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Belly dance

Belly dance is a Western name coined for a style of female dance developed in the Middle East and other Arabic-influenced areas. In Arabic language it is known as raqs sharqi or raks sharki, translated as "Dance of the East". For Europeans, this translation sounded perfectly fit, hence it was also known as "Oriental dance", "Exotic orienal dance", "Oriental belly dance" and the likes. The term as such is claimed to be originated in Egypt, although, as the name suggests, the dance itself could have been originated elsewhere. The dance has been known through the oral tradition in Egypt since the pre-Islamic times.

Table of contents
1 Raqs sharqi
2 Non-Egyptian forms
3 Belly dancing in the Western world
4 Male belly dancing
5 Health and belly dancing
6 References
7 Related links
8 External links

Raqs sharqi

Raqs sharqi is performed by women, usually solo, for entertainment of spectators in public or private settings. Despite its alias, "belly dance", raqs sharqi dancing involves motion of the whole body, from head to feet. Basically, it is an improvisational dance, although based on a certain vocabulary, rhythmic and fluid at the same time.

In Egypt, three different forms of the dance: Baladi, Sha'abi, and Sharqi are known.

Non-Egyptian forms


Belly dancing in the Western world

The term "belly dancing" is generally credited to Sol Bloom, entertainment director of the 1893 World's Fair, the World Colombian Exposition in Chicago. It was here in the Egyptian Theater, where the USA first got a look at raqs dancers, when Bloom presented "The Algerian dancers of Morocco". The dancer who stole the show, and who continued to popularize this form of dancing was "Fatima", also known as Little Egypt. Her real name was Farida Mazar Spyropoulos.

The dance performed by Little Egypt had also been called "Hootchy-Kootchy" or "Hoochee-Coochee", the origin of the name is unknown, and "danse du ventre", which is French for "belly dance".

Today the word "hootchy-kootchy" means simply an erotic suggestive dance.

Male belly dancing

(to do)

Health and belly dancing

(to do)


Donna Carlton, Looking for Little Egypt, Bloomington, IN, IDD Books, 1995.

Related links

Tsifteteli - Dance basic topics - List of dances

External links