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  1. #11
    Member AndreaSTL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yame View Post
    For me, I feel like my lightbulb moment came when I took a private with Lulu Sabongi on arms... she made me realize that my arms weren't something to be ashamed of, they were tools with so much potential and so much to add to my dance. She kept saying my arms were beautiful and how she wishes she had such long arms (I think her arms look great, which is a testament to how well she uses them), which made me realize some people actually view it as something positive. Up until then I used to envy people with shorter arms, but now I can appreciate my own shape along with theirs.
    So glad you wrote this! My arms are so short that if I sit on the ground with my legs extended in front of me and put my hands to the floor only my fingertips will reach it. My palms don't touch the floor, and if I make a right angle at my wrist I can swing my arms freely.

    As someone with T Rex arms I wanted to write this but was afraid the OP would feel marginalized. Since she couldn't hear the tone of my voice I couldn't figure out how to make it not sound condescending. Most of us have something or other that we don't like about our bodies and wish we could change, but sometimes the very thing we hate is what someone else wants!

  2. #12
    Senior Member Sophia Maria's Avatar
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    Lol! All of the responses were funny and very helpful, thank you.

    I think it's just something that's gonna take a while, no matter what I do. Thanks for all the posts about self-consciousness. Normally I don't like to make a big deal out of it, because it's not a serious issue for me. Some people out there really truly struggle with body image issues in a way in which I don't, because my "problems" are relatively minor. Even still, I think it's important to recognize that, minor as they may be, they're still there, and I have to recognize them openly before I can be totally at ease with my body and expressing myself with my body.

    I had heard about the "sit in a chair and just dance with your upper body" idea before...I really need to do that now, that's a fantastic idea.

  3. #13
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    So many good points in this thread!

    I agree that ballet is a good means of crosstraining, not purely because it will hopefully drill lovely arm patterns into your body but because it will also introduce you to your upper back and sides, if you haven't met them already (port de bras of the kind my teacher gets us to do at the barre each class involve circling that whole area and it's quite different to what we tend to do in bellydance at a less "evolved" level). I am fortunate though in that my teacher is a very fluid, adage-loving, stealth Broadway ballet dancer who likes to encourage us to do a bit more than just stand square-on, which is what you get taught to do in the most traditional of classes, and so there is at least one "model" demonstrating a gloriously fluid and expressive torso, albeit in a balletic way, in each class.

    We always learn to do things like ribcage eights and circles, but really, I think that those are just loosening up exercises in the grand scheme of things, too. Being able to take your movements up out of your hip area and into your upper body too is great and, in Ranya Renee's words, "increases the deliciousness". So you don't have to leave everything below the waist.

    Fifi Abdo seems to use her upper body quite a bit, even when just beledi-ing around. She is of course made of rubber bands, but have a look. It's like, your hips and legs are doing the "dancing" and your chest, ribcage, shoulders are showing how much you are enjoying that dancing. The loveliness, gooeyness etc is coming up into that area but not escaping from it. Does that make sense? It's not about making fancy-schmancy isolated moves to make people go ooh and ahh, though sometimes that is fun. It's about going "mmmm, yummy" for the dance, for the music, up there.

    I could really relate to you saying you feel insecure about having thin arms. For the longest time, all I wanted in my dance was to draw attention away from my skinny, long arms. My solution was to do as little as possible with them so that people would focus on everything else. Well, newsflash to me, that didn't work so well. Not working on my arms meant my arms remained uncoordinated, without energy and purpose, just hanging there in second position or down, it just ruined the lines I could be creating.
    I also have long slim arms, with pointy elbows, and I have been trying to think a lot about improving their lines of late. When they're good, they're very very good, and when they're bad they're dorky. I have had to look at MY arms in the mirror and say "well, this looks nicest on MY frame". My friend in dance whose classes I regularly attend can rock an old-fashioned "W" arm, it looks pretty on her, but on me it looks doofy and awkward. I need a longer, more gently curved line. I know that I have to watch out for too much angularity and that means that whether I like it or not (Yame, I also keep my arms in front of me a lot, my default position is arms folded in front of me, even when I am walking!!!!) I have to open up and expose myself, as it were.

    The very first Egyptian teacher I ever studied anything with was Dr Mo Geddawi, whose folkloric emphasis led me to reject flowing and supple hand and arm work for a little while. He is not keen on any arms across or in front of the body, which is a bit rigid. But he said a thing I never forgot. "God gave you all this beautiful *describes womanly shape with hands down his torso*, why would you want to cover it up?"

    So the key is showing off this body, all of it, not just the hips, and making the arms into a gorgeous frame as our default.

    I'll let you know when I get there.

  4. #14
    Senior Member Sophia Maria's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zumarrad View Post
    Fifi Abdo seems to use her upper body quite a bit, even when just beledi-ing around. She is of course made of rubber bands, but have a look. It's like, your hips and legs are doing the "dancing" and your chest, ribcage, shoulders are showing how much you are enjoying that dancing. The loveliness, gooeyness etc is coming up into that area but not escaping from it. Does that make sense? It's not about making fancy-schmancy isolated moves to make people go ooh and ahh, though sometimes that is fun. It's about going "mmmm, yummy" for the dance, for the music, up there.
    Ahhh that's such a good way of explaining it!! That's the thing, I may very well do ballet cross-training at some point, but my problem is not really arm patterns. I can do a variety of them, and usually pretty gracefully. My problem is that my upper body looks to me like it lacks "strength" or "presence"...it looks half-hearted, like it's going through the motions. But what you said it a good way to think about it.

    I would like this lady's arms, please. They flow like water!

  5. #15
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    Ooh, she is lovely!

  6. #16
    V.I.P. PracticalDancer's Avatar
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    Cross posting from a similar thread on Bhuz. That said, I am fully aware I have a LOT of work to do to improve my own dance . . .

    I think about arms two ways:
    - On STAGE, they frame, unless they have the spotlight (like during a taqsim), moving from pose to pose
    - In a RESTAURANT, they share the spotlight (they are the most visible), then the frame the hip accents with a pose

    This binary system works for me so that I don't have to "decide" what to do with them. Their simple jobs are to make me look poised, larger than life, and ready to be photographed when I am on stage as well as to actually be visible over the patrons in a restaurant. (When you are dancing between tables, only 20% of the audience can see your hips. Really.)

    I do recommend adding practice, lots of practice, as it is the key to everything. And, when I practice, I have started trying to keep my arms higher than I think they need to be and more energetic (filled with energy, not bouncing around) than I think they need to be, simply for the reason that they will be lower and softer when I perform . . . because I will be TIRED from a day at work or a day of learning dance.

    There is more to it, of course, rooted in practical implementation and your personal style. I hope these will be simple starting points and that you will find your own way by starting here.

    (what is up with all of the asterisks that appeared in this when I posted it? I kept having to edit them out!)

  7. #17
    Senior Member Sophia Maria's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PracticalDancer View Post
    And, when I practice, I have started trying to keep my arms higher than I think they need to be and more energetic (filled with energy, not bouncing around) than I think they need to be, simply for the reason that they will be lower and softer when I perform . . . because I will be TIRED from a day at work or a day of learning dance.
    Yes! Yes, absolutely. I've realized this is a big thing.

    I did a long arm practice today (about an hour or so), where all I did was sit in a chair and dance with my arms, then for the last 15 minutes or so I stood up and danced. My muscles in my arms were so tired by the time I stood up that they seemed more fluid and more strong. It feels like it's helping! I plan on doing this a lot more often. I'm also restarting some of my old arm workouts I used to do. More muscles can only be a good thing

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