What is Bellydance?

What is Bellydance?


Belly dancing. You've probably heard of that term before; you may have even of heard of the term Raqs Sharqi, which is often used synonymously with Belly dance. The dance as an art form has existed for many centuries and its origins are still debated. For a long time, the dance was performed by women, for women, but during the 1920's it began to evolve into a performing art. Various styles began to emerge, giving rise to a variety of dancers. Here's a rough idea of the variety that exists today. 


 Dance forms derived from the Middle East: 

  In addition to Raqs Sharqi, which is actually a term for an Egyptian style of belly dance, we have Turkish, Persian, Gypsy and Greek Belly dance variations. Within the Egyptian-derived styles alone, we have styles like Saidi, a folkloric dance with the cane and Sha'abi, which is considered a street dance. The dance forms that are derived from the middle east continue to evolve as well. 


Dance forms derived in the US

   Belly dance became popular in the US during the 60's and 70's as part of the women's liberation movement. During that time, several prominent artists emerged including Jamilah Salimpoor and, later, her daughter Suhaila Samilpoor. The art form began to grow and change with the rise of American Tribal Style, which was more earthy than traditional belly dance. A style called tribal fusion, which fused elements of ATS and classical belly dance, but also other dances, was born as well. Each style has continued to evolve and create variations. 


Belly dance throughout the world 

   Belly dance in all of its forms has gotten popular. In many places throughout the world, communities of dancers exist who are learning and innovating styles. One major trend that I've noticed is the transformation of belly dance to a more theatrical art. Belly dance Evolution, run by Jillina Carlano, has toured the world with several stories, including Alice in Wonderland, that is being told through dance- including belly dance.

Published by Irina Yakubin

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