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  1. #1
    Junior Member Starless and Bible Black's Avatar
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    Default Teachers - extreme newbie, please help!

    This may be a bit long, so if anyone can help me out at all I would be extremely appreciative!

    I am about as new to belly dance as you get. I have been learning for not even two months yet, and so far my only instruction is watching the TV series "Shimmy." I think the show is great and teaches the moves very clearly, and I even enjoy watching all the repeats so that I can really work on the technique of each move over and over. Then I use what I learn from Shimmy and practice dancing on my own to different middle eastern songs Ive accumulated (I still have a lot to learn about which music to get).

    I realize there's no way to ensure I'm learning something properly without an instructor, but the nearest belly dancing classes are a 3 hour drive away. I do my best to keep proper posture while dancing ("Shimmy" is good for this - throughout the program they are constantly bringing you back to starting posture with your feet flat, knees bent, pelvis tucked, chest lifted, and shoulders relaxed). I practice in front of the mirror as much as possible to see if my movements/feet position are similar to the dancers I watch on screen.

    I think the show performs a combination of several different styles, but I think they are all pretty traditional. (if anyone has seen Shimmy and knows, Id appreciate you telling me!). Things like Egyptian shimmy, Maya hips, Lebanese hip circle, Turkish figure 8, Ive seen them use all these and more.

    So my question to any instructors/students out here do you have any advice, suggestions, warnings, etc., for a girl who has no hope of taking a class any time soon? If one becomes available Id be first to sign up, but until then I would hate to be teaching myself improperly, or with bad technique. The movements seem to come pretty naturally for me (I remember being able to do belly rolls all the way back in elementary school), but I feel like Im just scratching the tip of the TIP of the iceberg in oriental dance, and I will take any advice given to heart.

  2. #2
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    If you are able to where you live, I'd suggest supplementing your work on bellydance with some sort of instructor-led fitness/yoga/pilates/stretch-strength type class. That way, even if you can't necessarily be specific to belly dance, you'll be working with someone who has training in stance and posture and can point out basic errors that will crop up in any movement-based exercise.

    My BD instructor is also a trained fitness instructor and I value that immensely.

  3. #3
    Junior Member Starless and Bible Black's Avatar
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    This past month I have been getting into yoga nearly as much as belly dance, and I am currently looking at the couple of classes offered here to see which best suits me. Who knows, maybe I will find someone in one of those classes who is also interested in belly dance!

  4. #4
    V.I.P. da Sage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starless and Bible Black View Post
    This may be a bit long, so if anyone can help me out at all I would be extremely appreciative!

    I am about as new to belly dance as you get. I have been learning for not even two months yet, and so far my only instruction is watching the TV series "Shimmy." I think the show is great and teaches the moves very clearly, and I even enjoy watching all the repeats so that I can really work on the technique of each move over and over. Then I use what I learn from Shimmy and practice dancing on my own to different middle eastern songs Ive accumulated (I still have a lot to learn about which music to get).

    I realize there's no way to ensure I'm learning something properly without an instructor, but the nearest belly dancing classes are a 3 hour drive away. I do my best to keep proper posture while dancing ("Shimmy" is good for this - throughout the program they are constantly bringing you back to starting posture with your feet flat, knees bent, pelvis tucked, chest lifted, and shoulders relaxed). I practice in front of the mirror as much as possible to see if my movements/feet position are similar to the dancers I watch on screen.

    I think the show performs a combination of several different styles, but I think they are all pretty traditional. (if anyone has seen Shimmy and knows, Id appreciate you telling me!). Things like Egyptian shimmy, Maya hips, Lebanese hip circle, Turkish figure 8, Ive seen them use all these and more.

    So my question to any instructors/students out here do you have any advice, suggestions, warnings, etc., for a girl who has no hope of taking a class any time soon? If one becomes available Id be first to sign up, but until then I would hate to be teaching myself improperly, or with bad technique. The movements seem to come pretty naturally for me (I remember being able to do belly rolls all the way back in elementary school), but I feel like Im just scratching the tip of the TIP of the iceberg in oriental dance, and I will take any advice given to heart.
    3 hours away? Really?

    I think you should call the community education departments of all the public school districts in a 10 mile radius...it's highly likely that SOMEBODY is offering a class within reasonable driving distance. Then check with local gyms, then call college dance departments...

    I'm only saying this because I live in a town FILLED with bellydance classes, and for years I had no clue...I thought my only option was this *one* community ed class that was always full (when the teacher wasn't on hiatus).

    More immediate advice? Do every move on both sides, listen to your body, and stretch after practicing. Happy dancing!

  5. #5
    V.I.P. Moon's Avatar
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    Actually maya hips are not traditional, but they do belong to American Oriental style.

    If you can afford instructional videos, I'd go with that as long as there is no instructor available in your area. I don't know much about good instructional videos myself, but there are quite some threads on this forums that cover the topic.
    Good luck.

  6. #6
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Um, Moon -- I have video of lots of Egyptians doing the downward vertical figure 8 we sometimes call the "Maya."

    One of my fave Sohair Zaki moves was a series of down hips that culminated in that type of "Maya" figure 8.

    I think it's definitely more common to see a horizontal figure 8, or the so-called reverse Maya in Raqia Hassan and her students, but I think I would disagree with you that it isn't a traditional movement.

  7. #7
    V.I.P. Yasmine Bint Al Nubia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starless and Bible Black View Post
    This may be a bit long, so if anyone can help me out at all I would be extremely appreciative!

    I am about as new to belly dance as you get. I have been learning for not even two months yet, and so far my only instruction is watching the TV series "Shimmy." I think the show is great and teaches the moves very clearly, and I even enjoy watching all the repeats so that I can really work on the technique of each move over and over. Then I use what I learn from Shimmy and practice dancing on my own to different middle eastern songs Ive accumulated (I still have a lot to learn about which music to get).

    I realize there's no way to ensure I'm learning something properly without an instructor, but the nearest belly dancing classes are a 3 hour drive away. I do my best to keep proper posture while dancing ("Shimmy" is good for this - throughout the program they are constantly bringing you back to starting posture with your feet flat, knees bent, pelvis tucked, chest lifted, and shoulders relaxed). I practice in front of the mirror as much as possible to see if my movements/feet position are similar to the dancers I watch on screen.

    I think the show performs a combination of several different styles, but I think they are all pretty traditional. (if anyone has seen Shimmy and knows, Id appreciate you telling me!). Things like Egyptian shimmy, Maya hips, Lebanese hip circle, Turkish figure 8, Ive seen them use all these and more.

    So my question to any instructors/students out here do you have any advice, suggestions, warnings, etc., for a girl who has no hope of taking a class any time soon? If one becomes available Id be first to sign up, but until then I would hate to be teaching myself improperly, or with bad technique. The movements seem to come pretty naturally for me (I remember being able to do belly rolls all the way back in elementary school), but I feel like Im just scratching the tip of the TIP of the iceberg in oriental dance, and I will take any advice given to heart.
    Hi, you're only touching the tip of the iceberg, but I'm glad you are exposed to our favorite dance in the whole wide world!!!
    Tips for now:
    If it hurts..STOP! Pain is an indicator that you are doing something very wrong.
    Practice your posture everyday..standing in line..at work..everywhere.

    Develop greater awareness of the weight placement of your feet

    Same with balance. While your feet are flat..keep your spine aligned correctly.
    Your movements should come from the center of your own gravity

    Continue to listen to the music..feel the beats, melodies and how he music shifts. Just dance! Improvisational movements will develop confidence and help you 'feel' the flow of the music.

    http://www.maqam.com/

    If you can, but some music that teaches rhythm analysis. For instructional DVD's here are a few links:

    Belly Dancing, Belly Dance Videos, DVDs, Bellydance
    World Dance New York | Flamenco, Samba, Hip Hop, Bellydance Video | Flamenco, Samba, Hip Hop, Bellydance DVD

    For research and articles about the dance, try:
    Belly Dancing -- Art Of Middle Eastern Dance -- Bellydancing in Iowa City
    Alexandra's Belly Dance Library: Belly dancing events, articles and musings
    Yasmina's Joy of Belly Dancing
    Welcome to Morocco's Meanderings
    Of course there are many wonderful articles on this forum as well as a store from which to buy goodies!
    Good Luck and Happy Dancing!
    Yasmine

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