Encyclopedia of Dance: Belly Dance


Belly dance (belly dance) — feminine, full of flexibility, plasticity and sensual energy, conveying the entire spectrum of desires and moods of the dancer

Waves of the hips and arms, graceful curves, “shaking” of the chest and stomach create an amazing impression of femininity and seductiveness.

In the West, belly dancing is considered a dance technique common in Arab countries. Being a fairly ancient oriental dance, belly dance, while developing, lost its resemblance to the original sources, acquired myths, was subjected to cultural influences and became extremely popular in many countries of the world. The decisive argument for the passion for this type of art is most often the immense sexuality, looseness and, at the same time, the mystery with which the dance is saturated.

The history of belly dance

There are quite a few versions of the origin of belly dance. One of the hypotheses relates this dance to the rituals of the inhabitants of Central and Central Asia, performed during significant events. Another version links the spread of belly dance in the Arab world thanks to the gypsies who brought it from India. Another hypothesis suggests that belly dancing began to be performed in Turkish harems in order, firstly, to attract the attention of the master and take a better position in the harem, and secondly, to strengthen “female” health and make the figure more attractive.

Be that as it may, but there is no one specific folklore dance that would be considered the prototype of the ancient belly dance. However, it is known that there are more than 50 styles of oriental dance and many different directions, presented in Egyptian, Turkish, Lebanese and other schools, which in one way or another influenced the formation of the modern belly dance technique.

Belly dancing has been danced not only by women, but also by men since the time of the Ottoman Empire. Male folklore styles continue to exist in Egypt and Turkey to this day.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, stage belly dancing began to take shape. Oriental dancers, participating in the show, showed their dances in Europe and America. The advertising phrase «Danse du Ventre», translated from French meaning «belly dance», gave impetus to the formation of Western ideas about this dance.

Modern belly dance, which has spread in the west under the name Belly Dance (bellydance), includes features of two folk styles — Gavazi and Baladi. The first was performed by women during various holidays in Egypt and was considered a family dance. The second is an Egyptian village dance, also performed by women. Baladi translates as «homeland». In this dance, initially the hip movements were the main ones, but under the influence of the dances of Greece, Persia, Turkey, India, head movements and serpentine hand movements began to be included in it. Thus, a solo dance gradually appeared, which differs from the usual folklore group dances.

In the 40s and 50s, Hollywood introduced oriental belly dance, based more on Western ideas about it than on folklore foundations. It is interesting that the Hollywood version of belly dance was picked up by professional oriental dancers and successfully spread in different countries of the world in a new form.

dance life belly dance

Dance styles and their features

In oriental dances, called belly dance or belly dance, the following styles are distinguished:

  • classical belly dance;
  • folklore Belly Dance (khaliji, saidi, ghazi, dabki, etc.);
  • Belly Dance show;
  • variety Belly Dance;
  • Solo Tabla.

Classic belly dance

This direction is based on the movement of Arabic dance, allows the inclusion, but not the predominance of folklore elements. It is forbidden to use accessories other than sagats (dulcimer) and tarhi veil (shawls). A classic suit is used: a bodice, a belt with a hinge and a wide skirt.

Folklore Belly Dance

In folklore variations, the dance reflects the national characteristics of a particular nation, including music, dance movements and costume.

Belly Dance Show

This direction may include different dance directions. In addition to the belly dance itself, elements of acrobatics and support can be used. A variety of accessories are used in the belly dance show, for example, swords, wings, candelabra, sagats, etc. There can be any version of the costume.

Variety Belly Dance

The dance can also include different directions, but the main part should be bellydance. Any popular variety oriental music is used in musical accompaniment.

Solo Tabla

Belly dance performed with drums. If instrumental music is included, then no more than a quarter of the dance.

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