Romantically and spiritually, the belly is the core of a woman’s being, her femininity, her center of power. Historically, a soft, round womanly shape was considered beautiful, and a curving belly symbolized both wealth and position. It seems most men still prefer a woman with those curves, but modern society has influenced the opinion of most women. In the Western world, the least favorite part for most women is the lower abdominal, affectionately (?!) referred to as the belly. It is in that area of the body where you feel muscularly lazy and find it too easy to collect a pouch of fat. Most women give their bellies the evil eye, especially when they are in front of the mirror. I don’t know how many times I have seen this in dance class and can personally say I have felt the same way! I don’t know anyone who wants to look like the jolly Buddha.
Webster’s Dictionary states the noun “belly” is the abdomen. The verbs “bellied” or “bellying” mean to swell out or bulge. Well, that’s not exactly promising, is it?!
Here are some things you can do to define your midsection and slenderize your waistline:
There are technically only two movements that the belly can perform, namely contraction and release. The entire abdominal wall can be used, or different parts in different series, to create various interesting and challenging dance movements. The Stomach Flutter is a great movement that uses the entire abdominal wall. Release the control of the stomach as you let it out, then grab it back in. Do it at an even tempo, in-out in-out in-out without holding your breath. As you gain control, increase the speed to create a fluttering effect.
The second most common movement done with the belly is the Belly Roll. First, try to separate your ab muscles in two parts, the upper portion above your belly button and the lower portion beneath the belly button. Practice contracting and releasing each half separately. The slower you practice, the better. Once you get confident with the separate movements, try this sequence: contract the upper half, then while holding it in contract the lower half (so the entire abdomen is held IN). Then release the upper half without releasing the lower (that’s hard but not impossible!). Finally, release the lower half (so the entire abdomen is relaxed OUT). Repeat many times. Once you have the Belly Roll, you can reverse it or build upon it by incorporating it into a roll that uses the whole torso and spine to make a full Undulation. Advance into a moving Undulation, called a Camelwalk. An excellent version of Camelwalk is what I call the "small Camelwalk", which is executed entirely on the balls of the feet. It challenges your balance, which automatically tones your core. Check out my short instructional video on how to execute a Small Camelwalk: https://youtu.be/ErSvUYmCZTs
Belly dance wouldn’t be belly dance without great belly movements. As you work to improve your dance technique, take special time to develop your abdominal muscles. Not only will your dance technique improve, but you’ll love how your belly looks and will dramatically improve your long-term health. Go ahead, search for that better belly. It’s a win-win situation. You might find that Ozel was right, you are a goddess!
St. Patrick’s day is a day of 4-leaf clovers, pots of gold, and tons of good luck. Here is how you can attract good luck that will take your dance to new heights:
The Lotus is an exotic hand movement that has roots in ancient Egypt. It's history dates back to 4000 BC when it was an important part of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Flowers from the Nile Valley can be found on many of the objects that the ancient Egyptians used everyday. Sometimes the lotus designs were purely for decorative purposes, and sometimes they had religious meaning, particularly in funeral ceremonies in the Egyptian quest for eternal life. For the ancient Egyptians, the lotus flower was a symbol of creation, renewal and rebirth. The flower grows along the Nile, blooming at dawn and closing at dusk. It grows from beneath the depths of the water to above the surface. It is a symbol for hidden vitality, appearing as if out of nowhere, hinting at the true source of creation.
The belly dance movement called the Lotus captivates an audience more than most of the other hand and arm movements. The Lotus involves both hands and should be done at a time in your routine when you are not holding a veil or wearing finger cymbals. When performing the Lotus, it's best if you stay in place or do a simple, graceful glide across the stage, allowing the audience to appreciate its beauty. The center of the movement is around the wrists, which become the center of the flower. The hands and fingers are the petals. With constant movement, the petals appear to be many, creating the full blossom.
It's not the easiest hand movement to master, but once you break it down and practice it carefully, you'll see that all it takes is a coordination of flexing and bending your hands around the wrists. To help you master the Lotus, please take a look at the instructional video that I have posted on my YouTube channel. It breaks down the Lotus into 4 basic positions. It also gives you tips on moving the Lotus in a beautiful fashion. See link at bottom of this blog post.
Incorporating the Lotus within your oriental dance routine adds a touch of beauty and is an especially authentic addition to a pharaonic-style dance. The Lotus helps your dancing blossom to exciting heights!
Ever wonder why other dancers get more accolades or seem to get ahead faster? Self-doubt can lead us to making a fatal error that leaves you feeling like you are going nowhere. Sometimes we don’t even know we made an error at all, we just struggle with frustration.
What are the common mistakes an ambitious dancer might make? Check out the following list to see if you are stuck in the mire of an error right now and need help getting unstuck. Or maybe you can relate to an error that you made in the past and learned from it. You can help guide another in their dance journey.
JASMIN JAHAL, Author
I've been dancing since I was 3 and a professional belly dancer for over 40 years. I've learned so much from personal belly dance experience and want to share with you advice, tips, suggestions and more. Anytime you have any questions and need sage advice, please reach out and let me hear from you!