A beautiful and distinct ancient dance form, belly dance or raks (raqs) sharki (also called danse orientale), has
a deep history dating back thousands of years in the Middle East. It is a dance of celebration and is done
by women of all shapes and sizes. It is a dance of beauty and feminitity and embraces and celebrates the true
beauty of the woman.
Although most often characterized by sharp, sensual and isolated movements
of the torso and hips, belly dance is performed using every body muscle- including those in the arms and hands.
only is belly dance fun to watch and to learn, but it has many health benefits as well. It has a healing quality (physical
and emotional), improves muscle tone and flexibility, promotes healthy weight loss, improves balance and coordination, builds
stamina and strength, helps to maintain a healthy metabolism and can help to condition the body for childbirth.
One of the biggest myths is that belly dance is a dance of seduction performed to and for male audiences. In
fact, bellydance tradition handed down through generations of women states that belly dance originated as a dance to celebrate
and promote fertility and healthy childbirths. It was a dance to celebrate mother earth to many. It is thought
that belly dance aides women in preparing their abdominal muscles for labor and even today, in places accross the Middle
East and in North Africa, many of these movements are used in birthing rituals. In countries across the globe, many
couples hire belly dancers to perform at their weddings as it is thought to bless the couple with a future of fertility and
Moreover, in the harem sub-culture, it is noted that women would enetertain each
other by belly dancing for one another. Contrary to what many believe, the women in the harems would rarerly even see
the king or sultan.
For more reading on this and other belly dance myths vs. fact, check out the link below:
Fact or Fantasy by Shira