Our goal in belly dance is to give different body parts an opportunity for full expression by way of isolated movement. Its as important to control the stillness of the body as it is to create the movement. To do this we need to hold a stance that facilitates these goals. Lets start with the basic alignment posture. We, of course, move out of this posture to perform movements, but this is where we return to, where we call home.
Basic alignment position
- Bend your knees
- Eyes look straight forward
- Open ribs, breathing from belly
- Tuck pelvis slightly to lengthen the space between lower vertebras and reduce the curve in the lower back
- Engage buttocks and belly muscles
Imagine a pole running through your core body. Imagine this pole moving between your feet deep into the earth all the way to the center of the earth. Imagine it moves out the crown of your head into the atmosphere above and into the moon. This powerful image will help stabilize your center and keep your balance.
Knees and shock absorption
Bend your knees and keep them bent. In belly dance, the knees, ankles, spine and neck will be constantly adjusting in support of the isolated movement you perform. We need to create a degree of slack in the body to absorb the bounce, much like the shocks in your car. This slack placement is beneath the crown, so we can develop fluid transitions and maintain the same height. If we keep changing our height by hopping up and down, the movements seem out of focus.
Hips and spine
Visualize your hips like a flower pot filled with rich soil; heavy, earthy and fertile. From inside the soil, imagine your spine rising up like a stem of a plant toward the sun. I like to think of the amaryllis flower and see its beautiful bloom as the dancers face.
Imagine someone hasopened an umbrella inside your upper chest. Now, keep it open.
Place your front hipbones so they line up directly underneath the 5th rib from the bottom (approximately). You have 12 ribs; 7 true upper ribs and 5 false ribs (2 of them floating). Draw your navel in and engage your belly muscles. You should feel a fairly powerful stance in regard to belly and solar plexus. Avoid is holding the ribs too far forward or the reverse, where the hips are too far forward.
Head and eyes
Your inner ear is important for being aware of balance and keeping a sense of what is truly level to its reference. We can increase our balance by stabilizing the visual field in front of us. Lock your eyes on the scene and hold it in place. This keeps your head very still. When the head is still, any hip move executed beneath is very isolated in relation to it. If your head is cocked to the side, your alignment is skewed. Use your vision and your peripheral awareness. Imagine you are balancing a book on your head or use a 1 pound soft weight taken from a weight belt.