Belly Dancing

Belly dancing is one of the oldest social dances in the world. It originated in North Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. It is a dance that allows one to express their personal creativity, while getting in a great amount of exercise. The best known moves in this dance are the movements done by the abdomen. The belly may move in circular, rolling, angular, or vibrating movements.

Belly Dancing Forms

There are many different forms of belly dancing, but the two most popular ones are “raqs baladi” and “raqs sharqi”. Raqs baladi is more of a social dance done by both men and women of all ages. This form of belly dance is usually done at socially gatherings like weddings and parties. Raqs sharqi is the more theatrical version and is the most popular of the two. It too is done by men and women.

Dance Movements

The most obvious movements for belly dancing is done my the abdomen. However several other body parts move as well. A dancer must move separate body muscles at different times. Different muscle groups are isolated and move in different directions. There are sharp, angular movements. The dancer usually dances alone and covers very little floor space. Some choreographed routines are done by a group of belly dancers.

Dancing Outfits

Most dancers wear long skirts or harem pants. Others wear a simple leotard or form fitted top. It is most common to leave the midriff uncovered, so the abdominal movements can be seen. Some dancers like to perform with bare feet, but if performing outside it is best to wears shoes. Shoes with flexible soles are best. Sandals or ballet shoes are good examples. Performance outfits can get pretty elaborate.


Almost any type of music can be used for belly dancing. The music chosen will set the tempo for the entire dance. Whether dancing for fun, exercise, or for show, if the music inspires, then the dancer will have a better experience. Whatever music the dancer uses, it should let them feel the tempo and dance along with it. Some dancers find the traditional middle Eastern music to have the needed emotion to perform a great dance.

History of Belly Dancing

There is much debate as to the exact origins of belly dancing. There have been many different styles of the dance that have evolved through out the years. It has become popular, because it is done for many different reasons, like entertainment, cultural rituals, childbirth, exercise, or celebrations. Belly dancing is truly a combination of many different dance styles. For this reason, many consider it an ethnic folk dance.

How to Start

The first step in starting to belly dance, is to find a good instructor. Do some research into local instructors at schools or a collage campus. Some people like to learn at home in private. There are many good DVD’s out there that will help teach you. The next step is to get the proper attire to dance. Look in dance supply stores or check some local thrift stores to get inspiration. Training outfits don’t need to be as elaborate as those for performance. But they should inspire you to want to dance.  Always remember to have fun.