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Do you remember turning as a child? Endless revolutions pretending to be an airplane or a bird! Did you dream of flying? I did! I remember starting ballet at 10 years old and being on point made me feel like to was soaring! Grand jetes across the floor (big straddle leaps) made me think I was a bird in flight...but turning topped it all! I knew I was destined to be a dancer because turning made me feel free!

Fast forward to belly dance at 24; I took off the toe shoes and enjoyed the freedom of improvisation and incorporating turns into my new style. I learned many different turns and I am going to share with you these variations (next blog will include a video). Here in Part I, we will address the basics of turning. And, if you need or want help with your turns, give me a holler and schedule a private or two:)

  1. Stance – Feet close together, weight on the balls of the feet.

  2. Placement – Weight distribution is forward and torso is lifted off the hips.

  3. Arms- Half circle to front of the body. Use them to turn instead of feet!

  4. Focus – Spot! It keeps you going in the right direction and it maintains balance.

  5. Correcting Balance – If you begin to fall (forward or backward), pull up from the crown of the head.

Here’s How to Prepare:

  1. Place weight on the front of your feet .

  2. Bring the body weight forward over the balls of the feet, torso lifted and shoulders back.

  3. Bring arms in front of you and slightly curved at chest level.

  4. Focus on where you are going (usually the corner if using the diagonal line in the class room).

Here’s how to do a series of traveling (chainne) turns in two steps. They are the foundation of the 4-step spin so common in belly dance. Once you have the posture and placement down, you are going to do a series of 2-step turns known as “Chainne” (French for Chain) turns. [It refers to the linking circles of a chain your feet will make as you progress across space.] The chainne/two-step turn is the fastest turn next to a one step (pirouette) turn.

  • Keep your feet close together and make tiny steps, each one a complete turn.

  • Count the turn when it is finished, not at the start.

  • Almost all turns are counted in 2 beats, so you will count the beat within each complete revolution saying the number of turns first and the beat second:

“1 and 2 and 2 and 2 and 3 and 2 and so on.”

  • Use your arms to propel and stop you. The outside arm (the arm in place of the direction you are going), opens with enough force to get the body turning fully around. The inside arm comes in and stops or brakes the turn. With practice, uou will begin to discover how much force you need to use to execute a complete turn cleanly and completely.

  • Keep your feet and legs together and take tiny steps with each revolution.

  • If you begin to fall forward or backward, correct your loss of balance by pulling up - not forward or backward. Remember, balance is kept by lifting your weight up and maintaining weight on the balls of the feet.

  • Prepare to stop by deciding to stop at a certain place – do not allow the walls or corners to stop you!

  • Pose at the end!

Practice makes perfect - so once you have this basic turn, we will move on the the Pivot, the Pencil, the Cross-leg and the 3-step. Have fun!

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