Below you will find tips for using a cane and several movement descriptions for special movements used specifically for cane dances.
Isolations while balancing
You can do any of the isolations normally done in Middle Eastern Dance while balancing a cane. There are some isolations that are more interesting when you balance the cane on other parts of your body. Try balancing your cane on your head first, try doing shimmies (shoulder and hip), hip lifts, hip circles, undulations, etc... you will find that the moves are essentially the same, the difference is that you need to keep your head as steady as possible. If you don't notice much difficulty balancing the cane while doing the moves then you have your isolations down really well. Another place to balance your cane while doing isolations is on your shoulder, if you lift your arm it will create a crevice which will help hold the cane. You can balance the cane on your chest although it will only stay if your lying down or doing a backbend. Try balancing your cane on your hand, it will balance best if it is placed below the knuckles on the back of the hand. Then you can try balancing your cane on your hip. You can balance the cane on the stomach if your lying down or bending way back but never standing. You can also balance the cane on the top of your thigh if lean back far enough, touching the foot to the floor or if your kneeling down on one knee. If you plan ahead of time you can actually apply a little grip cream, hairspray, or liquid latex to the parts of your body which you will be balancing on and to the part of the cane that will be touching your skin. This will create friction and help the cane "stick" in place better instead of sliding around. Although you don't see many people balancing the cane on other parts of the body (it's not someting done much in traditional cane dancing) it has been gaining some popularity amongst those who also use a sword or scimitar in their routines because the fundamentals of balancing the two props are essentially the same.
Spinning, Twirling, and Turning
Figure Eight Swing This is done holding the base of the cane (the straight part not the curved handle) in one hand and then swinging it down towards one hip, back around and up, then swinging down towards the other hip and back up. This should create a large figure eight shape in front of you. In which you are drawing the " 8" on it's side with each loop swinging back on the sides as if someone bent the "8" down the middle. The arm should be close in front of your body and occasionally dancers support the arm with their free hand, although it's better if you just fold that across the chest under the bust. This keeps the free hand out of the way so it doesn't get smacked with the cane. One Hand Twirl Start with one arm out in front of you balancing the sword on your hand. Now while balancing the sword flip your hand over so that the sword is now in your palm as opposed to the back of your hand. Now turn the hand inwards all the way around till you can no longer turn either hand nor arm. Then, raise the arm and sword around and over the head (this should naturally cause the arm to un-twist, if it doesn't then your going the wrong way) and back down the side and around in front. Balanced On Head Turn This is actually a lot less complicated then it may seem. If you have tried turning with a cane on your head you have probably found that it doesn't start the turn at the same time as you do and that usually leads to it veining or falling off your head. Well, this will help you to turn much easier. If you will be turning to your right(clockwise) you will start with your right arm up. If you will be turning to your left (counter-clockwise) you will start with your left arm. Now most of us at least know some of the basic elements of physics such as "a body in motion will stay in motion," so when you turn you raise your arm, but make sure it is in front of the cane. This way the cane will get it's little push, so to speak, so it can "stay" in motion. After the initial turn you may lower your arm if you want bcause the cane will continue to turn with you. When you wish to stop you simply raise your other arm that way your cane(which is still in motion) will be forced to stop with you. Balanced On Shoulder Turn This is fairly simple, all you do is balance the cane on you shoulder, raise your arm for extra support and you're ready to turn. However, you should start the turn slowly to get the cane in motion or it may lose it's balance. After the initial turn you can speed up. Basic Twirl Holding the cane in one hand simply twirl it around at the side in a vertical circle, by holding the end of the cane and circling the wrist in either direction. Keep your hand somewhat loose as the cane needs to roll around a little in order to make the circle. Basic Egyptian With Cane Balanced On Hip Just balance the cane on your hip and do basic Egyptian. The only catch is, you will have to do it much slower than usual to keep the cane balanced. You may also have to lean back a little further to get the right angle to make balancing work. Airplane Turn This is done by dipping the cane down in the front and lifting up in the back. Hold it with both hands, one hand towards each end. Then continue to perform the airplane (barrel) turn. Circle Over Head Turn With the cane in both hands over your head make a horizontal circle keeping it parallel to the floor. Now you can turn around yourself doing this. It will look even better if you can get your body to make hip and/or rib circles in the opposite direction while doing this. Doing variations with the height of the cane and diameter of the over head circle can add variation and interest such as starting by creating a large sweeping circle from the hip up and around the head and then doing a series of progressivly smaller and faster circles above the head until the cane is centered above the head and no longer circling. Helicopter Twirl 1 Simply twirl the cane by its base in a circle above your head like a helicopter blade. It involves rotating the wrist. Helicopter Twirl 2 This is nearly the same as the above mentioned twirl except in this one you hold the base (straight part) so that the handle (curved part) comes down in around you. It will make a rounded cone like shape as you twirl it. It involves rotating the wrist and shifting the grip on the hilt as it comes around full circle.
Taps, Thrusts, and Poses
Twirl & Tap This movement is a variation on the basic twirl. It involves a 1 twirl with a tap then a 1 twirl with a pause(or over head circle). Start by standing with the weight on your left foot, right ball of the foot resting on the floor. The right foot should be in front of you. There will be a weight change with this in which you will be rocking back and forth so make sure you feet are far enough in front and behind you to do this. With the right hand twirl the cane rotating the wrist so that the circle starts with the cane up comes all the way around than comes around forward and points straight in front to tap the handle (curved part) against the floor. You should lean forward and shift your weight onto the right foot while doing this. Then reverse that shift the weight back onto the right as you pull the cane back up and twirl in the opposite direction (backwards) and then pause when it is straight up again. You could also pull it back and up then circle around the head and pause before beginning the sequence again. Other variations may include only the forward twirl and tap then pulling the cane back up or into another position. Basic Taps Canes are essentially tapped one of two ways. The first is to tap the handle by extending the arm straight while holding the base. The second is to tap the base while holding the handle which is usually done holding the handle with both hands. This is usually an accent to a posed stance as opposed to part of a movement sequence. Usually the base tap (as opposed to the handle tap) is seen at the beginning of a sequence, before starting to move around, as an accent to semi-stationary drum solo (taxim) work, or at the end as a final accent to an ending pose. Handle taps are common throughout a cane dance and are also used to accent poses. Hip / Cane Thrust This is one of the simplist cane movement combinations. Essentially you hold the can in both hands one hand towards each end and then you perform hip accents in which you use the cane to follow and accentuate. For Example the right hip goes out and out so the cane thrusts out and out to the same side. It is also common to rotate the cane (like what your feet d to pedals of a bike) in small circular motions in front of you while doing a walking shimmy before, between, or after these thrust combinations. Over the Shoulder This is a very common cane enterance move. It works especially wel with step-touch patterns and basic Egyptian (and varitions). Prop the cane up over the shoulder so that the handle (curved part) is behind you. The base should be resting in the groove between the thumb and index finger. This looks nice with both hands together (palm to back) cane resting in the groove of both hands or one handed with the other hand resting on the hip. To add more playfulness to this you can shift the base a little left and right with your hand(s) as you walk. Leaning on the Cane This is often done as a pose and may follow or be followed by a base tap. Usually the dancer will rest both hands on the top of the cane and lean forward a little (possibly sticking the hip or butt out slightly. There is little to no actual weight being rested on the cane though. It is only at best percieved weight. You may also have the cane out to the side resting one hand on the handle while the holds up your hair from the base of the neck or rests on the hip. Again make sure you are not putting much actual weight on the cane (especially if it is a bamboo one (most decorated and foil wrapped ones will be bamboo).
Pivot Hop This move is commonly used when dancing with a cane and is also seen in some sword dances. It can be used with any style of bellydance but is most commonly used in folkloric styles such as Saidi or Baladi. It is described here with using a cane. Arms should be held high overhead with each hand near one end of the canes ends. Shoulders should be relaxed. Bend at the knees and then hop up by shifting the weight to the left foot while pushing back with the right foot. You should end up pivoting on the left foot so that your body will end up being on a diaginal to the right. Next hop up shifting the weight to the right foot by pushing back with the left foot, pivoting on the right. You should now be on a diagonal to the left. You can lift and drop the shoulders to create more bounce and involve the whole body. When you complete one side should immediately begin the next, there should be no pause. I personally think "hop right, hop left, hop right, hop left," you can also count it as 1 and 2 and 3 and 4. With each count being the being the beginning of a hop. Saeedi Hop The Saeedi Hop is another movement commonly used in folkloric style dances like Saeedi and Baladi and is a commonly used movement when using a cane. Start by standing in basic position with feet parallel and about hip width apart. Knees are soft and pelvis is tucked slightly under you. Chest should be lifted and shoulders should be down and back. Keep arms and hands soft and up above the head, each hand should be near one of the cane ends. Now put all the weight on your right foot and rest the left on the ball of the foot. Sweep the left foot across in front of you lifting the knee up towards right. Now, bend the right knee a little and then hop up off the floor. Then gently let the left foot swing back down and immediately switch you weight to the left foot and sweep the right foot across in front of you lifting the knee up towards the left hopping on the right foot. Gently bring the right down andcontinue to alternate this pattern right and left. If you have knee problems and cannot handle the impact on your knee from the hop you can alternativley lift and then drop the heel of the foot instead of pushing off into a hop. Other things you can do There are many other things you could do with a cane so play around with it and see what you can do Some other things that are done with this prop are bringing it up or down the body following along with an undulation, in duets resting the cane on your partner and forming unique back to back or paired sequences and poses involving crossing the canes. Use you imagination and try drawing inspiration from others for new movements and patterns.