I am a big fan of belly dancing and this is why I am writing this article to let you know what belly dancing is all about. The sensual movements of the dance first caught my attention when I saw the Canadian Singer Shakira’s ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ song. I then searched through all her performances on the Internet and tried copying the dance moves and I did succeed to a little extent. The most important thing in any dance style is the technique and belly dancing too requires you to master the basic techniques of it.

The Origin and Styles

Belly dance is a traditional West Asian dance form that specially belongs to Arabia. It is also called the Middle Eastern dance or the Arabic dance. In French belly dance was called “danse du ventre” that implied the dance of the Victorian era. Many experts believe that it is one of the most ancient forms of dance in the world. There is also a big misconception among people around the world that this dance form was meant to just entertain men as it involved sensual movements of the belly and hips. The dance however is best suited to a women’s body due to the gracefulness in the movements. There are two known types of belly dancing that are known. Both types are Arabic in origin.

  • Raqs sharqi – This style of dancing has been adapted by the westerners and is more popular among them. Generally solo performances are given but it may be performed by a group of dancers.
  • Raqs baladi- it is generally performed in the Middle Eastern countries during the festivals or special occasions at social gatherings. Both men and women are performers in this type.

The costume – Bedleh style

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The costume in a dance adds to the glamour quotient of the dancer. In belly dancing the belly dancer wears a bedleh style costume that includes a fitted top or blouse that may have decorations or embroidery work along with beads or coins, a skirt or harem pants along with a fitted hip belt that is beautifully decorated with beads or sequins and has hangings too. The belt worn around the hips looks stunning during the dance vibrations and movements. It can be a separate piece of clothing or can be attached to the skirt or the harem pants. The dresses can be altered by choice. Generally the belly area is left nude so that the isolations in the belly dance are visible clearly. One can use bright and well fitted costumes to get the perfect getup for the dance.

Steps you would love and the techniques behind them

As I said earlier body isolations are an important part of belly dance. It involves isolations of the hips, chest, shoulders and stomach. The posture and technique is as important as in every dance form. The main isolations are of the hip and the pelvic area of the body. The main moves you must know are-

  • Vibrations or shimmer If you have watched Shakira’s very popular song you will be able to recognize the dance move I am talking about. It is the vibration of the hips. A shimmering vibration of the hips is be done by moving the slightly bent knees past each other at a good speed.
  • Hip-hits It is the short and sharp hip movement. It is done by isolating the hip from the body and moving it up and down from the waist area. The belly dancer should bent a little on her knees and stand on toes to do the move perfectly.
  • Undulations of the hips or chest- staccato moves These are basically graceful circular movements of the hips, chest or the abdomen. My favorite is the horizontal and vertical eight belly dance movement that requires the hip to be moved in a fluid movement as if making an imaginary horizontal or vertical eight using the hips. One needs to stand on her toes and bent her knees a little and then raise on side of the hip up and out of the body as far as one can and then making a full semicircle outwards putting the raised toe to the ground and repeating the same move on the other side of the hip in a continuous and smooth fashion. Center yourself between each move and then gradually move to the next side. There is also a belly dance move that requires the body to me moved with fluidity as if riding on a camel.

Dance that keeps you fit and healthy

Belly dance requires extensive movements of the belly and the whole body thus adding to the benefit of those who want to keep fit and increase their flexibility. It has been found that it helps in prevention of Osteoporosis in old age. Besides inculcating flexibility it also makes one graceful. The moves are said to be beneficial for the spine as it includes stretching and lengthening of the spine thus exercising the spine muscles. It also includes movements of the abdomen and hands, legs and shoulders thus building strength and flexibility of these body parts. Hard core belly dancers maintain a flat belly that makes them look stunning during their performances. To maintain a flat belly the dancers usually avoid high cholesterol products and go for a strict diet. Belly dance has been adapted as a fitness regime in many countries like US. There are innumerable fitness videos available on the internet based solely on belly dance. Belly dance fitness classes have emerged since the last few years in many countries.

Belly dance bollywood style

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The growing popularity of belly dance around the world has attracted the Indian filmmakers too. They too have started cashing down on its popularity. The recent comeback movie of the petite and beautiful actress Rani Mukherjee had a full song choreographed on belly dance. The actress gracefully did the belly dance moves in her song and that became a hit instantly topping the list of most viewed songs on the internet. This grand popularity of this dance is evident from the growing adaptation of belly dance in the Bollywood songs and dance performances across the country. Katrina Kaif and Kareena Kapoor are too part of the bandwagon of actresses who have adapted to the new form of dance that is being loved by every age group in India and around the globe. The song from the Bollywood movie Tees Mar Khan namely “Sheila ki Jawani” became a rage among youngsters had Katrina Kaif dancing to the tunes of Bollywood song performing belly dance. She even showed some belly dance moves in the blockbuster movie 'Ek tha Tiger's song "massalah". Many dance shows telecast on the Indian television have belly dancers as participants too.

What to do if you wish to learn?

If you too have that desire to learn belly dance and wish to learn it as a hobby then you can go for a professional training. There are many belly dance institutes coming up however not at all places. An easy option can be learning it on your own at home by watching videos on the internet or DVDs available in the market. There are many famous trained belly dancers who have launched their DVDs in the market to teach belly dance to beginners or to the aspirants who want to learn it as a hobby. There are step to step learning guides for each and every dance move available on you tube videos on the internet and DVDs.

You must not forget warming up

This happens with most of the dancers who learn through online videos. They forget to include warm up exercises before indulging in the dance steps. One must do stretching exercises before practicing the moves to avoid injury. Your knees, back. Neck and ankles are the most susceptible parts of the body that can be injured during belly dance. Warming up exercises must included before the dance session for about 15 to 20 minutes as cold muscles are more prone to injuries.

My conclusions

Belly dance is growing in popularity all over the world particularly among the young women across the globe. It is mostly done on beats that are Arabic in origin but lately it is being adapted along with every kind of music with or without lyrics. There are many modifications that have been made in different countries according to one’s taste and choice. So if you are a belly dance fan like me you can learn it through the coaching classes or you have the internet at your disposal too. I have learned it through the internet and have even given a dance performance at my college for which I received many compliments. So it is not a difficult dance form and just requires the understanding of the techniques and a lot of practice. But do not forget to include warm up exercises or stretching before learning your favorite dance moves. Follow a good diet plan to attain a perfect flat belly so that the dance moves look mesmerizing on you. Everyone can learn it provided you want to. So take the first step and groove sensually to the music.


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