Arabic Belly Dance: Basic Moves

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Basic belly dancing moves in the Arabic style include the hip slide, the hip twist and the figure-eight. Wear a hip scarf when learning Arabic dance moves with help from a Middle Eastern dance instructor in this free video on belly dancing.

Part of the Video Series: Belly Dancing Moves & Combinations
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Sahira and we're here today at the NiaM oves studio in Houston, Texas to teach you how to belly dance. So we're going through the basic belly dance movements. In order to do this you're going to want to have a mirror so that you can see the movements that you're doing, and a hip scarf is also very useful. That way you can look as the level of your hips and make sure that the movements are being done correctly. So what I'm going to do right now is just take you through what I consider to be the basic foundation movements of belly dance. So of course we're always in our correct posture. Knees are soft, knees and toes are in alignment, the pelvis is tucked underneath us, chest is lifted, we're bringing the arms up in to this nice strong position, elbows are bent, the wrists are slightly higher than the elbows and the palms are facing towards the floor. So we're going to start with the hips. So here we go, basic belly dance movement number one, I consider the hip slide, an integral part of belly dancing. this the side to side motion of the hips, much like and old fashion typewriter, parallel to the floor, sliding from one wall to the other. We also have the hip twist. So this movement is twisting around a center axis of the body, kind of like an agitator in a washing machine. You're using your obliques to create this, knees and toes are pointing forward at all times. This is your hip twist. Both of these movements can combine in to a movement we call the figure eight. There are many different variations of the figure eight. This particular one is the horizontal figure eight that goes from back to front. You can go from front to back, you can go up to down, many variations of the figure eight. So this is just one. We can take this in another plane, and move it up to down. This is also a figure eight, sometimes called a Mayan. This is also utilizing the obliques to lift the hips up and using the knees to help lower the hips down. So this is frequently called the Mayan. You can also lift the hips on their own using the obliques. This is a hip lift. You can also do this movement with one foot weighted and the other foot unweighted. This is also another variation on the hip lift. And we can also use the pelvic muscle to create a low body undulation, or a pelvic wave. And this is in a forward direction; it can also go in the reverse direction. Here is the reverse. So moving up to the chest we can do the chest slide which is very similar to the hip slide we did at the beginning. You want to keep this movement parallel to the floor, straight side to side. We're using our obliques and our back muscles to create this move. You can also lift the chest, a chest lift using the back muscles once again. We can combine these movements to create a chest circle. There are many different kinds of chest circles. This particular chest circle is vertical in position, and it's going counterclockwise. You could make it go clockwise. You can also make it horizontal. So parallel to the floor, by pushing the chest out. There's also movement that can be done with the shoulders. You can roll the shoulders in the backwards direction or in the forward direction. There are of course, the very popular shimmies, the shoulder shimmy. And all of these movements of course can be layered with other movements. But these are the basics if you break it down to the basics. And then of course there are a lot of movements that use the abdominal area. You do an undulation that goes from top to bottom. So this uses the whole body from the chest all the way down to the hips. Or you could isolate that even more and do it just between the upper abs and the hips and make it a belly roll. And then it's all about the muscles in the stomach. And then taking it back down to the hips of course, the hip shimmy; many different variations on the hip shimmy as well. This is one. And that is some of the very basic movements of belly dance.

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