May 12 - World Belly Dance Day

(Second Saturday in May)
Posted on May 12, 2018

Belly dancing is...

...a dance style, an art form, a cultural exploration and expression, even a sport! It's entertainment - and World Bellydance Day founder Lydia Tzigane says it's family entertainment!

Celebrating all of that is what today is all about...but it's also a charity event. The folks who participate in WBDD - people spread out over five continents! - raise money for a variety of good causes.

Some people call belly dance "Arabic dance." This dance style has a long history in the Middle East, Egypt, and in southern Spain. Since it is so ancient (literally ancient, with Ancient Greek and Roman sources referring to it), it's hard to know exactly where the dance form had its start.

There are two kinds of belly dance. One is a social dance performed by ordinary people (men and boys as well as women and girls) in ordinary clothing. The other is performance dance, with one or a group of dancers - many times professional dancers - performing for an audience. Usually costumes - often very fancy and sparkly costumes! - are involved.

Some belly dancers are men!

The modern belly dance style and costume evolved in Cairo, Egypt, and has been enshrined in Egyptian movies. In Turkey, belly dancers are particularly energetic, even athletic, and generally use finger cymbals. Lebanese belly dance includes some kicks and floor work such as splits. 

What all of these versions have in common is the complicated movements of the torso (the belly), with swaying and undulation shimmying and isolations of torso muscles. 

An emphasis is also placed on hips, similar to many Pacific Islander dance styles.

Nowadays, the birthplace of belly dance may not be the best place to see belly dance, because dancers - especially female dancers - are not considered respectable. Most versions of the Islam religion frown upon a woman showing off her body.

Luckily for belly dancing in general, interest in it has spread over the world!

Check out this example of belly dance - performed by kids!

Here is a veil dance.

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