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

Belly Dance Tip: Undulations

By Saqra




Common Undulations

All rippling or undulating motions are created the same way — adjacent body parts are moved sequentially, in order, to a new location. Next, they are moved in order back to their original locations if a more continuous rippling motion (undulation) is desired.


If you are rippling your hand you are probably moving:

Forward: 1 wrist, 2 palm, 3 finger tips, then moving

Back 1, 2, 3

This causes the hand to ripple from the wrist to the fingertips. If you want the hand to ripple from the fingertips to the wrist instead then 3 forward, 2 forward, 1 forward and 3 back, 2 back, 1 back.


If you ripple your arm from shoulder to hand you are working with:

Up: 1) shoulder, 2) elbow, 3) back of hand and

Down: 1) shoulder, 2) elbow, 3) palm of hand.

From hand to shoulder all parts are reversed in movement order.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.


In your torso you have:

  • 1) chest and 2) stomach (good for floorwork to avoid the air-hump look);
  • 1) stomach and 2) hips (the more traditional undulation/sway);
  • 1) chest 2) stomach 3) hips (makes a big, relatively sloppy undulation, but that can be useful at times);
  • 1) diaphragm 2) abdomen

Side torso waves and undulations usually use:

  1. hip slide
  2. rib slide,
  3. shoulder slide

or reversed in order. A single ripple from one end to the other makes a HOT accent for a drum solo.


A basic leg ripple is:

  1. hip forward,
  2. knee forward,
  3. foot forward, then
  1. hip back,
  2. knee back (leg straighten — your knee does not bend backward, I hope),
  3. foot return




Building On the Idea

So, if you have a couple of parts and can move them in order to a new location, and then can move them in order back, you can get some pretty unexpected undulations. Here are some ideas to explore:

  • You can undulate your fingers, hands, elbow to fingertip, or shoulder to finger tip.
  • The undulations can go either up and down, or side to side.
  • You could move from a neck slide to the top of your head. From top of your head to your chest, to hips, to ground, and in reverse.
  • Your legs ripple forward and back and sideways.
  • And, of course your torso as above.
  • Rippling and undulating on diagonals.

Got a student that can't "get" a basic undulation? Tip 'em off that things are happening in order. It isn't just a random "suck your belly in and up" thing — doing that produces a circle. An undulation is a wave type of movement.

Rolls are for a different day. Undulating movements are just an extra easy and fast tip to write.

Once again this is only my take on this stuff.... your mileage may vary.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.




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