You will become so enthusiastic over your newfound passion that you will be unable to stop yourself telling anyone who’ll listen, all about belly dancing.
This will lead to invitations to dance at parties and gatherings of your peers – especially women’s groups.
These groups are very appreciative of any entertainment and will support you wholeheartedly when they see how much you are enjoying yourself. At each party or gathering you will receive a number of enquiries about how to learn. Remember, if nobody was prepared to entertain his or her peers, life would be very dull.
You will have a ‘party piece’, which really makes them sit up and take notice.
Choose the places where you will perform, very carefully, and you will never receive any unpleasant responses from your audiences.
Aged person’s homes and hostels, respite care facilities, club functions for older people, private family celebrations – all these are fun places to dance.
My troupe - Zaida's Jacarandas, was asked to dance at a private BBQ.
The husband of the lady who invited us was truly annoyed,
saying 'I don't want that sort of thing in MY house'.
After we had danced, he commented to his wife,
"THAT is DANCING! I hope you have booked them for next year".
You may like to select an exotic name, as your dancing persona. It certainly adds to your performance to be introduced as Sheherezade rather than Jane. If you are looking for an Arabic name, type Arabic Names in your Search box and you will be 'smothered' in sites containing names - and sometimes, their meanings.
Enjoy your dancing and your audience will enjoy watching.
"Raqs-e tehrani can be done as a social dance by individuals, couples, or groups. Though the dancers may dance together and relate to one another, there is no requirement to synchronize steps or follow one another in any way; thus regardless of how many dancers participate, each one is essentially dancing solo." http://www.DiscoverBellyDance.com
I am living proof that Stage Presence CAN be learned. When I first started to dance in 1996.... I could not lift my eyes from the floor and my body movements were extremely contained and upright, until I saw a video of myself dancing and sorted out these problems.
You need only a short glance at a member of the audience or a blink (never a wink as that can appear sleazy). You can give sultry glances over your shoulder and lots of SMILES. I don't mean fixed stage grimaces, but real smiles. Show the audience how much you are enjoying yourself and they will enjoy your dance. A nervous performer makes a nervous, irritated audience. Try not to look at any particular member of the audience more than twice or you will create problems for them with their partners.
Some performers, and I don't mean just dancers, erect a glass wall between themselves and the audience. You can eliminate this glass wall with just a few tiny motions, which make contact with your audience.
If you are in a studio situation, you may find you have to dance in a sort of 'chorus line'. This is, unfortunately, necessary due to time constraints. It is just not possible to give each dancer a solo spot; if there are a number of dancers. However, experience has taught me that it is better to have your dancers moving in an anti-clockwise circle (why they automatically go anti-clockwise I do not know - perhaps in the Northern Hemisphere they automatically go clockwise), anyhow, have the dancers moving in a circle - this has many advantages - none of them can 'hide' in the back row; each one has her moment in the spotlight, centre stage and most importantly, the audience can focus on each dancer in turn. I have found, if I am watching a row of dancers, my eye is attracted to one particular dancer and the rest fade into the background. Moving in a circle also obviates the need for all the dancers to be absolutely in 'sync' as they need to be when in a straight line, where if one is even slightly out of time, she stands out like dogs' balls.
Belly dancing is not a chorus-line dance such as 'Riverdance'. Its charm lies in the self-expression of each dancer. Each dancer moves differently and there is none of the rigidity found in classical dance such as ballet, where a certain move HAS to be done in a certain way. Each dancer interprets the music and the various moves in her own way.
A classic example of this, is the interpretation of 'The Camel'.
This is a very simple, basic move, where you imagine you have a hinge just below your ribs. You do a figure eight on this hinge; imagine someone has given you a sharp poke in the small of your back causing you to move your spine forward, and then a sharp poke in your belly button causing you to shrink your belly upwards and backwards. With practice you will develop an undulation.
If you do an opposite figure eight, this is 'The Fish' or reverse Camel.
You can layer this basic move in any way you wish, with arms, legs, head, feet, shimmies, walking, travelling, anything at all, but the basic Camel remains the same.
Because there has been so much discussion over this particular movement, I have done a great deal of research and asked many teachers for their input and I have gleaned that they all do the basic Camel, but add their own embellishments.
The chorus-line is not a part of belly dancing. You may be dancing with a group of women, but this is not the same as the 'chorus-line' of Western style dancing. Each woman would be interpreting the music to suit her own personality and physique.
I have been subjected to a bit of teeth-gnashing from dancers who have been trained in ballet and who INSIST you have to count your steps. My response is that belly and ballet are as different as knitting and embroidery. A skilled knitter COUNTS, an embroiderer …..makes pictures in colour. Both are equally skilled but there is no comparison. A belly dancer makes music visible. However…. Some people cannot HEAR music; they can only hear the rhythm. So, they will dance to the beat, and they will need to count. Those who can hear the melody, can FLY and do not have to constrain themselves to keeping the beat. The drummer will do that.
Some dancers are DRUMS. Some dancers are FLUTES.
So try to dance as a solo artist, perhaps with a friend, then you can work up a program of alternating solos with, possibly a duet at the end, but with each dancer interpreting the music in her own style; this looks truly beautiful and is a very effective closure to a performance.
This is the most superb dancer I have ever seen – breathtaking – I am so envious!!!!!
SWORDS some dancers enjoy dancing with a sword. This can look very spectacular, but is not for every dancer... it is a personality thing.
If you like the sword, you can obtain finely crafted, perfectly balanced, lightweight, blunt swords, designed purely for dancing and made from stainless steel or bronze, from a true swordsmith, who has studied the history and the art of manufacture; then had his swords 'road tested' by a professional dancer who loves to dance with swords:
CANADIAN SWORDSMITH – Finest grade swords
REMINDER: ALWAYS spend at least 10 minutes warming-up before you start your dance. This not only protects your muscles but will ensure that your body is fluid and graceful when you START to dance, and not just when you have been dancing for a while. It is equally important to warm-down after you have danced - stretch all those muscles you have been using - this will release the build-up of lactic acid and help you to avoid that 'stiff' feeling.
Warming-up may seem unnecessary when you are all hyped-up and 'hot-to-trot', in fact it can even seem a tiresome waste of time, but it is VERY important - if you want to dance to the best of your ability.
Go to my page - Stamina - for more detailed suggestions.
Westerners, with their passion for order have devolved a musical scale which has equal intervals between notes. This is the sound to which our ears have become attuned, since birth.
Eastern music uses a microtonic scale which incorporates intervals smaller than a semitone. This can sound quite discordant to the Western ear, until that ear is trained to accept the new tonic scale.
Thus, many dancers prefer Westernised music. Some even dance to modern pop music. This is within the nature of the dance. After all, the dance was originally the dance of the ordinary people, and they danced to their ordinary music - 'pop music' - before the term was invented. You dance to whatever music works for you. My personal preference is for the Arabic sound which has been Westernised enough not to be discordant to my ear; but has not lost the Arabic 'feel' - the complicated rhythms without the high-pitched wailing sounds. I also tend to avoid vocals, because I have no idea what is being said... Emad Sayyah produces some really lovely CDs, especially his latest ones.
The musical scale, the 7 major notes, correspond to the 7 main colours, red through purple, and these correspond to the 7 chakra or energy centres in the body, from the sacrum (sacred bone = pelvic vertebrae) to the top of the head.
In the ninth century a musician named Ziryab,
Ziryab exerted enormous influence on Moorish Spain and the music and instruments of the East were quickly absorbed into European culture. Spanish Flamenco dancing and guitar style is a well-known outcome of this exchange of ideas.
Relax your body. Feet parallel and knees slightly bent, stomach muscles pushed out slightly. Start tilting the pelvis upward, whilst pulling in the stomach muscles. The arch in your back should be nearly straight. Make a 'wave' backward, then forward with your pelvis. Slowly relax your abdominal muscles and bend slightly forward at the waist, creating a 'rippling' movement of back and hips.
WARNING: this move may cause diarrhoea if repeated more than a few times each session.
Basic stance... leading with the hip, slowly drag one foot around to the front....dragging the top of the toes on the floor. Tentatively tap the ground lightly with the tip of your big toe (as if you were a peacock, disturbing insects in the ground). Place that foot down and repeat move with other foot.
Very small, delicate steps in a straight line as if walking a tightrope... slide, tap, step - slide, tap, step.
Add snake arms, holding a veil. Pause after a few steps, bend the front knee and lock the back knee across the calf of the front leg, flutter the snake arms with veil. Rise and repeat sequence.
Left foot remains in one spot and just pivots as the body turns.
Right foot lunges forward then backward past the left foot as though you have taken a big step forward or a big step back.
Two lunges forward and back then turn to the left... repeat west south east, till you are facing forward again.
Arms.... left hand just cups your hair on the left side of your head... not touching hair
right arm stretches forward and points as the right foot lunges forward
left arm stretches forward and points as the right foot lunges backward and the right hand comes under the LEFT cheek, back of hand touching the cheek.
Head turns to right and tilts so that you give a cheeky look over your shoulder out of the corner of your eye.
This isolation moves the head on the neck - sideways. Left to right. The body and shoulders remain still and only the head slides. Be sure to keep the head absolutely upright and not tilt the chin to the side.
To get the feel, place your little fingers on your collar bones on either side of your neck, the thumbs are held upright and almost touching your cheeks. Move your head so that your right cheek touches your right thumb, then the other side… to the left. Make sure you do not tilt your chin to make your cheek touch your thumb. As your neck muscles gain flexibility, you will be able to move the thumbs further and further apart until you do not need this prop and can do head slides, ‘look Mum, no hands!’.
Once you have gained sufficient neck movement, hold your hands close to your chest in the ‘prayer’ position. This creates a centre marker point to emphasise the head movement. You can hold one hand at your chest and one hand above your head, but still in the ‘prayer’ position even though they are separated by your head and thus form a frame.
You can hold both hands above your head in the ‘prayer’ position, thus framing your head with your elbows. The ideas are limitless.
An alternative to the head slide is to keep the head immobile and to slide the body.
Keep your head still and slide the entire body to left or right. Make sure you do not counterbalance your hips by leaning your chest the other way. The whole body must remain upright and as a single shape, maintaining perfect alignment. Totally upright. You need to be VERY relaxed.
Face forward. Step across body to the left so that right foot is to the left of the left foot, but in front. Both hands are low and to the right of the body. Waist is twisted.
Twist on the left HEEL in a reverse half circle to the right and the hands go to the left at shoulder height or just above. Right foot to the right of the left foot. Repeat two or three times.
Step with the right foot to the left across your body, bring the left foot to the side of the right foot and turn the body on both feet to the right (burn)
Step with the left foot to the right across your body, bring the right foot to the side of the left foot and turn the body on both feet to the left (burn).
Face forward. Step sideways across the body to the right, so that the left foot is ahead of the right, bring the right foot level with the left foot, keeping the weight on the left foot, snap the hips to the left then back to centre.
Move forward very quickly with very tiny steps. Keeping the knee and hip fixed together as one rigid bone (each side) will force the hips up and down very rapidly whilst allowing the feet to ‘float’ across the ground. Takes practice to get the effect but worth the effort – always elicits ‘OOOhs’ from the audience.
Start your shimmy at the hips, let
it imperceptibly move up to the chest, then as imperceptibly to the head, then
back down again. As the shimmy leaves
the hips, the hips become stationary and the movement is all in the chest, then
the chest becomes stationary and only the head moves. This will take a bit of practice to get the
isolations and to get the flow of the movement so that is becomes almost an
undulation. Very effective and always
produces a gasp from the audience.
SHIMMY combined with MOVES
Start your shimmy at the hips and ADD any other move you like; for example, a hip circle.
It is easier to ADD a move to a shimmy than to add a shimmy to a move.
The shoulders move backward and forward rapidly, keeping the hips still. Show off those boobs!!!!
Get an undulation going - place the weight on the left foot and using the right foot push your body in a circle around the left foot, which remains almost static - keep the undulation going. The left arm is bent at the elbow at shoulder height, with the hand across the chest, edge on to the audience, not showing the flat of the palm. The right hand is down by the side of the body, in a pretty shape (whatever you like).
Reverse the move if you wish.
Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't -
you are right
The length of your veil; the material; the shape are all individual choices. It is good to try out as many veils as you can get your hands on.
My personal preference is a 3 metre veil of Chiffon. This material floats beautifully, drapes nicely and is transparent.
A good length for a veil is - hold your arm straight out from the shoulder and have a friend measure from arm to floor... double this length for your veil.
The aim, when dancing with a veil, is to get as much air UNDER the veil as possible so as to make it FLOAT.
Hold one long side hem of your veil centred across the front of your body just below shoulder level, with your hands about 12 inches (whatever is comfortable for you) outside the line of your body, on either side. Grip the hem of the veil between thumb, closest to the body, and the index finger on the outer side of the veil - or between the index and middle fingers (whichever you find comfortable, especially if you have a bit of arthritis in your fingers). The rest of the fingers are used to PUSH the veil in the direction of travel, thus giving it LIFT. You will need to move your hands along the hem of your veil depending on the move you wish to perform. Some moves work better with your hands in the basic, close position, other moves need you to move your hands as far apart from each other as you can reach.
BASIC FIGURE EIGHT
Drop your right hand, whilst pushing the veil with those fingers, and lift the left hand taking the veil across the front of the body to the right outside the right hand, up over your head and down behind you. The right hand follows the left hand in a circle above the head and round the back. As your hands come to the left behind your head, drop the left hand and the right hand follows it outside the left hand, bringing the veil back to the start position. This is the basic figure eight and is the centre of almost all veil moves. It is also a very good move when you need a rest. You can do fast figure eights, or slow ones, turning the body at the same time. They all look like different moves but are basically the same move.
HIP FLICKS WITH VEIL
Moving sideways to the right, do hip flicks with the right hip.
The veil is held behind you, low down, with the left hand touching the right hip from behind... this gives you a lot of veil to flick. The right hand flicks the veil slightly behind your line of travel so that as you step to do the hip flick, you do not step on your veil. Repeat in the other direction if you wish, changing hands.
Veil is held across the front of the body. Left hand touches the right shoulder. Right hand drops and brings the veil between veil and body low down, right hand gently flicks the veil outwards and back at shoulder level.
Left hand makes a crescent flick across the front of the body and right hand touches the left shoulder. Left hand drops down to bring the veil between the veil and the body low down. Left hand gently flicks the veil in a backward and forward half circle to the left at shoulder level.
Make this flow really fast and it looks fantastic.
Hold the veil by the long, upper hem across the front of the body, as in the start position for the Basic Figure Eight. Rest the bottom of the veil on the floor in front of you. Throw the veil straight up and catch the opposite, lower long hem as you step forward and duck under the veil. Let the veil hang down behind you and make it shimmy.
I call this YIPPEE! because that is what I say when I achieve this without getting smothered by the veil. This move will not work if there is wind or overhead fans.
A simpler version makes a striking finale.... throw the veil up, step forward under it and let the veil drop to the floor behind you. Raise both hands above your head in final salutation.
If you drop your veil in the middle of a dance, pretend it was intentional and make it part of your dance. If you have only dropped one end, you can step backwards and pull the veil towards you like a snake, until you get control of the pesky critter again. If you drop the whole shebang, then you need to dance around the veil as if you wanted to do just that and after acting as though you are 'talking' to that veil, you can gracefully dip down and grip the nearest portion of its anatomy.
This step lends itself beautifully to holding the veil high above and behind your head with both hands, letting it drape down your back as you do the Camel. Or you can hold the veil across the front of your body with your hands high above your head, but behind the line of the body, so that the veil is draped just below your face and forms a frame. When holding the veil up, be careful to cover your arms with the ends of the veil, this not only covers flabby arms, but also shows a larger surface of the veil, rather than just a limp ‘rag’ hanging down your back.
Hold the left hand high above the head behind the line of the body. The veil is behind the body. The right hands sweeps low across the front of the body while you step to your left and dip low. Raise out of the dip and a do a slow and sultry reverse circle with your whole body. Change hands so that the right hand is high above the head behind the line of the body. The left hand sweeps low across the front while you step to your right and dip. Raise up and do the reverse circle. Lovely with slow music.
There are many more things you can do with your veil, and this is limited only by your imagination.
HANDS some thoughts and ideas from Ankh.
Some dancers will focus so much on the dance itself that hands (or some other detail) just fall out of it. The trick is to make the hands more of a focus, so that they are not forgotten. Once the dancer is using the hands, the soft movements are more likely to happen and can be polished from there.
A short piece of choreography for the dancer, in which the focus is the hands, using the arms and hands to express the emotion and feeling of the music. The rest of the body moves only to accentuate the expression of the hands. The idea is to turn the whole thing upside down so that the HANDS are the dance, and the body is the 'extra'. This is similar to the Hula, where the 'hands tell the story'. In that vein, a bit of Hula may also help.
Props keep the hands busy, the veil, the cane, and zills although getting pretty hands from zills will be more difficult. Gloves, hand flowers, slave bracelets will all help to keep the hands in mind for the dancer. After all, we all like to show off our fancy costumes.
RAINBOW DANCE - choreography (use it if you like - adapt it as you wish)
The choreography was mainly my input, but the others have added and subtracted as we worked on it. Bits which were clumsy or cumbersome for them, we dropped. I may be able to do the movement, but if the rest of them cannot, then it is dumped. Bits which were not ‘gelling’ for them, we have dropped or changed or modified.
We all crowd him with a slow shimmy to a drum intro, facing in and as the music starts PUMP our hands up in the air then turn sharply to face outwards (this fits the music – so you adapt to whatever music you use).
Tiny steps outward with hip drops until we
are all about three feet out from
Squirm (I asked them to do a knees bend dragging the knees across right to left and a chest lift – as rubbery as possible) – they find this difficult so I have told them to do whatever they consider a Squirm – as we are all in a circle facing outward, the audience only see the dancers immediately in front of them.
Turn to the left and holding the corner of the veil in the left hand - do 3 hip lift walk steps – everybody face inwards - take the veil in both hands (narrow edge) FLICK it up into the air – the aim is to get ALL the veils at the top of the flick at the same tie - drop the bottom of the veil and holding the top point of the veil in the left hand, pass the veil to the person to your left –– take the point of the next veil on your right in your right hand change veil to left hand – face outwards - SHIMMY.
Squirm, walk, pass the veil, shimmy – on and on until you have passed on five veils.
When you have reached the sixth veil - as
you take the veil in your right hand – FLICK the veil up into the air whilst
backing out away from
It is the effect of the veils floating and
flicking which prompted the name ‘Rainbow
'Years wrinkle the skin but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the SOUL'
My philosophy about the dance is expressed very fully in the next site: