Sick of Sucking?

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Abused patience turns to fury.
Thomas Fuller
(photo from Pinterest page inspiratione)

Once you realize that you’ve fallen in love, the urge to be with the object of your affection is limitless. A dancer in love with bellydance longs for the day when her body is united with movements that feel authentically true to the dance. Style or genre doesn’t have much to do with it, once you make the leap and feel like your body is really bellydancing, you’ll know exactly what I mean. The alternative is feeling frustrated, conscious of your brain telling your body what to do. If you saw Pacific Rim, you might be feeling like you’re piloting the giant robot, but you’re NOT the robot.

I remember vividly the time I made the leap from piloting the hulking robot to being that hulking robot – well, I certainly didn’t feel hulking at that point, but you know what I mean. I was renting studio time during lunch day job. I was practicing a simple skip step. After going with it for several minutes, I began to feel like I was flying a centimeter off the floor and swimming in thick air. What a marvelous feeling!

I’ve been dancing for fifteen years, and it has been around eleven years since that happened. That means I spent four years feeling and looking awkward, but fighting through it in the hopes of a transformation coming. After coaching students for years, I’ve come up with a method to help dancers reach the point of transformation in the least number of years.

I am about to share with you a proven method that will guarantee you will be moving with grace and confidence much more quickly than you expected.

There are three principles:
1. Practice a Daily Ritual
2. Build Scaffolding
3. Obtain the Best Map

Practice a daily ritual
+Pick the length of time you can practice, and stick to it. For building muscle memory, it is better to practice for ten minutes every day than for two hours once a week. When you learn dance, you’re building new pathways in your brain. If you want to etch a path in a road, you travel on it every day. If you only walk on it once a week, your progress will be undone by wind and erosion. So, regardless of if you can practice dance for ten minutes, thirty minutes, or (unrealistically for most people) an hour a day, do it every single day.

+Always start your practice with a warm-up. Not warming up is the quickest way to get discouraged.

+Plan what you will work on. I recommend breaking up a week into a pattern of doing the same exact practice Monday until Wednesday, a different skill set Thursday thru Saturday, and on Sunday working on a little of both. Keep the same content for the following week or do something new, but be sure to come back to that content within at least three weeks before you’ve decided you’ve “grown out” of it.

+Yes, videos are perfect for this. For example, you could do kicking 8, dropping 8, side 8, and side semeha Monday through Wednesday. (my Hip Technique Video will give you a great rundown of these). Thursday through Saturday do jewel, rolling twist, corkscrew, and sitting circle (check out Put the Belly Back in Bellydance for this lineup). On Sunday, do all of them.

So, get started now! Plan out your daily ritual, decide what you can commit and stick to it. Check back next week for the remaining two principles that will teach your body to get you moving in a whole new way!

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9 Responses to Sick of Sucking?

  1. Lisa Webb says:

    Yes! I completely agree, daily practice is what made the most impact for me. And your dvds are the best for at home practice.

  2. Lynn says:

    This is an excellent blog! Posted on Twisted Dance’s page 🙂

  3. Emilia says:

    Aaah, Hannan – your ex-Sultanettes are certainly missing you….

  4. Atisheh says:

    Quick question: is there a reason you recommend three days of the same practice, followed by three days of another, rather than alternating days?

    • hannansultan says:

      So it gets into your muscle memory – if you switch too fast you’ll become “jack of all skills, master of none”. Stick with the same thing too long and you’ll get so bored you’ll puke. So, switching every 3 days, then re-visiting previous skill sets before you feel you’ve outgrown them helps drive those movements into your muscle memory without getting too repetitive.

  5. Wren says:

    Thank you for this blog! I have not been able to make it to a class for a little over a year now. I live about 30 minutes from where classes are held and am having to keep up my learning on my own. I am trying to develop a good solid plan for home practice, so your advice came right on time! I am working with your intermediate hips dvd. Could I do half of the moves on the dvd for 3 days and the other half for the other 3 days?

    The atmosphere of being in a live class is something I really miss. Your live class dvds are my favorite. Keep them coming! Intermediate hips 2?

    • hannansultan says:

      Wren, Ideally you should spend ten minutes on each move so the DVD might need to be spread out over more than 6 days depending on how much time you have for practice each day. But yes, you’ve got the right idea!

  6. Raina says:

    Great ideas, thank you for sharing!

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