Weekly Challenge for June 3rd
Hello there again! I hope you had a good break. I’ve been very busy, and this weekly challenge almost didn’t happen. I’m deep in preparations for Tribal Revolution (I perform Friday night!), which means I’m practicing every night and frantically sewing my costume. I hope, if you are in Chicago and want to see me dance, that you come and watch me!
Anyway, on to the challenge!
If you are podophobic, you may want to skip this challenge! Otherwise, we’re going to work on our footwork this week!
I’ve talked about traveling in other posts, but in this one we are specifically going to talk about feet, not necessarily about traveling.
Beginner: You are probably working on basic footwork – traveling, stepping from one place to another. But have you thought not about what your feet are doing, but how they look while doing it? It’s not always about pointing your toes (this isn’t ballet after all), though that is definitely appropriate for many of our movements, and that is what we are going to work on this week. Pointing the foot makes the leg look longer, more graceful. This week, while you are doing your normal practice, pay attention to your feet. Are your toes pointed? While you are doing your hip drop kicks, your grapevine steps, saiidi steps, or whatever it is that you are practicing, make sure those toes are pointed! Check in every 8 counts or so and correct your feet. Don’t over-point or you might get a foot cramp. Stretch the feet our afterwards and don’t work too hard if you are just starting out. Build up your arch strength gently and slowly.
Intermediate: Depending on your style, you may not ever dance in releve. But there are movements in almost every style of belly dance that do require us to go on our toes. It takes time and practice to not only develop balance, but the ankle and calf strength necessary for dancing in releve. If you want to eventually start dancing in restaurants (should that be your eventual goal) you will definitely have to work on dancing in heels! So this week, work on your releve! Whatever it is you are practicing this week, try it on releve. Working on layering hips and chest? Try it in releve! Working on turns? Get on those toes, make sure your weight is on the first two toes, and get to spinning! Be sure to stretch out your calves afterwards and be careful when in releve. Keep the weight straight over the ankles, keep the ankles in line with the toes, and don’t let your ankles collapse to the side.
Advanced: It is interesting to watch video of other dancers at this level and only watch their feet. Do they point their toes? I was watching a video of a famous dancer the other day and noticed that in many of her movements, her feet were not pointed. While this might be a stylistic choice (again, this isn’t ballet, though many of our movements do look best with pointed toes), and is perfectly okay, it definitely was jarring (to me) to see. This week, review videos of your own footwork. Are your feet doing what you think they were supposed to be doing? If your toes were supposed to be pointed, were they? Did they flap around during movement, or were they strong and graceful? Don’t judge yourself! Accept whatever conclusion you come to and work to improve it this week. If your feet were supposed to be pointed and weren’t, try drilling that movement and check in with your feet once every 8 counts or so and see what they are doing. Correct any mistakes and keep drilling.
Happy feet! (And dancing!)