HI! Remember a year ago when I posted how frustrated I was, because I wasn’t satisfied with my upper body isolations like pops and circles, because I’m of the smaller chested variety? I remember lots of people telling me if I just did them “correctly” that all would be well, because it’s the same for everyone. Well, all of you that said that - you were right, and in a way, wrong, too!
I learned over the year, through my own experiences and through others, that “correct” isn’t the same for everyone. Yes, that’s right. Punch me in the nose if you want. But if you have a larger chest, and you stick it out as far as you can, or shimmy it, it WILL look like a bigger movement than if someone like me does the exact same movement. Because guess what? It’s the laws of physics and mechanics at work! It’s logic!
If you are bigger chested, your actual muscle movement can be smaller, and it is generally more controlled, as all of you ladies know. That’s because your girls have a life of their own, and keep moving even after the muscles stop the movement. I have been told that shoulder shimmies are a total bitch for you gals at times (although everyone’s different). Although you always look amazing to me, I’ve been told by many of you that it can at times be a challenge.
If you are smaller chested, it has to be exaggerated. It just DOES. It is possible, and it can look super cool. But fear not, all you members of the itty bitty titty committee, who don’t have all your costumes padded - you CAN still do it. It just takes more movement in the ribcage, possibly a bit more shoulder movement (depending on the move and your style), and a different kind of strength - larger breasted ladies have to have muscle strength to support the weight as they do the moves and to control the movement well, and smaller breasted women need more spine flexibility to make up for the visual difference and the muscle strength to make the chest circles larger, and the pops more defined, sharp, and large. (I am only talking in more detail about ITTC (Itty Bitty Titty Committee) girls because of personal experience, not out of preference - both are perfect. But they are DIFFERENT.) This all, of course, takes a ton of practice, drilling the moves, and making sure you’re gradually working on strength and flexibility of your whole upper body - in other words, invested time.
I’m writing this because I KNOW there are dancers like me out there who are thinking at each class and practice, “wtf? I’m doing it exactly as my teacher/troupe leader is saying to, but it looks different on me than on him/her!” If you’re strong, you practice regularly, and it still looks different, keep in mind that everyone’s bodies are different, and you might have to modify - especially if you’re doing a group piece where you all need to match perfectly. This article really relates to male dancers as well, for obvious reasons.
If this has been an issue for you, I’d recommend really looking at dancers for a while, seeing the difference in muscle movement for, say, Frank Farinaro compared to a generously endowed female dancer who does tribal fusion. It’s. So. Different. Get on YouTube and check out all your favorite dancers - notice the differences in upper body spinal movement, and you’ll get what I’m saying. Now to qualify this, every dancer’s body and style are different, so there WILL be exceptions. I’m just talking in generalities, with the idea it might encourage some of you. You’re not crazy, you CAN do it, you just have to compensate one way or the other. Compensate isn’t even the right word for it, since it makes it sound like there’s something wrong with it unless you’re perfectly average. But you will have to do a slightly different movement set than others with different body types.
Another aspect of this I want to just touch on is ATS and tribal fusion posture. The posture of our dance is one HUGE difference from Egyptian or cabaret style belly. We are rooted in a posture that should be closer to flamenco - exaggerated, proud, and arched, with lifted, stroooong arms, a la RB or Carolina Nericcio. Carolina, I believe, is the one who introduced this posture, and I love it. So if you are a cab or other style of bellydancer, this may not relate as hugely to you as to tribal fusion and ATS dancers - because your posture is more natural and relaxed, and that might make the boob issues slightly less crazy. I don’t know, I’ve never done anything but tribal fusion, although I love and respect other forms for sure. Tribal fusion and ATS dancers are expected to have those tatas front and center, and proudly displayed for all the world to see - so it’s really hard for some of us to make sure it’s just right. Challenging in a group of mixed body types, which we frequently do dance in, ATS dancers pretty much exclusively. And, mixed with all of that, the idea of it is not flirting or even necessarily sexual - it’s that we’re showing, displaying really, self love, self confidence, pride. Sometimes fierceness. That showing of the chest is supposed to radiate power. So it’s a really important part of tribal anything.