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  1. #1
    Member chirel's Avatar
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    Default Definition of shimmy

    Ok, I think I have read all the threads about shimmies and I still quite don't know what it means (in belly dancing context). I searched for a finnish translation and it didn't help much.

    So please help me with this one:

    A shimmy is a rhytmic move done to the rythm of the music (usually by counting) alternating on both sides of the body using hips or shoulders (other body parts?). It can be layered with movements of the same or another bodypart.

    I'm trying to find the smallest denominator that connects all shimmies. It just feels that it would be easier to follow the discussions if I could figure this one out

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    A shimmy is any movement that is so quick as to resemble some sort of vibration, or an actual vibration.

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    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    A "shimmy" is a relaxed, constant movement in time to the music (usually double time). Think rippling water.

    This is in contrast with a "vibration" (tense), a "freeze" (generated by muscle fatigue/tension), a "reverb"(eration) – a driven movement followed by a loose, gravity generated shake, and a "mess" – just jiggling around. (Terminology does vary between teachers but I find this breakdown most useful)

    Any body part can be shimmied. Most common in belly dance are hips, shoulders and chest but the diaphragm (US) and hand (Khaleegi) are common and I’ve even seen eyebrows and nostrils!

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    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    I personally use the word "shimmy" as a more encompassing term that includes vibrations, freezes/shivers, as well as the bigger, looser, more relaxed types.

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    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yame View Post
    I personally use the word "shimmy" as a more encompassing term that includes vibrations, freezes/shivers, as well as the bigger, looser, more relaxed types.
    Problem would then be when you ask for a "shimmy" and get the tight type when you want the loose one. Single word instructions hit home easier with most people - ie they'll miss the adjective. And many people can only "shimmy" tight - then insist they can "shimmy" - by giving the two versions different names there is a clear steer that they are doing two quite different moves (both are needed at different times)

  6. #6
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kashmir View Post
    Problem would then be when you ask for a "shimmy" and get the tight type when you want the loose one. Single word instructions hit home easier with most people - ie they'll miss the adjective. And many people can only "shimmy" tight - then insist they can "shimmy" - by giving the two versions different names there is a clear steer that they are doing two quite different moves (both are needed at different times)
    It's really not that much of a problem. Even without vibrations, there are dozens of ways to shimmy, so a lot of times I have to give more than one word descriptions anyway.

    Also when I teach my students I explain to them what MY default shimmy technique is, and what I expect from them. If I want something else, I will specify. I also make corrections so when I want big and loose, I make a point to say no vibrations.

    There are plenty of really good dancers who don't do big, loose shimmies, and only do vibrations. I consider them shimmies and I have no problem with people not doing shimmies the way I do them. In my class however, I want people to use my technique as much as possible, so I do make the distinction.

  7. #7
    Member chirel's Avatar
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    Sorry, I managed to start another shimmy discussion

    Thank you both for your replys. My problem has actually been that I couldn't tell the difference between these moves. Now with your discussion it's starting to make sense to me (I hope ) I especially like the way Kashmir compares different moves. It gives me boundaries. Now if I only could figure out the corresponding terms in finnish. Preferably within one week, since then I'll be joining a class.

  8. #8
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chirel View Post
    Now if I only could figure out the corresponding terms in finnish. Preferably within one week, since then I'll be joining a class.
    Could be anything! But if you are just starting classes it may not be an issue for quite some time. Before doing a shimmy - a small, fast, repeated movement - you need to get the underlying technique - as a slow, perfect movement.

    I teach the beginnings of a shoulder shimmy and and up/down hip shimmy on day one. Many students take several weeks (or even months) to get the underlying shoulder movement right. Although I do introduce trying out a shoulder shimmy quite early, I most students take months to get anything acceptable. And for some reason, although the movement is simpler, the hip shimmy takes a while to be able to sustain smoothly and isolated.

  9. #9
    Member chirel's Avatar
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    Well, this course I'm attending isn't really a true beginners class. It's a short mixed class of beginners and this springs students. I called the teacher to check if it's OK to join the class with my background and she warmly welcomed me. I'd still love to be able to communicate with other people about what I'm doing.

    I think my shoulder shimmies are starting to look acceptable most days as I've been practising every day for two months, but I'll let the teacher decide this. Hip shimmies are a bit more difficult as I've had problems with one knee, I've decided to not drill hip movements so much. Fysiotherapist today, so no worries.

  10. #10
    Member chirel's Avatar
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    Just to update... I went to the physiotherapist and she said my knee is fine, I just have weak muscles. I got a bunch of exercises to strenghten my legs and a permission to do anything that doesn't cause pain. So I can finally start to work on hip shimmies and other hip movements properly

    And about the naming and defining thing. I guess it'll be easiest if I show my approximation of a movement and ask the teacher what it's called. I suppose she might even know the english terminology.

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