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  1. #1
    Member onela's Avatar
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    Default Egyptian Straight Leg Shimmies

    I recently had the opportunity to travel to Montreal- my mum went to see Rufus Wainright, and I went to see Aziza for a private lesson (she seemed quite pleased to have "beat" Rufus when I mentioned that I was having a lesson with her instead of going to the concert!). I was prepared for my private lesson to be difficult and intense (in part due to being a baby belly dancer, in part due to the level of attention I would get due to it being a one-on-one session) and I think the most interesting thing I got out of it was that Aziza recommended I try an Egyptian straight leg shimmy instead of the ones that most of us baby belly dancers are doing in our group classes. She thought that as I am quite slender that it would be more complimentary to my figure, and she also acknowledged that while it is a little "controversial" (her word), she thought that as I am a lifelong dancer in general that she thought I could do it.

    So! I ask you, the great oracle of internets belly dance discussion, what do you guys all know about straight leg shimmies? Do you have any favourite videos (dvd or youtube etc), any great protips, any rants, any raves, any anything?

    PS: Edited to add- what's the proper place to post questions about technique? I can never decide if I should post them to "Instructors and Students" or "Dance Styles". Would much appreciate it!
    Last edited by onela; 07-01-2010 at 06:22 PM.

  2. #2
    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    It's exactly the same shimmy as the usual one taught to beginners, you just make some changes to your weight placement and posture. I see nothing controversial whatsoever in teaching it to beginners. I use both in my "Belly Dance For Exercise" class, which is all levels, INCLUDING beginners who have never previously taken a belly dance class.

    I use the term "Basic Shimmy" to describe the one that we usually teach beginners. I use the term "Raqia Shimmy" to describe the one that you're calling a "straight-leg shimmy" because Raqia Hassan is the choreographer/instructor who popularized it.

    I actually don't like the term "straight-leg shimmy" because I think it can lead people to do unhealthy things with their knees (trying to keep them straight) when learning it. And guess what, if you watch it, the knees DO bend in the course of doing it!

    For the Basic Shimmy, I usually teach students to keep their weight on the full foot from front to back, but with a bit of emphasis on the heel, and I tell them to "sit" with their hips, as if starting to sit down in a chair but stopping midstream. This "sit" idea tends to shift the angles of the body to a certain posture.

    For the Raqia Shimmy, I tell students to focus their weight on the balls of their feet, and I give them permission to lift the heels off the floor as they move the legs. I tell them the goal is to eventually be able to do it with the heels on the floor, but when beginners are still discovering how to move the legs I think it's fine to let the heels come off the floor. For this one, I tell them to hold the pelvis as if standing rather than as if starting to sit. Ie, the overall posture is more upright.

  3. #3
    Administrator Salome's Avatar
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    Technique type questions fit in the "Instructors and Students" forum, so it's right where it should be. Aziza is a long time dancer/teacher and as she had the opportunity to evaluate your ability one on one then I'm sure her assement of your capability is solid.

    If you have enough body awareness I don't think it is unsafe. Maintain good posture, don't lock the knees, relax so the momentum generated with the legs travels up and can reverberate. Like any shimmy start sloooooowwww. You want to aim for consistancy. Get a rhythm going that you can hold comfortable and as you get confident with that, increase the speed a little until you can maintain that and so on. And just to note, maintain doesn't mean the pace alone, but also good posture, relaxation in the right areas etc.

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    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Without knowing what shimmy "baby dancers" do in your neck of the woods I cannot say for sure, but all shimmies have their place. It is not a case of "graduating" to the Egyptian shimmy. The only thing I can think that is controversial is that if it is taught wrong ie thumping your leg back and locking your knee - it can be damaging.

    Sometimes, if the music or choreogrpahy calls for it, you will use one shimmy other days another. I certainly wouldn't use the Egyptian "straight leg" shimmy for a simple, heavy feel beledi. I'd use a loose lateral flexor one (hips moving up and down, driven from waist, loose thighs and butt). But for something very fine and fast most people find the Egyptian easier.

    Then it depends what you are laying with it. SOme work better than others. Sometimes you want a different look. So learn them all.

  5. #5
    Member onela's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kashmir View Post
    Without knowing what shimmy "baby dancers" do in your neck of the woods I cannot say for sure, but all shimmies have their place. It is not a case of "graduating" to the Egyptian shimmy. The only thing I can think that is controversial is that if it is taught wrong ie thumping your leg back and locking your knee - it can be damaging.
    Yeah, I think that's basically what she meant, that's what I understood from her. In any event, keep the advice and commentary rolling you guys, I especially enjoyed the insight regarding distributing my weight on my feet (and having some words put into my mouth- I'll admit that I was posting from work and was trying to be discreet, so I wasn't able to google around to flesh out my shimmy vocab). I was a little surprised when she said "I know they're controversial..." as I didn't realize they were controversial per se.

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    V.I.P. Jane's Avatar
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    I like this one.

  7. #7
    V.I.P. Tarik Sultan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jane View Post

    I like this one.
    That was cool. Actually that footage was taken by my student. My camera was next to hers. The problem with the so-called straight leg shimmy is that people are doing it wrong and are doing things that are potentially injurious. If you look at Dandash, you will notice that her knees are soft, there is a slight flex in them. Its the same technique as the regular earthy shimmy. The main differences are that in the "new Shimmy", there isn't as deep a bend in the knee, so you're actually standing a bit more erect, second difference is in the range of movement. The latter is a much shorter range of movement giving a more compact look. Its perfect for high pitched instruments like the kanoon for example. I use both when I dance, it depends on what the music is doing. There are times I want to have that wide wabble, but then there are times when I want it to be more compact and crisp. Just make sure your joints are not locked out and your not forcing any pressure on them that could cause damag. Basi rule of thumb, nothing in this dance should cause pain. If it hurts, you're doing something wrong.

  8. #8
    Senior Member walladah's Avatar
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    Default I have the impression that the "straight legs shimmy"

    is completely different, e.g. it "attracts" legs backwards so that the knees are instantly (actually in tiny parts of a second) straightened (never locked, though). This "backward" movement and not the "straight-leg" is the aim of the movement.

    But I did liked the video very much! Thank you for posting!

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    V.I.P. Greek Bonfire's Avatar
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    What I like about this shimmy, if I'm understanding it right, is that you can do all sorts of isolations and other fun stuff that you can't do with the basic hip shimmy.

  10. #10
    V.I.P. Jane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greek Bonfire View Post
    is that you can do all sorts of isolations and other fun stuff that you can't do with the basic hip shimmy.
    Why not? I did for years until this one became all stylish and what not.

    Glad everyone enjoyed the vid!

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