"It is the darkness that is the light, and the stillness that is the dancing"
Sexuallity vs. sensuality is what nude belly dancing is all about.
Middle Eastern Dance forms originated out of sacred settings. Dance was engaged in for birthing rituals, healing ceremonies and other sacred occasions involving temple dancing rituals originating from Pagan times when the Great Mother Goddess was respected and honoured as God is today.
The dance that we now see as 'Belly dance' is viewed by some as a debasement of the original sacred dances that were performed for specific functions and not for entertainment or to be seen by men. So then how has this dance come to be so far removed from its former functions?
It began with the change from matriarchal to patriarchal rule. When it was introduced to the West (there was no nude belly dancing then) through the writings and paintings of travellers, and on a larger scale, at the World Fair in Chicago at the end of the eighteenth century where it was employed as an educational insight into the cultures of exotic lands, the responses to witnessing this dance were of shock. The social conditioning of the times was already cast in a patriarchal mould and the setting and reasons for the dance had lost their original context and meaning. So when the dance emerged in the west and in times dominated by a patriarchal mindset, we see a transformation, a moving from the sacred to the profane.
On the subject of nude belly dancing, I do not know of one belly dancer who does this in public or who would publish pictures about it, because then you leave the realm of belly dancing and enter the realm of erotic dancing.
Belly dance performance is about sensuality and the true strength of female sexuality, which seems to have lost its reverence and scared respect and has been reinterpreted in the language of lust. For the woman dancing it is affirming her sexuality, affirming that she is a woman. A woman's body is sensual, even if it is walking down the street in jeans and a T-shirt.
And because of this, this dance can, and has, been taken into the realm of the erotic dance of today which, like all dance, has it's roots in the sacred dances of women, and which is now performed out of original context, for the entertainment of a dominantly male audience, again reaffirming the change in perception of female sexuality that emerged with the patriarchal world.
You don't need to practice nude belly dancing to learn how to belly dance!