What makes belly dancing such a unique art form?

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There are very few dance forms as captivating and intriguing as belly dancing. Have you ever attended a cultural event and seen these beautiful women wearing extravagant costumes, dancing rhythmically in a most intoxicating way? If so, you probably have some degree of curiosity about the dance style.

In this article, we’ll share more about what makes belly dancing such a unique art form.

History of belly dancing

Belly dancing originated in ancient times, with some believing the dance form to be as much as 6,000 years old. It is also called “oriental dance” and has its origins in Egypt. For thousands of years, this form of dance has been practiced throughout the Middle East both as a social dance and as a performance art.

Where is it found?

Traditional belly dancing can be found throughout the Middle East, with some stylistic and cultural differences based on the people and influence of the region. For example, Egyptian style dancing is more artistic in nature and incorporates more controlled and precise movements. Turkish style, on the other hand, is more lively and playful. Turkish dancers are known for their very energetic and athletic performances.

Outside of the Middle East, belly dancing can be found in North America, Spain, Australia, and even the UK. You can hire professional belly dancers for traditional events, family reunions, cultural events, and even corporate functions.

Clothes and accessories

While clothing may vary in different areas, the costume of choice is usually the “bedlah” style, which includes a fitted top, fitted belt, and a long skirt (called a harem pants). Usually the top and waistband are richly decorated with beads, sequins, fringes and highly detailed embroidery designs.

Some regions, like Egypt, have laws in place regarding costume and what can and cannot be worn. For example, in Egypt, dancers must have their breasts, stomach and lower body covered. Most dancers will simply wear skin-colored or mesh fabric to comply with the law. However, no such rule exists in Lebanon or many other countries around the world, so dancers are free to reveal a naked abdomen.

Popularity

Although belly dancing began in the Middle East thousands of years ago, it has since toured the world on several occasions and influenced various areas of popular culture. The dance form has been featured in popular movies and TV shows, music videos, and even major sporting events. Today, you can find dance schools and studios that teach belly dancing in many major cities around the world.

Health benefits

This popular dance has many health benefits and, due to its low impact nature, can be a great activity for women of all ages and fitness levels. The wide range of movements can improve the flexibility of the torso and strengthen the spine and abdominal muscles. Incorporating the use of props such as veils and finger symbols can also improve coordination and build strength in other areas of the body.


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