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  1. #1
    Senior Member Sirčne's Avatar
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    Question Neck Flexibility

    I have genetics to blame for a 'short' neck, but years of computer use and answering telephones haven't done me any favors. Since taking up dance I've been a lot better about posture but the neck muscles continue to be problematic. I really feel head-shake movements and I can't seem to do a neck extension without my shoulders coming up.

    Does anyone have suggestions or specific exercises for how I might improve this?

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Not sure what you mean by "headshake movements" - at least wrt to belly dance.

    Neck flexibility should always be limited to the natural movement of the joints - letting the head drop to chest and back a little; tilt to the side; turn and look over your shoulder. Circles are not recommended.

    You can target joints by poking your head forward and tilting - or pulling in (ouble chin time) and tilting.

    However, if the problem is computer work it is likely that shoulders and upper back are also playing a part. You cn try standing against a wall, shoulders down, arms by your side. Now, while keeping shoulders down and shoulder blades engaged, run your arms up the wall (palms on wall, arms straight) ie from A to V.

    Another one, back against the wall, upper arms horizontal, forearms down. Keeping your uuper arms against the wall and shoulders down, rotate in your shoulder joint until your forearms are up ie "I surrender".

    With both of these, you probably won't be able to reach the end point for a while.

    Also, trigger point massage for shoulders and where your head sits on your neck can be really useful. Once the tension is released (painful!) you can work on stretching them as above in a less stressful way.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Sirčne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kashmir View Post
    Not sure what you mean by "headshake movements" - at least wrt to belly dance..
    It looks like the proper name for what I was referring to is "head slides":



    (for which she recommends head circles as a warmup )

  4. #4
    Senior Member Sirčne's Avatar
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    There is also a slightly 'bobble-head' type movement like at the beginning of this video:


    (I love this video! )

    It's probably also a 'head slide' though it looks a little different than what Irina illustrates in the how-to video.

  5. #5
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    I think one thing that really helps when learning headslides is to lift your arms up above your head and put your palms together (make sure you aren't lifting the shoulders along), then try to touch your ear to your bicep... without tilting the head at all. You don't have to go all the way, but just reach for it. It's nice to have the arm there as a frame of reference until you've developed the range of motion and muscle control to be able to do the movement with the arms in whatever position you wish. Practice very slowly and making sure the movement is perfectly horizontal.

    Once you have that down you can play around with it. The bobble head movement is just a smaller, faster headslide. With bobble head you have the option of doing the movement very flat, or to actually allow the head to tilt a bit with the tiny slides.

    I think headslides are pretty kitschy and not really used by belly dancers "over there," but it's useful to develop that range of motion because these bobble head movements are used a lot in other Middle Eastern dances, like certain dances of the Khaleej, Iraq, Iran, etc.

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    V.I.P. Jane's Avatar
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    Yeah, I was taught the "happy head bobble" was a Persian and Central Asian thing.

    If you have a tendency to tilt when you head slide, think more about leading the slide from the corners of your bottom jaw. You do need to be warmed up and loose. They aren't necessary for some styles of belly dance. Turkish and American Oriental use them.

  7. #7
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    For headslides the flexibility is in the top two joints of the neck. You can target these for a stretch after doing the 3 ways above (drop, tilt & turn) by doing the tilt with the head poked forward (you may need some gentle pressure with the hand) and the head pulled in.

    For most people it isn't a range of motion thing though but a control thing. Framing with the arms is good. Using a mirror is essential.

    As others have said it isn't a needed part of the dance. The only time I saw an Egyptian use it was in one choreography (so that's about 1%!). It was beledi and the dancer was reacting to the lyrics to express the she wasn't as stupid as the guy thought. It was very small, loose, almost a horizontal circle rather than a slide.

  8. #8
    V.I.P. Jane's Avatar
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    Tulay Karaca with live Turkish music,Turkish Belly Dancer - YouTube

    Tulay Karaca does quite a few in this old clip

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vFGh83m4r0

    and Nesrin Topkapi starting at 2:15

    I would bet my butt American Oriental dancers inherited head slides among many other things from the Turkish dancers. Head slides are a legitimate belly dance move from "over there."
    Last edited by Jane; 03-19-2013 at 07:38 PM.

  9. #9
    V.I.P. khanjar's Avatar
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    You couldn't do any worse by taking up Pilates as there are neck exercises in that, so much so our dance class warm ups and cool down are Pilates exercises and they usually start with the neck exercises

    Pilates Neck Exercises - YouTube

    and the neck roll, but it can be done standing up ;

    Intermediate Pilates Mat Exercises: Neck Roll - YouTube

  10. #10
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jane View Post
    Tulay Karaca with live Turkish music,Turkish Belly Dancer - YouTube

    Tulay Karaca does quite a few in this old clip

    Nesrin Topkap? - (1981/82 Y?lba??) - YouTube

    and Nesrin Topkapi starting at 2:15

    I would bet my butt American Oriental dancers inherited head slides among many other things from the Turkish dancers. Head slides are a legitimate belly dance move from "over there."
    That's true. I should have been more specific and said belly dancers from Arab countries, not "over there" which includes Turkey. Indeed Turkish dancers used them, but since I'm not really into Turkish (although I do love Nesrin Topkapi!), my style is much more Arab-centric so I don't see headslides as essential belly dance moves, but still do teach them because they are relevant to American style belly dance, Turkish belly dance, as well as folkloric dances in other Middle Eastern countries.

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