Thursday, February 19, 2009

Want More on Belly Dancing History?

Things have been pretty quiet on this blog for a very long time, but I have some good news. I have created one Belly Dancing blog that covers ALL aspects on Belly Dancing, including Belly Dancing History.

So, please head over there and take a look. I think you'll enjoy it, especially the Legends of Belly Dance series that I have started.

Labels: ,

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Who Invented Belly Dancing?

Oriental or Middle Eastern dance is actually comprised of many different traditions of dance spanning many centuries. Each region had its own dances which share similarities but also differences in style.

The term Belly Dancing only came into use in the early 20th century as a result of a French revue which called a form of this dance "Danse du ventre" or "Dance of the Stomach." This modern name for the ancient forms of dance encompasses a long tradition of dance, as well as the more modern forms that have developed since, such as Egyptian Cabaret and ATS.

Labels: ,

Monday, November 27, 2006

Belly Dancing History and Origins

Taken from the book "Oriental Dance: Discovering the Art of Belly Dancing"

Oriental Dance, in one form or another, has been around for millennia, tracing back to a time before recorded history.

Belly dancing is Oriental.

In this case, Oriental means Eastern, as in Near East, Middle East and/or Far East. Belly dancing was not introduced to the Western (European and American) worlds until the 18th century, and was seen only rarely until the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Examples of the various styles encompassed by the name belly dancing can be found in cultures across the Eastern world, from India to Egypt, from North Africa to Spain, where the development of Flamenco dancing is attributed to the Moorish dancers in the area through the 700s. Even the dances of Polynesia bear striking similarity to Oriental dance.

These styles all have their own cultural and geographical differences, but share elements such as a focus on controlled muscle movement in the abdomen and hips, delicate and deliberate hand motions, and a lack of jumping or movement in a large area.

Belly dancing was performed in praise of, or to honor a goddess.

Throughout human history, dance has been a part of many cultures as a way to honor gods. Native Americans in the United States and tribes in Africa have used dance to call to the gods, to ask for favorable results in endeavors or to appease an angry god. Archeological research suggests that prehistoric tribes often worshipped fertility and a Great Mother goddess, and that dance was a part of such worship.

Painted dancing figures have been discovered on tomb walls that date back to 5,000 BC, and dance was a major component of goddess worship in ancient Greece. Dancing in the temples of goddesses continued until the last was closed by Christians in 500 AD.

Belly dancing was a part of local and folk dance traditions.

Every tribe, every culture, developed its own dance traditions. Typically, these dances were done as part of gatherings and celebrations. Due to conquests of different lands throughout the world’s history, these local dances were shared with other societies. Because belly dancing was likely a part of individual societies and then shared with other groups, part of belly dancing’s origins came from local and folk dancing found in small populations.

Belly dancing was to honor and to help a woman ready for childbirth.

There are some who believe that belly dancing was used to help women prepare their bodies for birth. Oriental dance makes use of muscles throughout the abdomen, hips and pelvis that, when toned and strengthened, can help make birth easier. For those early, goddess-worshipping societies, it only makes sense that birth would be celebrated as part of the fertility rites.

For further information on "Oriental Dance: Discovering the Art of Belly Dancing" please visit the Belly Dancing Secrets website and sign-up for the Belly Dancing Newsletter

technorati tags:, , , ,

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Belly Dancing: What's In A Name?

Belly Dance - Over 100 Years with the Wrong Name

Belly dancing is practised and enjoyed by people around the world, but few realise that the name they lovingly know it by was really just an accident.

Rightfully, Belly Dance should be known as Oriental Dance or Raks Sharqi, "Dance of the East", a collection of similar dance styles that originated in the Near East, Middle East and/or Far East. There are actually more names that could be used depending on the individual styles such as "Baladi" meaning "dance from the country" or the Turkish and Greek name "Oryantal Dansi" meaning "Dance Oriental".

So, where did the name "Belly Dance" come from?

This genre of dance was not properly introduced to the Western World until the 18th century and even then was rarely seen until the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1893, Oriental Dancers performed at the World Exposition in Chicago and caused quite a stir due to cultural attitudes of the time. This was further exacerbated by burlesque performers, who took aspects of the dance and created their own titillating routines that bore no real resemblance to the traditional dances of the East but convinced Westerners that it was a sexual and immoral dance.

In a French review, a similar style of dance was labeled "Danse Du Ventre" or "Dance of the Stomach" which is believed to have quickly developed into the name Belly Dance. Even today that name causes dismay among lovers of Oriental Dance who see it as tainting the origins of the ancient art form.

Belly Dance is not even a good description. Belly Dancing does require movement of the abdominal muscles but is a dance of the whole body, incorporating upper and lower body muscle isolations, graceful arm movements, hip rolls and pelvic tilts.

However unsuitable the name might be, Belly Dance is known and recognised the world over. Instructors may prefer to label their classes "Oriental Dance" or "Raks Sharqi" but the recognition that the name Belly Dance brings will continue to ensure its use, at least in the West, for many years to come.

About the Author

Issy Hart writes about the art of Belly Dancing in several blogs including Belly Dancing Costumes and Belly Dancing Music

technorati tags:, , , ,

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Welcome to Belly Dancing History

Welcome to Belly Dancing History. A blog dedicated to the origins and history of Oriental Dance (Belly Dance) and its various styles.