The one question I probably get asked the most is ‘how to get my arms to look graceful/elegant/effortlessness etc. and I’m afraid there is no magic trick to achieve it instantly. But the good news is that there are some proven techniques which teamed with lots of practise will make it happen.
Beautiful arms are for most people the ‘icing on the cake’ – the final element of the dancing to fall in to place. But having said that, I’ve also seen dancers who have picked this up relatively easy despite being new to belly dance, so I won’t generalise.
For me it was a combination of things. I have slightly hype mobile hands and arms, which make some fluid movements easy for me to pick up, so what I really had to work on the most was the strength to maintain and do those moves safely. Also, when I started dancing I had what I like to call ‘nervous wrist syndrome’ [the rolling of hands and wrists uncontrollably especially when performing!] and problems with simply planting my arms into a default position because it was where I had learn they should be for that particular move. I like to think of that as ‘Dancing by Number’ – knowing roughly where things should be, but not having the flow nor the experience to ‘dance it’ if that makes sense. It took me quite some times to work on those elements, but eventually it all came together and I discovered quite a few good tips and exercises along the way to speed up the process and I now try to share my knowledge where I can.
If you have been following my blog for a while you may already have seen the videos listed below, which I filmed for my Advance Your Dance Online series. They are a good place to start to review your basic arm technique and get the foundation right before moving on:
If you like this approach to arm technique then you may be interested to know that after many requests I’m now offering a 6 weeks online courses covering the technique required for those ‘Amazing Arms’ as well as one for good core technique. Don’t worry there are no sit ups or belly crunches involved, but I do call it the ‘Belly Dance Boot Camp’ and it’s all about how to dance from the core to give you more range as well as making layering and advanced combinations easier.
We will start pretty basic – like the videos listed above, and then move on to some more advanced exercises and drills. There will be daily videos and tips, so be prepared to set aside 5-10 minutes each day to get the most from the course.
I know online learning is not for everyone, so I’m offering a one-off free taster session on Sunday 13 October at 5:30pm UK time, so you can try before committing yourself. You can register your interest here and I will then send you the access link the day before the session.
You can also read more about the courses overall here.
How do you feel about your dance arms? Are they how you’d like them? Or do you get back and neck tension when working on them for too long? If you’re a teacher, how do you approach teaching this? Do any of the elements mentioned in the videos help?
Let me finish by mentioning one of my dear students who felt really disheartened by her arm and hands – mainly because a previous dance teacher had told her that they looked ugly. It took me several years to get her over that comment, but we got there and her arms and hands are now really beautiful. So if anyone has told you anything like that, or you’ve convinced yourself for some reason, please let that limiting belief go straight away! And if you’re a teacher reading this, please remember to always be really mindful with your language, as even a small comment – maybe meant as a joke – can be perceived wrongly.
Everyone can learn to dance with beautiful arms, but it may take time and you will have to put the work in. But the end result is hopefully more than just about how to place and move the arms – and more about how to appreciate the dancing body that you’ve been given and not least how to utilise it best possible.
Happy and beautiful dancing – always 😉
Did you miss my last post? Read it here: A shimmy drill to help your dance development