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Belly Dance and its Mysterious History

How the art of Belly Dance began

The dance called  “Raqs Sharki” in Arabic (dance of the East) has been around for thousands of years. It Is known by several names: the Raks Sharki in Egypt, in Greece and Turkey as Telli Cifte Rakkase.

In the beginning of the century it was introduced with the French name “Dance du Ventre” which is the reason it has been translated into English as belly dance and Danca do Ventre in Portuguese.

There are many theories about the origins of belly dance. But there are no concrete records that prove with accuracy and clarity, the origin of belly dance.

As a result, we will speculate based on hypotheses and, at the same time, in certainties.   Some authors cite the origin of belly dance between 5,000 and 8,000 b.c.

Belly dance, above all, had a religious and ritualistic character. And although currently it has lost part of this character, it still remains the essence, where movements are linked to a series of symbols such as the archetype of the serpent.

In ancient Egypt belly dance was practiced as a way to honor the gods.

Belly dance was practiced in Tantric rituals in India. And in the Middle East it was considered as the entertainment of sultans and in marriage and fertility rituals.

Africa bequeathed to the movements of the hips a huge possibility of rhythms, in tune with the pulse emanating from Earth.

Still, acting wherever it is and getting the contribution of various cultures, the main purpose of belly dance is still the celebration of life. Over the years, it has gone through several changes, including the addition of the movements of classical ballet.

One of the styles of belly dance most studied are the following styles:

Egypt: subtle hip movements, shimmies, movements adapted from the Classical Ballet and simplified movements of arms and hands.

North America: more intense hip movements, widely developed,  Jazz movements, use of veils, more complex movements of hands and arms;

Lebanon: with wider and informal shimmies, followed by very simplified movements;

In Brazil, the practice reveals a tendency to copy the details of every culture for purposes of study and increased repertoire. The Brazilian style has been bold, communicative, humorous, rich and clear in the repertoire of movements.

The same happens in Argentina, where belly dance is much appreciated, studied and practiced.

Both physical and psychological benefits are proven. Working with breathing, contraction and belly distention, to learn the so famous waves, resulting in stronger and more defined abdominal muscles.

Belly Dance belly is not a myth.

On the contrary, belly dance strengthens the musculature, self-esteem/self, unlocks stagnant energies. It also extends body awareness, improves posture, improves physical conditioning, decreases anxiety, relieve stress and it is good for weight loss.

In a regular class a student can lose from 300 to 600 calories depending on the movements learned that day.

Belly dance also prevents the appearance of varicose veins, being an excellent physical activity, which activates the blood circulation. And for those who don’t need to lose weight it is great for toning and muscle definition;

It is a perfect dance mode for those who want to get to know themselves spiritually and a way to find quality of life and well-being. Dancing is energy!

Finally, belly dance costumes bring a especial touch to the art with dancers showing advanced skills with veils, wings, candelabra and swords among other props commonly used by dancers.

Let’s get fit and shimmy our way to better health and happiness!


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