It is the drum solo that really spotlights a belly dancer's talent. When a belly dancer does a wonderful drum solo performance, she is praised for it. However, when performed not so well, she is made aware of her shortcomings.
The hips are the focal point when it comes to drum solos. A belly dancer should remember that the hips are going to draw the attention always during the routine. Movement from the hips need to be precise and on target.
You can tell when a belly dancer is not precise in her hip movement. This can be for several reasons. One, she does not have strength in her hips. She maybe putting too much stress on her knees, lower back, or her feet. Two, she may not be mentally ready to handle such an energy demanding drum solo routine. A dancer has to be precise and on target. Like a dance instructor once told me, "you have to move as if each movement is an individual snapshot".
A belly dancer is like a snake to a snake charmer. The snake charmer being the drummer and the belly dancer, the snake. Especially in a live performance, the drummer or dumbek player is in charge. Yes, the dumbek player is the one who will dictate the movements during the drum solo; not the dancer. Remember, there are no other instruments played during a drum solo, so the dancer does not have the luxury of dancing to other melodies.
With the drum, the belly dancer must know the different beats, tempos, and she must know when to hit the different drum accents. A dancer may choose to do locks and pops on the high beats and drop her hips on the low beats. When the drum player does a very fast tempo, the belly dancer will do a shimmy or vibration.
Most drum solos involve little travel. In other words, you will not see a belly dancer use the entire stage by making great spins and turns. A belly dancer will be centered during a drum solo. She may do a small spin here and there, but for the most part, she is going to interpret the drum and make sure each beat is memorialized in her routine. It may be that at the end of the routine, where the beat just goes out of control fast, that the dancer will spin until the last beat.
All this is making me feel a little bit exhausted! Yes, there are plenty of shimmies, hip bumps, pops and locks in a drum solo, but a belly dancer should never look exhausted during her performance. That is the beauty. People in the audience are so overwhelmed and intoxicated with the fast beat of the drum that they feel breathless. Because a belly dancer maintains her energy and is suave, people just wonder "how does she do that?".
A belly dancer will also make sure that the chest is involved when hitting the different beats. On the drop beat, she may use her hips and on the up beat, she may do several chest lifts. This specific combination may be repeated several times during the routine.