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  1. #1
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    Default Shimmy-Music for beginner

    Hi all,

    i've just started my vey 1st bd lesson last Mon... and having a slight problem with shimmy... e one being taught is e "front & back" movement, which i think is e egyptian shimmy. i noticed that my instructor's heels tend to lift off e ground slightly when doing shimmy, but it seems like mine heels are "fixed" on e ground instead... Am i doing it the wrong way?

    anyway, she told me to have more practice on it... is there any music recommendation to train/practice beginner shimmy? i've got a whole collection of Bellydance Superstars Vol. 1 to 9, not sure which is suitable... help, anyone?

    also, is there any recommended exercise to improve shimmy? Thanks alot!!

    P.S. sorry if this has been asked before....
    Last edited by ic3st0rmer; 08-12-2011 at 04:58 PM.

  2. #2
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    There are about a billion different ways to do a shimmy - all correct. It sounds to me like you are doing a correct shimmy, but not the one you are learning in class.

    There are a couple of different shimmies that fit the description you're giving for the one you're learning in class, so I'll try to help with a few of them.

    Basic shimmy with heel lift:
    Start out with your feet flat on the floor and gently raise one heel off the ground, keeping a nice vertical lift in the hip as you do. If you start out slow with this one and build up to speed, you'll get the hang of it. This shimmy is more skeletally motivated, being driven by the up & down movement of the leg as the heel lifts.

    Choo-choo shimmy:
    Start out on the balls of your feet and use your thigh muscles to drive this shimmy as you normally would on your flat feet. Raising your foot slightly off the ground helps with the momentum of this shimmy and gives you the means by which to travel with it, which is where I suspect the name comes from. (someone will be certain to correct me either way on this one!)

    It is very important to remember that some types of shimmies come more naturally than others. Having difficulty with one over another makes you normal.

  3. #3
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ic3st0rmer View Post
    i've just started my vey 1st bd lesson last Mon... and having a slight problem with shimmy... e one being taught is e "front & back" movement, which i think is e egyptian shimmy. i noticed that my instructor's heels tend to lift off e ground slightly when doing shimmy, but it seems like mine heels are "fixed" on e ground instead... Am i doing it the wrong way?
    The received wisdom when talking to students is that the student's teacher is always right - but this disturbs me. First, teaching shimmy on the first lesson is not a good idea. It is really, really important that the underlying movement is taught slowly and clearly so that the shimmy can be practiced correctly from the start. Practicing wrong means more stuff to unlearn in the long term. Shimmy is something to start doing once you have basic movements under your belt.

    Next, from the description it could be the "Modern Egyptian" shimmy - again not a beginner move - or it could be the old style twist shimmy - which is more achieveable. The label is not important - but the generation of the movement is. From your message it is unclear which - again a problem.

    If it is a twist shimmy and the instructor is travelling sideways - heels off the floor is pretty standard (it's hard to move that fast on flat feet). If she isn't travelling with it, then for beginners it is normal to start with flat feet - that way they don't "cheat" by lifting their heels to generate the movement. As you get more experience you can do the shimmy on demi - but with the heels fixed in space.

    Lesson one under your belt - now you have a lovely long journey ahead of you. Enjoy it!

  4. #4
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    thanks so much for e reply... i'm enjoying it every moment!!

    for the 1st lesson (2 hrs) these were taught: headslide, hip drop/up & down hips, basic shimmy, moving ribcage left & right, bit of hip twist.

    when i'm practicing shimmy @ home, my calves get kinda sore after several mins... should i minimise the time till 5 mins & below? or i'm supposed to feel the soreness at other part of the legs instead?

  5. #5
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ic3st0rmer View Post
    when i'm practicing shimmy @ home, my calves get kinda sore after several mins... should i minimise the time till 5 mins & below? or i'm supposed to feel the soreness at other part of the legs instead?
    I believe that some people use the calf to increase tension in a shimmy - but it is not a beginner move. WIthout being sure which shimmy you have been taught it is difficult but you should not be getting sore calves! Shimmies are generally driven by the thighs (quads/hamstrings) or the waist (obliques/QLs). Other muscles should be relaxed.

    Please do not practice your shimmy for 5 minutes unless you are 100% sure you are doing it right. From your post I suspect you are unsure what you should be doing.

    If you want to practice - get in front of a mirror and make sure you can move your hips up and down smoothly - without a twist, without any sideway movement, without jerking, without hanging off your ITs. If need be set up a couple of chairs exactly the width of your hips on either side - if you touch them work out why - you shouldn't. That you can do for 5 minutes.

    Then practice your hip drop and lift - make sure your torso doesn't bob up and down or the hip move to the side or the heel pump up and down.

    For twists - absolutely horizontal.

    For rib work - make sure it is your ribs and not your spine - and it is in the plane you intend to work in.

    Don't bother about the headslides - not really part of BD and either you an do them so why practice - or you can't and you might hurt yourself.

    Through all of this make sure your posture is correct - knees over the middle of your foot, pelvis is neutral, head, shoulders, hips, knees, feet all aligned vertically.

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    thanks alot, Kashmir, i think i'm having a better understanding..

    btw, is it advisable to use this video as a guide to practice?

    Belly Dancing Shimmies : Belly Dancing Shimmies: Foundation & Basics - YouTube

  7. #7
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    I wouldn't recommend that one because it starts you off with a biomechanical way of doing the shimmy & then moves you to a muscle-focused move when you get up to speed. Better to start off with the muscle-driven lift/drop combo in the first place because then when you bring it up to speed, the movement is already in muscle memory & you're not trying to shake your knees to death.

    I taught a session on lifts, drops & shimmies this afternoon and starting from the muscle base made everyone pick the move up very quickly - to the point they were able to do much more complex variations because they understood how the move was generated & didn't have to keep changing the motivation of the move for each new posture.

    Back to the original question - you want a drum-based song that has a lot of pace variety so you can drill at slow (lift/drops) medium (wobbles) and fast (shimmies) throughout the song. A lot of hossam ramzy tracks are particularly good for this, although you want to steer clear of the namia's hip tracks because the accents are too heavy & distracting for this kind of drilling.

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    ohhh.. thanks for e recommendation.. i've just found some and i really love them!!

    years ago, my left knee started having a "cracking" sound when i hit my butt with my heels (like the sound of cracking knuckles), though right knee has it as well but seldom...

    when i tried the front & back shimmy, does it cause strain to knees? as my left knee will "crack" more frequently... if i don't "crack" it, my knees seem to be more stiff... will also check with instructor on my next lesson...

  9. #9
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    Definitely talk to your instructor about any pre-existing medical conditions & old injuries. If she's worth her salt, she'll find a different way for you to execute the moves that doesn't aggrivate your knee problem. If she blows it off as unimportant, you should probably seek another teacher.

    For now I'd work on building up strength and dexterity in the thigh muscles by drilling the lift/drops, wobbles & shimmies (8-16 counts of each over the course of a song no longer than 4 minutes, taking breaks where required).

  10. #10
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darshiva View Post
    I wouldn't recommend that one because it starts you off with a biomechanical way of doing the shimmy & then moves you to a muscle-focused move when you get up to speed. Better to start off with the muscle-driven lift/drop combo in the first place because then when you bring it up to speed, the movement is already in muscle memory & you're not trying to shake your knees to death.
    Part of the problem is teaching shimmy in under 2 minutes! For many people using their legs and bending their knees gives them the feel of the movement. However, I like to think students are getting to use their lateral flexors to do a clean hip rock before we start looking at a shimmy - which is usually several weeks into the course (and months for some).

    ic3st0rmer - look at how her hips stay within their own width. That is what you need to aim for for this type of shimmy (which I suspect is different from what your teacher is doing). Also implied - but glossed over - is starting slow. Rock the hips at half time, then full time and only when you can do that cleanly and correctly - double time ie shimmy. And remember, smooooth and relaxed (your butt and thighs should be soft and wobbly)

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