As we (hopefully!) all know, the only way to become a better bellydancer is through regular, focused practise. But this can be a daunting prospect! When you have lots of time commitments already – work, study, family, and even just keeping yourself fed and clothed – it’s hard to set aside a big chunk of time for dance practise.
The aim of this blog series is to sneak tiny practises into your daily life. Any change in your dancing takes hundreds of repetitions to get it into your ‘muscle memory’, the point where repeating it no longer takes any conscious effort. Normally we think of getting to this stage by drilling a movement many times in a single practise session, but it’s just as effective to reach the necessary number of repetitions by fitting in lots of brief practises throughout the day.
Each of my posts in this series will look at a different way to make bellydance practise a habitual part of your everyday life, so that your dancing continues to improve even when you are ‘too busy to practise’.
Sneaky practise on public transport!
Since I spend several hours every week on buses to and from dance classes, I’ve decided to begin this series with stealth practise strategies for public transport. Although you are normally sitting down on a bus or train, there are lots of ways you can use this time to work on your dancing:
- Listen to Arabic music – This one’s easy! Fill your MP3 player with Arabic music, and listen to it whenever you’re travelling. Your musicality and ability to improvise will improve hugely as you develop a feeling for the Arabic rhythms and song structures.
- Practise glute squeezes – Developing control of your glutes (gluteus maximus, the big muscles in your bum cheeks) enables you to make your hip isolations sharp, precise and powerful. Practise clenching and releasing one bum cheek, both cheeks, and alternating, at various speeds. Try to relax your thighs so that the movement is isolated in your glutes. If you’re sat next to someone, they may notice you bobbing up and down a little, but they won’t be able to tell quite what you’re doing 😉
- Work on your abdominal isolations – Abdominal work is cool, and impressive! Belly rolls, pops and flutters can look amazing, but the fine muscle control takes a lot of practise to perfect. As it happens, all of these skills are easier to practise when sitting down, so a bus journey is the perfect time to work on them. You may look a bit odd to anyone sat nearby, unless you are wearing a big jumper or coat, but the skills you’ll develop are more than worth it. My flutters have improved immensely since I started practising them on my weekly bus journeys.
- Perfect your hand ripples – This one is a bit more obvious to your fellow passengers. Try practising hand waves, hand circles and wrist isolations (for a good selection of hand and wrist drills, some of which can be adapted for stealth practise, I recommend Aziza’s Arms DVD).
Have you ever used a public transport journey for stealthy dance practise? Please share your ideas in the comments below!