Belly dancing is one of the most popular and oldest types of dancing in the world. Though it is called belly dancing in the West, its traditional name is “ raqs sharqi ” which translates to “oriental dance” in Arabic. It’s also called raqs baladi, or “dance of the country.” The term “belly dancing” was not applied to the practice until 1893 , when the French term “danse du ventre” – meaning dance of the stomach – was used to describe it. When it came to America, the phrase became “belly dance.” Raqs sharqi is typically only seen at celebrations like weddings or other social gatherings while raqs baladi is the style practiced in the United States.
Nobody is quite sure where belly dancing originated from. Paintings found on tombs in Egypt depict dancing styles very similar to belly dancing, and those paintings date back as far as the 14th century BC. Similar paintings have been discovered in Persia that date back to the 12th century. There are a lot of theories about how belly dancing evolved and spread. Some insist that it originated in India and spread because of the slave trade; some say it originated in Greece and spread when Alexander the Great conquered the known world; some even believe belly dancing was originally a type of religious dance . There’s also a theory that says belly dancing was part of the birthing practices of its country of origin and was meant to help ease the pain of childbirth. In the 18th and 19th centuries, belly dancing became more popular because Middle Eastern performers started attending World Fairs. Soon, Western women began to imitate the dances.
There are 12 basic core movements that are performed. These movements include hip twists and bumps, hip circles, ribcage circles, arm waves, and shoulder rotations. There are movements that have their own names, such as “ the eight ” where the hips move and the arms are raised above the head. Interestingly, most of the dances were performed with the sexes separated – women danced with women and men dance with men. Today, mixing of the sexes is more common.
Belly dancing costumes started off as costumes that covered the whole body, but by the time it became popular, more and more skin was shown. The current costume is called a bedleh. It typically includes a bra-like covering for the top of the body well as a long, draping skirt . The belly is usually left bare in Western countries, and various types of bracelets or necklaces are worn. Veils add to the sensuality of the movements. The material is usually made of thin silk, which glides when a dancer moves.
Belly dancing is regarded as a very sensual style of dancing, mostly due to the types of body movements and the dress. The bare belly and arms, the twisting of the hips, and even the music make the dancer seem incredibly evocative. Men especially find the dances incredibly erotic because women are performing sensual movements while still maintaining their dignity – they don’t have to get naked to be sexy, and that’s one of the dance’s biggest draws: women love feeling sexy without having to degrade themselves.
Most of the original meanings for the dances have been lost. Some believe the movements are meant to celebrate life by imitating childbirth. Others link the movements to those of a snake. However, nobody knows for sure what the dance’s original meanings were, so people now make the dances their own.
Here’s some information on belly dancing:
Belly dancing keeps getting more and more popular because it’s a great way for people to come together – and it’s a better way to meet guys than online dating or personals!
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