About Belly Dance

Belly dance is an oriental dance performed by women. Nobody remembers where and when it originated. It could have started at tribal fires as well as ancient temples. Modern belly dance has become a global phenomenon as women from different countries and cultures enjoy this unique form of the expression of a woman's soul with traditional moves. There are several dance styles including Egyptian dance, tribal dance, cabaret dance etc. Women can perform solo but also in pairs or groups. There is an emphasis on the women's community which creates a warm sense of belonging. The dance involves choreography, music and the greatest thing of all - the costume. Live music can be basic and played by a drum or tamburine. The dancer often has a pair of small finger cymbals called zills.

The moves can be simple or very complex and involve the entire body. The dance requires isolation of different body parts, coordination and strong muscles. Movements on one side of the body are mirrored on the other side. It takes a while for the brain to program itself in this fashion! This is a total mind and body workout. Each move has its name, e.g. dolphin, camel, shimmy, figure 8, hip circle, arabesque. The dancer can stand in one spot or travel, with certain rules that apply. For example, the dancer is not supposed to show her foot soles to the audience. The moves have to be decent and not too revealing. Besides the body moves there is also a whole range of facial expressions and small gestures the dancer makes (or should not make).

The costume is the best part of this dance. There are different costumes for different kinds of dances. Tribal costumes are very colorful with lots of jewelry, scarves, tassels, long skirts in a gypsy style and head wraps. Cabaret costumes are the high class among belly dance costumes. They ususally consist of a skirt, a bra, a veil, gauntlets and a headpiece. Under the skirt can be a pair of harem pants. Some materials are quite see-through so the dancer can put more layers on. She can wear 2 skirts, one long and one short. She can have a hip scarf around her waist with coins that jingles when she moves. Velvet and chiffon are the most popular materials. The costume pieces can be plain or decorated with beads, coins, fringe, tassels, pallets, small mirrors etc. It can take several weeks to decorate a bra or a belt. Costumes can cost hundreds of dollars at the store and they may not fit the dancer just right, so many dancers end up making their own. This requires traditional female craft skills and helps awaken the woman in you! It also helps you realize what body type you are, what colors suit you and what material you feel good about wearing.

This dance feels very natural to the female body and it strengthens it as well. It awakes the sensual woman in you and gives you grace and confidence. So many of us have lost touch with our own body and soul that we no longer know who we are and what we desire (besides satisfying our basic needs). At the age of blurring of the line between the two sexes and desensitizing of the general population by violence, ignorance and sheer materialism, belly dance has just the right kind of magic to return your lost female self to you.

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