More Belly Dance Variations "on the floor"

How to use better foot positions when belly dancing

Zaghareet! Magazine (Sept/Oct 2013)
Anthea Kawakib Poole

In previous articles we’ve looked at these Belly dance Foot Positions:

Let’s examine another variation: how we use the Wide Stance as only belly dancers do: in our gorgeous hip circles!

Even in my beginner class there’s a couple of advanced moves I introduce right away, and the hip circle is one of them. I consider it an advanced move because to do it well involves a lot of body control while the body is in an unusual position; and that’s one reason I start it so soon.

Learning Spatial Awareness in Beginner Class

In beginning belly dance class, especially in the recreational sector, many students have no dance experience and are not used to moving their bodies around in space with awareness. Unfocused awareness is a subject unto itself! Let’s just say it can be paralyzing, which you certainly don’t want in dance class! So to help new students develop their awareness, I like using our actual foot as a “marker” on the floor. This gives students a way to understand spatial movements further up their body. For instance, the outside edge of their foot can be used to gauge whether their hips are extending enough. Hip circles work this way no matter how large they are: the hips extend past the feet ever so slightly. (See Basic Wide Stance illustration in May/June issue)

Most new dancers are comfortable with that position, and can begin learning small hip circles by using this awareness. The wider position often seems less comfortable for them, not physically, but mentally. By “wider” I mean taking the Basic Wide Stance from just past the width of our shoulders to completely past our shoulders on each side, with a couple of inches to spare.

Tip: Even if you have a mirror to look into, do this: open your stance and look down: see your foot position relative to your shoulders. I like measuring with this “body gauge” rather than with inches, as we so often hear (“place your feet about 6-8 inches apart”). Who’s carrying a ruler?

bellydance foot
(Illustration: Wide stance, open)

In the photo “Wide Stance, Open”, above, I’ve drawn a line from the edge of my hip (the same width as my shoulders) down to the floor, to illustrate the relative position. This clearly shows where the hip has to move to go past the feet on each side. This is a body position we usually don’t do in everyday activities, and getting beginners to “go there” is a “big step” (no pun intended!). This position is usually out of people’s comfort zone at first, so I always tell new students what cool belly dance moves are done in this position, i.e. the large hip circle with torso drop.

wide foot position for belly dancing
(Illustration: Step-touch to side)

The “Wide Stance” position is also used moving through space - very often with veil work - but as a “Step-touch”, above (and often crossing over from side-to-side). The term “touch” signifies a non-weighted foot on the floor, as opposed to a “step” which carries weight. If you do hip work in the Wide Stance position, I recommend using more floor contact with the non-weighted foot than just the toe.

In the next article: the advanced foot position of “releve” as it’s used in belly dancing.

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