What is Belly Dancing?

Belly dancing is also called “Raks Sharki” or "Oriental Dance" and is a form of dance that many are familiar with but few understand. Originally, belly dancing was purely for entertainment and most often would be the main entertainment at wedding receptions, parties or exclusive celebrations in the Middle East. Quite often the male members of the family would join in the dance just for fun. Over the last 30 years belly dancing has become quite popular also in European countries thus creating interest in other parts of the world. It is not uncommon to see men as well as women dancers perform in cabaret.

However, belly dancing is now considered a great exercise and is used for many health reasons. The graceful hip drops, rolls and pivots of this dance utilize muscle groups in the abdomen, pelvis, trunk, spine, and neck, working with the body instead of against it and also incorporating the mind as well as the body (see Health Benefits of Belly Dancing).

History of Belly Dancing:

Turkish belly dancing has existed for more than 500 years and has a unique style. It’s considered the only belly dancing style in the world that uses uneven rhythms such as karsilama (a 9/8 beat) and devri hindi (a 7/8 beat). However, devri hindi has its roots in Hindustan.

Turkish dancers tend to be very sensual performers and their costumes leave nothing to the imagination! Dancers start performing at a very young age, unlike their Egyptian counterparts, and learn the dance basics from their mothers or grandmothers.

The most sensual Turkish dancer of all times is considered to be Prenses Banu “Princess Banu” who danced in a London restaurant called Gallipoli in 1976. Many dancers have tried to repeat her style and sensuality over the years but without success. Princess Banu remains the phenomenal belly dancer of all times.

Princess Banu:

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