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Hips Don't Lie..
Author: Ameesha Lathia
Source: www.bellydance.org, www.middleeasterndance.homestead.com, www.learn-to-belly-dance.com
'Shakira, Shakira'.. Oh baby when you dance like that! Dance like what? Are your dance routines getting a bit outdated? Ever find yourself at a club grooving to a beat with your feet doing the same monotonous routine you've done for decades? Its time to be inspired.

Whats the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear the name Shakira. Agreed she's hot but I’m referring to her supple and very sensous body movements in her videos. She mesmerised us with 'Whenever, Wherever' and hasn't disappointed us yet! With her latest hit single 'Hips don't Lie' you see exactly what i mean, She's always Sensual and never vulgar. She dances like a dream doesn’t she? Well, if you want to dance like her, you’re going to have to learn belly dancing! And no, its not enough just to see her videos!

What exactly is belly dancing?
The actual name for Belly Dancing is Oriental Dance or Dance of the East. Many experts say belly dancing is the oldest form of dance, having roots in all ancient cultures from the orient to India to the mid-East. The Belly Dance is identified by swaying hips, undulating torso, and articulated isolations employed in a range of dynamic and emotional expressions. Characteristic movements in the dance include curving patterns, undulations, thrusts, lifts, locks, and drops, and shaking or quaking body movements. The focus is on isolated movements of individual parts of the body with little notice given to the footsteps. Arms and hands move fluidly, like serpents or ribbons in the air. Unusual strength and control is demonstrated in the belly area.

Contrary to what most men believe, belly dancing is not meant to entertain men(Like many other things!). Actually, belly dancing has usually been performed for other women--generally during fertility rites or parties preparing a young woman for marriage. In most cases, the presence of men is not permitted.

Belly Dancing is natural to a woman's bone and muscle structure with movements emanating from the torso rather than in the legs and feet. The dance often focuses upon isolating different parts of the body, moving them independently in sensuous patterns, weaving together the entire feminine form. Belly dancing is generally performed barefoot, thought by many to emphasize the intimate physical connection between the dancer, her expression, and Mother Earth.

[|belly3.jpg|]Belly dancing costumes are often colorful, flowing garments, accented with flowing scarves and veils. Finger cymbals (made of brass and known as zills) are common, dating back to 200 B. C. as well as exotic jewelry, including intricate belts made of coins that, in earlier days, comprised the family's wealth so that it might be portable in the event the woman needed to move quickly or flee. Other interesting accessories used during the dance are swords, snakes, large vessels, and even huge candelabras, complete with flaming candles.

The fun part about belly dancing is that anyone can learn how to do it and you can be of any age and any body type! (Yes even men can!)

[|belly5.jpg|]It is believed that belly dancing is also an excellent form of exercise, which teaches you to love your body and appreciate its uniqueness rather than opting for the anorexic rake thin figures of models that you see in fashion magazines! Forget what men say and what the fashion designers say, if you are fit and healthy be happy and comfortable with your body!

There are different styles of belly dancing such as Modern Egyptian Dance, Turkish Style Belly Dance, Bauch Tanz, Ancient Egyptian Pharaonic Style Belly Dance. They are all specific or adapted by a geographical area or a historical era.

Here are a few steps that can help you try this at home!

b>For the Hips:

3/4 Shimmy

(Also known as a walking shimmy.) Start with your knees bent slightly and your feet together underneath you. Step onto your right foot and put all your weight on that foot then straighten your right knee, bend it again, and then straighten it again. Now step onto the left foot and put all your weight into that foot and straighten your left knee, bend it again and then straighten it again. It is essentially two shakes on each hip.

3/4 Shimmy with a Twist (Forward)

This step is done pretty much the same as a regular 3/4 shimmy only instead of stepping straight forward you step across in front of your other foot twisting that hip forward. The standing leg is always the one that causes the shimmy. The heel should turn in when twisting. The back foot is the one that is twisted on.

[|belly4.jpg|]<3/4 Shimmy with a Twist (Backward)

This is the reverse of the forward 3/4 shimmy with a twist the only difference with this move is that you step backward instead of forward. The heel should still turn in. The front foot is the one that is twisted on.

For the Stomach:

Roll

The roll is done by contracting the diaphragm and then the lower abdominal. Then you push the diaphragm out and then the lower abdominal. When you have enough control over that, you smooth it out to a roll. It will look like something in your stomach is rolling down.

Flutter

The flutter is done by rapidly contracting and releasing the diaphragm. It may help you get the feel for it if you pant or try a deep belly laugh.

Roll with Flutter

When you are proficient in both the belly roll and the tummy flutter you may try adding them together. Try panting while doing a roll.


For Arms:

Waterfall

Your shoulders should be relaxed and down. Your right hand should be positioned wherever your wish to start from; in this case we'll start with it up at the left side of your face with the palm facing away from you. Now, first you need to press the palm down towards the floor and then pull it back rolling the hand (Press, Roll, Press, and Roll). The next step is to think of your hand tracing a waterfall or steps. Press your hand down when you’re tracing the fall of the waterfall or the back of the step. Roll it back when you’re tracing the top of the waterfall of step.

For Hands:

Lotus

Start with your palms facing up. Keep your thumbs out. Now pull curl in your pinky, then your ring finger, then the middle finger, and finally the pointer. Next, lead out with the pinky, then ring, middle, and pointer. This is called lotus because at one point it looks similar to a lotus blossom. This is when the pinky is out, the index is about 2/4 of the way curled in, the middle is 3/4 of the way curled in, and the pointer finger is all the way or almost all the way curled in.

[|belly6.jpg|]For Body Wave

Undulation (Body Roll)

To do an undulation you should start with a vertical rib circle and the tuck and release of the pelvis. Let's start with the rib circle by pushing the ribs forward, up, back and center. Then round it out till it's smooth (This is what your torso will be doing). Next we'll work on the pelvis. Start with your feet parallel and facing forward with your knees slightly bent. Now you tuck the tailbone under causing your hips to go forward. Now, release it back to center and the push it slightly back and then back to center (That’s about all they do). Now we combine them. Push the ribs forward and the pelvis back. Next, push the ribs up and the pelvis goes back to center. Then, pull the ribs back and tuck the tailbone under you. Finally, you return the ribs and hips to center. Try to smooth it out. Also, try it with one foot in front of the other or on the balls of your feet (helpful for walking). Make sure your roll down the spine though every vertebrate.

These are just some of the basic steps that you could try and master at home. You could go online if you are looking for more infomation! Just remember the next time you dance to a Shakira song,your hips dont lie!

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