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  1. #11
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabi View Post
    Any advice for a lazy side?
    Hmm, you mean one side of the body that doesn't quite do it as well as the other side? Just the P word -- practice more on that side than the other for a while. But one side is ALWAYS going to feel more comfortable, I think.

    One of the things I do personally, and we also do in class (and I stole this from Suhaila) is practice every movement or every combination on both sides of the body, or moving in each direction (north, south, west, east).

    So for example, and this is something that amazes me -- I've seen students who can't do a 3/4 shimmy while travelling sideways to the left. ??? Why? Because they've never practiced it that way. I don't want to be limited like that.

    Advice for general laziness (like preferring to sit on the couch eating bonbons rather than dancing)? Just put on some music you like, or throw on a performance DVD that inspires you. Right now I have this crazy wicked Eddie Kochak CD that I'm addicted to -- I'll drop that in the CD player and 10 seconds later I can't HELP but dance. And for some reason listening to Missy Elliot Cds gets me in the mood to dance or lift weights. I haven't quite figured out that connection...:p

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aziyade View Post
    Hmm, you mean one side of the body that doesn't quite do it as well as the other side?
    Yes, that's the lazy I was meaning :o . Thanks, I'll incorporate the traveling in all directions on it. Sometimes it feels like the left side is never going to be smooth *garrrgh* but there is injury there so maybe as that gets better it'll help too.

    re the couch - so true, once the music plays there is no hope for it - so was born the car bouncing, eh?

    I have discovered that shimmying to Bach is quite exciting

  3. #13
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabi View Post
    Sometimes it feels like the left side is never going to be smooth *garrrgh* but there is injury there so maybe as that gets better it'll help too.
    Oh yeah --- never push through an injury. You probably will see a difference once you heal.

    It could be psychological too. The brain does goofy things sometimes. Something one of my old ballet teachers used to do with the four or five of us who were HOPELESSLY right-legged was to start teaching each new combination on the left side or starting with the left foot. For some reason, if we started the combo on the right, we JUST couldn't repeat it on the left leg. But if we started on the left leg, we got it and could repeat it on the right leg with no problem.

    ????

    So maybe if there's a movement that's really lopsided, you could start it on the weaker leg/hip and see if that makes a difference? Let me know if that works for you.
    Last edited by Salome; 10-20-2006 at 04:42 PM.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aziyade View Post
    [So maybe if there's a movement that's really lopsided, you could start it on the weaker leg/hip and see if that makes a difference? Let me know if that works for you.
    Heyyyyy, that's a great idea - I've noticed that when I go through a move or choreo in my head I always start on the right - may be a connection there. I'll report back in ... Thanks mucho, g

  5. #15
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    Wow! THanks for the tips! What I usually do (it's bound to change!!) is do the warm up and then work on hip circles for about five minutes, first slow, medium, then fast. After that I do that one move where you circle one of your hips up and around (i forget what it is called...) for a while on BOTH sides, then I work on hip drops. I think I go to fast though on them cus I feel sloppy. I also realized my mom is NOT really good on telling me if I look good or not since she isn' a bd. lol anyway. I try to work on shimmies but I get so frustrated that I don't feel like doing them. Now, though, I'm going to keep my arms way up...uhm, what is the iright posture in bellydance? Vand N don't teach it....

    Anywho...

  6. #16
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    Ooohhhh i did what you told me to do. I took it sloowllly and I tell you what, I felt like I ran four miles or something. Before hand when I took it too fast, I would get frustrated and discouraged and not really want to do it again. However, today through much pain, I felt like wow, I'm actually doing it but twenty times slower. Now the shimmy, I just slowly bent my knees back and forth and went a little faster. Building muscles! lol.

  7. #17
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by starrbursts View Post
    what is the iright posture in bellydance? Vand N don't teach it....

    Well, that's a matter of some debate. LOL. Ultimately proper posture results in a stable support line from head to toes, but there are a few ways to achieve that.

    Let's start at the bottom and work our way up.


    FEET:
    99.9% of teachers will have you stand with your feet parallel to one another. (There is a faction of Tribal that seems to encourage a more "turned out" or V position with the feet, but they're in the minority.)
    With your feet parallel, you should feel the weight of your body centered between the triangle made by the big toe, little toe, and heel.

    Or,

    some teachers encourage you to put more weight on the ball of your feet. For me, it completely depends on the movement itself and if I'm wearing heels. The goal is stability, to protect your feet, ankles, and knees. Try to feel all your toes on the floor -- don't grasp the floor with your toes, though. Keep them flat.


    Alignment of feet, ankles, and knees:
    Your knees should line up with your toes, and point in the same direction. You don't want the knee twisting to one side.

    This is important to note: If you've had serious ballet training (or if you were just born that way) you may find that you have a certain degree of outward rotation of the feet from the ankles (duck footedness). If when you stand with your feet in parallel, you notice that your knees are pointing towards each other, go ahead and try to align your KNEES so that they are parallel, rather than your feet.

    KNEES:

    The great debate -- based on your style, your knees will be bent or straight to various levels:

    Old School American Cabaret -- knees VERY bent. Always.
    Modern American Cabaret, some Arabic styles: -- knees are moderately bent. If you look from the side you can see the bend.
    Egyptian (a al Shareen el Safy) -- knees are not bent much, if any, and leg is basically straight.

    Now, a straight leg does not mean a hyperextended backwards knee, or locked knees. Lay on your back on the floor. Your legs are now "Straight." If you were to stand up and try to push your knees to the back wall (don't do this -- it's horribly bad for you) then you would end up with a hyperextended knee. NEVER NEVER NEVER lock the knees. I'm pretty sure THAT rule is consistent between all styles, and all forms of dance.

    How far apart should the legs be?

    Again, stylistic differences (and your personal body structure) will cause this "rule" to vary. If you have the legs too wide, the movements will be lost on the body and you'll have a tendency to look ... odd. Legs to close together and you lose your line of stability.

    Picture yourself hanging from a trapeeze, your arms holding on to the bar and your legs hanging beneath you. (Don't you love the goofy visuals?) Now, your legs are literally HANGING from the hip socket. To me, that's the best place for my legs to be -- basically, hanging straight down from my hip bones.

    Shareen taught modern Egyptian with a more wide-leg posture than I was used to, and that DEFINATELY changed the way the movements felt to me. I was raised with the "knees together at all times, like you're wearing a miniskirt" idea. I think for the MOST part, that's a good general guideline -- the part about imagining you're in a miniskirt. Overly wide-legged postitions can seem very aggressive to your audience, especially if you face them front-on. A more closed leg position gives the impression of vulnerability and is a little more "sassy" and cute.


    POSTERIOR and LOW ABS

    Usually you'll hear something like "tuck your pelvis" or "tuck your rear end" or "tuck your tail" or "flatten your low back." Doesn't really mean much, does it? I think a better way to envision this is to think of pulling your belly button to your spine (using low ab muscles).

    The pelvis can rock forwards and backwards. A lot of women have the problem of letting the pelvis rock backwards and stay there (Duck Butt!) which makes your rear end stick out and exaggerates the arch in the low back. This is an unhealthy position for the low back.

    Try it -- rock your pelvis back (think porn star!) and see how that feels in your lower back muscles. Now rock the pelvis forward -- like you know how old men sometimes walk? LOL. See how weird and uncomfortable this feels?

    Somewhere in the middle is what we call "neutral" position. This would be pretty much a straight up-and-down position of the pelvis, without rocking forwards or backwards. This is your goal.

    Most people can achieve this neutral pelvic position by pulling in with the low abs (navel to spine). You really want to get in touch with the muscles between your pubic bone and your navel. You will want to be friends with them, especially if you're interested in looking like the Egyptian dancers.

    BTW: If you hear the phrase "flatten your low back" -- the teacher doesn't want you to TOTALLY flatten it. You need some arch in it to be healthy. But what she's seeing is an excessive tilt, and wants you to bring it back to neutral position.

    Kegels -- those "little girl muscles" in the vagina may or not be activated. I know Suhaila says she doesn't use kegels, but Shareen and Hadia swear by them. If you know how to activate them, try it! It makes a difference in how the movement FEELS (to me).

    Rear end -- Egyptian style seems to demand that the glutes be contracted, and the rear end be pretty tight. Try tightening and loosening the glutes during Egyptian shimmies and see the difference in how it feels. Contracted glutes help add stability to the body when you're standing on one leg. However, Suhaila has created a different system, and she doesn't tighten the glutes as part of the basic posture, so if you study with a Suhaila-ite, she'll probably tell you to relax your butt.

    Thighs -- your thighs are your tree trunks, steadying the body and absorbing most of the workload from the abs. If your thighs feel tired after you dance, you're doing it right

    ABS

    Low abs should be pushing the navel to the spine, but upper abs should basically be relaxed. You want to be able to breathe normally, and you want the breathing to be able to be seen on the body. (Separating, or learning to control just one part of the abs is REALLY difficult for most people. Don't fret if you can't do it right away. This is just one of those things that takes time and LOTS of practice!)

    RIBCAGE
    Ribcage is lifted, but don't think "West Point" -- instead, think of maybe standing up straight like your mom used to fuss about.

    You can lift the ribcage from any point, or combination of points, depending on your style. Shareen encourages a lift from all the way around the back and chest, almost the same feeling as if you were diving into a swimming pool. Try it -- put your hands up and pretend you're going to dive. See how that feels?

    Now, the placement of the ribcage on the horizontal plane is another debate.

    Old School Am Cab -- ribcage is behind the hips (so you have a distinct feeling -- and visual -- of leaning or arching backwards) You don't see this position used much anymore because people say it's dangerous. It's only really DANGERous if you let the pelvis drop and allow the arch to occur in the low back. Arching from the upper back is standard for Flamenco, and Ansuya uses this position, but it takes a lot of work to maintain, and since most people will say "ooh that's dangerous!" you might as well not even bother with this option.

    Modern American / Arabic styles -- ribcage is in line with hips, balanced in the center. "Neutral" position, so to speak. This is what most people teach.

    Egyptian -- again, from Shareen and Sahra -- the catch phrase is "tits over toes." Basically your ribcage moves forward from that neutral (but still lifted!) position, to a position more over your feet that your hips. This posture gives a sense of tension or anticipation and it's SO delicious.


    Upper body

    Just general good posture here: head up, not too far forward, not too far back. Shoulders rotated back and down. Arms should hang gracefully from the shoulders -- some teachers say think of having a peach in each armpit to move the arms away from the armpits a little.

    If you're using the Egyptian posture for your ribcage (tits over toes) than you can frame the hips with the arms -- keeping the arms back by the hips. This is a very dynamic and lovely position.

    ALWAYS keep energy in your arms. It's hard to describe in writing, but think of energy constantly shooting from your heart to about two inches past your fingertips. That way when you raise your arms to the sides, or up, they won't look like dead chicken wings.


    Are you exhausted yet? Who'd have thought just STANDING would be so much work!

    I'm sure I left some things out, so I'm interested in hearing what everyone else says. !

  8. #18
    V.I.P. Moon's Avatar
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    Aziyade you're great! Your fingers must really hurt now

  9. #19
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Aziyade, ever considered teaching a class on teaching to teachers?
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  10. #20
    V.I.P. Yasmine Bint Al Nubia's Avatar
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    Kudos to you Aziyade, It's great to see(read) other teachers who share a similar philosophy. I'm always looking for different ways to describe Basic Posture to students. May I use some of your descriptions?
    Yasmine

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