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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.




About the Author

Saqra (Seattle, Washington, USA) is a powerful dance artist and a master instructor. Her fluidity, grace, and technical skill is highlighted by her friendly demeanor and clear joy of the dance. She did not inherit the diva gene.

Saqra won titles in Belly Dance USA (Oregon), Belly Dancer of the Year (California), Belly Dancer of the Universe (California), Wiggles of the West (Nevada), and many other competitions. She was voted "Best Kept Secret of 2005" and "Instructor of the Year 2008" by readers of Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra's journey in this dance form began in 1977 and has led her to study with many of the best dancers in the world, including in America, Canada, Turkey and Egypt. Saqra continues to travel and study both in the USA and abroad and prides herself on proper research for anything she teaches. Folklore, fakelore, and stage creativity: all three are valuable, and Saqra clearly presents for each what they actually are. Saqra is constantly expanding her expertise in the traditional ethnic forms of the dance, the modern stage variants, and the continuing evolving fusion techniques, all these areas combined keep her material fresh and current.

Saqra is widely known as an event promoter, musician, music and instructional video producer, and a registered hypnotherapist in the state of Washington. That is enough stuff to start explaining what she has been doing in belly dance since 1977. Visit her at

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California. In the photo, Saqra is holding her Teacher of the Year 2008 Award from Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra with Award



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