Dalilah filming Keyf Ansak in Cairo , Egypt Belly dance is primarily a torso-driven dance, with an emphasis on articulations of the hips.
Although some of these isolations appear similar to the isolations used in jazz ballet, they are sometimes driven differently and have a different feeling or emphasis. In common with most folk dances, there is no universal naming scheme for belly dance movements. Some dancers and dance schools have developed their own naming schemes, but none of these is universally recognized. Staccato movements, most commonly of the hips, used to punctuate the music or accent a beat. Typical movements in this group include hip drops, vertical hip rocks, outwards hip hits, hip lifts and hip twists.
Percussive movements using other parts of the body can include lifts or drops of the ribcage and shoulder accents. Flowing, sinuous movements in which the body is in continuous motion, used to interpret melodic lines and lyrical sections in the music, or modulated to express complex instrumental improvisations.
These movements require a great deal of abdominal muscle control. Typical movements include horizontal and vertical figures of 8 or infinity loops with the hips, horizontal or tilting hip circles, and undulations of the hips and abdomen. These basic shapes may be varied, combined and embellished to create an infinite variety of complex, textured movements. Shimmies, shivers and vibrations: Small, fast, continuous movements of the hips or ribcage, which create an impression of texture and depth of movement.
Shimmies are commonly layered over other movements, and are often used to interpret rolls on the or riq or fast strumming of the oud or qanun instrument. There are many types of shimmy, varying in size and method of generation. Some common shimmies include relaxed, up and down hip shimmies, straight-legged knee-driven shimmies, fast, tiny hip vibrations, twisting hip shimmies, bouncing 'earthquake' shimmies, and relaxed shoulder or ribcage shimmies.
In addition to these torso movements, dancers in many styles will use level changes, travelling steps, turns and spins. The arms are used to frame and accentuate movements of the hips, for dramatic gestures, and to create beautiful lines and shapes with the body, particularly in the more balletic, Westernised styles. Other movements may be used as occasional accents, such as low kicks and arabesques, backbends, and head tosses.
In the Middle East[ edit ] Origins and history[ edit ] Belly dancing is believed to have had a long history in the Middle East , but reliable evidence about its origins is scarce, and accounts of its history are often highly speculative. As a social dance, belly dance also called Raqs Baladi or Raqs Shaabi in this context is performed at celebrations and social gatherings by ordinary people male and female, young and old , in their ordinary clothes. The Maazin sisters may have been the last authentic performers of Ghawazi dance in Egypt, with Khayreyya Maazin still teaching and performing as of The modern Egyptian belly dance style and the modern costume are said to have originated in Cairo's nightclubs then been used in Egyptian cinema.
Many of the local dancers went on to appear in Egyptian films and had a great influence on the development of the Egyptian style and became famous like Samia Gamal and Taheyya Kariokka both of whom helped attract the eyes to Egyptian style worldwide. The Turkish style of bellydance is lively and playful, with a greater outward projection of energy than the more contained Egyptian style.
Turkish dancers are known for their energetic, athletic even gymnastic style, and their adept use of finger cymbals , also known as zils. Connoisseurs of Turkish dance often say a dancer who cannot play the zils is not an accomplished dancer. Floorwork, which has been banned in Egypt since the midth century, is still an important part of Turkish bellydance. Many professional dancers and musicians in Turkey continue to be of Romani heritage, and the Roma people of Turkey have had a strong influence on the Turkish style  In Lebanon[ edit ] Lebanese style belly dance is somewhere between the Egyptian and Turkish styles.
Lebanese dance takes from the classic oriental dance, but still incorporates a feisty, modern edge. There are large steps, backward leans to the torso, twisting hip rotations, large and busy arms and lots of shimmies. The types of techniques that are used in Lebanese style dance are quick layered shimmies and subtle internal movements. Lebanese dancers sometimes include kicks, splits, deep back bends, and Turkish drops. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. October Belly dance was popularized in the West during the Romantic movement of the 18th and 19th centuries, when Orientalist artists depicted romanticized images of harem life in the Ottoman Empire. In North America[ edit ] Little Egypt American tribal fusion dancer Rachel Brice Although there were dancers of this type at the Centennial in Philadelphia, it was not until the Chicago World's Fair that it gained national attention.
The term "belly dancing" is often credited to Sol Bloom , its entertainment director, but referred to the dance as danse du ventre, the name used by the French in Algeria. In his memoirs, Bloom states, "when the public learned that the literal translation was "belly dance", they delightedly concluded that it must be salacious and immoral I had a gold mine.
The fact that the dancers were uncorseted and gyrated their hips was shocking to Victorian sensibilities. There were no soloists, but it is claimed that a dancer nicknamed Little Egypt stole the show.
Some claim the dancer was Farida Mazar Spyropoulos , but this fact is disputed. Victorian society continued to be affronted by the dance, and dancers were sometimes arrested and fined. A short film, "Fatima's Dance", was widely distributed in the Nickelodeon theaters.
It drew criticism for its "immodest" dancing, and was eventually censored. Belly dance drew men in droves to burlesque theaters, and to carnival and circus lots. Thomas Edison made several films of dancers in the s. These included a Turkish dance, and Crissie Sheridan in ,  and Princess Rajah from ,  which features a dancer playing zills , doing "floor work", and balancing a chair in her teeth.
Denis also used Middle Eastern-inspired dance in D. Griffith's silent film Intolerance , her goal being to lift dance to a respectable art form at a time when dancers were considered to be women of loose morals. When immigrants from Arab States began to arrive in New York in the s, dancers started to perform in nightclubs and restaurants. In the late s and early '70s many dancers began teaching. Middle Eastern or Eastern bands took dancers with them on tour, which helped spark interest in the dance.
Although using Turkish and Egyptian movements and music, American Cabaret "AmCab" belly dancing has developed its own distinctive style, using props and encouraging audience interaction. Although a unique and wholly modern style, its steps are based on existing dance techniques, including those from North India , the Middle East, and Africa. These dancers came to be known as Al Andalus dancers. It is theorised that the fusion of the Al-Andalus style with the dances of the Gypsies led to the creation of flamenco.
Belly dance did not return to Spain until the s, with the end of the Catholic regime of Franco. These immigrants created a social scene including numerous Lebanese and Turkish restaurants, providing employment for belly dancers.
Rozeta Ahalyea is widely regarded as the "mother" of Australian belly dance, training early dance pioneers such as Amera Eid and Terezka Drnzik. Belly dance has now spread across the country, with belly dance communities in every capital city and many regional centres. During the s and s, there was a thriving Arabic club scene in London, with live Arabic music and bellydancing a regular feature,  but the last of these closed in the early s.
Today, there are fewer traditional venues for Arabic dance in the UK; however, there is a large amateur bellydance community. Several international bellydance festivals are now held in Britain.
In addition, there are a growing number of competitions, which have increased in popularity in recent years. American Tribal Style and Tribal Fusion bellydance are also popular. This section needs additional citations for verification. August Learn how and when to remove this template message The costume most commonly associated with belly dance is the 'bedlah' Arabic: The bra and belt may be richly decorated with beads, sequins, crystals, coins, beaded fringe and embroidery.
The belt may be a separate piece, or sewn into a skirt. Badia Masabni , a Cairo cabaret owner during the early 20th century, is credited with creating the modern bedlah style. It has been suggested that the bedlah was inspired by glamorous Hollywood costuming, or created to appeal to Western visitors.
As well as the two-piece bedlah costume, full length dresses are sometimes worn, especially when dancing more earthy baladi styles. Dresses range from closely fitting, highly decorated gowns, which often feature heavy embellishments and mesh-covered cutouts, to simpler designs which are often based on traditional clothing.
Costume in Egypt[ edit ] In Egypt dancers wear a bedlah. Alternatively they may wear a dress with mesh-filled cutouts. Costume in Lebanon[ edit ] As there is no prohibition on showing the abdomen in Lebanon, the bedlah style is more common. The skirts tend to be more sheer than Egyptian outfits, showing more of the dancer's body. The veil is more widely used than in Egypt. High heels are commonly worn. Lebanese dancers have more freedom than Egyptian style dancers in the type of costume they choose to wear.
Costume in Turkey[ edit ] Turkish costumes are usually in the bedlah style. Distinctive features of many Turkish costumes include a V-shaped or triangular belt which may be shaped or contoured around the top edge, and a great deal of embellishment and beaded fringing on both the bra and the belt. Skirts are often fuller than their Egyptian counterparts, and are likely to be made of chiffon or velvet rather than lycra.
In the s and '90s a very revealing costume style developed with skirts designed to display both legs up to the hip, and plunging bras or even pasties. Even so, many Turkish belly dance costumes reflect the playful, flirty style of Turkish belly dance. Tribal style costumes[ edit ] Decorations on a tribal-style bellydance costume bra Tribal belly dance costumes draw inspiration from traditional folkloric costumes across the globe and include circle skirts, pantaloons, and turbans or headdresses decked with feathers or flowers.
Belly dance moves are beneficial to the spine, as the full-body undulation moves lengthens decompress and strengthens the entire column of spinal and abdominal muscles in a gentle way. Dancing with a veil can help build strength in the upper body, arm and shoulders.
Playing the zills trains fingers to work independently and builds strength. The legs and long muscles of the back are strengthened by hip movements.