The Vintage Art of Arab Belly Dancing
Many cultures, countries and even the whole human society has seen many fads and tendencies for dancing over the years and even centuries. None, however, is as venerable and still to this day mystically fascinating as Arab Belly Dancing. Since the dawn of civilization has this art form been learned, practiced and admired. But what do we really know about it?
Origins of an Art Form
What we today call Arab Belly Dancing, has it came to be known in the late 19th Century for the French qualification Danse du ventre, is referred to in traditional Arabic Language as Raqs Sharqui (Eastern Dance) or Raqs Baladi (Folk Dance). A unique origin for the dance itself would be quasi-impossible to pin down as it is derived from many ritualistic and artistic forms of dancing observed and practiced in many antique civilizations. Parts of it can be traced to the Empire of Alexander the Great, some to ancient Egypt and others even in India.
Practiced began to spread over the western world near the end of the Ottoman Empire, as the 19th Century was bowing to the 20th, where middle-eastern dancers would be invited to exhibit their prowess in various world fairs and important social gatherings. Popularity then increased with famous dancers borrowing from such an art, like the mystique Mata Hari. Inevitably though, moral censorship was quickly applied to the sensuality of Arab Belly Dancing, which garnered restrictions and banishment in many parts of the world, some for a very long time.
A Unique Style and Look
Costumes as we see worn today for Arab Belly Dancing are not necessarily in tone with their original counterparts. The accoutrement most popular and today associated with Arab Belly Dancing, called Bedlah (meaning Suit in Arab), comes mostly from fantasies captured by Hollywood and the entertainment industry in the early 20th Century.
In any variation, the costume usually consists of a top or bra and hip belt, both fringed with beads or coins, completed by one or more skirts layered in different patterns. Practitioners of the western world often add a veil, worn the entire length of the dance, to add exotic qualities to audience’s experience.
A Technical Tummy
Techniques used to perform Arab Belly Dancing will most usually be customized by the dancer, but always with the same basis consisting of performing circular motions isolated in one part of the body. Rolling belly muscles, striking the shoulder and hips and coordinating the body’s movement and balance with a scarf or silk veil are the primary motions presented. Although less known and popular, Arab Belly Dancing is also practiced, in some form, by men who display the same type of movements but with different kinds of props, like swords and canes to turn the feat into a display of masculinity.
More Than Art
Arab Belly Dancing offers more than entertainment, as it is considered a very beneficial work out for whoever practices or simply learn it. The dance and its movements help improve muscle flexibility and increases cardio-vascular capacity. Not to mention the emotional expression involved that constitutes a surplus in the mental health department.
A good show, a fine sport, and a memorabilia of civilizations long gone or evolved. Arab Belly Dancing offers more than meets the eye, even if what does has much interest in itself.
By MemoryCatcher from Pixabay