For the Absolute Beginner

This site, in general, assumes the student has some dance training and wants to learn to improvise. It is outside the scope of this project to teach beginning dance technique. However, for anyone who has found this site, and is starting out "cold", here is my "crash course". This is what I teach when I've just got an hour to get someone started and don't expect to see them for regular classes.
I do recommend that you find a local teacher. They are everywhere.

First off, you should divide your body into sections...
head
shoulders
chest
hips
The idea is to isolate these body parts and get them moving independently.
Try lifting each hip separately...your chest, your shoulders
lifting the hips quickly produces a shimmy
slide each part out from your central axis
make circles in all direction with each part
make figure 8's in all directions with each part

The best exercise I know for hip isolations is to bend one knee slightly to free up one hip. Then, imagine a pencil sticking straight out from the point of that hip and use that pencil to write the alphabet on the wall. Silly, but it gets that hip working in all directions.

Arms and hands are a little trickier to teach here.
The arms should frame the movements of the body, in a flowing and supple way.

Footwork is terribly important to this dance form, but can't be taught here. However, the most important footwork is spins, and will be covered in a later lesson.

My favorite trick for getting beginners up and moving is the veil. I've found that women who don't think they are ready to improvise (even for fun rather than performance) will almost always get up and move if you give them a veil.
You need about 2-1/2 yards of material.
Put on some dramatic, more melodic (as opposed to rhythmic) music and see what your veil can do.

It's not much, but it's a simple start.

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