A BRIEF HISTORY OF BELLY DANCING
Belly dancing is not only a beautiful dance, but also a form of exercise that offers innumerable benefits.
Oriental Dance is one of the oldest dances of the world and combines elements from different countries of the Middle East and Northern Africa, although its precise origins are uncertain.
In Arab countries, this dance is known as Raks Sharki, which literally means oriental dance, which is more refined and rich. It includes movements from Egyptian folklore, classical dance, and contemporary dance, with large displacements, turns, and movements for all body parts, although those of the hip in particular are very important.
The Raks Baladí, which means “dance of the people,” is a more elemental dance, practically without any displacements and with predominant hip movements. In some ancient villages it was thought that human fertility was directly related to the earth, and women who were creators of new life were credited with magical powers.
In Turkey, Greece, Rome, and Cyprus, thousands of years ago, women had ritual dances in honor of the magical powers of fertility and their divinities. Some of these were performed in honor of the goddesses of love and fertility with dance rituals accompanied by singing and percussion.
Likewise, these or similar rites took place in Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Egypt, Arabia, and India. In these ceremonies, a large number of women participated, and men were excluded from these rites.
During the 4th century AD, Christianity and Islam came to dominate the Middle East and adopted some aspects of these festivities, but rituals with ties to fertility and feminine dances related to sexuality were destroyed. The name of Belly Dancing started to be used in the 19th century by the Europeans who traveled to these lands in search of new cultures and landscapes, and upon seeing this dance they were impressed by the belly and hip movements, which did not exist in Europe.
After the Chicago exhibition at the end of the 19th century, the Americans discovered the dance and translated from the French “danse du ventre” to “belly dance.” In part, they commercialized the dance and invented the two-piece outfit of the brassier and belt embroidered with stones and fringes with a bright skirt.
The Arab countries where belly dancing has mostly developed in recent times are Egypt, Lebanon, and Turkey, although it should also be noted that it has developed in some European countries and in America due to Arab emigration, such as Germany, France, Brazil, and the USA.
Virtually all Arab women dance raks baladí and learn belly dance from when they are girls at parties and family gatherings, but few are encouraged to become professionals, since being a dancer is not seen well in a traditional Muslim society.
A dance devised by Arab women that produces positive effects on the human body. The graceful waist movements, swings, and turns involve using the muscles of the abdomen, pelvis, spine, and neck.
This is a very complete dance because it helps to tone muscles, maintain flexibility, and prevent back pain and osteoporosis.
With belly dancing, it is possible to burn up to 300 calories in one hour. Of course, this varies according to the intensity of the dance and the person. Belly dancing is not just a seductive and sensual dance style; it is also a magnificent low-impact exercise and a wonderful cultural experience that transports you to the deserts of the Sahara with the hypnotic music that is an excellent way to alleviate stress.
- Dancing helps to keep your reflexes in good shape.
- Makes breathing deeper and strengthens the lungs.
- Regulates blood pressure, as does all exercise.
- Strengthens muscles and bones, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis.
- Improves flexibility of all joints.
- Helps to reduce cholesterol, eliminate toxic substances from the body, and control weight.
- Helps to fall asleep more easily.
- Keeps the brain in good shape since it requires concentration throughout the duration of the exercise.
- Works coordination and visual memory since one must avoid losing the rhythm of the music.
- Diminishes your waistline while you enjoy the oldest body movements of Egyptian history.
With belly dancing, you will learn to isolate different parts of your body. You will eliminate stress and positively channel the energies of your body.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Miguel Dumont Garcia
I am not a belly dancer but my partner is 🙂 . We both founded www.hiretravellers.com, a travel agency that tries to design unique trips that people love. We love to mix passions and trips, like learning to dance salsa in Cuba and visit the country at the same time.