Basic Arm, Shoulder And Head Moves - Belly Dance Lessons
Although belly dancers may simply hold their arms, shoulders, and head in graceful positions as they dance, actual movements of these areas are beautiful whether performed all by themselves, or layered with other belly dance body moves. Here are the core moves that form the foundation for many upper body techniques. They can be performed in a variety of belly dance stances and postures. Professional belly dancer Dahlia illustrates how arm, shoulder and head moves are gracefully performed in this belly dance video clip.
1) Belly Dance Arm Waves
Arm waves are semi-circular, wave-like motions of a belly dancer's arms and hands. Although the basic arm wave is done in a complete half-circle pattern, belly dancers will more often use an abbreviated version by moving the arms in less than a complete half-circle. However, if you start by practicing the complete half-circle movement, you'll strengthen your arms for a wider range of motion in freestyle arm moves and other belly dancing arm techniques. Arm waves and arm ripples are most often done to slower tempos of melodic belly dancing music.
Belly Dance Forward Arm Wave
To do a forward arm wave, use your arms to trace a full half circle in front of your body, with each arm moving in opposition to each other. Stand in good posture with the upper torso vertically aligned to the floor and the ribcage held comfortably upright.
Starting with your right arm, lift it up directly in front of you until the hand is above the head and then bring it down until your hand is down at your side. It's important to keep the arms, elbows, and wrists relaxed so that you can get a wave-like motion - you don't want your arms to be stiff and straight. The wrist flips up and back at your upper-most point above your head, and then will flip down and forward as you bring it to your lower-most position. Now try the same move with your left arm. Once you get the feel of doing it with both arms individually, you can try the full movement using both arms moving in opposition to each other. Bring the right arm up so the hand is above your head and the wrist flips. As you start to bring the right arm down, the left arm goes up, and vice versa. When one arm is waving up, the other is waving down. To get the correct flow of energy for many belly dance arm movements, you can create resistance by imagining you are doing them under water. Other arm poses and movements are freestyle belly dance moves.
Belly Dance Side-To-Side Arm Wave
The side-to-side arm wave is similar to the forward arm wave, but the semi-circle is traced on each side of your body. Standing in good posture, raise your right arm out to your side, then above your head where your wrist will flip up and back. As your right arm goes down, the left arm rises up and vise versa. Try not to think too hard about what you are doing, but instead relax and feel the flow of energy going from your shoulders, through your arms, wrists, and fingers. The trickiest part of belly dance arm waves is to relax enough to allow the wrists to flip naturally up and back at the upper most point of the move, and then down and forward at the lowest point. With enough repetitions, a movement will become part of your muscle memory and then every part of the move will become automatic when belly dancing.
2) Shoulder Rotation With Arm Ripple
The arm ripple, sometimes called snake arms, is most visible in the arms, but is actually created in the shoulders in a motion that spirals out through the arms, hands, and fingertips. Start with one arm held horizontally out to the side. Rotate the shoulder in a small circle that is vertical to the ground. The shoulder will roll forward, up, back, and down. Allow the energy to spiral out from the shoulder through the elbow, wrist, and hand, exiting out at your fingertips. Try the other shoulder - forward, up, back, and down. To do the full movement, coordinate the shoulders so that when one is rolling forward, the other shoulder is rolling back. It takes practice to get a smooth flowing action from one shoulder to the other. Remember to keep the elbows, wrists, and hands relaxed to allow the energy to flow from the shoulder through the elbow and wrist, and out through the fingertips.
3) Head Slide
The head slide will prepare you for greater flexibility in all your head movements and can be performed to rhythm or melody and to all tempos of belly dancing music. It's easiest to learn the head slide if your arms are in the temple pose. For the basic temple pose, the arms are held up vertically with the elbows slightly bent and the palms together lined up directly over the head. For the head slide, isolate your head and slide it in a straight line from side to side. It's similar to pretending you are trying to touch your ear to the inside of your elbow. Just try small movements at first, and keep your head level - don't twist or tilt your head. It's easier to do if you don't overly tense your neck and facial muscles. In addition, if you are belly dancing for an audience, their attention is focused on your face during a head slide and you want to make sure that your facial expression is relaxed, not tense.
Learn Belly Dancing with Atéa's Videos
Basic belly dance lessons along with arm, shoulder, and head moves are taught in the BellyDance! Magical Motion available in a DVD format or VHS video tape.
Advanced arm, shoulder, and head moves are taught in the BellyDance! Slow Moves is available in a DVD format or VHS video tape.
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