Weekly Challenge for 9-16-13

Okay, I’ve had a different kind of challenge the past few weeks, and that’s sitting down long enough to do work, including blogging!  There was no weekly challenge last week, sorry!

So once again, let’s get back to those challenges!


Ah, arms, those appendages that always seem to feel awkward no matter what we do.  As teenagers, we never knew what to do with our arms.  Was it cooler to stick our hands in our pockets, or fold our arms across our stomachs, or just leave them hanging?  In belly dance, we forget our arms and let them droop (cluck, cluck!) or we forget we have hands and fingers and the movement doesn’t get finished through them.

So let’s work on arms!

Beginner: Keep those elbows up!  Your challenge this week is only about watching those arms.  Whenever you practice, when you are in class, keep your arms in mind.  Keep them up, keep them open.  Depending on your style, your teacher may allow a slight dip in the elbow or she may want those babies rotated back and raised to the ceiling!  Either way, make sure your arms are out.  I’ve heard many teachers of all different styles tell students to imagine a grapefruit (or a really ripe peach!) is hovering under each armpit.  If your arms fall, you squish the grapefruit!  Sticky!  Of course, you still want to keep your other movements in mind, but check in especially with your arms this week.

Intermediate: The secret to pretty belly dance arms is leading with the elbow.  Really.  Even if the movement is initiated by the shoulder (as in many snake arm techniques), the elbow is the leader and the focus of the movement.  If you can get great rotation of the arm, at the elbow, you can get great arms.  Here’s the deal: your elbow doesn’t actually rotate, it’s the shoulder.  BUT, you don’t want your shoulder to move, so you have to separate the movement of the shoulder upwards and its rotation in order to give the appearance of your elbow rotating.  Your challenge is to find arm rotation exercises (internal and external rotation of the shoulder) and practice those until those elbows can pop up without the shoulder also popping.  Good luck!  Work on it, and your snake arms will be killer!

Advanced: If your elbows (shoulders!) have a weak rotation, go back to the intermediate challenge and work on getting that elbow rotation down.  Otherwise, let’s add nice arms to our movements.  One of the hallmarks of a great dancer is being able to move all parts of your body fluidly and easily, whenever you need them to.  So when you are standing still, doing a series of hits, or something really awesome with your abs, make sure your arms look nice.  Don’t just let them hang out.  Frame, or do a movement that complements the primary movement.  Go back through your choreographies and see if there’s a spot when your arms are just down or just out.  Can you do something else with them there?  Also, keep in mind that emotion can be portrayed through arm movements ALONE (but that will be another challenge!)

Happy dancing!

And hey…if you have an idea or want to see something turned into a challenge, drop me a line! I’d love to hear from you, and you’ll get a shout-out on the blog!

Photo Credit to SashaW

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About Kamrah

Kamrah is a belly dancer in Chicago, IL. They started belly dance as an exercise routine but it turned into a passion for dance that has not lessened, even after more than a decade. They have a powerful presence on the stage, and is particularly known for their amazing shimmies. Kamrah is also known as a very versatile belly dancer, and audiences have come to expect the unexpected from them. Performances can be anything from traditional Egyptian, to tribal fusion, to fantasy cosplay (costume play) pieces.

One response to “Weekly Challenge for 9-16-13”

  1. Skirt Full of Fire says :

    You would have enjoyed our class yesterday morning, it was alllll arms! They are the eternal challenge, aren’t they?

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