What's That Dance?
What were the stylistic origins of Belly Dancing?
The most popular form of Belly Dancing is known as Raqs Sharqi in Arabic, or “Dance of the Orient”. It has been influenced by several Middle Eastern, predominantly Egyptian, traditional folk dances (including Baladi, Shaabi and Sharqi); and by Ballet which can be seen when dancers perform the arabesque, relevé and figure eight movements. Belly Dancing is also said to have a connection to fertility and eroticism seen by its feature at weddings in many Middle Eastern countries today, making a blessing of fertility on the couple.
What are the cultural origins of Belly Dancing?
Belly Dancing can be traced to the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and North Africa. The most popular style in the west is the traditional Egyptian cabaret style. There are various other forms of Belly Dancing including Greek, Lebanese, Turkish and American Tribal (a modern form, created in the United States that infuses other ethnic dance forms such as Bhangra and Flamenco and uses a more “nomadic” type of costume).
What are some of the instruments associated with Bellydancing?
Bellydancing typically uses traditional Middle Eastern instruments such as the qanoon, oude, dumbek, rababa, mizmar, riqq, daholla, naye and violin. Dancers also play zills or finger cymbals while they dance.
What sort of clothing is worn when Belly Dancing?
The costume most associated with Belly Dancing in the west, popularized by Hollywood during the 1950s, is called the bedleh, or “suit” in Arabic, which includes a fitted top/bra with a fringe of beads and/or coins, a hip belt with beads and/or coins and a skirt or loose fitting pants. In the Middle East it is more common to see dancers perform in a long, figure-hugging, one-piece gown with cut-outs filled with sheer fabric to accentuate parts of the body.
Egyptian belly dancers are usually barefooted, however other types of belly dancing can be seen with high-heels. Accessories such as a sword, veil, cane, or candle headdress are typically used when performing.
What are some of the health benefits of Bellydancing?
The advantage of belly dance is that it is suitable for all ages and body types. Many of the belly dance moves can help develop the ability to move various muscle groups independently, increasing flexibility in the torso and back. Dancing with the veil can help build strength in the upper-body, arms and shoulders and playing the zills can get help build coordination in the brain. Bellydancing is also said to improve self-esteem, and aid in strengthening the muscles used in childbirth, making labour less painful.