- Practice with a Mirror
- Practice without a Mirror
- Practice on the Left side
- Practice on the Right side
- Practice the reverse of everything
- Practice different levels (ex. bending knees makes hip figure 8's go down - straighten knees slowly and up you come)
- Practice different speeds (ex. very slowly and controlled - or very quick and staccato!)
- Practice big little and medium sized movements
- Practice flowing a move from one part of your body to another (ex. move a shimmy up from your hips to your shoulders, isolate the shimmy there, then flow the shimmy back down to the hips and isolate it there, very effective. Delilah Flynn is a master of this.)
- Practice expression - anger, joy, seduction, Priestess, fire, air, water, grounded, Physical, facial & spiritual - expression!
- Practice with zils
- Practice dancing without any music except what you provide with your zils. Play for yourself and dance for yourself. Stop thinking about what anyone else would think of what you're doing or how well and just please yourself.
- Practice moves on your toes (on the balls of your feet as if you were wearing heels) - bend those knees!
- Practice layering one move on top of another (ex. traveling step - add hip shimmy - add arm movement - what's your expression?) Make it hard, add zils, or a veil
- Practice relaxing into a move, hold your head up, bend your knees a little more. Work at not being rigid but relaxed. Make your movements strong, yet fluid. Now relax; get into the music and the motion.
- Practice moving as if you were under water. Feel the pressure of the water against your arms as you move them. Try running forward as if you were running in water. This imagery will help to develop fluidity.
- Practice Belly Dance moves to your favorite non-Middle Eastern music.
- Practice pulling energy in & pushing energy out
- Warm up - Warm down
- Arms are counterbalance
- Sensual not Sexual
- If you can't get a move, try bending your knees more
- If it hurts, don't do it!
- If it hurts put ice on it - 20 min w/ ice pack in old T-shirt
- Enjoy dancing; don't forget you want to have fun!
- To practice at least 30 minutes twice a week (not counting class)
- Keep your head up
- Bend your knees
- Share, it makes everything more fun.
- Dance for yourself first!
- Smile and relax
- Remember to practice within 24 hours whatever you learned in class or at a workshop
Other good advice
- Watch Belly Dance videos
- Study the music, its rhythms and origins
- Study the culture and language
- Learn to play a drum
- Subscribe to a really good Belly Dance Magazine, like Habibi. This is a valuable source of information. There are good pictures for costume ideas, educational and inspirational articles, (so you don't even have to leave your house to raise your awareness), adds for merchandise, (you might be surprised what's available), and other dancer's adds can give you ideas for your own. When one knows very little about a subject one of the most frustrating things can be not knowing what questions to ask. Good magazines can introduce you to things you've never encountered before. Here's an example. You have only been exposed to say Egyptian Cabaret; in fact you don't even know other styles exist. If you are lucky you might live in a city with a large Belly Dance community, with restaurants or clubs which support a variety of dancers, however if you're not one of the lucky ones, a good magazine can expose you to other dance styles. You may find a dance style you like even more than the style you currently enjoy.
- Learn to take criticism without becoming insecure. Never think "Don't they know I know that?" No, they don't, no one can know what is in your brain but you. If you're busy being offended, you're not busy listening. You may not know that move as well as you thought you did.
- Also, try not to be overly critical when viewing yourself on video. So often when I try to get a dance student to film herself then self critique, they can't stop seeing the distracting shallow negatives. They always say things like "I'm too fat (then loose weight), "I'm too flabby" (then exercise), "That makes me look fat" (then don't wear it, wear something flattering), "I don't look like you" (no, you look like you), "I can't dance as well as you" (then practice). You know what I mean, we all do it from time to time (or maybe for you it's all the time). When instead we should be noticing what we do well so we can feel good about our ability. It also lets us see what looks good and helps us remember to repeat it that way. There are often simple things that can be corrected and which produce amazing results, so that each time you view yourself you almost always see improvement.
- Being overly critical about one's self is a bad habit to get into. Not only is it self-destructive but it can actually effect other people. One day there were just a few of us at a class and we were all pleased to be there for class and pleased to be together. We had warmed up and begun class when another dancer arrived late. After apologizing for her lateness and interrupting the class she took her place in front of the mirrors and immediately exclaimed how fat she was, and how miserable she was about it. She even apologized to us! Now, this woman was beautiful and if there was an ounce of fat on her anywhere we sure couldn't see it. But we all understood the "program" she was running in her head. If she had kept this comment to herself, we never would have thought about her weight for one instant. However, her comment did more then bring just herself down, it brought all of the rest of us down, because everyone of us weighed more then she did, so if she was fat, we were huge. In an instant she had changed the entire emotional status of the room from happy and focused on dance, to unhappy and focused on distracting shallow negatives. Every new day is an opportunity to create a new you. The "you", you wish to be. If you need to lose weight, lose it, or shut up about it, you are only generating negativity when you make those comments about yourself. Life is hard enough without creating unnecessary guilt and frustration. Think about it.
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This page last modified: June 21, 2008