Arms are a big deal in oriental dance and often one of the signs of where a dancer is on her journey from beginning to professional and then master. We often watch our favorite artists perform and say words such as “perfection”, “beautiful”, “amazing” and today I want to hone in on various arm postures and talk about what makes each so lovely.
I am going to categorize arm postures into the following 4 groups. There are plenty more, but I will keep this blog from growing into a book with only four listed.
1. Organic, Authentic: This arm carriage is relatively low compared to today’s modern belly dance forms. The dancer will often show the bend in her elbow while in second with shoulder being much higher than the hands and elbow.
The arms tend to be quite expressive with dancers in this carriage and the lower height makes it earthier and more beledi in appearance to me at least. Several golden age dancers come to mind on this topic. One famous dancer with this type of arm carriage is: Soheir Zaki https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qe9WEKnEhA
2. High Carriage: This is where the hands/wrists are almost as high as the shoulders in second position. This is more western influenced as some ballet technique and theory is added. Typically elbows are still soft but now higher and slightly lifted. Shoulder blades become slightly engaged, and the effect is modern, and more regal in a way (in my opinion). Some famous dancers that come to mind in this style are Dari Mitskevich https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COVeUyyy7Toand Jamilah of Poland https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzMv2gqUIZ0
3. Rounded/elbows:This posture is typically used in tribal and tribal fusion and involves a rotation of the shoulder cuff in order to life the elbow more than in previous carriages mentioned above, and gives the arms a very round, strong shape. I love, love this look, and boy is it a work out! You can see the influence of flamenco and hip hop arm work giving a snaky, or highly isolated effect depending on how the dancer wants to connect the isolations. The shoulder blades are used a lot with this style. A famous example is of course, Rachel Brice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek5pPDvAbWI
4. Extended:This is where the energy is clearly marked from the shoulder to fingers tips in a serious of highly extended poses. The arms will shoot straight out in either direction giving a very highly stylized look. This is the most modern of all the arm carriages in my opinion. I think the best example of this is Saida or Yamil. Both use their arms to carry them into the next move with energy and vigor rather than a more natural looking/authentic manner which is more earthy. Check out this video of Yamil to see what I am referring to. His arms are mostly in extensions for the majority of his piece. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o-tsDgccP4
Arms are something that often take years and years to develop fully, and many times we experiment and may even decide to change form one style to another as we grow older. I hope this will give you some arm inspiration and help you identify what feels best for you. Be true to yourself always and for information on my skype classes, private coaching or workshops, visit my classes page at bellydancebyjennifer.com/classes