Friday, February 17, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In the Beginning: Belly Dance Posture

What’s the first thing you should learn in a belly dance class?  Posture. Why is posture so important?  It is the very foundation of the dance.  ALL movements emanate from your posture. You cannot be a great belly dancer without it.  As a matter of fact, you cannot even be a competent dancer without it.

Basically, proper belly dance posture is this - starting from the top:
Head and neck directly over your torso, shoulders slightly back, chest/sternum slightly lifted, your legs should be directly under your hips and aligned with your torso, a soft bend in your knees, feet pointing forward.  You should practice this so much that you feel relaxed and comfortable in this position.

Here are some examples of problems that occur when you do not have good belly dance posture.

Neck: I have seen dancer’s with their head thrust out past her body.  This isn’t a problem with the head; it’s the dancer’s neck.  Be sure your neck is alignment with your body. You many have to practice pushing your neck back over your body. 

Lifted Sternum/Shoulders:  A dancer who is not standing with their shoulders back and with a sunken sternum will have no energy in her dance. This is such a small thing that you can fix and will make a huge difference in your stage presence. Keep your shoulders back and your sternum lifted and your audience’s eye will be riveted on you.  It will give you energy and make you more confident.

Legs:  I attended a show some years ago and there was an experienced dancer who we had not seen before; we were told she was supposed to be the bees knees in belly dance.  Within seconds I realized there was something very wrong with her dancing. It was off and awkward and you just felt uncomfortable watching her, like when you see someone wearing improperly fitting clothes.  In less than a minute, I knew what was wrong.  I stood up from my chair just enough to see her feet and legs.  Her legs were too far apart and she was also dancing flat-footed with her feet were turned out.  A friend of mine said you could drive a tricycle through her legs. :)  Dancers who do dance with their legs too far apart have movements that are rough looking and out of control.  You can also physically hurt yourself.

Your legs need to be under you when dancing just as you do when you are walking.  If not you are off balance.  Your torso needs your legs under you. In the above example the belly dancer’s performance looked awkward because basically she was off balance and had little control of her body or dance.  Good posture will give you control and balance over your body.

There are just a few exceptions to this rule, like a wide hip circle, however dancers that do wide hip circles also pull their legs back in when they have finished the movement.

Have you ever seen a skeletal chart at a doctor’s office?  Take a good look at it.
Look at the alignment of the body. Notice that the legs are aligned with the torso.
You must always have a slight bend or what I like to call a “softness” in the knees. Don’t ever lock your knees. Bending your knees will prevent you from injuring your knees.

Feet:  Your feet are your connection to the earth.  In many cases your feet are the beginning point of your dance. 

No matter what level of dance you are currently at, please review your posture. Before you start a lesson, take a minute and put yourself in that good posture.

At IAMED, we feel so strongly about proper belly dance posture, many of our instructional videos start with a review of posture.

Good posture will give your dance the following:
Your dance will be balanced, centered and therefore graceful.
You will be able to build technique and movements.
You will become the belly dancer you always wanted to be!

Suzy Evans
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Now this is good posture!
Please share this blog post with your belly dance friends.