The Egyptian Belly Dance

Egyptian belly dance offers an authenticity and continuity of culture that one will not find in American style. Each dance has its own unique qualities. Egyptian belly dance is an authentic ethnic dance in movement and spirit. The dance and dancer are the physical manifestation of and visual compliment to the exotic music they accompany. Egyptian belly dance was among the first styles to be witnessed by Westerners.
The exact origin of this dance form is actively debated among dance enthusiasts, especially given the limited academic research on the topic. Much of the research in this area has been done by dancers attempting to understand their dance's origins. Wherever it began, the dance has a long history in African and the Middle East. Despite the restrictions in Islam regarding portraying humans in paintings, there are several depictions of dancers throughout the pre-Islamic and Islamic world.
Because the most popular venue for the dance remains night clubs, it is this version, rather than the more traditional folk or social versions that remain the most popular. The costume now associated Egyptian belly dance is called the bedlah in Arabic (meaning "suit") and was adopted by dancers in Egypt in the 1930s. From there it spread to other countries in the region. It owes its creation to the harem fantasy productions of vaudeville, burlesque and Hollywood during the turn of the last century, rather than to actual authentic Middle Eastern dress.
Most of the basic steps and techniques used in belly dance consist of circular motions isolated in one part of the body; for example, a circle parallel to the floor isolated in the hips or shoulders. This is a very intriguing action especially when accents using "pop and lock" technique where a dancer either shimmies or makes a striking motion in her shoulders or hips. Additionally, exhibits of flexibility and rolling one's belly muscles, balancing various props like baskets, swords or canes, and dancing with chiffon or silk veils are commonly used to enhance the mystery of the dance.
Dancers typically balance swords and other props, or did snake and folk line-dances. Their costuming was and still is distinctive with black and silver asuit fabric and facial drawings to simulate tribal tattoos. Dancers may also use a length of fabric like silk or chiffon during one part of the dance sequence. In truth costumes change from place to place and from time to time if you study the development of belly dancing.
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