Any belly dancer is required to master four essential skills -Dance Counting, Weight Distribution, Muscle Isolation, and Body Posture – before learning the basic elements of the dance. These elements of the belly dance can be later combined artfully to build complex, mesmerizing dance routines. Here are some of the crucial elements of Belly Dance:
Hip Drops: This beautiful element is prevalent in all forms of belly dance. The step requires dancers to isolate their hips in upward and downward motions using the leg and pelvic muscles. This motion is mainly an illusion created by alternating the weight distributions on each leg.
Hip Rolls: Hip roll movements draw attention to the hips; however, it is the movement of the legs that makes this element practicable. In hip rolls, the hips are first lifted up using a dramatic arch movement of your leg and tightened core muscles, then rolled in a smooth circular motion. Another variation of the hip roll is the reverse hip roll. The reverse hip roll is more subtle merely because of the female anatomy that prevents a more dramatic movement.
Hip Twists: Hip Twists are one of the most fun elements of belly dance and can be performed while moving or staying in a single spot. Hip Twist performed on the spot has different variations, such as Forward Hip Twist and Backward Hip Twist. Another variation of this element performed in between each walking step is called Hip Twist Walk.
Hip Thrusts and Hip Snaps: Hip Snaps can be performed as swift movements from left to right or from front to back. Hip Thrusts are another important element of belly dance. A slight variation of this element is the Hip Thrust Return.
Belly Roll: Belly dance is characterized by the distinct Belly Roll movement. This element requires complete control of the abdominal muscles, alternatively engaging and isolating lower and upper abdominal muscles. In belly roll, the lower abdominal muscles are typically engaged before the upper ones. A simple variation of this element is the reverse belly roll, in which upper abdominal muscles are involved at the start before moving to the lower one.
Shimmy: This widely recognized step unique to belly dance is a representation of the feminine act of giving birth. Shimmy doesn’t emanate from the hips but from fluid bending motions of the knees. Alternate bending movements of the knees automatically lift and drops the hips into a fully-fledged shimmy.