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The Belly Dance, also known as Raqs Sharqi or more commonly Oriental Dance,  is one of the oldest form of dance and ritual expression.  Unlike its namesake,  the whole body is actually involved with.a biased emphasis on the hips.  

As a unique dance derivitive from ancient Mesopotamia,  artifacts have been found in Anatolia (modern Turkey) dating back to 10,000 B.C.  

 Egyptians also expressed this dance through ritualistic performances to the Goddesses,  Isis, Hathor, Neith and Maat.

The ancient ritual of dancing at the social occasions of an engagement, wedding, and birth of a child has found expression in every culture of the Middle East. Egypt, Iraq (Babalonia), Turkey, Iran (Persia), Lebanon (Phoenicia), Syria (Assyria), Morroco, Tunisia, Algeria, Greece and the rest of Arabia have styles of this dance richly represented in their cultural history. It thrives to this day only being restricted by Islam.

precision and discipline of classical ballet and the fluid undulations and crisp locks of Oriental dance.Choreographer, candelabra, sword, vases or goblets, veil and finger cymbals. cane


Raqs Sharqi has particularly flourished and developed in Egypt. The "Orientalists" who travelled with Napoleon in 1798 first described this dance from their explorations of Egypt and Arabia. They named it "le dance du ventre" (dance of the stomach). The dance was much more abdominal then as compared to today. The term belly dance was coined at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, where a troupe of Algerian dancers performed. The star of the show was called "Little Egypt".

From the 19th century through the first few decades of the 20th century, professional dancers in Egypt were classified as either Ghawazee (which translates as "invaders of the heart") or Awalim. The Ghawazee were gypsies, usually performing outside or in courtyards. The Awalim were more educated women, who danced, sang, played instruments, and recited poetry. They were invited to perform in the homes of the wealthy and in courts.

Up to the 1930's, dancers performed mostly in people's homes, coffee shops, courtyards, palaces or courts. Then in Cairo, a Lebanese woman named Badia Mansabny opened a nightclub called "Casino Badia" which was fashioned after European cabarets. A diverse program featured Oriental entertainment in the form of dancers, singers, musicians and comedians. Having formerly been performed in rather small places, Raqs Sharqi now had to be adapted for a larger stage. European dance instructors helped train the Oriental dancers and added elements from other dance traditions, in particular ballet. The unadulterated version of Egyptian dance is Baladi, which is always performed as a solo dance.

It was during this time that the two-piece costume with sequins, which we now associate inseparably with Oriental dance, came into vogue. New rhythms including Latin beats were introduced into the music. Special music was composed for these productions, and to this day the music is constantly being inspired and created for the performance of the dancers.

It was also at this time that many films were being produced in Egypt, including musicals featuring an Oriental dancer. Many dancers for these films were "discovered" in Badia Mansabny's Casino. Two of the most famous, Tahia Carioca and Samia Gamal, started as chorus girls and proceeded to become the stars of Egyptian cinema. Through exposure in these films, as well as in the Casino, dancers achieved a celebrity status which could never have been achieved in the past.

Today famous dancers perform in the floorshows of the five-star hotels, at weddings, in films, in the theatre, and in nightclubs. The dance is flourishing all over the world and is enjoying its greatest popularity ever.