How to lern Belly Dance

General information:

Many believe that belly dancing is an oldest form of dances taking origin from India to the Middle-East countries. It is a type of dance usually performed, when a woman is being prepared for her marriage. It is usually danced barefooted. Belly dance can be called as a Western term being used for a traditional Arab dance form. In Arabic language, it is known as "raqs sharqi," (oriental dance), or "raqs baladi," meaning dance of country. In Greece, it is called as "tsiftetelli." Raqs baladi is performed by both men and women of any age group for fun and celebration. Raqs sharqi, popular in America is also performed by both men and women.


The costumes used in belly dancing are quite colorful. In early days, the use of jewelry especially the belt of coins was thought to be a symbol of wealth. Other accessories used include the swords, snakes, and huge flaming candles. In Arabic, the costume used for this dance is called as "bedlah," meaning suit, which was adopted by Egyptian dancers in 1930s, later spreading to the rest of the countries.

The bedlah costume consists of a fitted top, (with a fringe of beads/coins), a fitted hip belt, (also with a fringe of beads/coins), and a skirt (straight or circular). In the western world, "veil" is used which is a 3.5-4 yard fabric, prominating the arm movements throughout the dance. In Egypt, the dancers normally use full beaded dresses, designed according to the type of dancing. This type of costume is especially meant for folk dancing and is popular among the European and American countries. Generally, the costume in belly dancing varies with the dance style. The cabaret costume in belly dance usually consists of a hip belt, bra, skirt, with one or more veils. Other jewelry accessories like neck bands, arm coverings, face veils and shoes are considered as optional for the dancers.


It is believed that the belly dancing in America got popularity in about 1893, when for the first time, famous dancer little Egypt performed his dance in Chicago World's Fair. Since 19th century, the belly dancing got much popularity across the U.S and thus whole world. Many belly dance shows are organized all across the world.


The exact origin of belly dance history is debatable.The history of Belly dancing is very old. The accurate information about belly dancing is not available, but there is a mixture of speculations about its history. Belly dancing is a mixture of various cultures including Lebanon, Egypt, Arabic Gulf, Turkey and North Africa. Morroco is thought to have several oral references for its origin, but lacking the fact of true origin of the dance. Some suggest Roma to be its origin, who are thought to spred the dance while traveling, picking up the dance and spreading it around.

Wherever is the origin, this dance has a long and old history in the Middle-East countries. The Middle-East countries have two popular belly dance styles as the "city dance," (including stage, cabaret), and the "country dance," (the regional folk dances), while the western countries use an umbrella form of belly dance, famous for the hip movements. The rhythm used in belly dancing, also varies from one area to the other.


Most of the basic steps and movements in belly dance are circular in motion, usually confined to one part of the body. Like, the movements made by hips would be a "hip circle," and the use of rib-cage will be called as a" chest circle."

Raqs Sharqi: In raqs sharqi, the main focus lies on the hip and pelvic area. Raqs sharqi or "oriental dance, is one of the oldest dance forms in the world. The most important body part used in this style is the "hips." Although this dance is thought to be a female's dance, but men also do perform this dance.

Egyptian style Raqs Sharki: In Egyptian style, although the basic steps remain the same, there is incorporation of ballet into raqs sharqi. In Egypt, there are three main forms of the dance being popular, Baladi, Sha'abi, Sharqi.

Turkish style: Turkish belly dance often called as"tsiftetelli," is more a form of wedding folk music, not actually connected to oriental dancing. Turkish dancers are famous to be more energetic, using finger cymbals known as "zils."

Western: Belly dance in Western world gained popularity in 1893, when "Little Egypt," performed her dance at the World's Fair. The classical Raqs sharqi is still popular in the western world; many dancers have created other forms known as "American Tribal dance."

United States: The popularity of belly dance in the United States dates back to 1950-1960, when the Americans became familiarized with belly dancing. Initially, the dance was performed by the Turkish and Greek dancers, but later on Americans also started learning it. Their interest in belly dancing gave rise to many styles, one of which is the "American -Tribal belly dance."

Male belly dancing: The role of men in belly dancing is debatable. The trend of male performers in this dance started in 60s-70s, by performers in the United-States.
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Post made: 2009-11-04
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