Arab Belly Dancing: The Ancient Art

by Peter John Walter

There have been a variety of fads and trends involving dance that have moved through every culture and society in the world. However, there has never been a dance that has lasted and produced more fascination than the ancient art of Arab belly dancing. This form of dance has been around since civilization itself and still continues to be practiced to this very day. What do we really know about this dance phenomenon?

The Beginnings of The Art

The term Arab belly dancing only came to be in the late nineteenth century. In traditional Arabic culture it is referred to as Raqs Sharqui or eastern dance. It is also sometimes called Raqs Baladi or folk dance. Whatever it is called it is a form of dance that has been passed down through the generations for its ritualistic and artistic nature. It has been traced through the civilizations of Alexander the Great and also Ancient Egypt. It is also seen in the history of India.

During the end of the Ottoman Empire the practice of this dance moved through the western world. The Arabic dancers were called upon to show their unique and powerful dance at world fairs and gatherings all over the world. The dance became more and more popular as more people were able to watch it performed. It began to see a slowdown when moral issues questioned the erotic nature of the dance. It became banished in many parts of the Arab world for many years.

The Look And Style

We have all seen the costumes that exist today for belly dancing. They don?t really resemble the costumes that were originally used. These current costumes seem to have gotten their popularity from Hollywood movies.

Whatever the type the costume is usually a bra top with a hip belt. The skirt is generally a layered skirt that is of many colors and patterns. The Hollywood version has added the veil that we often see with belly dancers today. It is meant to add an exotic flavor to the dance.

The Amazing Belly

Most belly dancers develop a dance that is unique for them. But most of them consist of a rolling circular motion in the belly. This coordination of the hips, shoulders and rolling the stomach muscles is incredibly difficult. There are men who can perform the same belly movements, but they usually use swords to turn the dance into a more masculine version of the dance.

The Benefits of Belly Dancing

It is very entertaining to watch a belly dancer perform their exotic movements. But in today’s culture of exercise and keeping fit, belly dancing has been discovered to be a great form of exercise. The flexibility that is displayed and the intense cardiovascular movements provide the practitioner quite a workout.

Belly dancing has come a long way from the culture of Arab countries. It has evolved into an art form and a fun exercise for all who practice it.

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