How Belly Dancers Are Made…

Over the last fabulous 10 years of teaching, I have seen this incredible metamorphosis in almost every woman I have taught (I lost count at 150.) It’s a really amazing transformation, and the reason I just keep going. Spread the love, share the knowledge, and keep the cycle going! Thank you Misty for this creative poster.  ~ Namaste

 

How Belly Dance Can Boost Your Life!

Why do we Belly Dance, and what are the Benefits?

Dance allows people to be more active, to socialize and develop creative and physical skills.  Increasing exercise and dancing reduces stress levels, builds stronger bones & muscles, improves relaxation and sleep, maintains a healthy brain and aids in weight control. Not to mention, it gives you something to look forward to each week!

We all should be getting at least one hour of physical activity per day. What better way to do that, than to dance! Indulge in the culture, study other dancers, and find amazing music along the way. Our class runs every Tuesday, and there are 2 hours to utilize the studio time, so take advantage of this opportunity, especially if you are a performer. There are 168 hours in a week, take 2 hours not only for you, but for our Troupe. Enjoy these captivating moments we share.

Make new friends while enjoying this creative, beautiful and unique art form. Learn to work in a group, improve dance technique, and wear wonderful costumes! We have a tight knit group of ladies in our Troupe, we share all kinds of music, videos and costuming ideas to keep it interesting and progressive!

Performing is an option, but highly recommended. After a while, your confidence will build and soar to new heights. We are always welcoming new students, if you would just like to get out and move once a week, or take it a step further and perform with our Troupe, we are here and welcome you!

~Namaste

 

Belly Dancing for Cross-Training

How can Belly Dancing make you a better Athlete, Dancer and Performer?

Balance + Flexibility + Agility + Endurance + Style

No matter what your passion is, whether it be activities like Flow Arts, Pole Dancing, Kickboxing, or Martial Arts (to name a few) Belly Dance can greatly enhance your performance. Have you ever heard of Football Players taking Ballet Classes? Well, it’s true! Creative Dance exercise also improves body awareness through imagery and visualization, the cognitive benefits are endless.

Belly Dancing is a very controlled, isolated form of Dance that takes practice and determination, but anyone can do it. When you learn to isolate muscle groups and use them effectively, great things start to happen. The ancient art of this dance can greatly enhance your performance not only on the field, but on the stage too. These mystical moves inspire performers of any kind, but also adds to your form and placement of torso, hips, legs, feet, arms and hands for a more appealing and smoother presentation.

I always encourage my students to try different dance forms or cross-training to improve their Belly Dancing skills, and also encourage other instructors to instill the importance of a variety of genres for their student’s growth.

Make Belly Dance a part of your workout routine!

 

Staying Motivated in Dance

Stay motivated to dance! We all have lazy, low energy days or “no interest days” that we battle now and then (some more than others),  that is why we work together to keep each other in check! Here are some handy tips to keep that inspiration alive:

  1. Watch Dancing- There are many fabulous videos and tutorials online, You Tube is a happy place for me! See a show, even if it isn’t your genre…you will be amazed at how inspiring and motivating watching other dancers can be.
  2. Create or Purchase New Costumes- One of the most exciting parts of Dance are the costumes, especially in Belly Dance! From glitter and glam to the captivating and intriguing styles of Steampunk and Tribal Fusion garb. A new look or accessory to wear to class is always welcomed!
  3. Study and Practice with a New Prop- When I get bored of the same old, I learn something new! There are many props to use in Belly Dance, Veils, Fan Veils, Zills, Isis Wings, Candles, Canes….the list goes on. A new prop can open doors you never expected, so enjoy your home study time!
  4. Find New Music- I spend hours upon hours searching for new tunes for class and for choreography.  Soundcloud, You tube and I tunes are a few places online that I visit more than once or twice a week. Sometimes just some headphones and a relaxing space is all you need, enjoy!
  5. Have Other Hobbies- Yes, you are allowed to do other activities! Sewing, Painting, Sketching, Yoga, Hiking….so much to see and do. Enjoying other hobbies will only make you a strong, well-rounded Dancer that doesn’t feel weighed down by one activity.
  6. Just Get Up and Dance- Last but never least, if all else fails just get up and shake it! I dance in the kitchen while doing dishes, down the hallway, and even practice moves in the bubble bath. You have nothing to lose but calories, and will only get better every week. Come and show off your new skills in Class!

Loving Yourself~ Tips for Self-Love

When you feel good, your whole life changes for the positive and can have some major impacts in many areas of life.  A  little spring in your step may be just what you need! Appreciating yourself for who you are, and loving the skin you are in are the first steps in successful redirection.  Every week in our dance class we celebrate our achievements no matter how big or small they may be. Maybe you learned a new Belly Dance move, maybe you finally conquered the Cobra Arms you have been desperately trying to master, or maybe just showing up for class was your biggest feat! Any effort is acceptable, as long as you are trying and remember to appreciate yourself for your efforts. Here are a few tips to help get you on the road to Self-Love and Self-Acceptance:

  1. Find your core values, and make efforts to stay on track. Abide by them and stick to your guns. Commit to yourself.
  2. Don’t worry about what other people are thinking, close off negative or toxic relationships that may be harmful to your self-worth.
  3. Take care of your body! Walk, dance, stretch…do anything that gets your blood pumping for at least 20-30 minutes per day. Fresh air is healing, and can really clear your head.
  4. Live happily, don’t stick with a job or career that makes you dread getting up every day! Make changes, even plan to change…you will be amazed what a bright future you have ahead of you.
  5. Make good decisions, whether it be what you eat, drink or put into your body. Getting educated about choices is Body-Positive knowledge.
  6. Speak kindly to yourself, if not today, then there’s always tomorrow! Don’t beat yourself up for having dessert or missing your walk. Have one cheat day per week to relax and re-group.

The Benefits Belly Dance

The benefits of Belly Dance are truly endless, besides the culture, the glitter, sparkles, costumes and amazing music….there are so many more reasons we adore our art-form. Here are just a few:

  1. Builds strong muscles, bones and helps you stay limber
  2. Reduced stress and tension, aids in decision making
  3. Boosts self-esteem and confidence
  4. Helps you maintain a positive body image
  5. Great and effective low impact form of exercise
  6. Aids in digestion and pre and post-natal care
  7. Teaches control and challenges you mentally and physically
  8. Build meaningful and lasting relationships with your Shimmy Sisters!

 

Core Muscle Groups of Belly Dance- Abdominals

Belly dancing targets the deepest layer of muscles in the stomach known as the transverse abdominis; the complex movements associated with this type of dance work to strengthen and tone these muscles. Belly Rolls + Pops, Chest and Hip Lifts and Drops, Undulations and more all work in harmony to give you an effective workout. If you don’t believe that Belly Dance is  a sweaty work-out, then you’d better come and check out a class!

 

THE FIGURE 8’S OF BELLY DANCE

The movement which we call the Figure Eight is smooth, sensual, serpentine and perhaps the most popular and most accessible of all slower movements in the oriental dance repertoire. Because this movement focuses primarily on the pelvis and hips, we must keep the ribcage and shoulders motionless by using isometric contractions of our upper and mid-back, as well as our shoulder blade muscles. This type of contraction will gently and safely strengthen these muscles, which play an extremely important role in maintaining an elegant, upright posture by preventing round shoulders and a slumping chest.

Try these while keeping your feet on the floor…next we will travel!
** ALWAYS warm up and stretch before doing any Belly Dance moves**
DON’T FORGET YOUR WATER AND TO KEEP BREATHING DURING EXERCISES

 MAYAS OR FIGURE 8’S

Horizontal Hip Figure 8- Back-To-Forward Version

The horizontal figure 8 is also called a forward & back or hip-twisting figure 8 in belly dance. Standing in a comfortable basic stance, pretend that a large figure 8 is painted on the floor and you are standing in the middle of it, with one circle of the 8 to your right side and the other circle to your left side. Isolate your hips and twist your right hip back, slide it out to the side and twist it forward. This puts you in position to repeat the belly dance move on your left side – the left hip is now twisted back, and you can slide out to the side, and twist it forward. When you complete the belly dance movement on one hip, it automatically positions the other hip to repeat the movement so that you can continuously flow from one hip to the other in a fluid manner. Keep your hips level to the ground as you trace your figure 8. It’s also important to keep the legs and knees relaxed so that your hips have freedom of movement.

Horizontal Hip Figure 8 – Forward-To-Back

For a forward-to-back version, you can reverse the direction of your figure 8. Isolate your hips and twist your right hip forward, slide out to the side and twist it back. Repeat on your left hip which is now twisted forward, by sliding it out to the side, and twisting backward. Continue from one hip to the other, making a fluid figure 8.

Vertical Hip Figure 8 – Down-To-Up Version

The vertical figure 8 is also called an up & down figure 8. To do the down-to-up version of the vertical figure 8, pretend that you are facing a wall with an infinity symbol painted on it. It looks like a figure 8 lying on its’ side with one loop of the 8 to the right and the other loop to the left. Assume the basic belly dance stance and push your right hip down, slide it out to the side, lift it up, and then pull it back to its starting point in your centered basic stance. Repeat with the left hip. Push the left hip down, slide it out to the side, lift it up, and bring it back to center. The legs and knees will be pulled up and down with this move, so keep them flexible. Your feet will also be pulled up and down, with your heels coming up off the floor. Let your heel lift up as the hip on that side of the body lifts up. As the hip rolls downward, the heel drops flat to the ground. The same thing repeats on the other side of the body. Make sure you do not twist your hips in a vertical figure 8; instead your hips will face forward at all times. Practice until the movement flows gracefully from one side to the other.

Vertical Hip Figure 8 – Up-To-Down Version

For the up-to-down version of the vertical hip figure 8 (sometimes called a ‘Maya’ figure 8), you can reverse the direction of your hip move. Your hips will now start by lifting up, sliding out to the side, dropping down, and going back to center and repeating smoothly on the other side. It is possible to do this movement with the feet flat at all times. Rather than allowing the heels to lift up, keeping the feet flat is more difficult for many bellydancers and forces you to lower your center of gravity by bending your knees more and to use the upper leg and lower torso muscles more deeply.

Don’t forget to add a Coin Hip Belt for volumizing moves!