If you’re looking for a fun, effective, low-impact workout that will build stamina, enhance flexibility, and improve your cardiovascular well-being, look no more. This gentle and effective dance is not only exciting to learn; it’s also a great workout. Bellydance strengthens your core muscles gracefully, giving you new confidence in your body’s natural sway and movement. These popular dance steps have been embraced by women of all ages everywhere.
Here, Evyenia Karmi, an experienced dancer, teacher, and member of the International Dance Council, introduces students to the basic terminology and movements of bellydance. Through careful, easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions, you can quickly begin learning the vocabulary of this ancient and beautiful dance.
Once you master the basic steps, the addition of sultry veil work can add a whole new dimension and excitement to your experience and performance. This compact and easy-to-use guide is an excellent teaching tool, featuring a gentle warm-up routine, to prepare your body for this energetic workout experience.
Create your own choreography or just have fun dancing! You’ll learn basic arm movements, technique for both the upper and lower body, directional and travelling steps, the basics of veil work—and much more.
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Read an Excerpt
Quintessential BellydanceBeginner Class Companion
By Evyenia Karmi
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Evyenia Karmi
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBasic Arm Movements
Using an eight-count system:
We start the movement counting one and end the movement with eight.
Basic Up and Down
Arms come all the way up and go down
Starting with your arms at your sides, bring them up (palms facing down) for eight counts, ending with the arms above your head and the backs of the hands together.
Bring them down for eight counts until they are at your sides.
Arms in Second Position
Arms are extended from the shoulders
This is commonly used in dance and will be referred to throughout the book.
Flip the Palms
Flip the palms halfway coming up and halfway going down
Starting with your arms at your sides, bring them up halfway for four counts, flip the palms to face up, and continue up for four more counts so that the arms are above your head and the palms are facing each other.
Reverse on the way down. Bring them down halfway for four counts, flip the palms to face down, and continue down for four more counts, so that your arms are at your sides.
Arms Crossed in Front
Arms are crossed at chest
Arms Crossed Coming Down
Wrists crossed overhead
Starting with your arms at your sides, bring them all the way up (palms facing down) for eight counts.
Cross the wrists above your head, with the backs of the hands facing each other.
Continue to bring them down crossed in front of you, ending with your arms at your sides.
Arms Coming Up and Down the Centre
Arms down the centre of the body
As your arms come up above your head, flip the palms to face each other.
Bring the arms down through the centre of the body and along the sides of the hips.
End with your arms at your sides.
Arms Up (Wide V) Coming Down
Arms up in a wide V
At times the palms will be facing each other, and other times the backs of the hands will be facing each other.
To bring the arms down, flip the hands so that the backs of the hands are facing each other.
Bring arms straight down from the wide V until your arms are down at your sides.
Arms Sweeping Across in Front Variations
Circle the arms toward you
Raise arms up from the sides to second position.
Sweep arms toward each other in front (palms down) to cross at the wrists.
Bring hands toward you.
Continue to move the arms down the centre of the body and along the sides of the hips.
Alternatively, bring your hands behind your neck to lift your hair.
One-Arm Reach Forward Coming Up, Crossover, Flip toward You, and Down
Reach and crossover
With your right arm, reach forward and come up for eight counts. Cross the back of the right hand to the left cheek for four counts. Flip the right palm toward you and bring your right arm down through the centre for four more counts, ending with your right arm at your right side.
With your left arm, reach forward and come up for eight counts. Cross the back of the left hand to the right cheek for four counts. Flip the left palm toward you and bring your left arm down through the centre for four more counts, ending with your left arm at your left side.
Rolling the shoulders backward in a circular motion
Start with the right shoulder sliding forward, up, back, and down. Repeat this a few times, and then connect all four points in a circular motion.
Repeat with the left shoulder, sliding forward, up, back, and down in a circular motion.
Continue alternating shoulders.
Basic Snake Arms
Arms engaged with shoulder rolls Start with shoulder rolls.
Engage the arms by raising them at your sides and keeping the elbows below the shoulders.
As the shoulder goes back and down, the elbow and wrist bend gently in a soft, wavy motion.
Think in this order: shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand.
Alternate extended arms, hand behind the ear
Extend one arm in front at chest level and the other with the hand behind the ear.
Alternate the arms.
Add a slight roll to the hands as they go back and forth.
Egyptian Arms Variation
Alternate extended arms, hand at your temple
A variation is with one hand at your temple and the other extended forward.
Alternate the arms.
Add a slight roll to the hands as they go back and forth.
Egyptian Arms Sideways
Alternate extended arms in second
Another variation is with one hand at your temple and the other arm extending from the side in second position.
Alternate the arms.
Add a slight roll to the hands as they move side to side.
Egyptian Arms Up
Arms up in a V position in front of you
With palms slightly facing you, bring one hand by your temple and extend the other arm in the V.
Alternate back and forth.
Wavy arms in front
Extend arms forward at chest level in front of you.
With relaxed elbows, bend at the wrists, with fingertips pointing up and down smoothly while alternating arms.
Curl the fingers in and out
Place palms down and fingers together.
Lift only the fingers up and down, just as in the warm-up.
Continue this motion smoothly by curling your fingers in and out as if they were waves on the ocean.
Use your wrists to help the fingers come up and down.
Circles with the wrists
With arms at your sides, start rolling the wrists toward yourself.
Raise your arms up from the sides and above your head, ending with the backs of the hands facing each other.
Make sure to roll the wrists around and not just the hands. This is why your fingers face each other as you roll your wrists around.
With arms above your head and the backs of the hands facing each other (starting position), push the hands around in a circle while rolling the wrists. Keep the fingers tucked under as you roll the wrists continuously back to the starting position.
It is the rolling of the wrists all the way around from starting position to starting position that gives the hands their dynamic motion.
Try it with your arms extended straight in front of you, or at your sides extending straight out from your shoulders (second position).
Shoulders moving front to back
Start with your hands on your hips.
Move the shoulders alternately from front to back, sliding straight through with no change in level.
Release the arms and continue.
Shoulder slides alternating quickly
Start doing shoulder slides and then make them as fast as you can.
Slide the shoulders back and forth, sliding straight through with no change in level.
As you pick up speed, the movement becomes smaller.
Lift and lower chest
Lift the upper chest up and bring it back down without raising the shoulders.
Chest up and lock down
Move the chest up and down. Focus on the down, which is the lock.
Do not sink into the chest as it comes down; use your upper abdominal muscles to keep you lifted. Check your posture.
Increase to double time: chest up and down, up, down.
Chest and ribcage move side to side
Slide the chest side to side, without raising the shoulders, while keeping the lower body stationary.
Drawing circles with the chest
Slide the chest to the left side, up, to the right, and down at centre.
Repeat this smoothly and continuously.
Change direction. Slide the chest to the right side, up, left, and down at centre.
The undulation is S-shaped, like a snake
To start, lift the chest forward and up.
Pull the chest back by contracting your upper abdominal muscles and then your core muscles with relaxed knees.
Use your lower abdominal muscles to release the hips slightly back, elongating the torso, to bring yourself up.
Your chest should be up, preparing you to start over.
Basic Hip Accents
Lift hips alternating sides while centred
Shift your pelvis to neutral, so that it is underneath you and you are not leaning forward or backward. Your weight should be centred.
With relaxed knees, lift the hips alternating sides while keeping your weight centred. Your knees will move slightly.
Do not shift your weight from one side to the other.
Do not bend the knees back and forth, but keep them relaxed.
Single Hip Accents
Hip moves up and down with bent knee
Face the right diagonal, with your weight on your right leg (supporting leg).
Bend your left knee, point the left toe on the floor, and raise your right arm.
Lift your left hip up and down, keeping the left knee bent.
Place your left foot on the floor to step and pivot to the other side.
Repeat in the left diagonal:
Face the left diagonal with your weight on your left leg (supporting leg).
Bend your right knee, point the right toe on the floor, and raise your left arm.
Lift your right hip up and down, keeping the right knee bent.
Place your right foot on the floor to step and pivot to the other side.
To end, place one foot beside the other foot, with your arms down.
Thighs move back and forth quickly
To start, feet are hip width apart knees are relaxed, and your pelvis is in neutral (not tilting forward or backward).
Move your thighs back and forth, making sure your knees are relaxed underneath you and not locked behind you.
Pick up the pace; the movement of your thighs going back and forth becomes smaller as you go faster.
Hip Circle, Small
Circle with the pelvis
Place your feet hip width apart; have your knees relaxed and pelvis in neutral.
Circle your pelvis around using your lower abdominal muscles.
Reverse your direction.
Hips twist forward toward diagonals
Place feet hip width apart, relax the knees, and have pelvis in neutral.
Twist the left hip forward to the right diagonal, and then twist the right hip forward to the left diagonal.
Continue alternating hips, and pick up the pace.
You can also bend slightly down and up with the knees while twisting.
Another variation is to bend slightly through the centre while twisting from one diagonal to the other without arching your back.
Forward Figure 8
Hips moving in a figure-8 design
This is a beautiful movement in bellydance. Basically, you are drawing a horizontal number 8 on the floor using your hips. You will be using all four diagonals: the front right and left and the back right and left.
It consists of four parts: twist, slide, twist, slide. You have to use the four in that order to get the shape of the figure 8.
Have feet hip width apart, heels on the floor, knees relaxed, and pelvis in neutral. Use your abdominal muscles to help keep you centred.
Twist your right hip forward toward the front right diagonal.
Slide your left hip back straight through to the back left diagonal.
Twist your left hip forward toward the front left diagonal.
Slide your right hip back straight through to the back right diagonal.
Quick review: twist right front, slide left back, twist left front, slide right back.
To ensure that your slides are smooth, slide straight through the centre without popping your belly, and keep your heels on the floor.
Twist front, slide back, twist front, slide back.
Twist, slide, twist, slide.
Backward Figure 8
Forward figure 8 in reverse
You are drawing a horizontal number 8 on the floor using your hips.
Feet hip width apart, heels on the floor, relaxed knees, pelvis in neutral, and using your abdominal muscles to keep you centred.
Twist your left hip backward toward the back left diagonal.
Slide your right hip forward straight through to the front right diagonal.
Twist your right hip backward toward the back right diagonal.
Slide your left hip forward straight through to the front left diagonal.
Quick review: twist left back, slide right front, twist right back, slide left front.
Remember to use your abdominal muscles to keep you centred and to ensure smooth slides.
Keep your heels on the floor.
Twist back, slide front, twist back, slide front.
Twist, slide, twist, slide.
Hip up and down and releasing the foot forward
This is similar to the starting position for the single hip accents but you lift the hip up and slightly back when it comes down. Release the foot forward as soon as the hip comes down.
Using two sets of up, down, and back, focus on the down and back, releasing the foot forward on the second down and back.
Facing the right diagonal, shift your weight to the right leg, bend the left knee, and point the left toe on the floor.
Raise your right arm and extend your left arm to the side, in second position.
Lift your left hip up in order to bring it down and back (left hip up, down, and back), releasing the left foot forward at the same time on the second down and back.
Left hip up, down, and back; left hip up, down, and back, and release left foot forward on the second down and back.
Repeat on the other side: right hip up, down, and back; right hip up, down, and back, and release the right foot forward on the second down and back.
Quick review: hip up, down, up, down, and release foot forward. Focus on the down movement of the hip. Down, down and release foot forward.
Shift your weight side to side
Have feet hip width apart, knees relaxed, and pelvis in neutral.
Shift your weight side to side, using your abdominal muscles to help you stabilize as you move.
Your heels should be on the floor and your knees should be moving together (side to side) as you shift.
Make sure you are not bending your knees back and forth.
Shift straight through the centre without popping your belly.
Steps to change direction without travelling
One rotation using four counts
Keep your feet underneath you, and pivot on the balls of your feet as you turn. This will help you turn faster and avoid a leg lock.
You also need to spot the diagonals so that you can turn without getting dizzy and establish starting and ending points.
Let's look at the footwork first. To turn right: step to the right with the right foot, step left, step right, and step left, to bring the feet together.
Quick review: take small steps as your feet pivot around to turn.
Step right, left, right, and left, to bring feet together.
Reverse: step left, right, left, and right, to bring feet together.
Starting and ending point for turns
Spotting the diagonals (or corners) helps you turn without getting dizzy.
It also gives your rotation a starting and an ending point. When you turn, your head will be the last to leave but the first to come around.
For the left diagonal, look at a spot in the corner, step left, and start to pivot around. Keep looking at that spot as your body turns. Your head comes around first, and you complete your turn looking at that same spot as you bring your body around.
Quick review: head is the last to leave but the first to come around when you turn.
Look at a spot in the corner and start turning for the first two counts.
Bring the head around by the third count and the body around for the fourth count.
One rotation divided in half
Pivot on one foot halfway around to the back wall and then halfway around to the front wall, completing one full rotation in two parts.
Pivot on the front of the foot, not the heel.
For a half turn to the left, one pivot on the ball of your left foot to face the back wall, and then one pivot on the ball of your left foot to face front.
For a half turn to the right, one pivot on the ball of your right foot to face the back wall, and then one pivot on the ball of your right foot to face front.
Excerpted from Quintessential Bellydance by Evyenia Karmi Copyright © 2012 by Evyenia Karmi. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Basic Arm Movements....................6
Introduction to Veil....................59