Using the usual stance, keeping the left foot flat on the floor, raise your right foot onto the ball, then push, or lift your right hip – then let it drop. Your feet should still be in the same position. Your knees should not be locked out rigidly, they should remain loose. Several hip drops can be done at one side before changing to the other side. To change feet simply lower the right and raise the left. Hip drops can be done double speed and half speed as well as normal speed. To suit your dancing and interpretation of the music.
Advanced dancers can move the hip in a semi circle – doing 3 drops each side. Shimmies can also be added. Hip drops can be done to the back by starting with the leg you are going to drop behind you. The angle of your foot will make a considerable difference to how the movement looks. Don’t be afraid to experiment with this. Try taking your foot a step to the side and then dropping it, bringing it in for the next drop, do doubles and singles, shimmies and straights. You can also try a kicking hip drop, as your hip comes down lift your foot and do a small kick with your foot pointing outwards. Or using the same principle, instead of a kick, just take the leg across in front of the other.
Hip lifts are done in the same way however the accent is on the lift and not the drop. Try two hip drops, followed by a hip circle with one hip in the vertical plane. SMILE.
In bellydancing there are many ways of using the figure eight, to begin we are going to look at the horizontal figure of eight.
First standing in the same way as for the hip circles, picture in your mind an eight drawn on the floor going from side to side in line with your hips. Think pivotal point somewhere in the centre of your belly – maybe six inches below your belly button. Take your right hip forwards and round to the side, as you move to the back, your other hip should start to come forwards and round to the back and you will alternate each side into a figure of eight. This movement can be done in reverse, taking the hip back and then round to the front. A bit more effort is required to alternate the hips to obtain a good figure of eight. However the result is well worth the practice.
Hip eights are also done in a vertical way – by using your legs to push your hips out, up, in and down alternately. This can also be done by going up, out, down and in. These are also known as Mayas.
Next we have for the more experienced dancer the full body eight. For this we make the pivotal point of the movement at waist level in the centre. This is a vertical figure of eight (or hour glass figure) use your shoulders and hips to make this lovely full body movement.
Eights are also done with the chest only both in the horizontal and the vertical plane. See section on chest before trying this, for full explanation. Don’t forget eights can be used in many ways with hands and arms. Also you don’t have to do a full figure of eight, a half, or one sided figure can look very effective. You can make eights with the accent on one hip, this can be either up and down or from side to side.
You can accompany a vertical figure of eight with lovely snakey arms, which we have already covered. This is known as a body wave, maya or whatever. SMILE.
CAMELS (or undulation) This is a lovely full body movement. To begin we use the normal stance, then take a small step onto the right foot, push your butt out, then thrust your pelvis forwards and up, then step onto your left foot, again pushing your butt out. Continue moving forwards in this manner, your abdomen should make a fluid front to back circular movement as you proceed. Your tummy should roll as you progress. This movement should be slow and undulating, however it can also be done using smaller faster steps. It can be done to the side, you can cross one leg over the other, you can do a large or small camel on the spot (or several) It can be a camel walk, and advanced dancer can add shimmies. You can do kicking camels, as the butt goes back, your foot does a little kick. And last but not least it can be done backwards just by reversing the movement.
There are many ways to do hip shimmies, here are the ones, easiest to learn. Place your feet hip width apart, knee flexed – keeping your body upright, slightly flex and then straighten your knees alternately. Start off slowly and gradually build up your speed. Allow the momentum to travel up into your hips. This should give you a successful hip shimmy or ‘shiver’ as many dancers like to call them. Another variation is to imagine you are resting your butt on a very small ledge and just move your hips slightly backwards and forwards getting faster and faster as you apply the coordination. You may find it easier to do your shimmy in a vertical plane by adopting the usual stance – feet flat on the floor and without actually lifting you feet, let your weight transfer from one heel to the other, speeding up as you get the idea.
With both hip and shoulder shimmies it is important to try to separate the top from the bottom. This is known as isolation technique. Some dancers are very good at this – however many dancers including myself never fully master the effect. By isolation I mean – when doing a hip shimmy, the upper body stays relatively still, and when doing a shoulder shimmy the lower bits move as little as possible. I find it helps with the hip shimmy to imagine a clamp on your shoulders and to do something with your hands and arms, also lift the rib cage. This can induce a certain tenseness in some dancers, so be aware of that and relax into the movement. For the shoulder shimmy, don’t make them too long, then no-one will notice if your undercarriage is moving a bit too much. You can always remember the ‘smile’ at this time and make it extra charming! (Or cheesy)
I really used to envy dancers who had a wonderful isolation technique, however it has become quite fashionable in Egypt to do the full body shimmy. If you have mastered the two previously described types of shimmying you can try this. Strike an imposing stance, try one foot in front of the other, hold your arms out in a front facing arc, and just let go from your feet upwards. Keep these shimmies very short as they are quite impressive.
As you progress you will find you will want to add shimmies to everything, do practice restraint as your hard learned movements will be lost in a flurry of shimmies. Just add them where you feel you should make an impact. SMILE.
CHEST AND RIBS
Chest slides or side to side movement. With the usual stance – holding arms loosely at your sides and without tilting your shoulders – lift your rib cage and slide over to the right, then back to the centre and over to the left. After a bit of practice, you can try going twice to each side to give a double hit.
Next you can try this, after you have moved to the right, move your rib cage to the back, then left, front and right again. This is as close as you will get to doing a horizontal circle with your rib cage. Try to make this as smooth as possible, the movement should be in your rib cage, don’t try to do anything with your shoulders, just let then relax and follow.
Next you can try to lift your rib cage in an up and over sideways circle. As with the last movement do try this each way, one way may seem easier to you than the other.
When you have had a good bit of practice with these movements you can try doing figures of eight in the same manner, you will also be able to include a front to back figure of eight. Remember you don’t have to do the whole movement, you can use one side on it’s own. A half eight or half circle or just a slide to one side, whatever suits your interpretation of the dance you are doing.
Next still using the same stance, lift your rib cage (leave your shoulders where they are) and let it drop sharply, this can be done in reverse, collapse your chest and lift it suddenly with a bounce. This is useful when there is an extra beat to fill usually between chorus and verse, or at the end of a piece of music. You can try two chest drops, followed by a shoulder circle.
TUMMY ROLLS AND FLUTTERS.
Concentrate on the muscles in your belly, pull them in and out and up and round, until you achieve a rolling motion, the roll should be from bottom to top. You can make them large or small, however it is good to do smaller ones to develop a tighter belly.
Tummy flutters are small contractions of the belly done fairly fast. Watch your breathing when doing this, you will be concentrating very hard and it is natural to hold your breath. Try to relax. SMILE.