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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

The Importance of the Pelvic Floor

by Zabel

 

For many dancers, floor work can be a daunting and intimidating task. Many of us are conditioned to think that we need hours of training for our core and thigh muscles in order to achieve any kind of success in floor dancing. I’m here to tell you this is a false belief. While it is important to always work on core strength as a belly dancer, you do not need to have quads of steel to produce seamless floor work. All a dancer needs to perform floor work is an understanding of her pelvic floor: how to find it, control it, and utilize it in her dancing.

The secret to non-strenuous floor work lies deep in the pelvic region. This is a muscle group we really only visit when we go to the doctor or attend a Pilates class. The muscle group I am referring to is that of the pelvic floor muscles. This group of muscles is located deep in the pelvis, extending from the pubic bone to the back and side walls of the pelvis.

PHOTO CREDIT: The photo to the right is a self-portrait by Zabel, using a camera on a tripod with a timer.

It is fairly easy to find and isolate your pelvic floor muscles. Those of you who take Pilate’s know this isolation as a kegel. For the rest of us, we know how to isolate this muscle by stopping the flow of urine (for example, when you need to pee in the cup for the doctor). In order to find and isolate your pelvic floor you can in fact practice stopping the flow of urine a few times to get used to the muscle group. Please do not do this regularly! It is not an actual exercise to strengthen your pelvic floor and can in fact be unhealthy to continually stop the flow of your urine.

Zabel

The next step is to find the muscles on your own without assistance. Think of pulling your pelvic floor up into your body instead of just squeezing it tight. Imagine that a gold light is guided up through your pelvic floor straight through the center of your body and up through your head. This light supports and guides you and will actually strengthen your pelvic floor and prepare the muscle for floor work. Each time you do a Kegel exercise or guide this light, hold it for increasingly longer periods of time. Then go back and practice applying more pressure with each Kegel. This is something you can work on anywhere at any time with fairly little concentration. Just think, you could be preparing for floor work at your work desk answering e-mails!

The pelvic floor is essential to use for floor work because it is a much stronger and steadier than the quadriceps (thigh muscles). A woman's pelvic floor is naturally stronger than that of men because it is one of the major muscle groups used for birthing. The last thing a dancer wants is to finish a set of beautiful floor moves in a performance, then get off the ground all spaghetti-legged. When you engage your pelvic floor and use that muscle group, your quads will not tire out so quickly. Therefore, you will be able to finish your floor work and complete your dance with confidence.

When you are ready to try some floor work utilizing your pelvic floor, start with some very basic floor movements. Come down to the floor on your knees. Gently and slowly sit to one side engaging, and then squeezing, your pelvic floor muscles all the way down. Rise up on your knees and repeat to the other side. Try a kneeling Turkish twist supporting with your pelvic floor. Practice ascending and descending from the ground holding with the pelvic floor. It is important to remember that you should always have these muscles engaged, but when you perform any type of level change or floor work you should squeeze your pelvic floor instead of holding your quads tight. You will feel more successful and solid throughout your whole performance. Keep practicing and have fun!

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Karen Rollins.

Zabel

 

 

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Acknowledgements

In an ever-changing landscape, dance has been the thing that has served as a foundation for Zabel in her life. Throughout her dance career, Zabel has received formal training in many dance forms, but none that has been so deeply rooted in her soul as belly dance.

Zabel has been dancing all her life. She started as a budding ballerina at age three. From there, Zabel began her dance study learning the precise technique of tap, jazz, ballet, modern dance, Highland, and Irish step, as well as many forms of swing dance. The truest form of dance Zabel has been trained in is belly dance.

Zabel started her most serious belly dance training in 2005 with local dance instructors. She then went on to form a high school program to teach teenage girls how to love their bodies through the ancient art form of belly dance. Zabel won the Nancy O Award and Scholarship for her work with the girls at Souhegan High School. She then continued her belly dance study under the wise and nurturing eye of Lorraine Lafata of the Goddess Dancing.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Karen Rollins.

From the Sacred Source Studio with Lafata, Zabel continued her dance study at the University of New Hampshire as a dance major. Zabel continues to study from top dancers in the industry, including Petite Jamila and Zoe Jakes.

Zabel performs and teaches regularly in the Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire Seacoast regions.

For more information about Zabel and her work you can contact her directly at Zabel@zabelbellydance.com or visit her website: www.zabelbellydance.com .

Zabel

 

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