The Hip Lift

achilles007

New member
Total beginner male bellydancer here.

Just came back from an awesome one-hour private and she really highlighted a huge trouble spot for me..

Apparently , whenever I try to hip lift to the side, I end up jutting my hip ''out'' instead of ''up'' and towards my armpit.

i totally understood what she was wanting but my body just would not cooperate. I am used to the hip motion executed in Salsa where the hip is pushed out, never up.

Having the teacher hold my hips and push them into the hip lift action really helped out a lot. Unfortunately doing it on my own doesnt come so easy.

Anyone have any tips, tools or exercises that could help my hips learn to ''lift'' properly?
Thanks!

(P.S.- Ive done a lot of things in my life-- from football, salsa, ballet, swimming, baseball and basketball. An without a doubt, I'd have to say that this was one of the hardest things I've ever done.)
 

achilles007

New member
She also mentioned that none of my ''lifting'' contractions to the front, the sides or the back, were strong enough.

She stated that it needs to look as if I am trying to grab a pencil. Lord knows I tried. i thought BellyDancing would be a walk in the park after several years of hip-swaying Salsa... boy was i wrong! I have zero hip control or strength it seems.

Help!
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Try standing on one foot while practicing with the opposite hip. It's easier to keep your balance when lifting than when pushing out.
 

Kashmir

New member
To pull straight up you actually have to engage extra muscles to counter the natural body movement out and up. Try visualizations eg a string from the hip to your armpit. Try with your hands framing either side of the hips (and a mirror to check you aren't cheating). Also try with your side and hip, up against a door or wall.

With my own students we work on the hip rock - ie smooth up/down on both feet for a while until they can get that movement vertical. If you natural hip rock pushes out, you can be pretty certain a hip lift or drop will as well.
 

Kashmir

New member
Try standing on one foot while practicing with the opposite hip. It's easier to keep your balance when lifting than when pushing out.
But do make sure the standing leg is vertical (ie the hip not pushed out) and the knee soft - not locked.
 

achilles007

New member
Try standing on one foot while practicing with the opposite hip. It's easier to keep your balance when lifting than when pushing out.
To pull straight up you actually have to engage extra muscles to counter the natural body movement out and up. Try visualizations eg a string from the hip to your armpit. Try with your hands framing either side of the hips (and a mirror to check you aren't cheating). Also try with your side and hip, up against a door or wall.

With my own students we work on the hip rock - ie smooth up/down on both feet for a while until they can get that movement vertical. If you natural hip rock pushes out, you can be pretty certain a hip lift or drop will as well.
Oh wow. This is superb advice. By potential ''cheating'' doing you mean using the door frame as leverage?

Your hip rock technique sounds exactly like what i need to be utilizing, but cant seem to visualize it. Do you know of where i could perhaps find a video example of it to see it?

Thank you so much.
 

Anetta

New member
Maybe your body has "memorised" a different variation of the move (to the side) and refuses to do this slight change (to the up). It has happened to me too! You need to take control of your muscles, and to connect your body to your brain's instructions... and that comes with practice!

My suggestion (similar to Kashmir's advice):
Stand next to a piece of furniture that is as tall as your waist (i.e. a chair or kitchen drawers).
Now imagine that this is a very hot surface and you must not touch it.. convince yourself that it is really hot!
Practice the move as Kashmir, Shanazel or your teacher instructed, but always think of not touching the "burning surface". Do not put much effort to do the perfect move, your priority is to avoid the surface!
That way, your brain will forget about salsa or any other memorized move, and really focus on trying not to be burnt.

This trick has helped me a lot with isolation moves and similar "body memory" issues
 
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Daimona

Moderator
Cheating as in doing something differently than what you should do, such as pushing your hip out instead of up or tilting your upper body towards the hip you are trying to lift.

If you need to get to know the muscles used to lift the hip, another practice trick (particularly valuable for those who would rather use the leg to push up the hip) is to lift it while standing on your toes with straight legs (still soft knees) and then lift. Walk with it and lift right/left hip alternatively. An alternative, if you have strong thighs and knees, is to lift one hip at the time when squatting.

If you don't have a mirror and need to feel if your hips go out or in, place yourself with one hip towards a wall/chair (anything that is at least as high as your hips and won't move easily) with your hip touching it gently. Lift the hip touching the wall/chair/whatever-you've-chosen. Be aware if you are a) loosing contact with the wall/etc (i.e. your other hip is pushing out) or b) if your hip is trying to push towards the wall (i.e. pushing it outwards) or c) your foot move forwards or backwards (i.e. you're adding a twist pushing it forwards/backwards).

Another visualization trick is to imagine yourself as a marionette puppet where the puppeteer draws the string for one of the hips straight up.
And yet another visualization trick is that you are moving your hips within a very tight frame/groove. It can't go forwards or backwards or sideways, just up and down.
 
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Farasha Hanem

New member
Maybe your body has "memorised" a different variation of the move (to the side) and refuses to do this slight change (to the up). It has happened to me too! You need to take control of your muscles, and to connect your body to your brain's instructions... and that comes with practice!

My suggestion (similar to Kashmir's advice):
Stand next to a piece of furniture that is as tall as your waist (i.e. a chair or kitchen drawers).
Now imagine that this is a very hot surface and you must not touch it.. convince yourself that it is really hot!
Practice the move as Kashmir, Shanazel or your teacher instructed, but always think of not touching the "burning surface". Do not put much effort to do the perfect move, your priority is to avoid the surface!
That way, your brain will forget about salsa or any other memorized move, and really focus on trying not to be burnt.

This trick has helped me a lot with isolation moves and similar "body memory" issues
Pardon the slight temporary railroading, by a MOD yet, of posted topic:

CRAAAAAP!!! I did "Dislike" this post on accident!!! :( *tries to fix it---fails*


okay, carry on while I crawl back under my rock...
 

achilles007

New member
Okay. Thank you to all. I finally have my hip lift moving in the right direction, but the only problem is I don't really ''feel'' anything. When on flat feet I can see the movement and I can really feel my knees/thighs working but my legs feel heavy.

Yet when I try the hip lift with one foot or with both heels off the ground like as was suggested to me above, i can feel a tremendous difference in my abdominal and oblique muscles really working! It almost feel like I'm doing crunches while standing!

I'm not sure what I am doing right or wrong or how it is supposed to feel.

Any potential pointers would be helpful.

Thanks
 

Daimona

Moderator
Okay. Thank you to all. I finally have my hip lift moving in the right direction, but the only problem is I don't really ''feel'' anything. When on flat feet I can see the movement and I can really feel my knees/thighs working but my legs feel heavy.

Yet when I try the hip lift with one foot or with both heels off the ground like as was suggested to me above, i can feel a tremendous difference in my abdominal and oblique muscles really working! It almost feel like I'm doing crunches while standing!
From my point of view (note that I may have a different view than your teacher, I don't actually see what you're doing and that there are many nomenclatures and explanations of moves in belly dance) it seems you're moving towards the right track and that you initially use your leg to push up the hip (hence you don't feel anything, just see the movement). When both heels are off the ground you have to activate different muscles around the torso (such as abdominal and obliques) to get the hips moving up. It could be a real workout when done repeatedly.
 

achilles007

New member
From my point of view (note that I may have a different view than your teacher, I don't actually see what you're doing and that there are many nomenclatures and explanations of moves in belly dance) it seems you're moving towards the right track and that you initially use your leg to push up the hip (hence you don't feel anything, just see the movement). When both heels are off the ground you have to activate different muscles around the torso (such as abdominal and obliques) to get the hips moving up. It could be a real workout when done repeatedly.
Hmmm... so I pretty much have the option of either deciding to use my legs to drive the movement or my abdominals/obliques?

Is there a difference in the look between the two?

In Salsa all o the hip motion comes from using our legs/knees and pressing into the floor in order to push the hip out. So, it's safe to say I am pretty lazy and untrained in how to use my abs. I'm afraid that by using mainly my legs to learn the hip lift I may be going the easy route and ''cheating'' still by not learning to recruit my abs also.

What does anyone think?
 

Daimona

Moderator
Hmmm... so I pretty much have the option of either deciding to use my legs to drive the movement or my abdominals/obliques?

Is there a difference in the look between the two?
Yes and yes (although, I'm too tired to explain the difference right now).


In Salsa all o the hip motion comes from using our legs/knees and pressing into the floor in order to push the hip out. So, it's safe to say I am pretty lazy and untrained in how to use my abs. I'm afraid that by using mainly my legs to learn the hip lift I may be going the easy route and ''cheating'' still by not learning to recruit my abs also.
You better get those torso muscles working as you'll gain from that in the rest of your dance training as well.
 

Kashmir

New member
Hmmm... so I pretty much have the option of either deciding to use my legs to drive the movement or my abdominals/obliques?

Is there a difference in the look between the two?
Yes - they look different - leg pushed hips are more likely to end up going out as well as up and they have a more superficial feel ie the lateral flexor/glute version looks "juicier". If you want to do (modern) Egyptian style you need to be able to use the "hips" to generate the movement - not the legs. For folkloric styles however, leg generated tends to be the norm.

And you need to be able to choose which muscles you use when you start layering. Personally, I cannot do a walking, continuous shimmy if I'm using my legs to generate the hip movement.
 

achilles007

New member
Yes - they look different - leg pushed hips are more likely to end up going out as well as up and they have a more superficial feel ie the lateral flexor/glute version looks "juicier". If you want to do (modern) Egyptian style you need to be able to use the "hips" to generate the movement - not the legs. For folkloric styles however, leg generated tends to be the norm.
I apologize in advance for having so many questions, but Kashmir you've touched on a lot of points that I would like to have cleared up:

Ahhhhh... yes!!! ''Juicy'' was exactly the term my instructor used in my private class. I had no clue what she meant by this term ''juicy'', and am still a little confused by it. Does it just mean ''very isolated'' or something?

Secondly, we are actually able to use our glutes when doing these moves? I had read somewhere online that someone cautioned against using the glutes because they would make a dancer tense up and tight in their backside instead of loose and relaxed. Is this true?

Thirdly, would ''Tribal Fusion'' count as leg-generated folk-loric style or more closer to ''hip-generated'' Modern Egyptian?

My favorite bellydancer is Draconis and I havent really ever seen how differently a modern egyptian dancer looks like. But I heard Egyptian is more ''skeletal'' and Tribal is more ''muscular'' and serpentine, but I don't really understand those terms either as all bellydance looks serpentine with strong muscle involvement.

Anyways, here is Draconis who I'm aspiring to look like one day:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUdUMhz1WtE

He has such powerful isolations/contractions you can see them from a mile away. Exactly what I aim to do. I'm not sure if you guys would classify him as being more towards Egyptian, American Cabaret, Turkish, Tribal or something else. I've emailed him and he told me he has taken all four of those styles before and therefore he is a mix.

Again-- apologies for all the questions, but they have been jumbled up in my head for a while.
 

Roshanna

New member
I heard Egyptian is more ''skeletal'' and Tribal is more ''muscular'' and serpentine, but I don't really understand those terms either as all bellydance looks serpentine with strong muscle involvement.
This is not true. I'm an Egyptian-style dancer, and it's extremely muscular, particularly if you are doing modern Cairo style. In my experience, dancers who do one style often have slightly odd ideas about the other styles if they haven't studied them in depth. It might be fair to say that older American Oriental style (sometimes called 'cabaret') is more skeletal, in that movements are more powered by the legs, and there is more free movement of the skeleton through space - but I'm far from an expert on that style. I'd also apply this to ATS, actually, at least to the 'fast' ATS combinations (the 'slow' combinations are much more muscular/serpentine).

Also - new dancers often try to pin down the differences between styles as being about the movements. This is only partially true. A lot of the muscular technique used for torso isolations in Tribal Fusion, for example, is similar to Egyptian dance technique (although the posture is different, as are the arm positions) - but the musical interpretation, i.e. what you do with that technique, is completely different.

Some good examples of male Egyptian-style dancers would be Tito Seif (one of my favourite dancers ever!) and Khaled Mahmoud.
Good examples of female modern Egyptian style dancers off the top of my head include Dina, Randa Kamel, Aziza of Cairo (not to be confused with the American Aziza, who is also awesome but in a different way), Camellia... And for older Egyptian styles, watch Fifi Abdou (another of my favourite dancers ever), Soheir Zaki, Nagwa Fouad, Naima Akef, Taheyya Carioca, Samia Gamal...
 

Darshiva

Moderator
I think it's more about the carriage/posture. Tribal has a 'seated' posture with a lifted/solid torso, oriental has a low centre of gravity with a lifted/floating torso and the fusion styles have a higher centre of gravity with a lifted/floating torso - in general. There are exceptions to this in every genre, but in general this is a good way to figure out a dancer's primary influential style.
 

Kashmir

New member
I apologize in advance for having so many questions, but Kashmir you've touched on a lot of points that I would like to have cleared up:
If the questions are genuine - no problem. How else can you learn?

Ahhhhh... yes!!! ''Juicy'' was exactly the term my instructor used in my private class. I had no clue what she meant by this term ''juicy'', and am still a little confused by it. Does it just mean ''very isolated'' or something?
No. On the whole "very isolated" comes across as non-juicy; it is often hard and less human. Easy to recognize - but hard to describe in words. The movements flow from one part to the other rather than being an "A" then a "B" - it goes A Ab ab aB B - that is it has definite start and end but in between it goes through every point. They do tend to be ab generated - including weight shifts. Once Ranya Renee suggested walking with your pelvic floor (engaged). It changes how you move. There is also your attention - it has to be internal while doing the move - you feel those muscles moving. And generally slow - hard to be juicy and fast (not impossible).

Secondly, we are actually able to use our glutes when doing these moves? I had read somewhere online that someone cautioned against using the glutes because they would make a dancer tense up and tight in their backside instead of loose and relaxed. Is this true?
Which move? and when? You don't use your glutes for a shimmy (butt and thighs should be slappingly loose) - but without glutes you have no control over a hip drop - only you just engage at the end.

Thirdly, would ''Tribal Fusion'' count as leg-generated folk-loric style or more closer to ''hip-generated'' Modern Egyptian?
Unfortunately "Tribal Fusion" can mean just about anything - so it depends on the actual dance/dancer. Many Tribal Fusion dancers have yoga backgrounds which does add quite a bit of ab usage. But none look anything like Modern Egyptian (that I've seen) - tends to use way more torso than any Egyptian style dancer (of any genre).

My favorite bellydancer is Draconis and I havent really ever seen how differently a modern egyptian dancer looks like. But I heard Egyptian is more ''skeletal'' and Tribal is more ''muscular'' and serpentine, but I don't really understand those terms either as all bellydance looks serpentine with strong muscle involvement.
You've just gone an pushed a button! First up, those that go on about "Egyptian is more ''skeletal'' and Tribal is more ''muscular'' and serpentine" tend to be Tribal dancers who wouldn't know Egyptian style if they tripped over it in the hall. There seems to be this idea if it isn't Tribal it must be Egyptian - and all sorts of rubbish gets tossed together (to the extent I have heard of a Tribal teacher offering "American Cabaret" class ending in an "Egyptian" choreography. I suspect neither label is accurate.)

Next - no dance is "skeletal" - you move your bones with muscles. ALL movement is muscular. However, some movement is more leg muscle driven, some more ab muscle driven.

Old style western belly dance was more leg driven (no surprising as the first generation non-ME dancers had ballet, jazz, and flamenco backgrounds). When Egyptian was introduced in the 1990s (for instance with Raqia Hassan's tour in 1996) - American dancers were introduced to ab generated movement. Tribal at that stage hadn't even been invented - and early Tribal looked very leg generated to my eye.

Draconis looks like a good dancer - I'd put him in the American/Turkish camp. To see some Egyptian style check out Lucy, Fifi, Dina etc.

He has such powerful isolations/contractions you can see them from a mile away. Exactly what I aim to do.
Okay - if this is your preferred style - then Egyptian is NOT what you are after. The physicality overrides the music to my eye - and it is way too much. In Egyptian it is about the music - and you don't spoonfeed your audience - they have to watch you. You have control but it isn't to gross out your audience - it is so you have a wider palette to choose from to express the music.

Good luck.
 
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