We are super lucky to have a format in Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance® that has so many beautiful moves and combos. Sometimes though it can be tough to remember them during practice and drilling, much less be able to really get them ingrained into our body. It’s important to practice outside of class, and in past issues we have talked about how to set up a practice schedule. Now let’s look at some effective techniques for really learning each move and making sure that you are understanding and executing it properly.
1. Learn & Say the Names – Words have power…and can help you better understand a movement! Many of the movements, such as Ghawazee, Arabic, and Hip Bump, have entire families of variations so it is important to have a solid understanding of the movement names in order to keep each one clear in your mind. Knowing the nomenclature can help give clues, too, in how a specific movement or combo is executed.
2. Break it Down – Some of our movements, such as Egyptian Basic, have multiple elements happening at once. In this move, for instance, hips, arms, and feet are all moving. This is a great example of a move that can be broken down to be able to better understand and execute it. Try just the feet. Or just the feet with the hips. Try just the arms. Or just arms with feet, no hips. Sometimes, I will even break the hips down (in this case I would practice both lifting as well as twisting). By separating out the movements into their basic elements you will clean up your technique and reinforce the muscle memory of your body too.
3. Start Slow – Time and again I find students moving through movements as fast as they can, just to get a bit of practice in. SLOW DOWN. Breathe. Give your body time to learn the movement. It’s totally ok to practice slowly as you will really be able to check and make sure you are doing the movement properly.
4. Watch Your Weight…shifts – Sometimes the answer to a “sticky” movement that you’re having trouble with is all in your feet! Pay attention to your weight and really hone in on how you are standing. Is your weight more in the ball of your foot, or toward your heels? This can often influence how a move looks and feels in the body.
5. Chunk It Up – A very successful practice/memory recall tool is “chunking.” In this type of practice, you can take a variety of information and chunk them together for practice. An example would be instead of just practicing one move over and over, string a few together and practice it as a chunk. You’ll still be practicing the movement, but will have the benefit of also practicing several more and even working them in a flow with transitions. Find out more about chunking here.