Belly dancing is one of the most exotic form of dance that is practiced as an art, as well as a form of entertainment around the world. This is my first blog post and I thought it would be fascinating to share more about a personal interest that has such a rich history behind it! Belly dancing was said to be originated from the middle east. However, it was not called belly dancing in the past, it was rather referred to as the term "Raqs Sharqi". Till today, it is still a mystery how and when the original dance was created in ancient history, which eventually evolved into belly dance.
Belly dance may have orginated from Mesopotamia, as engravings of people that seemed to be dancing were found on some temples. Intriguingly, these same engravings were also found in Egyptian temples from 1000 B.C.E. For this blog post, the focus will be more on the history of belly dance in Egypt.
Belly dancers in Egypt were hired as a form of entertainment to dance for the kings and the dance was seen to be a form of seduction and flexibility. They were meant to be of good company as well as to set a positive mood for the kings to discuss businesses with their guests. However, as the years went by and there were no kings left, in order to continue earning a living through belly dancing, the belly dancers started performing at shows and festivals in Egypt. They also danced for private sessions for the higher class society.
Belly dancers were then separated into two classes. The Awalim [Almeh] and the Ghawazi. The Awalim were a group of educated girls thought to dance, sing and recite poetry. They were also hired to perform in festivals and as a mourner at funerals.
The Ghawazi on the other hand, were a group of female travelling dancers that were also known as gypsies. Their form of belly dancing in rural Egypt was heavily influenced by western styles such as classical ballet and Latin American dance.
Eventually, as more of the different western styles of dancing influenced the ancient form of "Raqs Sharqi", the belly dance we see today and practice are from a wide range of rich cultures blended together to create such a mesmerizing dance! There is so much history in belly dancing, this blog post was just a small portion of it therefore, if any of you would like to know more, please feel free to ask me about it and we can explore this amazing form of art together!
Professional Egyptian belly dancers Sadie & Kaya
Fun fact: Sadie and Kaya also took part in the competition America's got talent in 2010. Enjoy!