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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Elsekka, Here I Come

Back to belly dance –
I finally signed up for the Elsekka performance, on the last day of the deadline, along with another classmate.  It was an “I’ll sign up if you sign up” type of thing.  I didn’t want to be the lone beginner out there alongside Miss K and the accomplished advanced student.  I’m still going to be the least adept performer, but at least my classmate has as much stage fright as I do. 
Yes, I’m a bit jittery about it.  Every new snippet of this dance involves something I’ve never done before.  This last section involves standing on the toes, with one foot in front of the other, and bending the knees up and down while at the same time executing hip snaps.  Hip snaps are an elemental belly dance component.  You snap one hip upward, then drop it back down to neutral position.  If you’re wearing a coin belt, the snap is accompanied by a satisfying little jingle.  Of course, all the while you must maintain your posture and arm position, without bobbling around or, God forbid, windmilling.  Oh, there are so many ways to screw up!  And only one way to do it right!
Hip snaps are the easy part.  For me, the hard part is balancing on my toes while doing knee bends.  So last night at the gym I worked a bit on lunges, even though my orthopedic doc said lunges are a knee injury waiting to happen.  To minimize the possibility of tearing loose any knee cartilage, I held on to a piece of equipment as I did knee bends on my toes.  My quads are complaining today, which I take as a sign that the correct muscles got a work out.
Like everything else, mastering this small movement involves repetition, just plain old sweaty practice. 
Not long after I started studying belly dance, I was stymied by a basic step that nobody else in class seemed to have any trouble with.  You stand on one leg, knee bent, and simply point the other leg out and back in.  So all your weight is on one bent leg, albeit briefly.  At that time, my left hip was still bad.  I just didn’t have the strength (plus it hurt like the dickens) to do it.  So I practiced at home by holding onto a chair for support.  Eventually I could do this move without the chair and without pain.   
The happy unintended consequence of this and other belly dance practices is that now my hip is fine, at least 90% of the time.  Belly dance has done more for my hip than physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, and gym workouts put together.  This ought to be studied and written up in medical journals.  Seriously. 

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