Monday, July 5, 2010

Walk Like an Egyptian Animal

Last night, I spent an hour working on camel walks; driving myself crazy trying to figure out some unfamiliar footwork variations.

Camel walks are a jazz step that I used to look at and wonder “how the heck do they make their legs do that?”

Here is the video that first inspired me to learn them. It’s from the 2009 Old School dance battle in Sweden pitting jazz dancers (the Harlem Hot Shots) versus hip hop dancers (Streets R us). One of the gals from the Harlem Hot Shots enters the arena by doing some very slick camel walks at :53 seconds into the clip, then breaks into some mean squat charleston (which is next on my list to learn).

I recommend watching the rest of the series too. It’s a great battle.
It’s that “how the heck?” feeling that inspired me to watch this video over and over (and over) until I could do it myself.

The problem with this video (besides the music) is that you don’t get too much instruction; you have to figure it out by watching him. (Just remember that no matter what it looks like, you step one foot after the other. right, left, right, left... ).

Here’s the video that had me camel walking around the room for an hour this time. It’s Stefan and Bethany’s routine from the Jump Session Show at Camp Jitterbug 2010. I’ve always loved their choreography. They have such a loose, relaxed quality to their movements.

I had to watch it over and over (and in slo-mo to be honest) to figure out what they were doing. The camel walks start at 1:38.

Here’s what I figured out: they did 8 counts to the right, then 8 counts to the left. They shuffle and shift their feet a bit differently than I’m used to, which is what took me so long to figure out.

Now that I think about it, it’s that “how the heck?” curiosity that keeps me on the dance floor and keeps me motivated to continue learning. I love to watch videos of great dancers in order to steal fancy footwork, odd figures and swingout variations. I’m constantly inspired by (read: steal from) all the dancers on the floor around me at dances.

The best part about stealing (and learning in general) is “owning” the material and then varying it to make it your own. I’ve spent entire dances with friends coming up with different (and often silly) camel walk variations. In fact, I spent the entire evening before this year’s DCLX figuring out how to do them backwards, just so I could one-up my friends during our camel walk showdown. I think I was beat by KF, who showed us all up by doing an opposing shoulder isolation with her camel walks. (It looks as weird as it sounds).

Now I have to figure out something new by the next time I see them!


  1. The badass in the Swedish video would be Jessica Lennartsson. She won the solo charleston competition at Camp Jitterbug this year! (And she is so ridiculously adorable)

  2. Thanks, Breanna! Yeah, I saw the video of the CJ Solo Jazz Finals on youtube. She has such an amazing quality of movement and I love the way she uses her arms.

  3. Thanks, Breanna!

    I watched a video of the CJ Solo Jazz Finals and was so impressed by her quality of movement. I really like the way she uses her arms.

  4. Hey Michael,
    Here's a video from our Hamfats archives that might help you with camel walks if you still need it.


  5. Hey Tien,

    Thanks so much for the video. I like that it's zoomed in, but wish that it was filmed from behind her.

    I'm a huge fan of the hamfats site, btw. I've chatted a couple times with Randy P... I really need to dance up in Canada sometime.

    Thanks again!