BASIC BELLYDANCE STEPS
Basic stance: feet in parallel position placed under hips. Knees slightly flexed. Pelvic area slightly tucked/neutral, chest lifted, stomach muscles engaged, shoulders relaxed. Imagine head as a balloon floating on a string. Visualize your center as within your solar plexus & your arms as resting within “heavy water” to give a smooth effect to movements.
I. Steps for moderate/fast tempos, using sharp, vigorous movements. Done in place or traveling
1. Basic walking step [sometimes called Basic Egyptian] - "Step Touch": Place foot down; lift other hip, place that foot; lift opposite hip, place that foot: continue in this manner alternating feet & hips. To travel: when foot is placed, move it slightly in the direction of travel. Variations: where you place foot, which foot steps or lifts hip, etc., will produce different effects.
2. Twist - push hips front & back, keeping on same level on a horizontal plane
3. Slide - hip goes out to the side; OR up & down: Teachers & dancers have used "slides" to describe both directions [can also refer to chest, rib cage]. To distinguish the directions, many of us say "side" for side-to-side; and hip "ups" to refer to up & down.
4. Hip bump - hip goes out to the side & up simultaneously; another term used is "hit"
5. Shimmy - a speeded up motion of slides or twists; can be done with hips or shoulders. Many variations of shimmies both stationary and traveling
6. Hip lifts - the category of moves in which the hip lifts up & down while the leg & foot of working hip are slightly extended, no weight on "working hip" leg; weight is on back supporting leg.
a) Hip lift - hip rises on the accent of the beat b) Hip drop - hip lowers on the accent
7. Thrust - a sharp back & forth movement of hip or shoulder. With hips, an energetic twisting motion with weight on back leg.
8. Doubles - refers to moving hip, or shoulder, chest, etc., etc. in sequence on each side 2x
9. Pops, locks, snaps - sharp movements done by contracting muscles quickly & strongly, then release
II. Steps for slow / moderate tempos, using smooth languorous motion. The body part lingers before switching to another move. Can be done in place or traveling.
1. Undulation - a smooth rolling move, can use just the abdomen or engage the whole torso. A stationary stomach undulation (belly roll) involves only the abdominal muscles & not the chest; the full torso move incorporates both. In traveling, the whole torso is usually involved: a flowing, gliding movement is created as the chest lifts & rolls into a stomach roll as the feet move; described as a smooth arch / contraction : these are the “camel” moves.
2. Rolls - can be done with any isolation of hips, shoulders, stomach, arms, chest, hands, head. A rounded movement done by isolating the body part in different directions as if describing a clock, compass, etc.
3. Figure 8s - the category of isolations in which the body part, usually the hips, travels along a rolling & continuous figure 8 (infinity loop). Hip Figure 8s:
a) Horizontal Fig 8 - hip travels in a front & back smooth twist motion on a parallel plane: while one hip is to the front, the other is back ; hips continuously move
b) Vertical up Fig 8; (Hipovers) - lift hip with weight on opposite leg; move that hip into center & down; center your weight; lift other hip in same manner.
c) Vertical down Fig 8 (Mayas) – lift hip w/weight on same leg; push hip out & down, then into center; repeat w/ other hip
4. Circles - same concept as Rolls, but usually traveling on the horizontal plane. Body part moves around smoothly as if drawing a circle parallel to the floor. * Some teachers use "rolls" and "circles" interchangeably.
FREEZE POSE - at conclusion of dance & also for dramatic effect during dance. A classic freeze pose: weight on one leg, opposite leg extend to side, lean over extended leg w/arms overhead in temple (palms together) or cobra (backs of hands together) arms: as if you are the “bow” and the energy that you emit is the “arrow”.
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