Belly Dancing Moves

When I think of belly dancing moves, only one name comes to mind; Shakira. Actually, Shakira doesn't perform the original belly dance, it's more of a combination between oriental dance with salsa and hip hop. The moves have different techniques and specific patterns associated with it. To find out more, read on...
Belly dancing is considered to be the world's oldest dance forms known to mankind. Due to inaccurate historical evidence, the origins of belly dancing, can only be traced to the Middle Eastern countries, the Mediterranean, and Africa. In Arabic, the dance is called Raqs Sharqi, which means "dance of the orient", while in Turkish, it is called Oryantal dansi, meaning "exotic oriental dance". Since these terms indicated an exotic dance that was initiated elsewhere, the moves had higher admiration than local dances. For the purpose of this article, let's just focus on the oriental (Middle Eastern) dance moves, and how you can learn you can perform these moves with ease.

Basic Moves

Oriental belly moves are solely designed for the female body, with emphasis on abdominal muscles, chest moves, and hip moves. The traditional way of dancing is with bare feet. The dance is a combination of smooth, flowing, complex, and sensual movements of the torso, interchanged with shaking and shimmy type moves. The moves for beginner dancers are often confusing, because of the different backgrounds of particular steps. Since this dance is inspired by various cultures, it can be a bit confusing. The trick is to take each dance move step by step to ease the confusion. Once you master the steps, the confusion can eliminate on its own. When we see belly dancers elegantly moving their arms, shoulders, and head in a graceful manner, it may look very simple. The belly dance moves and postures are performed in different manners across the world. Each dancer has his/her own understanding and interpretation of this dance form.

Different Names for Different Moves

The essence of the dance is still preserved (as in the steps and costume), with minor changes over a period of time. Belly dancing has a great variety of movements from many countries. Here are some names of the dance moves and how to learn them from the comforts of your home. These steps can be combined together to one complete song or can be danced individually.
  • Snake Arms: To do this step effortlessly, stand straight with your feet flat on the floor and shoulder length apart. Begin with lifting your right arm as the same height of your shoulders. While doing so, move your ribs to the right. Do this movement as if you are trying to push something with your torso. The entire move should begin with your wrist, hand, arm, shoulder, ribs, and back. Repeat on the other side.
  • Eight Figure - 'Maya': This dance move is named after an Egyptian dancer. Lift your right heel and hip. Roll the right hip out, over, and then down towards your ankles. Do this step as if you are forming a vertical loop. Keep your weight centered with soft knees, don't lock them. Repeat it on the other side as well. By doing this move, you are making a vertical eight figure.
  • Hip Drops: First keep your weight centered. Lift the right foot but keep the ball of the foot touched to the ground. Raise your hip and move it to the front, back, down, and up. Keep it vibrating at all sides, as your feet accompany the hip. Repeat the same move on your left side as well.
  • Choo Choo Shimmy: Keep soft, bent knees for this step. Step on the floor instead of pushing your foot on the floor, lift only the ball of the foot to step. When you take a step, your right hip goes up, and when you take another step, your left hip goes up. The main idea is to shuffle the feet across the floor as if you are gliding.
  • The Camel: Stand on your side with your right foot a little ahead of the other, and your arms in the air. Move your weight to the right foot while you sway your hip in the same direction. Next step is to return the weight of your body to the other leg at the back, and continue this looping movement. While doing this step, your abdomen should control the return of the lumbar vertebrae. (the part of the back between the ribs and the hipbones)
  • Egyptian Dance: In this dance move, the dancer should stand in a position with arms making a 90 degree angle. Position your right leg in front of your body, and raise your hip. In the next step, move your hip down while keeping the right leg in place. Again move the hip up on the same side. Now cross the leg in front of the body as if you are going to kick a ball, and move your hip down. Repeat this movement after you complete a circle.
Today belly dance is enjoyed for diverse reasons like beauty, healthy eroticism, ethnicity, and prowess. These moves have continued to keep its original connections to fertility and eroticism by being an essential feature at weddings in many Middle Eastern countries; especially for the bride and groom, and the guests. There are many simple moves are used in natural childbirth classes to ease painful labor. According to a recent study done by Mideastern Dancer Magazine, "women who belly danced delivered their first child with shorter periods of labor". So if you want to learn belly dancing moves for any of the reasons mentioned in the article, make sure you do one important thing throughout your dance; smile. This is what gives this dance form its own charm and popularity.
By Sheetal Mandora
Last Updated: 9/26/2011
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