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Bellydance Basics: Arms and Shoulders

Basic Positioning tricks for Arms During Bellydance

I hope everyone has been working on their posture and learning to walk again as I wrote about in the article that introduced some of you to the fun and fine art of belly dance. Posture may be one of the most important aspects of not only belly dance but all types of fitness, so it is my hope that it will not only increase your skills and interest in dance, but is all that you do. Maintaining an upright and straight posture when walking, sitting, and working out engages the core muscles and allows the body to move as it is supposed to as opposed to being all crunched up or noodle like.

This article will focus a bit more on some dance and specifically belly dance posture and information however. Today, we turn our attention to our arms and shoulders. This is one of my favorite things to teach new belly dance students because there is a built in workout that always leaves them grumbling a little about how much effort goes into just standing still.


We discussed the shoulders a little bit when we covered the basics of posture but there is always more room for improvement here. As you read this take some time to position yourself in front of a mirror. This does not have to be a full length mirror, and in fact, it helps if it is not. Focus on your bust, meaning in the classical sense, not just look at your chest. Straighten your back, level your chin so you are looking straight into the mirror. Good, now roll your shoulders forward. No matter how perfect your posture is, simply pushing your shoulders in and forward closes off your body. This not only looks terrible and causes others to perceive you as shy or depressed, it is also not good for your back and arms. Now, roll your shoulders back and open your body with a deep breath. Already you look more confident. I can almost guarantee you feel better as well. This is where your shoulders should be when dancing, walking, sitting, just being.

Arms and Elbows

Moving back from the mirror a bit more and looking further to the arms there are some many things to improve upon that can be the difference between looking like a novice or presenting yourself as a pro. In any style of dance having arms that hang limp at your sides is not attractive. In bellydance in particular elbows should remain slightly bent at all times no matter where the arm is positioned. This will allow for some beautiful geometric shapes to be created by the body. When bending the elbows pointing them out from the body will create a more masculine line – think bodybuilders. Directing the elbows to the back, not in towards, the body offers a more feminine look.

If you are already getting tired this is no surprise. Next time you watch a dancers take a good close look at the shape of her arms. Are they loose and wiggly, or is there and energy that holds them in place even when your attention is meant to focus on other movements.

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