top of page


What is the Belly Dance?

Belly dance has its origin in the Middle East. The drawings of belly dancers can be observed on the ancient Egyptian murals which dated as far back as 1500 B.C. Belly dancing has been the entertainment among Middle Eastern women. In the Ottoman Empire, belly dance also became one of the dances inside of the palaces. In the 20th century, the belly dance started to spread to the Western countries and is performed in public places.

The belly dance features movements of the hips and torso, with the focus on isolations of the torso muscles, it forms various combinations of smooth or accented movements. The dance also has emphasis on the delicate expression of the music and/or its emotions. In some middle eastern cultures, dance is also considered as one of the music instruments. 

The Origin of the Belly Dance

In Arabic, the belly dance is called Raqs Baladi or Raqs Sharqi, which means the dance of the country, or dance of the east. In Turkish, it is called Oryantal dans, also means dance of the east. It is believed that this name originated from the idea that Romani people who travelled from the north of India brought and developed this dance, hence the word oriental, the east of the Middle East.


Movements found in belly dance

( excerpts from )

In common with most folk dances, there is no universal naming scheme for belly dance movements. Many dancers and dance schools have developed their own naming schemes, but none of these is universally recognized. The following attempt at categorization reflects the most common naming conventions:

  • Percussive: Staccato movements, most commonly of the hips, used to punctuate the music or accent a beat. Lifts or drops of the hips, chest or rib cage, shoulder accents, hip rocks, hits, and twists.

  • Fluid: Flowing, sinuous movements in which the body is in continuous motion, used to interpret melodic lines and lyrical sections in the music, or modulated to express complex instrumental improvisations. These movements require a great deal of abdominal muscle control. Typical movements include horizontal and vertical figures of 8 or infinity loops with the hips, horizontal or tilting hip circles, and undulations of the hips and abdomen. These basic shapes may be varied, combined, and embellished to create an infinite variety of complex, textured movements.

  • Shimmies, shivers and vibrations: Small, fast, continuous movements of the hips or ribcage, which create an impression of texture and depth of movement. Shimmies are commonly layered over other movements, and are often used to interpret rolls on the tablah or riq or fast strumming of the oud or qanun (instrument). There are many types of shimmy, varying in size and method of generation. Some common shimmies include relaxed, up and down hip shimmies, straight-legged knee-driven shimmies, fast, tiny hip vibrations, twisting hip shimmies, bouncing 'earthquake' shimmies, and relaxed shoulder or rib cage shimmies.

In addition to these torso movements, dancers in many styles will use level changes, traveling steps, turns, and spins. The arms are used to frame and accentuate movements of the hips, for dramatic gestures, and to create beautiful lines and shapes with the body. Other movements may be used as occasional accents, such as low kicks and arabesques, backbends, and head tosses.

Belly dance is for who?

Belly dance is an ancient form of dance, which originated from the admiration of nature and fertility. It is totally ergonomic and natural for human bodies. Therefore, you don't need to have a special background like ballet or gymnastics. Instead, what you need to do only, is to relax, melt into the music, feel your femininity, be friend of your body, express your emotions while awakening your control over specific muscles.

How can belly dance keep me in shape?

To belly dance, you need to train the muscle strength of each individual part of your body, such as neck, shoulders, arms, belly, waist and legs. When you train these areas, you will find your old pain disappeared, and replaced by firmness, mobility and elasticity. Furthermore, the characteristics of belly dance flatter female bodies. In other words, all shapes are good shapes in the world of belly dancing.


What should I wear when belly dancing?

In ancient times, nudity was not regarded as taboo, but was regarded as a symbol of auspiciousness. In addition, belly dancing originated from the worship of the earth and the power of the goddess, emphasizing the dancing of the chest, abdomen and hips that represent the origin of human life. Generally, professional belly dancers dress to reveal the abdomen and emphasize the curves of the chest and hips, so they can fully show the features and beauty of the dance. Just like ballet dancers always wear tight outfits to show the extension of their limbs, belly dancers dress for the perfect display of the dance. After all, those delicate movements cannot be seen if the chest, abdomen and arms are covered. In addition, because belly dance is often performed at night and indoors, professional belly dance costumes are often covered with gorgeous and shiny jewelry in order to make the movements more visible and dazzling.

However, a professional costume is only needed in performances. In the class, or in our daily life, we only need to wear something soft and tight and reveal our belly and arms, similar to the outfit of yoga, except that it is preferably to wear low cut pants so the movement of the pelvis can be observed. 



as Your Best Instrument


bottom of page