09 Mar Styles of Belly Dancing
Let’s start out with a brief history of Belly Dancing, and sorry guys, it was not initially used to tickle man’s fancy. According to psychological articles, Belly Dancing originated over 3,000 years ago somewhere deep in the Middle East and ancient Mediterranean civilizations. Interestingly, Belly Dancing was NOT created as a form of entertainment, but was used as a therapeutic modality to help women with various female maladies such as infertility, pregnancy, childbirth, endometriosis, and the elderly problem of menopause. In later years, since these cultures were predominantly Muslim, and Muslim women are not publicly allowed to expose their skin, Gypsy women were brought in from either Romania or India, and began performing Belly Dancing as a form of male entertainment. This sensuous “entertainment” dance art may well be the oldest existing form of dance, and is definitely in contention to be the prequel to today’s sexy pole dancing. Hmm, leave it to the men to turn what was a woman’s therapy into a male entertainment.
While Belly Dancing flourished in Eastern cultures, Western society didn’t get a real introduction to Belly Dancing until 1893, when Belly Dancing, called “Little Egypt”, was shown at the Chicago Worlds Fair. And as the saying goes, the rest is history. Today there are numerous forms of Belly Dancing that are widely popular in the Western world.
Psychological articles tell us that Belly Dancing is hugely popular in Western countries; performed as either a solo or group dance. For instance, Belly Dancers perform solo at large social gatherings known as Haflas, or in group formats such as restaurants wherein guests are encouraged to enjoy themselves by getting up and joining the dancer.
It may come as a surprise to most that there are many different styles of Belly Dancing. We at Boomer Yearbook, the website for baby boomers, did a review of psychological articles and found the following styles:
1. Egyptian Belly Dancing: In the early 20th century, a dance patron led the Egyptian film industry, to showcase this dance art; and while the Egyptian film industry deteriorated, the dance form continued to rise in popularity with Egyptian Belly Dance Cabaret-a slightly more conservative form of the art. The dance costumes were also less revealing than traditional garb, and it was hugely popular in Westernized Egypt. Some great Egyptian Belly Dancers were; Naime Akif, Dina Fouad and Mona Said. However today, Egyptian Belly Dancing is coming under increasing pressure to close down as it is seen as repellent to fundamental Egyptian Muslims.
2. Raqs Sharqui: Soon after its Egyptian film introduction, Hollywood began her romance with Belly Dancing,oftentimes embellishing the dance form for gratuitous, dramatic effect. For instance, remember the films Salome, Sodam and Gomorra or Road to Moracco? Hollywood used Belly Dancing as a way to give an exotic cultural and ethnic feel to a film with a focus on stunning visual effects, with the Belly Dance costumes based more on variations of the US bikini than authentic garb.
3. Turkish Belly Dancing: Belly Dancing thrived during Turkish secular, non fundamentalist Muslim heyday, with dancers wearing skimpy outfits and depending mostly on the Egyptian model. As the dance had no folk roots in Turkey and was merely an attempt to attract tourists, Turkish Belly Dancing was considered a non impressive art form.
4. Berber Belly Dancing: Mostly scattered through Morocco, Libya, Egypt Algeria, the Berbers usually practice dancing at weddings and other similar social gatherings.
5. The Bedouins: Dancing has been an important part of Bedouin life. In reviewing
6. Tunisian Dancing: This simple dance used a tasseled belt worn around the hips, to give emphasis to hip twisting and forward and backward movements. Tunisia Belly Dancing also incorporates wearing balls on the dancers feet to enhance and emboldened dance movements.
7. Moroccan Dance: Schikhatt is the most popular form of Moroccan dancing. Tight rows of dancers tilt their hips and move up and down in “pulsating” movements, swirling around to create an effect that was at the same time powerful and extremely magical. Our website for baby boomers further unearthed another dance form called the Guedra using trance like steps with constant repetitions that create an ethereal, other worldly effect.
8. Gypsy Dance: The gypsies wear voluminous skirts and employ a delicate movement of the arms. This dance form is used in the Romanian tribes scattered over Spain, Russia and Morocco.
9. Persian Boomer Yearbook, the website for baby boomers, further found that the rulers of Persia (Iran) before the Muslims conquered the area kept themselves entertained through various forms of dancing art. The Muslim caliphs also encouraged and patronized dancing during social gatherings. A national ballet was formed after the Second World War making Iran the only Muslim country to adopt dancing as a national art form.
In America, there are three main Belly Dancing categories: the American Nightclub, Egyptian Raqs Sharqi, and Tribal Fusion. These are used more as entertainment to draw customers and tourists rather than as art form.
Boomer Yearbook, the website for baby boomers, has found an interesting trend in the current psychological articles where the baby boomer women of the United States are reclaiming this ancient art form and today, there is a resurgence of Belly Dancing as a therapeutic modality for women.
And thus, as psychological articles tell us, goes the circle of life and art.
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