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Drills for improving Shimmies

topic posted Sat, June 20, 2009 - 3:29 PM by  Esther
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I feel like I am not a "natural" at shimmies (i've learned to shimmy from the knees) I can't seem to keep control or keep it going for very long. Are there any exercises I can do strengthen these muscles? It is the one area I really want to improve as I feel you can have so much variation once you get it right!
Thanks.
posted by:
Esther
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  • Unsu...
     
    I have the same problems you might want to post on bellydance anatomy. You could stand in shimmy position and just keep at it really slow till you build up the muscle to carry it out full speed.
  • Unsu...
     
    just keep doing it. play different speed music, and pay close attention to keeping your shimmy EVEN and IN TIME with the music.
    we were working on the difference between the Egyptian shimmy (straight, not locked legs) (easier to do for long periods, very relaxed and earthy) and the "American shimmy" with the knees bent the whole time-which is more isolated but takes more leg strength today in class. for those of us that learned it one way it's hard to do the other. so another suggestion is to practice a few different kinds of shimmies, switching back and forth about them to learn them all at once so that your body learns the difference and doesn't automatically jump to one type when you want to do a different one. then when you hear a piece of music that one fits to, you don't have to might your muscle and neural memory for the one you want because another one is more programed.
    i took a workshop with Diana Tarkan a few weekends ago and one of the things she mentioned when she was having us drill shimmies is "RELAX" of course it's hard to learn, but we tend to tense up with the stress of wanting to have perfect shimmies (or "vibrations" as she called the Egyptian shimmy) but it is counter-productive, making it harder to actually do the movement.
    so yheah, slow but steady until it comes. i find they are very hard to do without music, but when it really fits the music the shimmy will flow right out. that's the best feeling ^_^
  • I like the one where you sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you and alternate bending one knee slightly to lift the back of the knee off the ground slightly, and then letting it relax and drop back down while bending the other knee. You can start out slow and practice going faster. If you're not used to it, just doing it fast for a couple minutes is hard work.
    • I learned this one years ago in a workshop with Anja (CA) and it does work, but when I applied additional things I learned in Kinesioslogy and related classes, I tweaked the drill a bit in teaching it to my own students.

      Basically, the exercise trains the nerves to fire continuosly and rhythmically for an extended period of time. It also develops endurance in the muscles, particularly the VMO which assists in the last 15-20 degrees or so of straightening.

      One of the problems with the exercise as originally taught is that it is done with the hips flexed. We don't shimmy bent over at the hips - or at least I hope people don't! This matters because one of the quad muscles working actually crosses the hip joint as well as the knee so we're training it to work in a position other than the standing position we will use shimmying. How to fix that? Lean back on your elbows so the hips are extended more like standing. If you have a tendency to lock the knees out you can also put a hand towel folded into a band below the knees so you don't lock out.


      Mahin
      www.shes-got-hips.com
  • The best thing I've done is put on my fave belly dance music CD and shimmy for the whole CD alternating b/w fast/slow/medium and also doing the shimmies with my weight distributed in different ways and ALSO (lol!) layering moves over the shimmies. It builds stamina. Also, by shimmying in different positions you are getting your body "used to" maintaining the shimmy and are not programming yourself to only be able to do it by standing in one place.
  • I'm not a natural either; I have to really work on my shimmies. I am constantly "stalling out".

    I find that layering stuff over my shimmies takes my mind off of my hips. It sounds as if it would be harder to do it this way, but it works for me. I throw some snake arms or something else with my arms/hands into it. My shimmies seem to come easier when I'm not thinking about them so much.

    I also have a weight belt that I wear to practice shimmies. When I take it off, my hips seem to move faster and cleaner.

    I recommend the Shimmies with Celeste video. It really clicked for me.

    Still gotta work on them, though...I've got a long way to go!
  • Natural Shimmier? Not me!

    I put on a nice, long song and practice moving my shimmy from my legs (I learned that as an "Egyptian Shimmy"), into my obliques, and then into my glutes (Suhaila Format) and back again. I cycle through the shimmy forms holding each one for a couple of minutes (or until I loose control and it flies into random twitching).
    Jill Parker said in a workshop I took that our goal should be to maintain a rhythmic shimmy for 6 minutes.
    My current personal goal is to hold each style of shimmy for 3-4 minutes.
  • Its so nice to hear that I'm not the only one who has to work at it! Seems everyone in my class can do it but me!! Thanks guys! I like the idea of timing yourself, and setting goals, and trying different styles to build up muscle.

    Cheers guys!
    • it sounds like the weight belt would help, i'll have to try that.
      I learned shimmies also with the knee and glutes methods, and now I am learning the shimmies in ATS (fatchance style) and the most trouble is the 3/4 shimmy. it seems to me that the abs and/or obliques are taking the brunt of the work, in able to get a smooth flow, and at full time I feel like my rear end is flailing around with a mind of its own. Any tips?
      • > at full time I feel like my rear end is flailing around with a mind of its own

        That's kind of the idea with an ATS 3/4 shimmy. You don't want it tight and sharp like a glute-based shimmy, you want it loose and bouncy. Yes your obliques come into play quite a bit. Keep practicing - this doesn't develop overnight.
        • The 3/4 shimmy was the hardest for me to master as well. Start out in in dance posture and on flat feet, drill your hips :up, down, up" starting on the right and moving to the left....each side up, down, up before moving to the other side. I just kept at this at different speeds until I was so fast I had to raise up on my toes. Keep you glutes loose, do not contract at all or you will not be able to sustain the shimmy. As someone else stated, the gwahzee(sp) shimmy helps a lot. The area that I now have some issue is to layer the 3/4 over moves like the Sununda and arabic shimmy.

          Hope this helps. Joan
  • Unsu...
     
    Another that will def help is stretching. A lot of stress is placed on the legs that can cause them to be tight. If you can find a good leg stretch it will open up the hip area and make the legs looser. I use the stretches on Ballet for bellydance and my shimmie are better and my legs don't feel as tight.
  • I am working on it, too. I used a vibration shimmy for very long, now I want to involve the legs more and it's tough. My left leg is not as strong as my right one and it takes time to get speed...
    • I actually could NOT do 3/4 shimmies until I learned the Gawazhee, loose, juice, don't wear your Melos cause your thighs will JIGGLE, different stance, yes, lower arms, wider stance, much more, well, JUICY. I'm sure you all know what I mean. When I was able to get that down, I tightened down on my stance, brought my feet together, toned the juiciness down, but, kept the reverberation. I can't do the 1,2,3,pause. I just have to let the hips do their thing.
  • The best way I've found to learn to isolate the obliques is to get on your hands and knees paralell to a mirror. Make sure your back is straight, and use your obliques to shimmy. Being on all fours prevents you from using your knees. :)
    Also, when standing, make sure your posture is correct. Incorrect posture can make it difficult to shimmy with ease, and can even harm your back.
    Hope this helps!
    • I went a long time without taking the time to warm up or cooling down properly (I know, I know...Bad Fio! Bad!) and I found that my hip muscles had tightened so that I just almost couldn't shimmy. It's like I'm having to start all over again.

      What is helping me the most, though, is yoga. I really do think I "locked" some important muscles and yoga is causing them to become looser and it is slowly, slowly becoming easier to shimmy...but I have a looooong way to go, so I'm gonna take some of the advice on this board, as well. :)

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