Belly Dance History
Belly Dance known as Raks al-sharqi means
"Dance of the Middle East," and Raks al-baladi means "Dance of the People." Belly
dance is one of the oldest dances in creation. The name belly dance was changed
from Raks al-sharqi to belly dance once it entered into the United States and became a part of the western world. Belly dance goes back as far as the 1800s and further. Women as well as men have been puzzled for decades about the art of this dance. There’s a myth that belly dance is a dance for men. No, not true at all! Back in history, belly dance was performed
and men were not allowed to come watch a belly dancer. Raks al- Sharqi (Belly
dance) was a dance performed for fertility to help in child birth, it was a dance performed before families of royalty (kings
& queens) that would hire a belly dancer to perform for birthday celebrations, family entertainment, and weddings just
to name a few. Belly dance is a dance of art, and appreciation, and it’s
a dance that should be performed correctly with gracefulness and respect for the art.
It should not be performed in public amongst a crowd as if you were dancing before your husband in the bedroom behind
closed doors. This is not a way to portray the beautiful and classy art of belly
dance. Most female belly dancers who respect the art of belly dance would not
perform for bachelor parties or parties where only men are present. When performed
correctly it’s a dance of classiness, eloquent, and gracefulness, it’s also mesmerizing, spell-bounding, eye catching,
There are several types of belly dance:
– (Egypt) Is the foundation of belly dance and in the Middle East and known as Raqs Al Sharqi. This dance is also known as Danse Orientale or Danse Du Ventre in French and it is known for dance
of the stomach. Egyptian (oriental) dance is known for its gracefulness, hip
movements on the ‘down’ meaning “hip drops, “shoulder shimmies, snake arms, facial expressions when
feeling the music, isolations & undulations. It also has Folkoric moves and
several props are used such as the zills (known as Sagats in Arabic), cane, veil, Chamadon, candles, sword, etc.
– (Turkey) Is similar to Egyptian dance, but it’s a bit faster and the moves are a lot larger, this dance
is also full of lots of folkoric movements. Props as finger cymbals called Zills
are used in most Turkish style dances.
(Lebanon) Is similar to Egyptian style, it has lots of lower hip movements, the lower hip movements are done on the ‘up’
meaning keeping the hips lifted instead of dropping the hips. This dance also
has lots of shimmies, it’s mostly performed with wearing heals and props are often used.
Persian – (Persia Iran) Known for lots of shoulder movements, head
movements, and eye contact are used a lot in this dance. Snake arms are also
used. There are not many hip movements to this dance. The dance props include
wine vases, silk scarves, and the rose flower. This dance is also known for its
- Belly dance movements are similar to Egyptian style. Morocco belly dance collects
all music, steps & styles of each dance and chooses a variety of most steps presenting them in creative choreographies
to their origins. Morocan belly dance was used for fertility rituals in certain
tribes of Morocan and in Saudi Arabia. Some dance movements were used to prepare
brides for marriage or the cane dance. It’s good luck to hire a belly dancer
for a wedding in Morocco.
American Style – Tribal dance is known for it’s
earthy style and improvisational moves. It’s a variety of sharp & crisp
movements and lots of body isolations. It’s also known for it’s real
snaky like arms, and turns, and backbends. It’s performed as solo or as a group (group improv). Group improvisation for example, is when the leader of the group queue’s the group with a particular
move and allows the group to follow her lead of the movement that she just queued, or at times individual interpretations
are done. The tribal style costumes are worn with lots of jewelry, feathers,
coins, tassels, belts, cut off tops ending at the lower bra area, and makeup is applied heavily.