It’s beautiful outside, but you’re inside and you need to practice! How can we make the best use of our space when we are at home?
There are definitely a lot of things to consider when we are practicing at home. The first thing I would love for you to consider is to breathe. It allows us to focus and ground ourselves. It also gives us room to breathe during our very busy day and a chance to focus on what the task is at hand. And right now, that task at hand is dancing! Take a moment to breathe in deeply and let it out all the way.
Set up your video camera
If there are no pictures or videos it didn’t happen right?! One thing that can help you with practicing at home is setting up your video camera and recording yourself practicing, your rehearsal or the dance class your training for at home by yourself. It can help you achieve your goals, hold you accountable, helps you self-correct and self-teach.
When you start to learn the skill of watching your own videos and not going nuts about how you look and the negative stuff, but you detach yourself from the person on the camera and look at it more objectively you can really correct a lot of your techniques. You actually know a lot more than you think you do. You can start to become your own teacher. We don’t always have the opportunity to have someone give us live feedback so the skill of training yourself on how to correct yourself is a really important one.
When you are reviewing your footage you can see mistakes that you keep on making. Now that you can identify it, you can find a solution. Video the entire session, not just the last 3-4 minutes of what you were working on. While you’re working on something it’s important to see it in process and it’s really hard to remember once the session is over. Video the lesson, then rewatch it and it will be so much easier to break it down. Plus, you have footage of what you are wanting to accomplish during that time and make sure you are holding yourself accountable to what you want to accomplish.
Bling it up
What’s wrong with dressing for the part? It can make you feel good on the outside and the inside. I always like wearing a little bit of lip gloss and sometimes I even put jewelry on like I’m going somewhere even when I’m not. You can wear your hip scarf with the glitz and glamour or break out a costume you have. If it makes you feel good, do it.
Set goals around your practice
If you really want to be effective and efficient with your time it’s going to be essential to set goals for your practice. You can set 1-2 goals per practice and that is plenty especially if you have a short amount of time to practice like 5 minutes. But even if you have an hour you can really dive into your goals and don’t need to make too many. Keep it small. Remember small changes over a long amount of time makes big impacts.
If you are taking a class with your instructor online your teacher should be instructing you on how to guide your practice at home and what they would like you to accomplish in those sessions so you can bring it back to the next lesson.
Dance like you mean it
How you train is how you are going to perform. If you’re practicing at home and you’re all hunched over and droopy, you need to spruce yourself up and get yourself back into the posture and the feeling of how you want to present yourself when you’re performing. It’s so important because “practice makes permanent.” If you’re feeling less energized, you’re training your body to be “that way” and that’s how it’s going to show up when you perform on stage. Knowing that “practice makes permanent,” we want to practice effectively. Keep that posture correct, use the right techniques, and practice your facial expressions.
The challenge of space
One huge challenge of practicing at your house is space. You either have the space to practice or you don’t. So let’s go over a couple of scenarios that will help you utilize your dancing area to the fullest.
Belly dancing in the Hallway
One area that is probably the most underutilized is your hallway. While hallways don’t tend to be much wider than our shoulders, we don’t have to feel like we are hitting the walls while dancing in there. Maximize the space by turning to the side and practicing down the length of the hallway.
Some of the best things to practice in the hallway:
- Arm paths
- Travel patterns – grapevine
Practicing in a hallway can also help with learning small spaces and understanding boundaries that will help when you’re dancing along the edge of a stage. Turn yourself to the side and take advantage of the space by practicing turns and traveling moves and full stretched out, beautiful arm paths.
Belly dancing in the kitchen
Another place you might find yourself wanting to practice is your kitchen. This area is good for very small traveling patterns as well as isolations that perhaps you would just keep in place. No matter the size of the kitchen, big or small, there are two specific moves you can practice.
One is the shimmies! You can do this while washing the dishes. Just don’t try the one legged shimmy while washing your most precious china. HA! If you’re able to wash your dishes or multitask and still practice your shimmies, then that technique can start to feel more natural in your body because you’re not focusing on it as much while you’re doing it.
The second one is small traveling patterns. The higher you go on your feet, the more you can do in small spaces. When you’re in relève you can get your feet closer together. The minute that you drop down and go into a lower relève you are taking up more area of the floor. When you need to travel smaller, just knock it up into a higher relève so you can do these minute patterns.
If you have a super small kitchen keep your travel movements small and if you have a larger kitchen don’t be afraid to really expand then and take up all the space.
Try belly dancing in the bathroom
Practicing in the bathroom is a whole lot of fun. I know it sounds really weird, but you might not be thinking what I’m thinking. What I’m talking about with practicing and drilling in the bathroom is facial expressions and relaxation. I get this question a lot from students about how to practice relaxing and having natural facial expressions while dancing.
You’ll have a mirror typically in a bathroom so you’re able to see your facial expressions that you’re making. You can also even do it while doing your makeup.
Belly dancing in the bedroom
The bedroom is an interesting area because it typically has the largest piece of furniture in it, which is your bed. So how do we use it to our advantage? If you like to do floor work or like to think outside of the box when learning how to travel, try rolling over your bed. You can practice rolling even though it’s a soft surface instead of a firm one like the floor but you can still practice some moves. You can practice moving from one side of the bed to the other. Or you can travel from one corner to the other.
You’ll also maybe have a mirror in the bedroom which allows you to see yourself practicing your traveling across the bed and can give you some feedback on it.
Belly dancing on carpet
Dancing on carpet can be interesting, especially if you need to make turns. What I found, because my house used to be about 75% carpet, is I could wear socks to help provide a barrier between your foot and the carpet and make turning a little smoother. If you don’t want to wear socks while practicing dancing you can also use your dance shoes on carpet as well. That’s something to consider so that it provides you a mini dance surface in between your feet and the carpet.
If you’re dancing on a floor that doesn’t have carpet you still might consider wearing your socks or dance footwear if you experience pain barefoot. When wearing socks on non carpeted floors I wear yoga socks so there is a little bit of traction and you don’t slip and hurt yourself.
My feet sometimes get super clammy on the smooth surfaces so it’s harder to turn or do a particular travel movement so I take baby powder and pat it onto the bottom of your foot. It will dry up the moisture and provide a soft surface so you can travel across the floor a little easier but you’re not slipping and sliding. Avoid slipping and sliding because then you have to catch yourself at the end of a movement and it can put too much pressure on your knees.
Other ways to practice at home:
When you’re tired, sit and practice your upper body work (chest circles, chest slides, arm circles…). You don’t have to
Check out the video above to see the way I dance in a crowded living room! Follow along with me – Timestamp: 13:00
Don’t let your small space at home deter your belly dancing practice! You can utilize each space in your house for different dance techniques. Get creative in your space no matter what size it is. Enjoy dancing in new spaces around the house and really break out of your normal dance comfort zone. Each space is a fun new place to explore with your belly dance moves and you can really make the most of your home. What’s the craziest place you’ve ever practiced belly dancing? Take your home belly dance practice up a notch with beginning, intermediate or even advanced online belly dancing classes. You can do one day or ongoing classes right from the comfort of your own home!