Performing dance elements on the floor, or as it is also called, “in the parterre”, is by no means easy. A dancer needs to possess an excellent physical condition, an appropriate costume, a good taste and a sense for the dance style. For example, floor elements are impossible in the classical Egyptian Raks Sharki, they are considered indecent there. However, they are appropriate and rather advantageous as part of a show bellydance performance, of a sword dance, a candelabra dance or even a cane Assaya dance.
Samira, a dancer, teacher, assistant to the President of Professional League of Oriental Dance and a beauty, helps us to study the key elements of floor work. “The movements being demonstrated are not nearly a dogma but only a short hint on what one could start with and what mistakes one could avoid”, Samira emphasizes. – Feel free and have courage to invent your own movements and create your own style. Everything will work out well!”
For the floor work, you have to keep your legs and body muscles in tone and not to forget the stretching. However, if you go in for dancing on a regular basis, it is enough. Well, now warm up properly and let us start!
Please, pay special attention to the arms plastique!
Eighty percent of the success of your floor work depend on your arms movements’ beauty. Do not be lazy, work at them additionally!
Sit down on the floor, as it is shown in picture 1. You likely will have some unpleasant sensations at your pelvic bones and your big toes bones that bump against the floor, but after some exercise you will get over it. Try to find the most comfortable position, do not lay the feet on the most sensitive backside, but turn them to the inner side. Slightly lift up the hips, do some pelvic twists, fast and slow. Come back to the starting position, put your hands on your hips and bend forward with straight back, stretch out with your chest, bend elastically in this position.
From the sitting position, come to the lying one, leaning on your arms, as shown in picture 2. Try to lay your reins on the floor. Your will also conquer the unpleasant sensations after some training. Lift the hips, supporting yourself with your arms and shoulders, do some twists. Now lift your chest, with a hollow back (touching or not touching the floor with your head, choose the most comfortable position), fix the arms and try to do the chest shimmy.
The most beautiful manner to descend to floor work and to come back to the feet
It is very beautiful to do using one knee and performing a belly wave or arms movements at the same time (picture 3).
Descending using two knees: bend your knees on demi-point with a straight back, put your knees on the floor (picture 4), lay the feet down and sit down (picture 1), lie down supporting yourself with arms or without support (owning to the abdominal muscles). Standing up is to fulfill in the same order. It should look easily and effortless, which you can achieve by training.
«Gypsy lowering» is a lowering from standing position to the position shown in picture 2. It is rather dangerous even for experienced dancers. Here we shall not consider the technique of lowering.
Movements on knees and in a sitting position
In the full-front position, the following movements look in the most advantageous way: figures of eights, plates, sliding, maya, waves, hip swinging, chest, arms and shoulders work, pelvic twists, vertical shimmy and hair work.
In the side-face position, you can perform waves and, certainly, arms movements, lie down on your back and rise again.
In the full-back position (picture 5) you can use maya, hips bumps and figures of eight with your hair.
Big body circles are to fulfill in the following way:
Come from the lying position to the sitting position, and backwards, leaning on one arm (picture 6). The circles can be performed fast, without lying down on the back, and slowly, working with your hands. They look in a very showy way.
Movements in the lying position
In this position (picture 7) of great advantage could be hands work, hips shimmy or twists (for the latter, you need to lift the pelvis leaning on your hands), chest shimmy (lift the chest, with a hollow back, you can lean on your vertex). Doing the chest shimmy, try to fix your arms; otherwise, it will look like convulsion! Try not to lie down with your legs in front of the audience. Any other view is admissible.
In the side-face position to the audience (picture 8), a wave looks in a favorable way. You can do it only with your belly or with the whole body, lifting your hips and blades, and a fast diaphragm shimmy.
We can distinguish among three basic positions: leaning on the elbow (picture 9), leaning on a straight arm (picture 10) and leaning on a straight arm, hips up (picture 11). In any of these positions, you can do waves and work with the free arm. Figures of eight with one hip (as if you would do them forward and back) look very favorably in the position shown in picture 11.
Some dancers prefer to do fast shimmy with one leg in the sidelong position. However, if this movement is incorrect, it looks very funny. Not the leg, but the belly is to shimmy! Put the stretched leg on the toes. Tense the hip muscles for the leg to shimmy out of the strain. Afterwards you can enlarge the amplitude, relax the hip and fulfil the movement with your knee. Belly muscles are relaxed and the shimmy is reflected on the relaxed belly muscles.
The following is to avoid:
- Some erotic is without doubt part of the floor work. Be reasonable, avoid cheap vulgarity!
- Choose the right view; do not lie down with open legs toward the audience.
- Make no crab posture! Once I even watched doing push-ups in a crab posture…
- Be careful with leg-splits, they are more appropriate for show bellydance.
- Try to avoid the effect of resemblance between your floor work and gymnastics training.
Think over your costume in advance. A narrow skirt will bound your movements. You will have to learn how to work in a wide skirt to prevent it from getting in a fuss, slipping up, to avoid stepping on it when you rise. The easiest and the most beautiful variant are trousers, or pants. Rehearse in the same costume in that you are going to perform.
© “Oriental” magazine, №1(4), spring 2006.