Belly Rolls

June 3, 2011

Belly rolls are an impressive part of a bellydancer’s repertoire (as well as being a neat party trick). Most often, I layer them with a shimmy or a camel, but they’re nice on their own too. I’ve always been able to do them well, owing to having done them as a child (I didn’t know they were part of belly dancing or even what belly dance was; I just thought they looked and felt cool), but even if you have never done one before you can build up to doing them well with some training and conditioning.

If you are just starting out with belly rolls, here is the method I use to teach my students:

1. Lie on your back and place your hands on your upper and lower abdomen. This will make it easier to feel the movement.

2. Begin by pushing your abdominal muscles out, then pulling them in. You may find one direction easier than the other, and if you aren’t in the habit of using your abs a lot you might find that you get fatigued easily. Build up to it until you can easily push and pull the muscles and notice a discernible difference in the level of your belly while doing so.

3. The next step is to work on separating the upper and lower abdominals. Try to push the upper abdominals out and pull them in. Now try the same with the lower abdominals. Once you have learned to do that (and it may take awhile), try simultaneously pushing your upper belly while pulling your lower belly, and vice versa. Alternate until you can do it with ease.

4. Almost there – the next step is to add that roll. Start with your upper belly pushed out and your lower belly pulled in, and try rolling the muscles up through the abdomen so that your lower belly ends pushed out and your upper belly ends pushed in. Roll continuously. Try the roll going both ways (bottom to top and top to bottom). You will likely find one way easier than the other.

5. Now practice, practice, practice! It may take awhile to get the hang of it, but you’ll get there. Try it a little every day and you’ll be doing fantastic belly rolls in no time!

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