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  1. #31
    Senior Member Eshta's Avatar
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    I think the theme seems to be that our more experienced dancers are expressing doubts about the viability of LadyLoba's plan, and LadyLoba is getting frustrated with these doubts.

    Can anyone else suggest an alternative study plan for LadyLoba to give her examples of how she might improve her plan, given that she doesn't have access to teachers? It might be more productive for her?

  2. #32
    V.I.P. jenc's Avatar
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    i learnt a lot working through [IBellydance Basics and beyond[/I] by Jenna. A lot of the moves are not necvessarily how I would do them now - but I still work with the practice flows sometimes. It is pretty comprehensive - and i repeated it a lot. i liked using it to drill my the basics over and over. I also drilled quite a lot with Ariellah contemporary Bellydance and yoga conditioning, althpough I am not interested in tribal, I found that disciplined drilling was very helpful in getting a range of movement that I could access for more fluid movements.

    LadyLoba, you did not say how many hours a day/week you wre devoting to this study. i would also be interested in which dvds yuo were using, or drawing inspiration from.

  3. #33
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    I started belly dancing through youtube and DVDs, because when I first fell in love with this dance I could not find a teacher. I self-taught for 3 or so months before I found a live instructor. I took classes with her for a few sessions, then had to stop because it became unfeasible to drive there. I went through a hiatus of 3-5 months before I could find a teacher closer to me. So, the majority of my first year of belly dance was spent self-teaching. Here's what I can tell you about my experience:

    1. I did not develop any bad habits or suffered any injuries as a result of self-teaching. I did develop a certain posture that was NOT the posture I use today, but that was not due to self-teaching, it was a stylistic thing (I started out in tribal style), that both my main DVD and first teacher had in common.

    2. When I took my first live belly dance class, I could already do all the basic isolations taught. Right off the bat, I could move better than everyone else in the class, who had been dancing with live instruction for longer than I had been dancing with my videos. Of course my isolations didn't have the range and gooeyness they do now, but I could definitely do every basic isolation decently before I set foot in class.

    3. I developed a sense of discipline and autonomy that a lot of belly dance students do not have. I gather all my information from multiple sources, so if my teacher is wrong, I will likely have that awareness and will not learn wrong facts because my teacher made a mistake. In addition, my repertoire includes a lot more than just what my teachers have taught me. If I had only depended on the information they spoon-fed us in class, I wouldn't know half of what I know.

    4. I did not set any goals or time limits for myself when I was learning on my own. I simply woke up early every morning and followed my DVD, then at night I followed some youtube tutorials and watched videos of other dancers. I told myself "I will be able to do all of this, one day." I did not tell myself when or set up a specific plan. I just practiced, practiced, practiced.

    5. My isolations became very good, but my footwork sucked, my lines were awful, my arms were super uncoordinated and stiff. This sometimes does happen even to people who are studying under live teachers, but I believe it takes either prior dance training or a very good, live teacher to instill that sense of elegance in your dance, and to teach you traveling steps and graceful arms unless you are already talented in these areas.

    So, there it is. I don't mean to invalidate other people's experiences. I realize some people do develop bad habits as a result of self-teaching, and it is possible to get injured. However, it is also entirely possible to begin to learn belly dance via DVDs, as I am living proof. It is just important to know it is not the end-all, and that live instruction is extremely helpful and necessary.

    Having said all those things, I'm not sure there are "30 moves" in belly dance. There are slides, lifts/drops, undulations, circles, and 8s. These moves can be done with different body parts, in varying directions and speeds, with different intensity and posture and bla bla bla. If you take all the different ways you can do these moves then of course you'll get a huge movement vocabulary, but in the beginning it is crucial to be sure you can slide, lift and drop, undulate, do circles, and do 8s REALLY, REALLY well in all the main directions, at slow, medium, and fast speeds before moving on to all the possible variations on these moves.

  4. #34
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LadyLoba View Post
    At the end of 6 weeks my goals are:

    1. be able to do 30 basic belly dance moves
    2. be able to perform a basic dance along with a beginner DVD
    3. be able to dance to a song using the moves I know

    Let's take these in reverse order:

    3. be able to dance to a song using the moves I know

    You know what I loved about bellydance when I first discovered it? I felt like it was the first time in my dancing career that I could actually express myself -- and I didn't the entire repertoire of ballet moves to do so.

    You can utterly and completely express yourself with bellydance if you have THREE moves: One Sharp/Percussive move, One Slow/Gooey move, and a traveling step.

    Try it. Pick out a song you like and pick maybe something like hip drops, hip circles, and a grapevine step. Vary the speed, texture, level, intensity (the dynamics) and just see how well you express yourself! I just find this absolutely amazing.

    So number 3 is infinitely do-able.


    2. be able to perform a basic dance along with a beginner DVD

    I think this is pretty do-able as well, if you accept that you're not going to look like Shakira until you've had a LOT of training

    In other words, don't be afraid to be a beginner. Reach for the stars, if your ego can handle landing on the moon instead, ya know? I used to set unrealistic goals and it would depress me when I couldn't meet them. But every now and again, I do meet them. I wrote 10,000 words this weekend -- it was my goal but I've never been able to do that before. When you stop being afraid of failing, and just view everything as a learning experience, it changes how you approach challenging stuff.


    and finally
    1. be able to do 30 basic belly dance moves

    DO them -- sure. Do them well? Maybe. Do them so that you will never need to practice them again? Not a chance - lol.

    I still drill the basics. Every week. Ballet dancers with 50 years of experience still wake up every morning with a barre routine.

    This is what makes beginning classes SOOOOOO valuable for intermediate-level dancers who want to push their technique ahead: you are forced to slow down and re-evaluate your movements. You get a chance to make the movements more musical. (In beginning classes you're just looking at trying to DO the moves properly.)

    30 moves ? Hmm.. as far as basic isolations I can think of:

    Shoulder shimmy, shoulder push, shoulder roll, chest lift, chest drop, chest circle (2), hip circle, hip slide, hip bump, hip lift, hip drop, hip downs, hip figure eights (4), hip shimmy, pelvic lift, pelvic drop, pelvic circle, pelvic undulation, torso undulation, arm undulation (snake arm), hip circles on the side plane (like one-hip circles or bicycle hips), one-hip figure 8 on the side plane, belly rolls maybe (or interior undulations), and the ornaments and decorations like wrist circles, head slides, hand undulations.

    So depending upon the iteration, I guess I can see 30.


    Here is my suggestion. Think about how many muscular contractions are in each movement. Start with the simplest -- one. (Hip lift, chest lift, glute contraction, pelvic lift etc.) REALLY REALLY work to master the movements that are composed of one muscle contraction (or one contraction and one relaxation like hip drops). Everything you do from here on out will just be putting those single points of isolation together into "compound" movements, adding locomotion to them, and complicating them.

    You have Autumn's dvd right? Watch the instructional first part A LOT -- and move along with it. A caveat -- she does teach figure 8s different than other instructors. But with a good base of instructional dvds, you should be able to see the variations in how the movements are built, and find one that really feels good on your body.

    We're building a house here. Make sure that foundation is outstanding and sturdy before you get hung up on what color to paint the walls.

  5. #35
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    LadyLoba -- Habiba made her "Quickstar to Bellydance" (which is really not quick) for late beginner/early intermediate students to use as a supplement to classes for 6-8 months. It's a self-contained and self-directed study system that I liked a lot. PM if you want a more detailed review. It's expensive and the sound isn't great, but it's REALLY worth a look-see for your stated goals.

  6. #36
    V.I.P. Greek Bonfire's Avatar
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    I am impressed with LadyLoba's ambition and I remember how stoked I was when I first started learning. I didn't have a teacher for seven months but I started with Jillina's Levels 1, 2 and 3. The first level took me six weeks to accomplish, practicing with it 5-6 days a week. I lost about ten pounds! The more I did, the more I realized the depths of this dance and that it would take a lifetime to learn, and yet I was learning so much. Dancers who have been dancing their whole lives will tell you that they are students forever.

    LadyLoba, you sound like you are being realistic about what you expect to learn, as I do believe you know you cannot learn in six weeks, six months or even six years, although at six years you will be able to perform at some capacity. Yet with all this in mind, I think you are aware enough to keep all this in mind and yet your ardor is not diminished at all. I know of "six week wonders" who having taken one or two courses, think they've learned everything there is to know. Yes, many of the moves are learned in a relatively short time, but then there is the layering, then the combinations, then the complex laying as well as complex combinations, props, newer and newer forms that come up all the time. Keep the passion!

  7. #37
    Member Shakti's Avatar
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    It is fantastic that you have such motivation. I would cross train also with weights. You will be using muscles and joints in a new way and they will need time to adjust to being used in new ways. Always work each side of your body evenly, challenge yourself to learn the moves with precision on each side of your body , don't become right hipped or left hipped, just like most ppl are right handed and left handed.

    Establishing balance in your body now will help you in the long run. Posture and standing evenly on both feet, and core stregnth should also be a main focus. Yoga- tree pose, mountian pose, and kegal exercises should also be added to your workouts. Warm up with movement, cool down with stretching.

  8. #38
    Senior Member LadyLoba's Avatar
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    Default Final post for my thread..

    Yes, I am being realistic...and I have scaled down my goals, changed them to more focus, etc as I learn more and more. I am actually really sorry I posted that here instead of pming it to someone, because it looks like it has the potential to start arguments (pretty much any statement that ends with "there, I said it" is not going to bode well for a conversation.)

    Again, thank you to all those who have encouraged me. This was really just a preliminary outline, and not a statement of "I will do this, and I will be wonderful at it by the end."

    When you watch a million DVDs and youtube clips and such...with all the different variations, isolations, steps, etc....it gets VERY confusing, and so it helps to make a list, set some goals, get an idea of what I might want to be learning.

    To everyone who thinks I'm ignoring advice: I am sorry if you feel that way or if I came across that way. It was not my intention. I did read and take into consideration all of your advice. But I also noted that many people with an equal amount of experience said the opposite.....and I can't very well go completely in two opposite directions. I have scaled back, done more research, etc on your advice..

    To everyone who encouraged me: Thank you again. Even if it turns out I don't "make it" with my first plan, your kind words have encouraged me to try, practice, work, research, change the lesson plan as needed..

    Now, I respectfully ask that this thread close with this post. I am not a moderator or the administrator, so nobody has to listen to me...but as a personal request, I'd like this thread to close, and I am not going to read it anymore.

    I don't mean to sound harsh...quite the opposite. I posted this thread as a simple "Am I expecting too little of myself?" question and it's grown until it has the potential to cause arguments.....and I do not want to cause arguments here.

    If anyone has any further advice, suggestions or tips for me...those are still welcome...but please...pm me instead of posting here. I do listen to everyone and I will listen to everyone....I just think it would be better if I had one on one discussions with people on this to avoid confusion or conflict between others.

    Thanks again for all the encouragement and advice, everyone. I really like this forum and everyone I have gotten to know online here.

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