Gilded Serpent presents...
Circle Dance
by Melina
of Daughters of Rhea

I like to teach belly dance in a circle. Dances have been performed in rings for thousands of years.

The circle is a perfect, democratic & unending shape, the shape of an energized community, the shape of this lovely round planet.

It is a good shape in which to learn belly dance, an ancient dance of with primal roots, a dance that transcends geographic boundaries and is a satisfying and sensual expression of the universal soul. Shimmies, snake arms, head slides, spins, turns, undulations, body part isolations, hip articulations – no matter how you dress it up ethnically, this dance expresses itself with common movement themes all over the globe.

Because I grew up witnessing my mother Rhea’s circle teaching methods, I have a lot of practical and proven ideas about how to teach belly dance movements in a circle without confusion.

First of all, I generally stand in the center, always demonstrating the moves and constantly revolving myself so that everyone has a good view from the back to make sure of their foot and arm placement.

I generally go and stand directly in front of or next to someone who is “on the wrong foot” and give individual attention and correction through demonstrative example or gentle hands-on prodding. When teaching I like to break down moves very precisely, talking specifically about weight placement, proper body alignment and posture, which part of the foot to stand on, where is your hip, where is your arm, what are your fingers doing, where to place your gaze, so the technique gets into your body and (hopefully) stays there when you practice outside of class.

I have noticed the following facts about dancing in a circle, like them or not:

Nobody can hide in a circle. In a circle, if one person smiles, everyone smiles. If one person goes the wrong way in a traveling movement, they are quickly brought into proper flow by the larger group.

Fellow students are quick to help their neighbor. In a circle, we are all in the dance together; everyone thinks positively about their bodies because they are brought unselfconsciously into the flow and fun of the dance. There are no mirrors to either encourage either narcissism or nihilism. Of course mirrors are ultimately very important in dance instruction & practice, essential in polishing your presentation and discovering what moves look best on you, but mirrors are not essential to dance.

If you can’t feel a movement on your own, if you can’t dance an emotion fully and without a mirror, it will be more difficult to transition to perform on a stage, be it a restaurant or your living room.

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