Besides her singing, Shakira's belly dance videos are immensely popular on the web. Setting herself apart from many pop stars, Shakira has taken this ancient form and brought it fully into the modern world in concert after concert as her own version of the dance move.
Ojos Así (English version Eyes Like Yours) was released as a single in 1999 and has proven so popular that it was a staple of Shakira's live tours for years. The song is entirely Middle-Eastern influenced from music to moves, and Shakira performs it while belly dancing, with back-up dancers belly dancing onstage behind her. This clip is a music video in which a young Shakira does variations of snake arms and basic hip lifts, shimmies, camels, the Egyptian, and hip figure eights.
Hips Don't Lie
Hips Don't Lie is a 2006 collaboration between Shakira and Haitian rapper Wyclef Jean with plenty of outside influences and a global mishmash of dance styles. The music video uses some costumes and props from Colombia's Carnaval de Barranquilla, and the explosive music and sexy choreography mix in plenty of belly dancing, Shakira-style. You can find undulations, wicked shimmies, simple hip lifts, backbends with belly thrusts, chest circles, chest lifts, and plain old pelvic thrusts.
Whenever, Wherever is a 2001 hit with some contributions from Gloria Estefan that uses Andean flute music and world beat, a blend of western pop and traditional or world music Shakira favors. The Spanish version, Suerte, was an equally big hit. The music video is a green-screen fantasy with Shakira immersed in locations from the deep sea to a mountain top to the middle of a stampede of horses to a muddy plain. Interspersed with regular rock or hip hop aggressive walks and sexy club-style dancing are quick cuts and brief interludes of Shakira fleshing out her delivery with belly rolls, hip circles, double hip locks and a choo choo shimmy that's borderline twerk.
Perro Fiel is a 2017 music video, a single from Shakira's El Dorado album, with Puerto Rican singer Nicky Jam. A gold-painted Shakira mixes stripper moves with lots of tutting and brief glimpses of chest lifts, undulations, hip drops, exaggerated walking shimmies, double hip locks, hip circles, and an overhead arm move that might have become a head slide if it wasn't cut off. Belly dance hits the strip club in this one about a wild girl, her uninhibited partying and the guy who can't keep up with her.
La Tortura is a single from Shakira's 2006 Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 album and the music video shows Shakira doing her usual dance fusion mix to a reggaeton beat. Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz vocalizes and plays an unfaithful boyfriend in the video. His old girlfriend (Shakira) lives in the building across the street and his glimpses of her through the window trigger flashbacks of their romance. Most of the belly dance moves -- chest lifts, chest circles, pelvic thrusts, camels, hip drops, undulations, reverse undulations, figure eights -- are coated in what looks like crude oil as Shakira undulates on a rooftop covered in the stuff. Slick belly dance to a reggae beat…works for Shakira.
Shakira Shakes It
Official music videos reveal just a fraction of the Shakira belly dancing that's been captured on tape. Her moves are so iconic that fans compile videos to track the shimmies and undulations throughout her career. She uses belly dance to punctuate her exuberant multimedia performances and spice up her music videos. Her technique is always mixed with other influences, so you have to look sharp to catch those hits of belly dance that send the fans into a frenzy.
- Snake arms: For the snake, the arms are down and relaxed. Lift the right shoulder, then the elbow, then the wrist. Drop in the same order - shoulder, elbow wrist. As you drop the right shoulder lift the left shoulder. Alternate sides in a fluid move.
- Chest lift: Arms out adds power to the lift, with your chest up (not collapsed), feet flat and knees together, slightly bent. Lift the rib cage high toward the ceiling. The shoulder blades slide back and down. Release the chest. Repeat, using the upper abs to contract on the lift and release on the drop.
- Hip lift: This is just a simple up and down movement. With both feet on the floor and knees slightly bent, raise the right hip. Lower it as you raise the left hip, Lower it and continue alternating hips.
- Shimmy: Rapid hip lifts create the shimmy. You need great control to stay on beat and keep the pace really really fast.
- Hip drop: Add some drama. Right foot flat on the floor, left foot just in front of it with heel lifted. Knees bent, arms out chest high. Straighten the left leg pushing the left hip up. Drop the left hip to the level of the right hip. Repeat. Usually done very exaggerated or very fast.
- Egyptian: Put your feet together with knees bent, and step-touch the right foot to the floor in front. Push the right hip sharply up on a diagonal as you step, Then drop the hip as you step back, feet together. Alternate left and right. The hip lifts and twists on each step. Arms may be stylized, elbows bent, palms joined.
- Choo choo shimmy: Place your feet together, flat on the floor, knees bent, shuffle sideways keeping the knees bent and the feet parallel. Your hips will move from side to side naturally. Exaggerate the hip moves for a more dynamic shimmy. Shakira takes tiny steps in place to keep it moving onstage.
Shakira is a megastar with an array of talents she's corralled into a winning persona. The belly dancing was a stroke of pure genius -- it's given her huge hits and an enduring stage presence as a very sexy, very gifted entertainer. If you're inspired by her music videos or concerts, check out a belly dancing class. Once you discover how challenging it is, you'll have even more respect for the tricky business of shaking and shimmying while singing.