It’s July! Obviously, last week there was no challenge. I had just returned from Tribal Revolution, and had some other things to deal with, so I didn’t have a chance to get anything down. I hope you had fun with creating your dance character! That challenge was on my mind a lot, because at Tribal Revolution, I took a fantastic workshop with Mira Betz that was all about expressing emotion through our bodies! Perfect timing!
So what’s up with this week’s challenge? Well, after all that drama, let’s shake things up a bit and loosen up!
It’s time for a shimmy drill. This is a true challenge–how long can you keep your shimmy going without losing the timing?
Pick a song (or three or four!), pick a shimmy, and get to it!
- Make sure your shimmy stays even on both hips/legs, no matter what shimmy you have chosen.
- It doesn’t matter what shimmy you practice, but try to pick one you aren’t so good at in order to improve it.
- Maintain posture, even after you get tired. If you only shimmy through one song, spot check your posture every 16 counts or so, or if you use multiple songs, do a posture check in between each.
- Arms – no chicken arms, T-rex arms, whatever you want to call them. If you want more of a challenge, layer arm patterns over your shimmy.
- Only go as fast as you can maintain the beat. Marry your hips to the count!! If the beat changes, change with it!
Lastly, remember to have fun, and give your quads and glutes a good stretch afterwards!
It’s Monday! This month has gone by so fast! Tribal Revolution is just around the corner and I have so much to do! Yikes! But now it’s time for another weekly challenge!
Okay, so this is a tough move. Beginners, you may not get introduced to this move at all until you advance a little more, but that will totally depend on your teacher. I personally think that it should be introduced early, primarily because it takes so long to master.
So what is a three-quarter shimmy? Well, first of all, we need to understand why it’s called three-quarters. Most music (oversimplification) is in 4/4 time, meaning there are four beats or notes to a measure, which is kind of like a musical sentence. It’s why dancers count in 8s (we could also count in fours, but it’s easier to count in 8s); we’re counting out two measures. So a three-quarter shimmy means that only three of those counts are “used” and there’s a rest on the fourth count. However, we don’t actually have to take a full measure to do a three-quarter shimmy. It’s a shimmy after all, and we can speed it up. We can also get really technical with the counting, but that’s beyond the scope of this particular challenge.
So let’s get to the challenge!
Beginner: This move just might give you nightmares. This was, hands down, the hardest move for me to learn, but everyone’s experience is different. Even though I can do this movement, I still sweat a little when I hear the words “three-quarter shimmy.” We’re going to start with three-quarter shimmies on the up. Pick a nice, slow song with a steady even beat. Make sure you can count out the song, then start moving the hips. On each beat, move your hips. On the right side, the movement will be up down up hold. Switch to the left, up down up hold. Don’t move during the hold, keep that hip up, in place, and still. The movement can be sharp or soft, your choice (and according to your skill). Don’t try to speed it up right now; it’s more important to keep the hips crisp (clear) and to keep that hold in there, so the movement doesn’t get muddy. Practice this for the whole song every day this week!
Intermediate: If you haven’t got the three-quarter on the up yet, don’t despair! Some teachers may not get to this movement until this level. Just go try out the previous challenge first. If you do have it, we’re going to move with it! Yay layers! The easiest by far is going to be a three-quarter shimmy on the up. So we’re going to do it on the down! Ha! The hips are going to go down up down hold. In order to walk with this, step on the first down and use those glutes for the rest of the hip movements. Same foot, same hip (step on the right, hip down on the right). But keep the hold. Three-quarter shimmies tend to get sloppy while doing them fast or while walking, so make sure that hold stays while you walk. Keep it nice and slow, but practice for a whole song every day this week.
Advanced: *wicked laugh* This week, we’re going to do some crazy layers. Try a three-quarter shimmy (up or down, your choice, but whatever is HARDER for you) while walking. Make sure your walk is not weird or awkward, that the hips are crisp and clear, and your hold is…well, holding. Then layer chest circles on top…but at half the speed of the hips. If you can do that, try chest figure 8s. Make sure that the arms still look nice (hey, for an additional challenge, is there anything you can do with your arms besides just being out in regular dance posture?), and don’t let your eyes roll back into your head. Smile (remember last week’s challenge?). And if that is easy-peasy for you (congrats!), try noodling around with other layers and timings. What crazy things can you do while three-quarter shimmying? I’d love to know! Post a comment, or even better, post a link to a video of you and the craziest layer you can come up with. One rule: it still has to look good.
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
If you kept up with my webpage in its previous incarnation, you may know that I used to do weekly belly dance challenges! They kind of fell by the wayside when I got into the webpage redesign. So, now that the new design is set and I’ve managed to catch up with everything else, let’s get back to the challenges!!
Here’s how it works: every week, I’ll throw down a challenge for three levels of belly dancers (beginner, intermediate, and advanced). Your challenge is to try it EVERY DAY. Yes, every day. Of course this does not mean that by the end of the week you’ll have mastered whatever move, idea, etc. that I throw at you. But it puts you into the habit of not only practicing every day, but challenging yourself every day. You can’t get better if you only practice the moves you already do well.
Feel free to comment on your progress, moan about the challenge, or ask for helpful advice!
So here’s this week’s Belly Dancing Challenge:
Put a shimmy on it!
Beginner: You may not have mastered a shimmy yet, and that’s okay. This week, try to master one form of hip shimmy. It doesn’t matter which one, just pick a shimmy you have been taught in class and DO IT. No excuses!
- Pick a fun song and shimmy for the entire duration
- Make sure your weight stays even on both feet (for now)
- Keep a slower speed so that you can not only keep it up for an entire song but also that you don’t lose the timing. Remember, a fast shimmy isn’t always the best shimmy.
- Keep the shimmy timed to the music. Your hips should be moving to the beat of the music, not just randomly twitching.
- And, the most important tip for loose and relaxed shimmies: LOOSE GLUTES.
Intermediate: Can you walk and shimmy at the same time? Try either a 3/4 shimmy or a 4/4 shimmy (whichever is HARDER for you right now) and walk with it.
- Make sure your steps are on the beat, either full time or half time, depending on how fast your music is and how much space you have.
- Time your shimmies to your steps, it will make it easier.
- LOOSE GLUTES.
- Keep a slower speed so that you don’t lose the timing. Remember, a fast shimmy isn’t always the best shimmy. You can always speed it up later, once you are used to the movements.
- Make sure your posture stays intact, and SMILE. Remember your face needs practice just as much as your body. Practice with a frown or with your tongue sticking out, and you might just do that on stage!!
Advanced: We’re really going to walk, talk, and chew bubble gum at the same time! Pick a shimmy, pick a song, pick a movement, and then WALK with it. For instance, you can walk with a hip figure 8, adding a shimmy as you go. Or, you can walk, shimmy, and do chest circles. But make sure it looks good. Some combinations may not work well, so check yourself in a mirror before practicing too much.
- Make sure everything is on time. It won’t work if you are stepping at off times while concentrating on your movements. Your walking steps should be on time, your shimmies should work with the music, and your movement should make sense.
- Make sure your walk looks nice. Don’t just wave a foot around until the beat.
- Play around with timing if you can, but still maintain the beat.
Happy dancing, and good luck!