This week the challenge is a little late…sorry about that! Mondays have gotten weirder for me (maybe I should consider writing these on Sundays!)
Anyway, here’s the challenge for this week!
And…here’s where confusion begins. To a Egyptian-style dancer, a taxim is a lovely piece of music performed by one instrument (or one instrument plus a drum). But not to a Tribal dancer! A taxim is what everyone else would call a vertical down-to-up figure-8 with the hips, or a reverse maya. Strange. Today, we’re going to talk about the hip movement.
Beginner: If your teacher has not yet taught you this movement, do not despair! The taxim is (usually) more challenging than the maya, so you might not get this one at this level. But if you’re up for the challenge, ask your teacher to show you how to safely perform this movement. Take it slow, and don’t worry about making it big yet. Like the maya, this movement can be injurious to the back if done incorrectly, so go slow and go small. Practice it every day for a full song! Yes, one movement, one song. Sound boring? Good! Don’t let your attention wander, or you’ll find your movements get sloppy. Remember to keep those heels on the ground, and if you feel any pain in your lower back, stop, and have your teacher reassess your posture.
Intermediate: Like the maya challenge, see if you can walk with a taxim. Feel weird? What can you do to make it look nice? Can you shimmy with it? Try a walk or a shimmy with your taxims this week, and practice for a full song! Mind your arms and hands while concentrating. Taxims are also prone to this problem so make sure you keep your shoulders and chest still when your movements start to get a little larger.
Advanced: What can YOU do with your taxims? Shimmy, walk, and taxim all at the same time! Like the maya, you can create an X-taxim. Just remember to keep it looking nice without throwing shoulders and chests and the kitchen sink in with the movement. What else can you do with the taxim? Experiment with level changes, walking, shimmying, and whatever else you can think of this week. Stretch out and have fun!
As you may or may not know, soon…VERY SOON…I’ll be heading to Las Vegas for the Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive. If you haven’t gone, you should! But this one is going to be a milestone for me. Not only is it the 10th year for the Intensive itself, but it will be my fourth year going! AND I’ll be entering the So You Think You Can Bellydance competition. Scared! But I think it will be fun, and it will be educational, and that’s pretty much how I view competitions.
It also means that I won’t be keeping up with my blogging as much (I’ll be driving back on Monday the 10th, so no challenge that week!). BUT, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on my experiences! I will be posting stuff on my Tumblr, my Facebook personal page or my Facebook page, or through Twitter. So choose your favorite social media site and follow or “like” or friend me, and get updates (when I remember…it’s a busy weekend!) straight from the Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive!
It’s Monday; time to be challenged!
This week is a bit different. We’re going to stretch our brains a little bit and get creative, and I’m not going to give much guidance.
How many shimmies do you know?
So? How many? Two? Three? Eight? Make a list and count them up.
In addition to practicing those shimmies every day this week, we’re going to see if we can discover others. What can you do with your shimmies? Stand on one leg? Try shimmying with different parts of your body. Can you shimmy just your quadriceps muscles? See what you can do with your shimmies, get creative, go wild, and have fun. Coming up with fun shimmy or movement variations is how you start separating yourself from other dancers; it’s your personal style. Just practice every day, explore a little bit every day, and make sure that you always relax into those shimmies.
Shameless plug: Clueless about shimmies? Want to learn more? I’m now offering workshops, and a shimmy workshop is one of them! You can check out my available workshops here. If you are interested in hosting a workshop by me, please contact me at kamrah (at) tattooedbellydancer (dot) com
Does it count double that it’s Monday the 13th? Ugh. But there’s no time to complain; Monday means another challenge!
We all have them. We all have no idea what to do with them. Hands. They flip, they sag, they turn into claws. They get forgotten or we get self-conscious about them. What the heck to dancers do with their hands?
I have actually been to entire workshops that focus on hands and arms. It’s that difficult…and yet it seems so stupid. Our hands are probably one of the more important body parts in our daily lives. They help us do just about everything we do–make phone calls, type, cook… But they are the LAST thing we think about when we dance, and that’s just not good.
Humans are pre-programmed to watch hands. Why do you think we gesticulate so much? Why do you think politicians actually get trained on what to do with their hands while they make speeches? We watch hands. And if you flip-flop your hands like dervishes while you dance, no one will notice what lovely hip movements you are doing.
Let’s get those hands under control!
This week’s challenge is another all-level one, and this applies just as much to beginners as it does to professionals. You gotta watch those hands.
Video yourself dancing to whatever it is you are working on right now. Whether it’s a simple class combo to a full choreography, record it. Now watch the recording. What are your hands doing? Are they limp rags? Do they flip and flop all over the place? Do they look too stiff?
Belly dance is lucky in that there is no “right way” to position our hands. We can go ballet with it, or we can be a little more relaxed about it. But one thing is true: they have to look nice. There should be energy in the fingers, but they shouldn’t be stiff. They should move smoothly, but not too much or they distract. If you’re not sure how your hands should look, ask your teacher.
Now, get to work on improving those hands this week. Be aware of them when you dance. If you know your combo/choreo/whatever really well, then concentrate on your hands instead of what the rest of you is doing. Keep your video in mind. Practice, practice, practice. Keep those hands still, and make sure they look nice. Pause once and awhile in your dance and check in. What do your hands look like? How do they feel? Reset them, and notice how they feel now. The more you practice with your hands in the right position, the more likely you are to go back to that when you are thinking hard about the rest of your body.
Here’s something I did, though I don’t necessarily recommend it. My hands were so bad that I taped them in place with black electrical tape. Yep, tape. I wrapped a bunch around my wrist, and then around my hand, criss-crossing over the palm. Whenever I bent my hand, the tape pulled on my skin and I was able to notice just how much my hands moved. It really helped improve, but it is a little extreme.
Let’s all dance with pretty hands!
You might have noticed, but there’s no weekly challenge this week. Sorry! I’ve been dealing with some personal and family issues over the weekend and have not been able to come up with a challenge for you all.
But that’s no excuse for you! Keep challenging yourselves! Try out new things, watch some YouTube, and practice, practice, practice. The challenge will be back next week!