"It is the darkness that is the light, and the stillness that is the dancing"

TS Elliot

Belly Dance

Dance of the Orient...

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This is the home of belly dance. A living world of Middle Eastern dance where you can immerse yourself in its movement and colour, its costume and history. So much more than dance and entertainment... its a unique living culture.

Greetings, Salaam Aleikum, Shalom, to the world of Middle Eastern dance. It's Arabic name is 'Raqs Sharqi' (pronounced ra_s Shar_i ) in Arabic because the sound of the 'q' in Arabic is 'Qaulf” - (a deep throated glotteral stopish sound), meaning dance of the Orient; or raqs baladi, which relates more to the folkloric styles, meaning 'dance of my country' or 'dance of my people'. In Turkish it is 'Rakkase'.

Most of us know it as 'belly dance'... a name given to it by Americans who translated the name coined by the French, 'dance du ventre', meaning dance of the stomach. Still others know it as 'Oriental dance' which is the translation of the Arabic 'Raqs Sharqi', though probably the best name for it would be 'Dance of the Women', for it truly is natural in form and function to the body of a woman, and it resonates with the bodies of some men too.

Dance is the movement of a body, as a means of expression, a non-verbal communication that can express more as a tool in certain situations than words. To express the abstracts, the subtlety of emotion and the extreme high's and low's of life experience. It is beautiful poetry in motion.

In this website you will be taken on a journey through all the aspects of Belly dance. Although I prefer to call it 'Middle Eastern dance', I have, in place of this, used the most commonly understood western term, 'Belly dance' I aim to provide you with all the information and inspiration you could ask for on this topic...

  • you can find articles and stories by belly dancers and audience members
  • you can read about its origins and where it is today
  • listen to and learn about Middle Eastern, belly dance music
  • you may find the souq with all sorts of delights to buy, belly dance costumes for the professional and for training, and tips on how to make your own
  • all the styles of belly dance costume from Cabaret to Tribal including jewellery, hip scarves, tassel belts, and more
  • you can learn about famous belly dancers from the past and present
  • you'll find information on where you can take lessons and a practical instructional introduction to basic belly dance moves
  • also information on belly dance fitness describing the physical, mental and emotional benefits you could expect from practicing this dance

But most of all this web site is designed to allow you to fall in love with this dance and to inspire you to dance in love with yourself.

Belly Dance is the name given to a dance originating in the Middle East and in its original form, if that may be defined, is performed to Middle Eastern music. Belly dance is composed of isolated movements generated primarily by the core muscles of the human body, combined with snake like arm and hand movements and with the influence of western dance forms such as ballet. Jumps, spins and travelling steps are sometimes included.

Contortion also comes into belly dance like backbends and splits, along with the incorporation of props that are balanced on the body of the dancer or used in particular traditional forms of this dance such as the cane in the Saiidi dance from southern Egypt.

Belly dance engages geometry that describes a higher order. The circle described by the hips, wrists, ribs and neck is a symbol relating to divinity, to perfection. The figure of eight or infinity symbol as it appears on the horizontal or vertical axis describes timelessness, continuity and unity.

It is playful and serious, a sensual dance. The Belly Dance has been described by Wendy Buonaventura as much like the intricate carpet designs from the East. Created from a fabric that does not hold itself in space or time, from the subtle energy threads of the body, an ethereal substance, that once woven and complete vanishes to the eye but lingers in the soul.

There is no one focus, every movement, every facet, be it sculpted pose or rhythmic execution, is beautiful in it's own and woven together these aspects create an overall tapestry that is itself beautiful as a whole; one pattern seamlessly choreographed into the next, laced together out of a variety of movements from slow, sensual, serpentine isolations to fast staccato accents and a drum role shaking of the hips and belly.

Belly dance is the expression of the feminine spirit.

"It was the suppleness of the serpent joined to the grace of the gazelle."

-Paul Lenoir-

The movements draw on the wisdom and imagination of the body, it therefore means that any woman can do this dance and that the dance vocabulary can be woven together in new and imaginative ways that are relevant to our day and age.

To re-enact stories past, as reminders of life's values and lessons, to breathe life into ancient myths and rituals, to illustrate a vision of the present or future, or just for the true pleasure of dancing one's body!

“To enter sacred time in the dance is to enter the eternal and timeless, which is identical with the here and now. To become one with all creation is the mark of the divine, and for man signifies paradise. This condition implies that the created world, and thus time and motion, are transcended, and the original union, stasis, is achieved.”

-Maria Gabriele Wosien : Sacred Dance

It cannot be said that this dance is easy to do, to execute the movements properly takes years of training, but the beauty is that there is no pressure, it is fun to do and once you've started you probably wont want to stop.

You have to let yourself go to the rhythms and emotions of yourself and the music, engage yourself wholly with it, the technical aspects cover only half of what it means to dance.

Take a moment to reflect on what brought you to this art form, what it is you want to learn from it, and what your intentions are in practicing it, for this focus will help you in mastering the art and in understanding, practicing and sharing it from your own personal space, it will allow you to understand and interpret this dance from a very individual view point which will strengthen your own character and enhance your skill in the dance.

Belly dance is wonderful for so many things...

  • for fitness, co-ordination and strength
  • especially good for strengthening the abdomen for childbirth which it is guessed gave rise to the tummy role
  • for calming the mind and centring our awareness in our bodies
  • for releasing built up tension and stress from body/mind
  • for inspiring the passion back into our lives, or for expressing the passion we already know
  • for reminding our bodies and minds about the feminine aspect of our nature
  • it is an amazing tool for taking back one's power, for realizing our equality and unity
  • it can uncover insecurities carried within us and allows us to gently release patterns that may be causing us discomfort now on emotional, mental and physical levels
  • it works from the core
  • it heals

We get as much out of the dance as we put in, so immerse yourself in it, become the Dance, be aware and conscious when you engage with movement and it will reveal secrets.

“In the dance man transcends fragmentation, which is the result of the mirror-trick that split the All into the many; and for the time of the dance he feels again at one with himself and the world around.”

-Maria Gabriele Wosien : Sacred Dance

It is a gift to all women of all races, religions and cultures for it helps us re-connect with who we are as women and allows us a space to connect with other women on a more intimate level which in the West can be lacking.

“Bedouin dance has a lot to do with the close nature of female relationships in the Arab world. This is something I miss in Europe. Women here don't have the same ease with themselves and each other's bodies as they do in my country.”

- Amel Benhassine-Miller, Wendy Buonaventura, Serpent of the Nile

Belly dance, Middle Eastern dance, is a mosaic of love, a dance for the goddess within, or however you relate to your own inner strength as a woman. It is a dance that inspires passion back into our lives if it has faded and reminds us to be aware of our bodies again, to be supple, playful and childlike, whilst simultaneously carrying and birthing the strength and power of womanhood.

It is a dance that honours the three stages of life, the three aspects of a woman.. the playfull, innocent childlike nature, the young adult, at the peak of her strength and power, and the old woman, the crone, the experienced, wise woman.

It can be danced and enjoyed by child and wise woman alike.

All information contained in this site comes from my own experience, training and study in South Africa and Egypt as well as reference from books and web resources most of which I have listed in the reference and recommended reading page.


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