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