Belly Dancing – We have all heard of it. How many really know much about it.
The origin of belly dancing has different backgrounds. There is an article included with a short history.
Today belling dancing is known best for physical exercise for the body. After watching a few videos I can see why. It teaches slow controlled movements of separate parts of the body. Witch is the best way to get the body in great shape. Plus the benefits of being able to control your body in that way, would make you feel wonderful about yourself, while you are getting into shape. Plus having fun. What could be better for the soul.
Oriental Dance or “Raks Sharki” in its most classical form, translated from Arabic means “The Dance Of The Orient.” The term “Belly Dance” was first used by the French when they saw the undulations and the body isolations, “The Dance of The Stomach.” Also, it was called “Danse Du Venture,” or the dance of adventure. In the ancient Middle East/Mediterranean, the belly dance was first performed as sort of a birthing aid. Basically, the sisters of the women giving birth would aid the new mother by undulating and rolling their bodies in natural, curvy snake-like movements to help with the delivery of the baby. It is a dance as second nature as breathing, and it got its start not as entertainment, but for childbirth.
Slowly Middle Eastern dance became more of an entertainment related art form. This dance was first brought to America just over 100 years ago at the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1893 by “Little Egypt.” “Little Egypt” was the first, and more people than ever are collecting memorabilia of her famous belly dance.
Middle Eastern dance form is as esthetic and holistic as it is misunderstood. The Belly Dance is a spiritual connection between mind and body. Belly Dancing is as majestic and regal as classical Ballet, but differs because it offers its practioners a total experience, a sense of well-being, joy, freedom and most importantly, is a celebration of the feminine soul and inner spirit through movement. The Goddess within emerges every time I dance. I am entranced by my craft, and become totally engulfed with the art and can slip into a “dance trance.” When I enter my dance space, my presence and energy is immediately communicated to my audience. I “speak” to my audience with strong Egyptian technique, intricate and precise movements mirrored with a playful personality. The “glue” that holds it all together is a vivacious theatrical presence and professionalism. As I explain the history I use my own professional experiences throughout, so you can get a complete and total visual image.
Something as beautiful as the Belly Dance cannot be exploited, unless it is taken out of its intended context and it is placed into the wrong hands. Also, with some closed-minded audiences, sometimes the belly dance itself can be misunderstood. It can be viewed as sleazy and “something a nice girl does not do.” That depends on who the belly dancer is. If the individual is trashy, than so will her performance of this art, and it will be cheapened. Also, there is nothing funnier than when a dancer hides lack of true talent by constantly using ridiculous props in her shows, and never really dances. Belly Dancing is not at all a strip tease. It is just so ignorant of people who refer to stripping as “EXOTIC” dancing. Exotic means “from a far away land,” go-go dancing should be referred to as “EROTIC.” The belly dancer does not remove her costume, the costume is very much a part of the dance routine. A belly dancer is proud of her costume, and it is crucial to wear the most elaborate and elegant dress to convey class and professionalism. I wear Madame Abla’s designs, the best and most beautiful costumes in the Arabic world. When I enter the stage the high-class Arabic families that I perform for know “it’s an ABLA!” I am known for not only being a true artist, but I am also well known for wearing the best. To me every performance is a night at the OSCARS, or THE GRAMMYS, or even The MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS!! I perform every show with intense artistic detail and I try to do an awesome concert no matter how big or small my audience is.
Middle Eastern dance is a reflection of the performer, and it can be misrepresented and in turn kills the value for other performers who are pure artists, PERIOD! Belly Dance is a dance of the heritage of Middle Eastern culture that transcends a wide variety of nations reflecting a common art with different variations and styles. Since this is a dance of another culture, a lot of Americans fail to realize this. It is important to understand the customs, religions, ideologies, and the Arabic mind set of the people. It is also important to understand the language, in order to properly interpret the feelings, emotions and meanings of the songs. It is too easy to say you are a teacher when the instructor herself does not understand 100% the cultural dance that they are improperly conveying to impressionable students. This dance is different than tap, modern or jazz dancing. One can learn steps, but, may not be able to perform it, for this art emanates from the heart and soul. It can appear mechanical and choppy if not felt on a personal, internal level. For example, Hawaiian dancing, The Hula, is more of a cultural interpretation of that region and the movements all mean something.
Most Americans believe that all belly dancers are female. Traditional belly dance is performed by both sexes. In the Middle East, men perform more of the folkloric dances, like the men’s stick dance. Some male performers include: Yousry Shariff (NY and Egypt), Mahmoud Reda (Egypt), Ibrahim “Bobby” Farrah (NYC), etc.