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  1. #1
    Member Roshanna's Avatar
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    Default Use of breath in bellydance

    Any thoughts on this, or good resources?

    I've found over the years that teachers will often remind students to breathe, and sometimes even include some breathing exercises at the beginning of classes or teach lateral thoracic breathing (i.e. breathing into the whole ribcage) whilst sitting/standing still, but that advice on how to actually *use* the breath and integrate it into dance has been thin on the ground. My experience of pilates (which always coordinates movement with breath) and my reading about general dance technique tells me that breath is important, but I don't have much solid idea of how to apply it well to this dance form specifically. Maybe because of the pilates experiences, I also get a bit anxious/confused if I'm instructed to breathe with something but not told how to actually time/coordinate my breath with the movement.

    Alia Thabit has some interesting ideas about rhythmic breathing (i.e. breathing in time to the music), which I've found to be very helpful, but I'd also be interested to know of other methods and approaches that dancers could experiment with

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    Moderator Daimona's Avatar
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    Whenever I teach I always remind the students to breathe, because they tend to forget it when being very concentrated. In addition to the obvious getting rid of CO2 and refilling O2, they also get less tense when breathing properly.

    For performers, the breath has a very large impact on the emotions you are projecting while on stage as well as giving certain moves an extra impact. Some of my previous teachers have had some focus on it, but the real difference for my awareness of my breathing on stage while dancing was after I joined a workshop with Ranya Renee some years ago.
    It has made a difference on my dancing, and I've also realized that if I use my breathe as a tool the audience will unconsciously breathe with me.
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    Daim.

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    Moderator Zorba's Avatar
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    Interesting topic! I don't have much to add, so I'll just sit in the corner and listen.

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    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    I've occasionally come across breathing in workshops. Apart from the obvious "don't hold your breathe" (singing along is one way to break this bad habit) - the other tip that stuck was to breath out on a shimmy (obviously only works for short shimmy accents not sustained shimmies!)

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    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    What an interesting topic. At one mile above sea level, we're used to making do with very little oxygen.

    When I was first learning, I recall my teacher emphasizing that vibrations were muscular movements and not to be done by panting so that the diaphragm contracted and released quickly. I used to could do vibrations with only muscles but no more.
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  6. #6
    Junior Member Asra*'s Avatar
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    I took a workshop with Ranya Renee also where she very specifically talked about the importance of using breath while you dance. It sounds a bit odd, but she breathes along with the music through her mouth (almost like humming along but with the breathe only), and huffs out air on the accents. It serves several purposes:

    1) It keeps your mouth very slightly open, which relaxes the face and prevents tense facial expressions

    2) It deepens and slows your movements, and connects your body more naturally to the music. For dancers (like me) that need to work on slowing down and getting juicy, this makes a big difference

    3) It gets you out of your head and into the moment.

    4) It helps with abdominal work (ie breathing out when you pull the abs in for undulations, etc).

    This really worked for me. I videoed myself practicing a choreo without this breathing technique and again with. The difference was immediate and very noticeable. With the Ranya breathing, my dancing was much juicier and more relaxed.

  7. #7
    Member Roshanna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Asra* View Post
    I took a workshop with Ranya Renee also where she very specifically talked about the importance of using breath while you dance. It sounds a bit odd, but she breathes along with the music through her mouth (almost like humming along but with the breathe only), and huffs out air on the accents. It serves several purposes:

    1) It keeps your mouth very slightly open, which relaxes the face and prevents tense facial expressions

    2) It deepens and slows your movements, and connects your body more naturally to the music. For dancers (like me) that need to work on slowing down and getting juicy, this makes a big difference

    3) It gets you out of your head and into the moment.

    4) It helps with abdominal work (ie breathing out when you pull the abs in for undulations, etc).

    This really worked for me. I videoed myself practicing a choreo without this breathing technique and again with. The difference was immediate and very noticeable. With the Ranya breathing, my dancing was much juicier and more relaxed.
    Ah, that's very interesting! This is exactly the kind of stuff I'm looking for.
    Does anyone know if she talks about or demonstrates the use of breath on her DVDs?

  8. #8
    Member Roshanna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    When I was first learning, I recall my teacher emphasizing that vibrations were muscular movements and not to be done by panting so that the diaphragm contracted and released quickly. I used to could do vibrations with only muscles but no more.
    I definitely use my diaphragm for belly flutters/vibrations, with a bit of contribution from my abdominal muscles as well, but I can still breathe at a normal speed at the same time on top of it, which is a bit of a weird feeling (I think this is because I'm powering the actual breath using mainly the muscles around the ribcage, so the diaphragm can relax and continue to vibrate - it's like a very shallow panting layered onto a normal breath). However when I try to actually speak whilst doing it, I feel the abdominal muscles take over more, presumably because I unconsciously start using the diaphragm like a normal human again to give a steady flow of air.

    Edit: geeking about movement mechanics! just like the old days
    Last edited by Roshanna; 04-02-2016 at 07:45 PM.

  9. #9
    Junior Member Asra*'s Avatar
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    I'm not sure, but if you contact her I'm sure she'll tell you. She's very nice.

  10. #10
    Member Shems's Avatar
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    I've been considering lately how I can more thoughtfully or intentionally make my breathing a greater part of my movement approach. I've typically come at it from the perspective of a musician, just like a singer has to breath in before singing a phrase then breathe out to sing. (Which is more or less what I think Ranya does.)

    But I'm also thinking about how there is also an emotional component to how we use our breath. How we gasp when we are surprised or hurt, how our diaphragm responds when we laugh, how we lengthen our breath when we are feeling relaxed, how we sigh when we are weary, all of these breath responses can relate to the music or movement we are doing and allow us to feel the emotion of the piece in a deeper way.

    There is also a strange rise and fall to our breath in connection to our sense of being grounded. I've learned to lengthen, or stretch on an exhale, like if I'm going to rise into releve, it feels so much more grounded and connected if I do it on an exhale. I used to think releve was an inhale thing, as though I were a rising balloon, but it doesn't carry the same quality for me and I tend to wobble more if I inhale instead of exhale. Inhalation really seems to key in transitions. If I inhale before entering into a move, I feel more ready for it. Inhale has become my contraction before the expansion.

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