Thousands of women around the world now enjoy the benefits of Middle Eastern Dance (AKA Belly Dance) What began as a tool for young women to develop their bodies in preparation for child bearing and as a physical history has now evolved into a major entertainment industry.
While moves and music have become more complicated and costumes much more risque, Belly Dance is still at its heart, a language. It is the language of life, of love and of sex in a healthy joyful manner.
A belly dancer tells a story, and as she moves she celebrates her femininity and her sensuality. The rolling of the belly symbolises the foetus within the womb as does the Turkish flutter which symbolises kicks. A Dancer uses open and closed body language to symbolise love play and the alluring qualities of a woman.
The language is also one of the instruments and the rhythms played by the musicians. A trained belly dancer will "Sing the Music with her body" mezmorising her audience with slow and sensual *taxim or dazzling them with an ecstatic shimmy . She is a true celebration of all the moods of a woman and should be seen in that positive light.
In modern times many other cultures have adopted Middle Eastern Dance and made their own mark on the genre which have evolved into " traditional" styles such as American Tribal Style and various tribal fusion styles currently being practiced around the world. There is Bollywood which draws influence from bellydance as well as being a fusion of the many traditional dance styles from all over India. We also have cabaret styles, modern Egyptian, Classical Egyptian, folkloric even Oriental Jazz. There are also the modern Gypsy styles of dance and of course there is the wonderful Flamenco also know as Andalusian Belly Dance, which is a fusion of the Middle Eastern dance styles ( Moorish) with Gypsy and Spanish folk dances. Flamenco evolved mostly during the time of Islamic ( Moors) rule through out much of southern Spain.
Any woman can belly dance. Age, weight, height, looks etc do not matter. While ever you are physical capable of dancing you can belly dance. Through Belly dance women learn to celebrate and appreciate themselves and come to terms with body issues that modern society has forced upon us. There is nothing more alluring than watching a woman enjoy the dance, enjoy her sensuality and celebrate her uniqueness, unfettered by the insecurities modern society seems intent upon instilling in us.
In M.E.D. there is no humility we are all divine creatures filled with joy and confidence and are not ashamed of it.
The history and origins of the costumes we use today is very varied and elaborate. It is said the coin scarves or shimmy belts we use today were inspired by the Ouled Nail, young women dancers who travelled north Africa ( Mainly Algeria) and danced for their dowry sometimes even exchanged Intimate favours for coin until they had enough to return to their village and marry a good husband. Apparently they would sew their coins into their clothing and onto to jewellery as a means of keeping the money safe until they could return home. There are also excerpts from ancient texts in Greece describing similar practices.
The origins of the "dance" itself are very obscured. The Moors and the Gypsies are credited with evolution of the dance as they travelled throughout the Middle East, Africa and Europe, taking on dances from the cultures they visited and also sharing what they had learned from other countries they had visited. Egypt considers herself to be the " Home of Modern Belly Dance" and is certainly the Hub. The Turkish Government in 2002 declared that belly dance was not traditionally Turkish given that they Turks took on the dance style during their migration in the middle ages. Regardless of its political point of view belly dance remains a huge entertainment and export industry in Turkey.
Belly dance is truly a holistic therapy for women. Through belly dance we exercise our bodies and our minds as well as nurture our souls. Now what could be better for you than that???
I hope you have enjoyed my guide on Middle Eastern Dance