Belly Dancing For Fitness
Belly dance is a solo dance with torso articulation and emphasis on the hips that originated from the Middle East and has become popular worldwide. Other names for this dance include Oriental, Arabic, Egyptian, or Middle Eastern dance. This dance takes many different forms in costume and style depending on the region or country of its origin. The focus of the dance is on natural and relaxed isolations of the torso muscles and not on the limb movements through space. Some of these isolations appear similar to those in jazz ballet, but are driven differently and usually are more subtle and subdued.
Just like any dance, proper muscle control and correct posture is important in belly dance since it enables a dancer to move the hips freely at the same time avoiding lower back injuries. Many of the movements characterized by belly dance include percussive movements, fluid movements, and shimmies (shivers and vibrations).
The Percussive movements
Percussive movements, mostly of the hips can be used to accent a beat and emphasize the music. Common movements in this classification include hip drops, outwards hip hits, vertical hip rocks, and hip lifts and twists. These percussive movements are used on the parts of the body such as drops of the ribcage and pronounced shoulder movements.
Fluid movements involve flowing and continuous motions of the body which can be used to interpret lyrical sections and melodic lines in the music, or modified to express complex instrumental and rhythmic performances. These abdominal movements require a great amount of muscle control. Typical movements are vertical and horizontal figures of 8, tilting hip circles, and undulations of the abdomen and hips. These basic shapes may be combined, embellished, and varied to create an infinite complex movement. However, proper training is still advisable.
Shimmies, shivers and vibrations
Shimmies, shivers and vibrations are fast, short, and continuous movements of the ribcage or hips that create depth and texture of the movements. Shimmies are layered over other motions, and are mostly used to interpret rolls on the riq or tablah and the fast strumming of the qanun (instrument) or oud. Some common shimmies include relaxed, up and down hip shimmies, straight-legged knee-driven shimmies, fast, tiny hip vibrations, twisting hip shimmies, bouncing ‘earthquake’ shimmies, and relaxed shoulder or ribcage shimmies.
In addition to these torso movements, dancers in many styles will use level changes, travelling steps, turns and spins. The arms are used to accentuate and frame movements like in the snake arms, for dramatic gestures, and to create beautiful shapes with the body, especially in the more Western styles such as that in ballet. Other movements may include low kicks and arabesques, head tosses, and backbends.
Belly dance is a graceful and sensuous dance. It celebrates the unique form of the body. There is inner rhythm through internalization of the steps and constant repeated practice. This dance helps to tone down the abdominal area which easily store fats. Once shaped, the hip area follows to be formed giving the body a more attractive appearance. Since the body moves a lot in belly dancing, fitness becomes very accessible.