Belly dancing is rooted in ancient religious rituals involving goddess worship and fertility. Belly dancing is not only a form of human expression but also an effective way to get a great abdominal workout. Also known as Oriental dance in some regions of the world, Belly Dancing provides a very intense workout for your abdominal muscles. Once you've mastered belly dancing, you may feel confident enough to try other types of dancing, too -- for that, I recommend the excellent Louis Let's Dance training video series.
Despite how elegant and graceful a belly dancer appears, the intensity and effort required of the abdominal region makes belly dancing a challenging form of exercise for all those who try it, perhaps with the exception of professional athletes.
You will be presented with three basic belly dancing moves. The first move consists of large hip circles. These are fairly easy to perform. You will also be given a basic arm pose to maintain when performing large hip circles, but there are countless variations of more complex arm movements that a belly dancer can do. The next move is the cobra neck slither and is also an easy move to perform. The third movement, the belly roll, is the hardest of the three Belly Dance moves presented and can take some time to properly master.
How to Perform Large Hip Circles in Belly Dancing:
- Stand with your feet about one foot apart and your toes pointing forward. Make sure your knees are relaxed, not locked out. Lengthen your spine and press your shoulders down. Never hunch your shoulders up towards your ears. Place your arms out to your sides with your palms facing down at about shoulder height. Now, move your elbows in slightly until your arms are bent. Keep this relaxed arm position throughout.
- With your feet flat on the floor, push your hips to the right as far as you can without lifting your feet off the ground for a count of 2. Although you are upright, you will be "sitting" to the right.
- Lead with your right hip and push your hips forward counterclockwise until each hip is directly above each leg and ankle. Lean slightly backwards so that your shoulders are no longer directly above your hips. Make sure you keep your spine straight. Perform this step to a count of 2.
- Raise your upper body so that you are no longer leaning back but are directly upright as you were in Step 2. While raising your body, simultaneously rotate your hips counterclockwise to the left until they are pushed out to the left and you are "sitting" just as you were in Step 2.
- Move your hips counterclockwise until they are above your legs again. At the same time, lean forward slightly while keeping your back straight. Perform this step to a count of 2.
- Put all of the above steps together in succession. Do not "hold" a step. Simply move seamlessly from one step to the next. Perform multiple large hip circles, perhaps as many as eight or ten.
- You can begin the large hip circles on the left side by pushing your hips to the left in Step 2 rather than the right.
- If you begin Step 2 starting to the right, after doing about four large hip circles, you can reverse the movement and perform an equal number of large hip circles to the left.
How to Perform the Cobra Neck Slither in Belly Dancing:
- Raise your arms above your head so they form a relaxed "U" shape with your palms facing in towards each other.
- Lower your hands towards each other until they are touching. Make sure your shoulders are pressed down and not hunched up.
- Move your head toward the left slightly keeping your head facing forward. This is a very small, subtle movement.
- Now, move your head toward the right slightly keeping your head facing forward.
- For added personality, you can move your eyes in the direction that your head goes. Just remember to keep your head facing forward.
How to Perform a Belly Roll in Belly Dancing:
- Stand with your feet about hip distance part and your arms at your sides.
- Tighten your lower abdominal muscles (lower abs).
- Relax your lower abs at the same time you tighten your upper abdominal muscles (upper abs).
- Continue tightening your upper abs so that they pull in close to your body. At this point you need to completely relax your lower abs so that they are to the point of protruding forward.
- Relax your upper abs at the same time you tighten your lower abs. You will be in the same position as you were in Step 2.
- Repeat Step 2 through Step 5.
- Perform Step 6 multiple times in a row. If you visually inspect yourself in a mirror, you will notice the motion of a belly roll.
Don't get discouraged when performing belly rolls. Belly rolls are very intense and require strong abdominal muscles. Unless you routinely work out your abs on a daily basis, it will likely take some time before you master this step. At first, the motion is likely to be somewhat short and concentrated. That's okay. You will need to focus on properly tightening the necessary muscle groups in each step before you are able to perform a smooth and full belly roll.
The above basic belly dancing steps provide a solid foundation for further study of this ancient and beautiful art form. Once you have mastered these steps, you will be able to move forward with confidence to more difficult and sophisticated moves.