Middle Eastern Dance
Basket, Pot, and Jug Moves
Below you will find tips for using baskets, pots, and jugs along with several movement descriptions specific to these props.

Isolations while balancing
You can do any of the isolations normally done in Middle Eastern Dance while balancing one of these.  The most
common isolations when balancing pottery in traditional dances like Tunisian Fezzani are hip twists.  Twisting in
various patterns with varied speed and sharpness are the main component of the Tunisian dance.  Even when not
performing authentic Tunisian folklore this is still a popular and common thing to do when balancing most containers
including baskets.  Unlike props such as canes and scimitars the balancing will generally be exclusively on the head
although resting the container on the shoulder or hip is quite common but it is supported with at least one hand.

Containers as props
Containers when used as props in bellydance are generally part of a mimetic performance in which the dancer is
mimicking a daily activity or telling a story through dance and mime.  With baskets this is often an act of carrying
goods such as spices, foods, flowers, or even laundry that gets washed in a imagined river as part of the performance. 
Another common theme with baskets is of course snakes both real and fake.  With pottery it is almost always
mimicking the drawing and carrying of water from a river or well to the village.  Keeping this in mind your movements
should be able to convey the story by over emphasizing these daily activities in a graceful way.  Making exaggerated,
gentle, sweeping and undulating movements of the arms is very important.

Baskets used are often the flatter Nubian styles which can be highly decorative with colorful woven geometric patterns
or could be a very simple plain monotone design.  Especially when the basket is decorative it is common to perform
movements which show of the designs beauty.  These types of baskets are sometimes held vertically like holding a
large frame drum and then the dancer will make large sweeping circles with it in front of the body and over head
occasionally varying the pattern by instead bringing it side to side.  If the basket is holding something you will want to
keep the basket steady and not spill out your item.  If the item is imagined (like you mimicked bringing laundry to the
river to wash) then maintain that illusion.  Don't pretend to carry your item then switch to holding the basket like a
drum.  This would be perceived as having dumped out you item(s), which is generally not something anyone would be
happy and dancing about.

Pots and Jugs
Pots and jugs almost exclusively are used to mimic the drawing and carrying of water so movements should usually
suggest these activities.  If you actually pretend to fill it from a river or well you should also treat the vessel as if it had
water in it.  It can help to imply weight by treating it as if it got heavier.  Water carrying scenes often involve a woman
(or women) going to fetch water and then men decide to check them out.  The women of course get playful and flirty
then.  In traditional Tunisian Fezzani dances this is not the case and one or more female dancers perform in unison
often with the accompaniment of a man (or group of men) playing a daff (frame drum) or similar percussion
instrument.  In any type of performance (folklore, fakelore, fusion, etc...) the traditional variations on twists is
common.  In nontraditional pieces any isolations can be used.  Making large exaggerated circles in front of the body
and above the head are also common movements.  Emphasis is on graceful carriage.  Pots and jugs are often rested on
the shoulder or against the hip.  In traditional Fezzani performances there is sometimes a floor section in which the
dancer(s) will kneel or sit and generally perform waving and undulating movements of the arms for a short period (not
exactly snake arms but not wild wherever arms either)  They then rise up usually performing a twist or two in a
kneeling position before coming all the way up to standing.  It is also common to set the pot or jug down on the
ground/floor for a short segment of the dance as well and then pick it back up.

Baskets for tips and snakes
If using the basket to hold a snake for a snake dance there is little actually dancing with the basket and movements
should be used to create mystery and suspense about what could be in the basket.  Taking the snake out of the basket
should be a slow  and somewhat climatic part of the performance.  Be sure the basket has a lid and keep the lid on when
you are not dancing with the snake.  If using the basket to collect tips you should also avoid doing a lot of dancing with
the basket as people will be confused when you start carrying it around because they will think it's still a prop.  Keeping
it near you but not picking it up till your ready to collect tips with it is a good idea.  A few cutesy moves (maybe even
some indicating somehow that tips are appreciated and should go in the basket) are appropriate before beginning your
rounds.  Usually you would simply carry it with you possibly resting it against the hip or shoulder occasionally while
you perform isolations.  When you are don you could balance the basket on your head to indicate your finished
collecting or you could simply exit with it in hand or set it it back down near your performance area and then continue
with your finale.
An Egyptian Pottery Seller Near Giza by Elisabet Jerichau-Baumann (1876).
Sword Dance at Jericho