I receive an email asking for videos of my snake dancing, tips
for dancing with snakes, or any resources I have found. I have
received quite a few emails, and they have inspired me to write
an article; so, thank you everyone who has ever sent me an email
asking about the secrets of dancing with a snake!
I hope that
someday soon I will have a video of myself dancing with my snake.
Though I don’t have one now, I do have important tips for dancing
with snakes, their care and feeding, and everything else involved
in dancing with them.
When I started
my journey into snake dancing, I learned through trial and error,
because there is not much accessible information, nor are there
many people who incorporate them into dance.
The most important
element is one’s affinity with snakes. You cannot be a person
who dislikes snakes, or finds it uncomfortable to be in their
presence, and still be able to work with them properly.
can feel your energy, just like any other kind of animal. Therefore,
if you are nervous, they will be nervous also, and a nervous snake
makes for an unhappy snake!
a snake requires:
a snake in your home
You need to
have a tank large enough in which to house your snake, so that
he will be comfortable moving around inside it. The tank
must have a source of heat because snakes are cold blooded.
You need to keep a water dish filled with clean water for them.
They like to drink water often, and they like to take baths in
their water. You must provide the proper bedding for your
particular snake. Some snakes like sand, and others like
a “forest floor” type of bedding.
that you purchase your snake at a store that specializes in reptiles
called a herpivarium. There, they will most likely have
the knowledge to be able to guide you.
also must be able to feed them live animals, and not be squeamish
about it. Some reptile stores recommend buying dead frozen
animals, defrosting them, then feeding this to your snake, because
the rats, mice, or gerbils do bite the snake sometimes.
However, I prefer feeding live bait to my snake, I feel it satisfies
their hunting urge, and makes more content. You need to
keep an eye on the feeding process to make sure that the animal
you have introduced as a food source does not bite your snake
in defense. I do not feed my snake in his cage. I remove
my snake, and put him in a large cardboard box for feeding.
I do not want him to associate his cage with food, and this proceedure
keeps their living area much cleaner. You also must keep
the snakes living quarters clean. Yes, snakes do defecate
like every other animal, and you must remove that and clean the
area. Snake owners must remove shed skin and provide new bedding.
Snakes may not need to be walked and played with as do dogs and
cats, but they do like to be handled – in fact – it is
essential that they become accustomed to being handled
by you particularly, in order for the snake to find dancing with
you acceptable behavior.
brings me to: Performing with your snake.
bring my snake to a gig unless I have received a request to do
so! Some people have an overwhelming fear of snakes, and
surprising someone with a snake would be a fearful and insensitive
thing to do. If asked to bring my snake to a performance, I charge
extra because of the extra work of bringing my snake along.
purchased a lovely woven basket with a sturdy latch from the Bombay
Company. Make sure the basket is a woven type so that air
can circulate. I put a nice towel down on the bottom of the basket.
I also purchased a heavy-duty water bottle at the pharmacy,
and I always fill it with very warm water, and wrap it inside
the towel. My snake seems to love his travel home: it is
cozy and warm, and keeps him contented for the trip. I also
seat belt the basket in the car, if you stop the car short, the
basket and snake will go flying through your car, and you wouldn’t
want that to happen!
I never perform
with my snake if he has just eaten. I learned that the hard
way! I was dancing at our local Humane Society chapter’s
big annual fundraiser. I was on stage with African Drummers, and
a fire dancer. During the dress rehearsals the day before,
as I lifted him above my head, he vomited the contents of his
rat meal that he had the night before all over me, my hair, my
$800 costume, the stage, etc. (I do mean all over!)
I was glad that it happened during dress rehearsal and not during
the show itself (in front of 1,500 people)! Thank goodness
that there were showers in the place! It took me five washings
in cold water and Woolite to get the smell out of my costume!
I should not even mention shampooing my hair three times.
important tip is to handle your snake frequently. That way,
your snake will be used to being handled, and used to your smell,
thereby making it much easier to perform with him.
be trained like dogs can, but they can become tamed, and one way
to tame them is to handle them frequently.
go to pick your snake up, always make sure you wash your hands
thoroughly. If you have the scent of food on your hands,
your snake will think you are his dinner, and he will strike.
a few ways to present your snake to the audience; the easiest
way is to just arrive on stage with your snake. The more
dramatic way is to lift your snake out of its basket on stage.
(It is more tricky, of course.) I always lift the lid of
the basket slowly, so as not to startle him. I always stroke
the snake once or twice, before I start lifting him out of his
basket. Sometimes he will come up all curled up in a ball,
and no amount of manipulation is going to change his mind.
Other times, he will come out of the basket little by little,
and it is an awesome spectacle! The last time I performed
with my snake in Denver at the Bellydance Superstars Show, he
behaved amazingly! He was compliant. He came out of the
basket little by little, flicked his tongue a lot, and stayed
stretched out, without wanting to curl up in a ball. Other
times, though, I’ve danced with him when all he wanted to do was
curl up in a ball and hide.
dance with a snake, people will be amazed, and the show will always
get a great audience reaction. However, you must remember
that your snake is a pet, a live animal, and must not become “thrown
about” on stage. You need to move your snake slowly, and
if you are going to spin with it, keep it above your head, and
don’t spin more than 2 or 3 times. You wouldn’t like to
be spun around quickly for a long time, and neither would your
a snake for me is very primal, and strong. I respect the
energy of the dance when I have my snake with me, and respect
my snake. It has been an amazing adventure and journey for
me, as I have learned through trial and error.
I hope my
experiences help you to decide whether or not dancing with a snake
is right for you. My snake and I wish you and your snake a happy
and long dance journey together.
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Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
3-3-04 Belly Dancing
with Snakes by Neferteri
snakes have their own room with a scenic view of Las Vegas, and
it is temperature controlled.
BOOTH PICS at RAKKASAH
FESTIVAL WEST 2002
photo prep and layout by Munira
had much fun mingling with the reptiles
7-31-00 More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Living
With Constrictors by Eva Cernik
My heart beat
stronger and stronger, until something in my human reasoning kicked-in.
"I wonder if I'm causing all this?
That "Snake Charmer" Song
a wonderful article on that kitchy didy your friends sing
to you, when they hear you're a belly dancer. Includes 2 sound
files, lyrics, an animated graphic and antique cover of the original
Hips: Belly Dancing and How I Found True Love” by Anne Thomas-Soffee
book review by Lilly
To say I enjoyed the book would be a gross understatement.
Parts 5 & 6,"
I Arrive at My Teacher’s", "Cost Plus and Woolworth’s"
there she was this little girl transformed before me, gliding
and twirling around the room with a big smile of encouragement
on her face.