I hope that this week is going well for you. I recently had to rededicate myself to a consistent workout plan. This time I'm being sure to vary my workouts to keep them interesting and fun. Along w/my beloved yoga, aerobics and a little bit of jogging, I've added belly dancing. SO EXCITED!! I actually joined a gym close to my home that offers belly dancing as one of its many classes. So of course, the day I joined I went to the class. I have to say that it was awesome! I honestly did not expect to break a sweat but I DID! It was fun, challenging and yes, sensual once I got into some of the moves. It was just as fun as a pole dancing class I took. (Whole 'notha post. Lol.)
Here's a little info on this form of dance that you may find interesting.
The origins of belly dancing, though unclear, can be traced to the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Africa. In fact, in the Arabic language, the term belly dancing is Raqs Sharqi and in Turkish, it is Oryantal dansi. The Turkish term Oryantal dansi can be roughly translated to mean "exotic oriental dance" and the Arabic term Raqs Sharqi is claimed to be of Egyptian origins. Because these terms suggested an exotic dance that originated elsewhere, the art of belly dance was held in higher esteem than local dances.
Historical evidence shows Egyptian tomb paintings dating from as far back as the fourteenth century BC that depict partially clad dancers whose callisthenic positions appear to be very similar to those used in belly dancing. Belly Dancing also has been depicted in Persian miniature paintings from the 12th and 13th centuries.
The dance form we call "belly dancing" is derived from traditional women's dances of the Middle East and North Africa. Women have always belly danced, at parties, at family gatherings, and during rites of passage. A woman's social dancing eventually evolved into belly dancing as entertainment ("Dans Oryantal" in Turkish and "Raqs Sharqi" in Arabic). Although the history of belly dancing is murky prior to the late 1800s, many experts believe its roots go back to the temple rites of India. Probably the greatest misconception about belly dance is that it is intended to entertain men. This mistaken belief was due largely to the popularized connotation between belly dancing and exotic harems due largely to the Romanticism movement in the 18th and 19th century as artists depicted their interpretation of harem life of the Ottoman Empire. In reality, because segregation of the sexes was common in the part of the world that produced belly dancing, men often were not allowed to be present. In fact, belly dancing was never intended to be seen by men at all.
That belly dance developed from social dancing helps explain its long lasting popularity. Belly dancing offers women a community of friends that share and celebrate joy in music, and creates self-confidence through artistic self-expression, in an art form that embraces all body types. The belly dance is natural to a woman's bone and muscle structure. It is uniquely designed for the female body, with an emphasis on abdominal muscles, hip moves, and chest moves. It is firm and earthy, traditionally with bare feet connected to the ground. It is a dance characterized by smooth, flowing, complex, and sensual movements of the torso, alternated with shaking and shimmy type moves. The movements center on the torso rather than the legs and feet, as is common in Western dance. The belly dancer isolates parts of her body, to move each independently in a completely feminine interpretation of the music. The music seems to emanate from her body, as sometimes she emphasizes the rhythm, sometimes the melody of the song. Bellydance is often performed barefoot, now thought by many to signify the intimate and ancient physical connection between the dancer, the music, and Mother Earth, although historically, most dancers were barefoot because they could not afford shoes.
Belly dance was introduced to America when a dancer known as Little Egypt performed at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. Americans were fascinated (and scandalized!) by the freedom and rhythms of the dance and the music, and thus began a fascination with the "exotic Orient." Early Hollywood fell in love with the dancing girls and created glamorous flowing costumes based as much on Leon Bakst's fantasies as on garments of the Middle East. Dancers in the Middle East, who were developing belly dance in its native lands, adopted these colorful interpretations.
There are various forms of belly dancing, including Turkish, Egyptian Oriental, and American Tribal.
**Resources for the above information are Wellesley.edu and Bellydance.org**