In the old days, belly dance instructors gave their students their dance names. Now days it’s more common for dancers to choose their own stage name. Picking a belly dance stage name is a lot like choosing a business name. If you keep a few things in mind, you should come up with something that you love.
* For name ideas, check out baby name registries. They will usually list where the name is from and what it means. You don’t want to choose something that means “garbage.” (Not that that would happen!)
* Keep your target audience in mind. While you don’t have to restrict yourself to Middle Eastern names, a made up name or a fantasy name works better if you are doing Renaissance faires and that type of thing. If you want to dance for Arabs, it’s better to have an Arab name. If you have a big Turkish population, you might want to consider a Turkish name.
* Before you register your website and print business cards in your new stage name, try the name out for a couple of weeks. Spell it. See if others can pronounce it. You don’t want your announcer mangling your name every time you are introduced. Say it. Does it roll off the tongue? Does it sound like something unpleasant? When you consider that Talibah means “seeker after knowledge” it might be appealing, but one if you are ever introduced as Taliban, you might reconsider. Don’t we all know dancers that were formerly something else? It can get confusing to change a lot. Try it out before you commit.
* It might be a good idea to go with something that is neither very popular nor too obscure. My first dance name was Sheherezade. My teacher gave it to me and I loved it because who doesn’t love Arabian Nights? Everybody, right? Well, everybody had that name. So I changed it to Salome. Same thing. When I was given the name Taaj by a Syrian friend, nobody was using it, so that finally stuck.
* Consider using a variation of your own name. If your name is Mary, you might go with Mariah or Miryam.
* Consider using your given name. You don’t have to have an exotic stage name. Some people prefer to use their own, and that’s just fine. However, keep in mind that one of the reasons for having a stage name is for privacy and security.
When you are born, you are given a name. When you take the stage, you get to choose. Names have power. Choose well.