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  1. #11
    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    May 2008
    Iowa City, Iowa, USA
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    Back in my student days 28 years ago, I had a lot of trouble learning this. My belly dance teachers didn't explain it well at all, but one of my friends (not a belly dancer) could do it, and here are the things she suggested:

    1. Bend forward from the hips and let your hands dangle loosely down toward the floor. Make sure the arms are really, REALLY loose. Your upper body should be like a hinge, with a straight back, so that your back is parallel to the floor. 90-degree angle at your hips.

    2. Wobble your shoulders loosely up and down to make your dangling hands wobble loosely up and down. Start slowly at first, then gradually build speed.

    3. Keep yourself at Step 2 above for several days, or even a couple of weeks. Don't move on until the notion of that loose wobbling seems to come naturally.

    4. Now, change the angle of your bend so that your upper body is sliglhtly higher than your hips. (Ie, stand up a tiny bit straighter.) Practice #2 in this position for a few days.

    5. Stand up a little straighter still. Practice a few days.

    6. Keep repeating Step #5, progressively standing slightly higher and higher. Keep letting your hands flop around loosely, keep your arms dangling loosely.

    If you keep working on the above steps, you should reach a point in which you can shimmy your shoulders while standing up straight with your hands dangling loosely at each side. One you reach this point, you can now try *slightly* lifting your hands and shimmy, gradually over time lifting your hands higher and higher.

    Comments on the above instructions:

    1. By letting your hands dangle loosely, you allow your trapezius muscle to relax in the way that Kashmir and Lydia recommended.

    2. The friend who taught me told me repeatedly that it's easier when you're drunk. (Hey, we were both high-spirited college students at the time!) Now, I am NOT going to recommend that you get drunk for the purpose of learning this move! However, if you happen to find yourself drinking a bit much for other reasons, take advantage of the opportunity to play around with shoulder shimmies.

    3. It's easier if you either take a bath, sit in a hot tub, or take a hot shower first. This promotes relaxing your muscles.

    4. If you have a lot of tightness if your upper back, try warming up some shoulder rolls (circle your shoulders as if each shoulder was on a Ferris wheel) to release tension in the trapezius. You can either circle them in unison, or you can circle them in opposition. Circling them in opposition is makes your snake arms look juicier. When I teach shoulder shimmies, first I have my students circle the shoulders in unison: forward, up, back, down, over and over. Then I have them reverse the direction of the circle (back, up, forward, down) a bunch of times. Then we practice snake arms doing the forward, up, back, down circles in opposition. (Ie, when oneshoulder comes forward the other is to the back; when one is up the other is down, etc.) All this circling releases tension from the trapezius.

    5. Instead of trying for a full-bore shimmy, try a very quick shake of the shoulders as if you just came out of a swimming pool and you're shaking yourself to dry off.

  2. #12
    Member Hypnos's Avatar
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    Jul 2009
    Reading, UK
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    This is all really good advice, thank you guys!

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