Belly Dancing is believed to be the most ancient and the most universal dance. It is said that it started as a worship dance for the most ancient goddess, Mother Earth. This dance depicted the combination of female sexuality, fertility and magic.
Women danced it so Mother Earth will be pleased and bless the continuity of the human race and the fertility of the earth. Women demonstrate their power and role as giver of life in this dance. Belly dancing is a symbol of maternity and the sexual movements as a preparation for birth.
Belly dancing is spread all over the world. In Greece, it became a ritual dance performed by the priestesses to honor their gods. In ancient Egypt, slave girls were trained to belly dance in order to entertain the king and his court when there are feasts. After many years, the wandering gypsies of Egypt still retained the dance to entertain the king.
As years passed, the dance began to evolve as it took different styles of dancing. When it came to America in 1893, people were amazed by the exotic dance, it became a craze and Hollywood took a lead in making it more glamorous with colorful costumes and it became a dance of self-expression.
The Evolution of Belly Dancing
As belly dancing spread out it took in many forms to incorporate the culture of each country.
Brazil combines belly dancing with its own regional dance, samba, which had the same sexual movements of the hips and flicking fingers.
Even the Spanish dance has a little touch of belly dancing as the women and men churn their hips.
In Hawaii, the movement of belly dancing is also evident in Polynesian dances. There is still the sexual hip movement and the sexy movements of the fingers.
Today, belly dancing has become a form of exercise among modern women trying to lose weight. As a workout, this dance will help women develop grace and sexy movements.
Even the costumes used have evolved. During belly dancing classes’ women wear simple clothes that are adorned with coins or beaded hip scarf so that when the hips move, they know that they are in time with the music because the coins make sounds that are in time with the music. Today, only the performance costumes depict or reflect the rich culture and history of belly dancing and the variations from which country they originate from.
Because of the evolution of the costumes, the men have also created a dance belt to hide their groins while dancing. The Dance belt has become men’s supporters even in sports.
Western belly dancers use the bedlah, which is a fitted top or bra, which are often decorated with fringes or coins and a fitted hip belt or harem pants, likewise decorated. This is introducing orientalism to the western world.
Western movies will always portray cabaret dancers as belly dancers and some movies are fantasies of the harem world of the gypsies. This has become a conglomeration of many cultures and styles, which only belly dancing can portray.