Is this one of the biggest problems for bellydance students?
There’s a problem I witness time and time again, not just with students learning to bellydance, but in advanced dancers and teachers all too often as well.
It results out of something that seems to be rarely taught in bellydance – what’s happening with the feet!
It’s as if bellydance starts with the hips and goes upwards. I even heard a really good dancer say one time that one of the great things about bellydance is that nobody sees your feet so it doesn’t matter what you do ‘down there.’
All great dance forms stress the importance of starting with the feet. If your feet and your weight are in the wrong place, you just can’t dance, as I demonstrate in the video above.
Belly dance isn’t just about standing there and wiggling, as so many non-dancers seem to think – it’s a fully formed dance that can be exciting, challenging and it needs the dancer to move around the stage with confidence and clarity.
In fact, I was told by a very famous Egyptian dancer that, when the top Egyptians are judging international competitions, the first thing they look at is the footwork. If that is confident and clean, then they will look up and watch the dancer. Otherwise they won’t bother, because there’s no point – the dancer won’t be good.
That’s certainly something to think about and gives the lie, to the idea that great Egyptian dancers just feel the music and dance from the heart. There’s a lot more to it than that!
Check out the short video above in which I explain the importance of knowing where your feet and weight are and how to easily overcome the problem if you get muddled when you dance. I think it’s an important one for teachers too, if you don’t teach this concept as a matter of course.
I hope it helps!
PS do leave a comment below with your thoughts!
4 thoughts on “Is this one of the biggest problems for bellydance students?”
How interesting… my partner taught belly dance for many years (over 30) and now I am studying Hawaiian Hula dance and what I’ve discovered with this which I think would also apply to the belly dance. In Hawaiian Hula you have complicated expressive arms and likewise in the belly dance. I think the belly dance makes more use of the hips than the Hawaiian Hula. When I started I copied the arm movements but it didn’t really go anywhere. Fortunately with the Hula there are 3 basic foot patterns Ka holo, Ka’o and Helle. Dozens of variations on the Ka holo and the Ka’o. I started getting somewhere when I did the correct foot pattern to the music. Choosing music where the bars and phrases are obvious. So now when we teach the Hula we say start with ONLY footwork, no hips and hands on hips. Done like this everyone is exactly “in the music” ie in time and therefore they get the “flow.” Then they can add the arms and hips over time, otherwise if they start with arms, hips and feel, inevitably they’ll be “off time” and they won’t get the feel of the music or “get into it” and come away feeling that they can’t dance.
Hi Jan, that’s so interesting! I didn’t realise that there were three basic foot patterns in Hula – it must make it so much easier to dance once you’ve learned those and, as you say, to enable everyone to keep in time, which is so important when you have a dance that is so often done in groups. In fact, I wonder whether the fact that bellydance is a solo dance and very much oriented to self-expression, is why footwork isn’t taught so much…?
But as you say now when you teach Hula, I always tell my students learn the feet first and then everything else will flow!!
Thank you so much for commenting – and enlightening me a little more about Hula! xx
This is very interesting Charlotte ! The feet are often the last thing you think about ! I have learned more with the Undeniables in the last 2 years than I have in over 20 years. Look forward to learning more !!
I wish that I had discovered the Undeniables years ago !
Thank you so much Janice. I love having you in the Undeniables so much – you are such an enormous asset to the community. And it always lifts my heart a little when I see your name come up in the waiting room xx