I dont think there is a person alive that doesnt associate belly rolls with the belly dance. However, its really a minor part. Many belly dancers dance wonderfully yet do not choose to do, or cannot execute, a dramatic belly roll as part of their performance.
In my experience, I have found that boys and men can roll their bellies very easily and naturally. I find that young girls usually can also but then a little later, at age 11 or so, find it a bigger challenge. It may have something to do with heredity (there may well be a Belly Roll gene!) and the stages of human development. I have taught dancers to roll their bellies who thought it was impossible. It takes good mind-body concentration.
Another reason boys and men can roll easily may be in ingrained bodily awareness of personal physical freedom. Maybe boys can roll their bellies because they dont even have to wear shirts, but girls are told to cover up, implying they are not free physically. This simple detail is a powerful one.
The West has retained an unhealthy image association to the belly that other cultures do not share. China, India, Japan and Africa acknowledge that the belly is a powerful center in the body. They have developed spiritual practices that utilize and develop the energy, power and strength of the belly: yoga, hara training, martial arts, and rituals. Americans are ashamed of their bellies and strive to make them perfect or invisible.
Belly rolls are powerful yoga exercises. They are called the immortal exercise, implying extended longevity; they are suppose to be the key to perfect health. In the Japanese art of Hara Training, the belly is the center of an individuals transpersonal development. What is developed is the satisfaction of a deeper relationship with himself, the world, to people and things and to nature.
Belly rolls bring concentrated mind-body connections to the vital organs that stimulate capillaries and nerve endings that radiate to all areas of the body. Deep down I believe that if women from an early age practiced belly rolling every day or week they would not have health problems with their reproductive organs like we do today. Unfortunately there is no case study because there is no steady practice of these movements being done by women (probably not even in India) because it is not in our cultural awareness. Our case is quite the contrary. It is fun to fantasize an enlightened state where belly rolling would become a common practice one day!
Belly Rolls, and where they can be found on our videos:
Forward rolls. . . Delilahs Bellydance Workshop, Volume III
Backward Roll. . .Delilahs Bellydance Workshop, Volume III
Triple Roll. . .Delilahs Bellydance Workshop, Volume III
Uddhiyana Bandha (Stomach Lift). . .Delilahs Bellydance Workshop, Volume III
Nauli Kriya. . . Absolute Beginning Belly Dance
Diaphragm Flutter. . .Delilahs Bellydance Workshop, Volume III
Lower Belly flutter. . .Delilahs Bellydance Workshop, Volume III
Diagonal rolls. . .Delilahs Bellydance Workshop, Volume III
Reclining belly rolls . . . Delilahs Bellydance Workshop, Volume III
Coin Flips . . . Delilahs Bellydance Workshop, Volume III, and on QuickTime Movie Clip on www.visionarydance.com/VideoClips.html
Coffee Grinder . . .Delilahs Bellydance Workshop, Volume III
Horizontal roll. . . Absolute Beginning Bellydance
the Horizontal roll is the hardest belly roll there is.. The reason it is on the Absolute Beginning Bellydance program is because its done using the same basic principles described in the Mapping the Internal Realms exercises. I start beginners with this because it will take them deeply into the internal connection. Applying the principles to hips and rib cage is easy compared to the belly level. This is more difficult because in our life experience we most likely have not been directed to intentionally move in these areas. That is where I want my dance students to begin.
Dance Demonstration with belly rolls:
- Volume I... Opening dance
- Volume III... Prayer to Ishtar, Lilith and Conversations
- Dance Delilah Dance
- QuickTime movie clip on www.visionarydance.com/VideoClips.html
- Fire at the Iao
- Delilah & Sirocco Live & Wild
- Dance to the Great Mother
More to be added soon. . .