Have a busy life and find it hard to fit in a bit of Belly Dance practice? Always mean to run over a few steps but life, work and /or the kids get in the way? Here are a few places and times that you may be able to fit in some practice and improve your skills without having to set aside big blocks of time.
1) Traffic lights – A great place to practice shoulder shimmies! Holding the wheel and sitting down can help you to isolate your shoulders more easily and facilitate an ease of movement that can be hard to capture when over thinking things and standing up in class. Mastered shoulder shimmies? Well there are always chest circles and lifts that you can spice things up with, turn on some music and it will be hard not to practice! (NB: one of my students said “ but I was told that you should practice pelvic floor exercises at the lights” – if you are good at multi tasking there is no reason why you can’t do both. It is excellent practice to have your pelvic floor engaged while you dance)
2) Supermarket aisle – Before you dismiss this as a place exclusively for confident exhibitionists – hear me out! As this is a public space I recommend moves that are not going to draw too much attention to yourself (unless you really want it!). I recommend the walk I was taught by one of my teachers. She called it the melema, the boss woman’s walk. I have no idea if her terminology is correct but a graceful, toe then heel glide is a damn useful way to move through the dance space and the supermarket aisle! One of the keys to perfecting this move is a confident gaze and a bit of attitude. It can be used to great effect in other social gatherings too, particularly those where you might be feeling a bit shy or intimidated by someone. It’s amazing how much a confident walk will change the way people deal with you!
3) Brushing your teeth – I love to shimmy while I brush my teeth! It just seems to fit right in there with all that movement. If this is a bit vigorous for you, try practicing hip slides. The bathroom is a great place to do this as so many bathrooms have a mirror with a straight bottom. You can practice keeping your hips horizontal by running them along the mirror edge in the reflection.
4) Hallways at home – If you have a hallway at home it’s a great space to set the intention that you will practice a traveling move each time you walk down it. I often Egyptian walk my way up and down the hallway but if this is a bit hard for you yet then a basic side to side or any other travel step you want to cement in will do.
5) Passenger seat in a car (or even while on the bus or train if you are a little braver!) – Many years ago I taught myself the hand floreo used in American Tribal Style Belly Dance on a long and boring drive to Sydney (more than 7hours driving)! As its fairly subtle and you don’t need to do it with the full arm movement you can probably get away with it on not too crowded public transport as well. Other hand movements such as the ripple can be substituted or if you are in a private vehicle try shoulder rolls and shoulder shimmies or any chest or upper body isolations. You will probably find that your body is not so stiff when you get out of the car as a bonus.
Final bonus place
6) On the dance floor! – What? I hear you say, that’s not an ordinary place! Let me clarify. The dance floor could be at a pub or club where you kick back and have some fun with your friends on the weekend, it could be at a family do, or your dance floor could be your living room floor where you cut loose with the kids to the wiggles. Experiment with dropping in a move; say a hip drop or something. You may be surprised how easy it is to incorporate Middle Eastern moves in. A while ago American dancers Bellyqueen even made a whole DVD about incorporating Belly dance into regular social dancing. (It’s called Bellydance Jam and I will review it here in future posts)
So there you go, a few ideas about how to improve your technique without changing your schedule. Tell me how you go, where do you fit in practice time? Do you have any other place suggestions? Comment below to ask questions or to share your wisdom.
©Jade Belly Dance 2011