The Belly Dance is identified by swaying hips, undulating torso, and articulated isolations employed in a range of dynamic and emotional expressions. Characteristic movements in the dance include curving patterns, undulations, thrusts, lifts, locks, and drops, and shaking or quaking body movements. The focus is on isolated movements of individual parts of the body with little notice given to the footsteps. Arms and hands move fluidly, like serpents or ribbons in the air. Unusual strength and control is demonstrated in the belly area.
Costumes typically consist of a bra and hip-belt set worn over a floor length skirt. Dancers may also use a length of fabric (such as silk or chiffon) during one part of the dance sequence, and she may also play finger cymbals. Costuming changes from place to place and from time to time, but the one constant is that the designs intend to emphasize and amplify the grace, power and independent control of the feminine form.
Belly dancing is also known as or is associated with these terms: Middle Eastern Dance, Baladi or Raks Balady (meaning “Dance from the Country”), Egyptian Raks-Al-Sharqi (meaning “Dance of the Easterner”), Danse Du Ventre (French meaning “Dance of the Belly”, or Oriental Dance.
Belly Dance Styles
Modern Egyptian Dance - This is a contemporary Egyptian nightclub style of belly dancing that is accompanied by European orchestral music. Costumes are customarily very glitzy and elaborately beaded.
Turkish Style Belly Dance - Turkish belly dance music is characterized by the sounds of the oboe, clarinet, oud, ney, kanoon, finger cymbals and hand drums. Costumes are usually beaded, but may use coins too. Turkish style dancers often play finger cymbals (a.k.a. Zills).
American Tribal Belly Dance - A style developed by the great matriarch of the dance Jamila Salimpour. This form of the dance includes elements of Middle Eastern, Byzantium, the Renaissance, and Victorian era. Performances might include the balancing of swords and other props, snake dances, and folk line-dances. Costuming is distinctive with facial drawings to simulate tribal tattoos.
Folkloric Belly Dance - This style incorporates dance movements of popular ethnic folk dances such as the Fellahin. Reed cane and stick dances are used by belly dancers in routines for a folkloric flair.
Cabaret Style Belly Dance - These dancers usually perform a multi-faceted routine, sometimes on a raised stage (to afford the audience a better view) and most often to live musical accompaniment. Costumes are flashy and sparkling, with beads and sequins rather than the heavy, woven, embroidered, coined look of tribal costuming.
American Classic Style Belly Dance - This style describes the belly dance performed and cultivated since about the early 1970s. This style of belly dance incorporated cultures from around the globe and added its own liberating trademarks. One of these trademarks was the steady development of the gymnastic use of the veil within the dance.
Fantasy Belly Dance - This could involve many other titles of belly dance as a motif: Gothic, Goddess, Space Age, Animals and Mythic Creatures, Fairy tales or myth. The movements are recognizably connected to the vocabulary of belly dance.
Gypsy Style - Generations of gypsies traveled all over the world with their crafts, music and dance trades, picking up a little of this and that from the cultures they encountered. This style of belly dance fuses many dance flavors together.
Fusion Belly Dance - This dance style mixes two or more recognizable traditions, themes, costuming, or music used to construct the dance performance.
Male Belly Dance - Yes, there are male belly dancers.