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The History of Belly Dancing

Posted by laura on February 5 2014.

I was exploring some of our most popular products and belly dancing came up, then I realised besides watching a few Shakira videos like 7 years ago I’ve never really watched any belly dancing. I’ve definitely tried some moves out in front of my mirror though! So curiously I clicked on to You Tube to search the worlds best belly dancers.. and wow! It looks so beautiful and skill full  I’d thought I’d do some research into the history of belly dancing so I could and be a belly dancing spectacle in front of my partner, and if that fails at least my mirror!

 

Belly Dancing

 

Belly Dancing Origins

Belly dancing is a social dance believed to have originated somewhere in the middle east. In Palestine the dance is known as ‘Raqs Baladi’ and danced amongst all ages at festive occasions. ‘Raqs Sharqi’ is a performance dance, the type of belly dance that we are familiar with.  There are many arguments about the exact origins of both form of dance. There are a few theories I found interesting.

Some say its origins came from early Egypt, there is a large link to early Egyptian artwork and the similar poses of the dance. There were  strict painting restrictions for humans in Islamic law but still some ancient photos of dancers can be found in publications such as The Art and Architecture of Islam 650-1200. Other popular theories include that its a religious dance, an Indian dance carried over to the middle east and a Roma dance influenced by gypsies. Most interestingly there is an argument that Raqs is a birthing dance, as the movements display a demonstration or ease of child birth.
belly dance

 

 

Did you Know

Despite its western name belly dancing uses movements in every muscle.
Belly Dancing is supposed to be a dance for ‘mature women’ of life experience in order to portray the power of sexuality, typical dancers were over 40!
Men perform belly dancing as well, this was very popular in 80’s 90’s Egypt.

Belly Dancing has been proven to have a positive effect on women with menstruation problems.

Raqs Sharaqi was popularised in the 1700’s and 1800’s. The dance was presented to high profile foreign visitors to the Middle East. There were some dancers even captured early on film, however around the 1800’s these dances were called immoral and then censored. In the early 1900’s it was a common assumption that dancers were ‘loose’ women.

The typical costume we associate belly dancing with popped up around the 1930’s its called “Bellah” (Uniform). And the term belly dancing was formed. This creation was down to the fantasy production in Hollywood at the time and influenced by the revealing nature of burlesque. Westerns expected something exotic and glam in performances for their entertainment. Fast forward to the 80’s and the UK started to take more of an active interest in belly dancing, with teachers and performers springing up around the country.

Belly Dancing

 

Belly dancing is great for toning all over the body and builds strength. The legs and long muscles of the back are worked well and strengthened by hip movements. And I don’t need to mention how fun the idea of commanding a room with your hips sounds!

If you’re interested in belly dancing for your hens click here.

I’m left wondering how belly dancing compares to burlesque. Reading about its link to female sexuality and watching some routines I think has swayed me. Perhaps the skills required for each are very different, burlesque is about teasing and being playful. Belly dancing seems a more focused and tantalising performance. Do you think belly dance is more powerful than burlesque?

Belly Dancing

 

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