek, providing a solid foundation for dancers to sync their movements with.

It is one of the most popular rhythms in belly dance; baladi rhythm is an integral part, contributing to its rich cultural heritage and providing a powerful backdrop for dancers to express themselves creatively.


This beautiful rhythm holds a significant place in the culture and history of Egypt. Baladi originated in Egypt and is closely associated with urban areas like Cairo and Alexandria. It's deeply rooted in the cultural fabric of Egypt, particularly in the working-class neighborhoods.


The history of Baladi traces back to the early 20th century, when it emerged in the urban centers of Egypt. It evolved from a fusion of traditional Egyptian music with elements of Western music, particularly jazz and Latin rhythms. Baladi reflects the influences of various cultural and musical traditions that have shaped Egypt's history, including Arabic, African, and Mediterranean influences.

You may see it spelled differently such as Baladi, Beledy, Balady, or Beledi and in some languages, means “country” or “folk”.  Beledi is part of a family of rhythms, which are played with the same groove, but different placement of the Doums (bass or center of the drum) and the Teks (high notes on the edge of the drum). This group of rhythms is called the “Beledi Family”, and consists of the Beledi, Maqsum, Saidi and Nawari rhythms.


How to play the rhythm baladi on a darbuka:
A system was created to by darbuka masters in order to teach their students by first reproducing the sound orally and then by playing the rhythm, with each sound having its own name.

Basic Baladi:
D D   -  T D  -   T

The two basic notes on a darbuka or doumbek are “DUM” and “TEK”. Dum is a low bass note created by hitting the center of the drum with the flat hand and the fingers together. “TEK” is a sharp, high note played by striking the edge, near the rim with the fingertip of the middle finger. Both are played with the dominant hand. Additionally, there's a third note called “KA,” which is equivalent to “TEK,” but played with the ring finger of the non-dominant hand. The sound should be as close to the “TEK” as possible.


Baladi music and dance serve various purposes, including entertainment, celebration, and cultural expression. It's often performed at weddings, festivals, and other social gatherings. It has a cultural significance, reflecting the daily lives, struggles, and joys of the Egyptian people. It is a very lively rhythm!


Belly Dance Movements:
When belly dancing, you can incorporate a wide range of steps and movements that reflect the baladi rhythm and mood of the music. Here are some common steps and movements:

1. Hip Shimmy: A rhythmic or fast movement of the hips in a controlled manner to match the speed of the rhythm.

2. Hip Drops and Lifts: Alternating movements where we drop and lift one hip at a time, creating a dynamic combo.

3. Figure Eights: Circular movements of the hips in a figure-eight pattern, emphasizing fluidity and grace.

4. Undulations: Smooth, wave-like movements of the torso, often performed while isolating the chest or hips. Body waves or Belly Rolls.

5. Twists and Turns: Rotational movements of the torso or hip twists, adding variety and expression to the dance.

6. Footwork:  We can do stomps, step patterns, and kicks, complementing the movements of the hips and torso.

7. Arms and Hands: Graceful arm movements, such as snake arms or arm undulations, add elegance and expression.

Belly Dance Steps for Baladi Rhythm:

Some of the steps I have incorporated in my classes while reviewing the baladi rhythm are:

  • Hip Drop combo: Double hip drop, slow drop or pause and kick: (fast, fast, slow, kick) - 2 variations.
  • Double-time rhythmic undulation (arabic), going backwards, switching feet to change sides.
  • Footwork: point foot, step diagonally, cross foot front, and open, switching feet to change sides.
  • Belly pop: lowering your pelvis to release your belly. Another variation is muscle work as if you are exhaling. The timing is paired with the DUM DUM portion of Baladi.
  • Hip locks in releve: Once in releve, each step will lower your hip at the timing of the rhythm. The second variation is emphasizing the beat's structure: Dum Dum, Tek, Dum, Tek = (fast, fast, SLOW, fast). Third variation is to position your body on a diagonal, and place your back leg in a diagonal line.

Examples of Combinations:

You may do a double hip lock (down, down) in releve, double belly pop, or double hip twist (DUM DUM)

plus (tek dum tek) any of the following:

  • belly roll or body wave up.
  • belly roll or body wave down.
  • figure 8 horizontally or vertically. Variations of figure 8 starting up or down, or front or back.
  • 1/2 circle.
  • full circle.
  • even a pause for a dramatic break!

When dancing with baladi, feel free to improvise, allow yourself to express your emotions and interpret the music freely!

Belly Dance Classes in California

Belly Dance Blog created by Tracy Rhaj

International Belly Dancer in Southern California. Professional dancer, choreographer, and fusion belly dance teacher in Southern California. Tracy's dance curriculum includes Diplomas in Dance Education Methodology, a study in dance pedagogy through the Functional Analysis of the Body in Movement in Dance (AFCMD), taught by Dance Pedagogue Mireya Martínez Solís.

She is a certified Siren Project international representant, after obtaining her teacher training certificate in Fat Chance Belly Dance style with flamenco fan.

Additionally, Tracy has studied with some of the world's best fusion belly dancers such as: Zoe Jakes, Rachel Brice, Belly Dance Superstar Sonia Ochoa, Carolena Nericcio, just to name a few.

She currently teaches weekly in-person belly dance classes in Southern California plus online classes, as well as intensive workshops.

Learn more.

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