Glossary of Moves

This section is not definitive. It is an indication of moves I use and teach. Within the belly dance community the same move may have several different names and the same name may refer to quite different moves.

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African Circle See Tilting Hip Circle.
Axle Rose A combination of a under vertical hip eight with a contra vertical eight of the torso. The body undulates sideways one side then the other - for instance, ribs move right and as they slide to the left the hips move right. Also known as a sidewinder.
Big Hip Circle An extended version of a Horizontal Hip Circle. That is, done with a wider stance and with greater displacement of the hips.

There are also versions which include dropping the torso with the circle.

Donut See Big Hip Circle.
Flat Hip Circle See Horizontal Hip Circle.
Flutter A diaphragm shimmy. The diaphragm moves in and out quickly - not driven by the breathing.
Hip Circles There is a wide range of hip circles. For instance:
  • Horizontal hip circles - ie a flat circle parallel to the floor (ie circle on the transverse or horizontal plane).
  • Single vertical circle - a misnomer as both hips are moving but one is presented to the audience as it performs a circle up, back, down and front (ie circle on the sagittal plane).
  • Tilting hip circles - like a cup with lower back extension
  • Vertical hip circles - no lower back extension, like a plate balancing on its edge with the surface against the belly (ie circle on the frontal or coronal plane).
Horizontal Hip Circle A hip circle in which the hip slides to the side, front, side and back transferring the weight rather than tilting (ie a circle on the transverse or horizontal plane). There is minimal (or no) vertical movement and requires good oblique control.

Also known as an Oriental Hip Circle as it is the base circle for raqs sharqi - as opposed to a tilting circle. As well as the small version there is an extended version with more displacement.

Here is how to do a horizontal hip circle

Layer The practice of performing multiple movements at the same time with different parts of the body. This needs to reflect the complexity of the music.

A common layer in belly raqs® is to add shimmy. For example a shimmy over a figure eight or a shimmy while walking. Other layers include arms, undulations, shoulders, direction changes and manipulation of props.

Maia See over vertical eight.
Omi See umi.
Oriental Hip Circle See Horizontal Hip Circle.
Quiver A tense shimmy. The driving mechanism is the same but the muscles are tensed to create a fine movement which then travels through the body.

Also see reverb, shimmy and vibration.

Reverb(eration) Reverb is the body continuing to move as the result of another movement. Different from a shimmy in that only the primary movement is driven, the reverb just happens.

Also see quiver, shimmy and vibration.

Shimmy A fast repetitive movement with relaxed muscles in time to the music. Any part of the body can be shimmied. Most common in belly dance are hips and shoulders.

The mechanism of the shimmy can vary widely. For instance hips can be shimmied up and down driven primarily by the later flexors, quads or glutes. Each driver imparts a different look and has its own issues when used to layer over other moves. Hips can also be shimmied on a twist or with a pelvic drop. (See Hip Shimmies and Shoulder Shimmies for more detail)

Also see flutter, layer, quiver, reverb and vibration.

Sidewinder See Axle Rose.
Tilting Hip Circle The "natural" hip circle - like a cup. Weight stays central. There is some contraction on the working side, and the lower back extends at the back of the circle.

Also known as the African Circle (cf Oriental Circle)

Umi Used to describe either a tilting circle or a vertical circle. I prefer to use it for just the vertical circle.
Vertical Circles There are two main versions - one on the frontal or coronal plane (ie side, up, side, down) and the other in the sagittal plane (ie up, back, down, forward). For hips, the latter is usually displayed as a single circle (although the other hip is also rotating)
Vertical (Hip) Eight - over or downward Also known as a maia. The hip traces a figure eight, starting up, pushing out, scooping under then repeating on the other side. A bit like riding a bike by standing on the pedals. There is no twisting or forward or backwards dimension.
Vertical (Hip) Eight - under or upward The hip traces a figure eight, starting down, moving out, scooping up then repeating on the other side. There is no twisting or forward or backwards dimension.
Vibration Not a shimmy in that it is not driven nor in time with the music but rather is generated by muscular tension.

Also see quiver, reverb and shimmy.


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Updated by JEWEL