Candle Tray Dance Tips

Candle Tray Dance Tips
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The candle tray dance can be a really beautiful dance for private parties, weddings and the stage. Below are some fabulous tips and “how to’s” for candle tray dancing used by professional belly dancers. Choose what works best for you.

Candle tray dancing

Selecting a Tray for Candle Tray Dance:

  • Start with an 11- 12″ diameter ordinary flat round tray. As you get comfortable with this, you can always upgrade to a larger tray. The larger the tray, the more difficult it is to balance. In this picture, we are using the 14 Inch Round Stainless Steel Serving Tray from Liberty.
  • Select a tray with some weight to it for easier balancing.
  • If the tray has a lip to it on the outer edge (meaning it is not completely flat) be sure the lip isn’t too deep. Otherwise, it will block the view of the candles, and you’ll be forced to use taller candles.

Selecting and Attaching Candles for Candle Tray:

  • Real wax candles with flame are the best. However, some venues will not allow flame, and wax candles can cause smoke detectors to go off. Therefore, you’ll need to check with the venue first.
  • In the picture above, we are using battery powered Everlasting Glow LED Wax Pillar Candles. Be sure to manually turn them “off” when not in use; do not rely on the remote control, as it will wear down the batteries.
  • If using real flame, be sure there’s a fire extinguisher nearby and that you’ve assigned someone to help you out in case of an emergency. The biggest threat is not while the tray is on your head but while you’re holding the tray; be sure your hair, a costume sleeve or veil doesn’t fall onto the flame. Although it’s highly unlikely the flame would touch your hair, as the candles and tray would fall to the side, be aware that hair spray and certain fabrics can be highly flammable.
  • Oil candles could be a nice alternative and shouldn’t set off the smoke detectors. Try these: Votive candle fuel cells
  • Hollow out large pillar candles by burning them down, and insert little oil candles into the hollow.
  • Battery operated flickering candles or tea lights are a nice alternative to flame.
  • Place a small candelabra in the center of the tray to hold candles.
  • Put each candle into a votive holder.
  • Using various sizes of candles can be extra pleasing. Place the larger, heavier candles in the center of the tray and smaller, lighter candles towards the outside. Generally, the closer all the candles are to the center, the easier it will be to balance.
  • Use a sticky tack reusable adhesive on the bottom, center of the tray. I use Elmer’s Tak & Stik Bring extra sticky tack, as once you lift it up, it doesn’t always stick as well the second time.
  • You may choose to decorate the empty space between the candles with flowers or rose pedals for a nice touch.
  • If using the tall skinny candles, use clay or putty to attach the candles. Then, melt a layer of wax over the edges so it looks as though the candles have melted down. Alternatively, you can create a base with pins, piercing each candle to attach. Surround with wax or putty, and add melted wax on top.

Candle Tray Balancing Tips:

When using these tricks, know that if an audience member sees your little “cheat-cheat” they can lose respect for your act. You want them to believe that it is difficult. Therefore, if using these tricks, be sure that no one is able to see the bottom of your tray before you put it on and when you take it off.

  • Stick a “window jell cling” sticker to the bottom, center of the tray.
  • Rough up the bottom, center of the tray.
  • Put a circle of self-sticking Velcro on the bottom, center of the tray. I like to use the pointy side of the Velcro.
  • Rub beeswax or surfer’s wax to the bottom, center of the tray. This trick will be easy to hide from the audience.
  • Hammer a concave indentation in the center from underneath the tray, so it creates a cradle for your head. I would try a 3 inch diameter. Be careful that you don’t over hammer, as this can warp the entire tray.
  • Use “Sticky Tack” reusable adhesive on the bottom, center of the tray.
  • Attach a circle of non-slip rubbery shelf liner to the bottom, center of the tray.
  • Attach a circle of rug backing to the bottom, center of tray.
  • If not using real flame: Just minutes before performing, part your hair in the middle and spray sticky hairspray to the top of your head. Allow to dry. This works for sword balancing, too.
  • Some dancers use headbands while balancing, but that can also be preceoved as cheating.

Practicing Tips for Candle Tray:

  • Practice balancing while doing chores around the house.
  • Practice in front of a mirror so that you can watch the tray and your head, while your body memorizes the feeling. Later, it’s important to practice away from a mirror!
  • Be sure you can do each move at least 10 times away from the mirror and without dropping or tilting your tray, before you attempt them in front of an audience.
  • Practice until you feel really comfortable, not fearing the tray will fall. You don’t want that look of fierce concentration while you’re performing.

Other Tips:

  • If you’re performing multiple balancing acts, like sword, finish with the candle tray dance, as live fire tends to be more exciting.
  • Select slow music. Visit my “Shop” and click on “Music for Props” on the right-hand side for suggestions.
  • It’s better to be prepared and choreograph, rather than improvising, as sometime the adrenaline can cause you to take chances and try moves that you aren’t prepared to do.

For more info about the author, Mellilah, please visit

About Mellilah Jamal

Mellilah teaches belly dance classes in Redmond and Bothell and performs for private parties and restaurants throughout Seattle.


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