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

Dear Shira


Dear Shira:

How Do I Shimmy & Walk
At the Same Time?



The Question

Dear Shira:

What is the trick to shimmying and walking at the same time? My hip shimmy looks great when I'm standing still, but as soon as I try to walk with it, I look completely awkward!

--Total Klutz



Shira Responds

Dear Klutz,

I used to have trouble with exactly that same thing, so I know what you mean! Here's how I conquered the walking shimmy....

Step 1

First, get completely comfortable shimmying in place. (For those who are still working on this, stand with your feet a few inches apart, relax your knees so that they bend slightly but not enough to cause any tension in your legs, and then jiggle the flab on the backs of your legs. That's a basic hip shimmy!)

Step 2

Get your hip shimmy started, and while shimmying, s-l-o-w-l-y shift your weight onto just one foot. Keep both feet on the floor for balance, just absorb an increasing amount of weight onto one foot until all your weight is on it. Then, just as slowly, shift your weight evenly back to both feet, and then s-l-o-w-l-y shift your weight to the other foot. Just stand in place, and practice shifting weight back and forth while shimmying.

With practice, you should reach a point where you don't need to consciously spend any time with your weight evenly across both feet any more — you should be able to just shift from one foot to the other as you stand in place.

Step 3

Repeat Step 2, but when you shift your weight all to one foot, lift the other foot completely off the floor and keep the shimmy going. Then return your foot to the floor, shift your shimmying weight over to it, and raise the other foot while still shimmying. Keep this going until you can do it with confidence.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Pixie Vision, Glendale, California.

Step 4

Once you've mastered being able to stand on one leg and keep your shimmy going, you're ready to try walking with it. Stand in place on both feet, and start your shimmy. Shift your weight over to one foot and keep the shimmy going. Now, still shimmying, pick the other foot up off the floor and step forward. When ready, transfer your weight to it and step forward with the other foot. At first, you'll probably want to take slow, jerky, deliberate steps, shimmying a while on the supporting foot until you're ready to take the next step. Continue practicing this until you can walk smoothly at a normal pace.

Good luck with your shimmies!


PS: Some dancers solve this problem by learning how to do a hagalla shimmy instead. Ask your teacher if she can show you how to do it. (Many people call this a three-quarter shimmy, but I think "three-quarter shimmy" is a poor name for it because the music that people use it with is definitely not in three-quarter time. That name is misleading, so I avoid using it. I prefer to call it a "triplet" shimmy because that's the name of the musical technique that it goes with.)




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About this Column

Shira has received many questions from readers over the years related to various aspects of the dance. In this column, she picks some of the more interesting ones to answer publicly. Details contained in the questions are sometimes removed or disguised to protect the anonymity of the person who asked the question.



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