Dancers find ways to be creative such as gaining inspiration for their choreography, improvisation, classes and costuming from all kinds of people, places and things. These could be other dancers, a painting, a sunset or a synergistic conversation. It is individual to each person in that what triggers something in someone might not be the same inspiration to someone else. It could be something small or something totally over the top that could make your brain start churning with ideas that stem from what your senses were filled with. It makes your creative juices start flowing with a spark.
There are elaborate stage productions, television dance shows representing many styles, black and white movies of dancers from the golden age a la Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, current music videos with tight choreographies and YouTube videos of belly dancers from all over the world to draw from.
I remember one time a troupe I was with performed a very unique folkloric number at an annual festival, one that had not been performed there before. The very next year, another troupe performed pretty much the same routine, but with a few added twists to make it their own. I've performed veil and cane where it hadn't been seen much in area haflas, and immediately after local teachers decided to start teaching them. Another time, I performed a style using my skirt that no one was doing, and the very next hafla, someone took the song and did their own skirt choreography to it.
Sometimes it crosses the line when you copy or mimic instead of being inspired and making something your own, but that is another story. Usually it is because they liked what you did so much, they wanted to do it, too. They were inspired to do the same or to put their own unique touches to make it their own. They remembered what a cool style of dance that was and agree it should be seen more and feel they can do it justice. The sleeves on that dancer's costume were so awesome, they just had to be added to the next set of troupe costumes.
There is so much to be inspired by, such as music, especially good live music that can get you visualizing and planning and doing! You feel and listen to the music, picturing what emotions it is evoking, what costume styles and colors would accentuate it, what movements it longs to create to match the instrumental nuances. With vocals, it is the words that are sung and the meaning behind the song that can drive motivation to create.
Nature can be inspirational, with its colors, scents, smells and other wonders. The rolling sounds of undulating waves, the flight of birds soaring as gracefully as veils, the leaves in the trees shimmying in the wind and even the powerful spinning of the tornado can create dance connections in your mind. It could be as small as a regal butterfly or as big as a tropical lagoon. Many costumes and veil designs are dreamed up from the many layers of colors in a sunrise or a sunset, a field of lavender, or a velvet, green forest.
As there are many styles of dance under the belly dance umbrella, there are many different tastes in music, costuming, movement and presentation, so therefore, inspiration can come from just about anything. A walk through a fabric or craft store is certainly inspirational!! I don't even sew, and I walk through going, oh wow, I could have a dress with this made that would go really fabulous with this cane dance I do, and ooh this would make a fabulous skirt that would go great with choreographies that call for skirt work! A trip through an art museum or some lovely non-fiction books might show costumes or dancing from earlier times, where something from that time period just might work with something you are doing now, or want to do.
Perhaps you and your dance partner or troupe members come up with something together that just fits like a puzzle as each person contributes until there is a perfect routine. You have generated this together with your energy, teamwork and creativity. There are certain smells that might make you remember something that leads to something else and you end up creating something wonderful. There are just so many things you can draw from, that if you take the time and be in the moment, you can find all around you!