Belly dance appeared in the Arab world. It is a female artistic dance form that has been popular for more than three centuries. Nowadays, it is experiencing its revival. It’s a pleasure and fun to watch a professional belly dance troupe because of the special vibe of every movement.
Nevertheless, there are many stereotypes referring to this type of dancing. Some people think it is inappropriate and can only be part of the gentlemen’s clubs’ program. Others argue that it is boring because it consists of only one repetitive sequence of movements.
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Here, at the “Hips Don’t Lie” studio, we can offer the best examples of belly dance in Toronto to overtake all those misconceptions and evoke your interest. Apart from representing other popular dancing styles, we are a prominent belly dance company. We are also happy to represent our best Latin dance troupes for hire near me and other services related to dancing styles worldwide. We believe our beautiful performers can improve every social gathering or special event. Now, if you want to know more, contact us.
What Is Belly Dance?
Therefore, what is belly dancing? The term originates from the French ‘Danse du Ventre,’ translated as ‘dance of a stomach.’ The English term was introduced by Sol Bloom to Chicago’s World Fair dancers in 1873, though it initially had a strongly racist connotation. The other name for the belly dance performance is ‘oriental dance’ or Raqs sharqi. The latter in Arabic means “dance of the east.” Though oriental dance is often confused with the dance of the Far East, coming from the countries such as Japan, Korea, or China.
Anyway, the common ‘belly dance’ term has lost its racist implication, and now most belly dance teams in the world have accepted it for the style that is widely known and loved by many.
Arabic oriental dancing, instead, refers to one specific style, and others, like Raqs Shaabi, Baladi, or Americal Tribal, are not included there.
As Andrea Deagon has put it, the meaning of belly dance is the solo-improvised dance that uses strong torso articulation as its basis. That is why you may come across such a term as SITA (solo improvisation + torso articulation), and it is pretty straightforward. However, Raqs Sharqi and American Tribal are performed in groups but not in one person and use distinct choreography instead of improvisation.
Therefore, it is hard to define this genre clearly because it includes many different styles and dance types. The prominent belly dance companies in Canada are ready to organize a breathtaking trip into the world of Eastern dances. “Hips Don’t Lie” is one of the most professional dancing companies in Toronto and GTA that offers perfect dance acts for hire. Enjoy eastern melodies and smooth body movements of our talented dancers, have a lot of fun or practice this beautiful dance yourself at our classes with expert dance teachers.
History and Origins of the Belly Dance Form
As for belly dancing history, some researchers trace it back to about 6,000 years ago when pagan societies used to celebrate women’s fertility by worshipping a feminine deity with some dancing rituals. However, others doubt that those rituals have any connection with the modern belly dance.
Another hypothesis traces belly dance origin to Turkey and Egypt. However, when we look at some specific movements, we can notice the influence of Indian culture and Indian belly dance. For example, we can find such elements as the head slides in those dances. The arrival of these dances in the Middle East and Northern Africa can be caused by migrations of the Indian people to those areas, lasting for centuries.
Therefore, different local belly dance groups perform these dances as a mixture of Indian, African, and Arabic traditions. The African influence is seen in body undulations, chest and hip shimmy, circles, and overwhelming passion. Many South American dances, by the way, were also derived from those African traditions.
The concept of better preparation for the woman belly dancer to give birth is still alive, though it cannot be proof of this style’s connection with ancient fertility rituals. Instead, the history of belly dance has been associated with spirituality and feminine power for the last 40 years. It may be due to that the feminist movements of the 1970s-1980s in the USA and European countries rediscovered this style as associated with women’s powers.
We at Hips Don’t Lie do not mean to attempt a detailed chronological or historical study. Our mission is to represent our talented and professional belly dance groups to embellish your special occasions and help you enjoy every minute of them.
Social Dance and Public Entertainment: Belly Dance in Different Countries
This type of dancing has been social in the Middle East for a long time. When women socialized together, they danced and chose brides for their sons. The way the girls danced influenced their choice. In Egypt, a local belly dance group was hired and paid for being a part of a wedding ceremony and special occasion celebrations. They usually danced Baladi, which is common at weddings nowadays. The most popular music and dance at social gatherings and parties in Egypt are Shaabi. It is quite similar to Baladi, where the dance movements are grounded and hips articulated. Though, the music structure is different. Shaabi is composed of separate pop songs, while Baladi is mostly instrumental.
The best belly dance performance in many countries today is also a dance form of public entertainment. The tradition was brought to both Turkey and Egypt by traveling tribes who preferred to perform outside on the streets. Most of them originally arrived from India through the territory of modern Afghanistan and Iran, heading north to Turkey and Europe, and others went forward to northern Africa, namely, Egypt. They needed to earn a living by entertaining people, so their dancing traditions were picked up by the locals.
Turkish belly dancing was performed by chengis. The first records of them date back to the 1400s. They danced mostly for female spectators, and their movements included torso and hip articulations and shimmies. They used veils and cymbals for props. Nowadays, chengis still perform for tourists in Turkey, but their dancing style has been strongly influenced by Turkish traditions.
Egypt's belly dance is performed by both women and men. The belly dance troupe that performed on the streets was called Ghawazi there. They danced outdoors near coffee houses and during public ceremonies, using canes and swords as props. These performers paid taxes, so they contributed to the country’s revenue. However, public dances in Cairo were outlawed in 1834 due to complaints from the most conservative groups in the society. They continued performing outside Cairo until 1849 and 1856, when the ban was eliminated.
At the beginning of the 20th century, many Europeans visited Egypt, so many nightclubs were opened for them, and they flourished due to traditional dancing performances. The most famous of them opened in Cairo in the 1920s and belonged to Badiia Masabni. In that place, the modern Raqs Sharqi was born and adapted to the stage. It used choreography and was influenced by European ballet and ballroom dancing.
There were great changes in the costumes, too. Before the 1920s, dancers had worn a long skirt, a shirt, and a waistcoat. After that, they started wearing bedlah - a typical belly dance costume that consists of a shirt, a bra, bare midriff, and veils. The costume is decorated with a lot of beads and glitters.
These Middle Eastern dances arrived in Europe and the USA with travelers who visited the Eastern countries and northern Africa between the late 1700s and throughout the 1800s. The majority of those travelers were males, so they didn’t have much access to specific female performances. Therefore, they watched only street performers or those girls who preferred to play privately for men. That is why such entertainment acts for hire had a bad reputation among Europeans and Americans at first.
Moreover, when a woman dancer called Little Egypt performed at the Chicago World Fair in 1893, with all those exaggerated torso and hip movements, the audience, whose women wore corsets at that time, was deeply shocked. It was simply considered vulgar. In the 1800s, this style was also confused with burlesque, so these genres were regarded as entirely the same.
So, what is belly dance in the modern world? Due to the feminist movement of the 1970s-1980s, women in Europe, the USA, Canada, and even in Oceania and the Far East have started engaging in this powerful female dance form. Men also practiced the folk forms of this style in their origin countries. Western countries also have male dancers but not too many.
If you want to enjoy this amazing dancing style with its vibe and energy and learn more about its traditions and routines, come to the “Hips Don’t Lie” studio and join our passion for this stunning dance form.
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Belly Dance Moves, Routines, and Techniques
If you have been dancing for some time or pay interest in this style, you may want to learn more about the belly dance routine. It may seem difficult at first, but here you can find the most essential principles and techniques of choreography not to get lost. They are the following:
- The choice of music is very important.
- Belly dance means a lot of improvisation. All the routines here are usually created around the idea of freestyle representation.
- Repetitions are vital in creating routines. Every musical piece repeats some phrases in groups of 4, 8, or 16 counts. The movement sequences are repeated according to them.
- Drum sounds can produce percussive movements, while wind or string instruments account for flowing movements. Tremolando sounds should result in shimmies.
- All belly dancers are especially attentive toward stage directions. They move forward, backward, sideways, in circles, zigzags, eights, or ellipses around the stage.
- Dancers in belly performance usually change levels with flat feet or tiptoes and move downwards and upwards. You can experiment with this a lot and have fun.
- Using different planes while posing is also a great characteristic of the belly dance from India. However, the theory underneath was developed by Rudolph Raban. It categorized all those rotations and contractions into three planes of movement - the wheel, door, and table ones. The combination of them is an essential part of all oriental dances.
- This style uses both symmetry and asymmetry - symmetry for giving structure and asymmetry for spicing things up. Every next repetition is different from the previous one, so the dance is not boring.
- Most routines here use pauses while the music is continuing. It adds more drama to the performance.
If you want to enjoy belly dance near me or learn what routines you can practice in this style, you are welcome to “Hips Don’t Lie.”
What Else Do You Need to Know About the Belly Dance Form?
Belly dancing meaning is expressing the female body. Nevertheless, there are many misconceptions related to that. Women feel confused because they believe they should only practice this style with specific body measurements. In fact, it does not matter whether you are an amateur or professional, prefer performing in public or in front of your mirror, or are slender or plus-size. The aim of this dance is to promote a positive attitude toward your body and boost your self-confidence.
Belly dances and their elements can be used for fitness training, so you can participate in these entertaining workouts for hips and abdominals and enjoy this fun way to do cardio. The fitness style can include the movements from Arabian belly dance performed to traditional music or more modern approaches that are not focused on the heritage.
If you want to find a professional belly dance group near me in Toronto and GTA to get people together for a special event, your arrival at “Hips Don’t Lie” is the best option. Don’t think you will only get a one-show performance on a big stage. Your wedding or birthday celebrations will be illuminated with enjoyable pieces of music and moves, with a great variety of movements, colors, and emotions. That will also become a stunning immersion into the oriental culture. That is why museums and art festivals are usually the most common venues for our performances.
This style is also related to many other forms of stereotyping. The most common of them is related to costumes. The bedlah of our female dancers consists of a top with a bare mid-section and a long wide skirt for mobility. It expresses femininity but does not mean anything indecent or vulgar, as it is often depicted in Hollywood movies with their gentlemen’s clubs with women stripping and circling men.
Belly rings that are often associated with this style are mostly dancers’ preferences but not requirements. More traditional accessories involve veils, headbands, and arm cuffs.
One more wrong belief is that the sequence of movements is always the same, so it is rather boring. The focus is not always on the midsection’s motion. However, as an outstanding and professional belly dance company, we will show you something different from all those stereotypes. This style is full of creativity, emotions, elegance, and grace. Check our offers and get prepared for a completely new interpretation of oriental dances.
Is belly dance Greek or Turkish?
This style is much more Turkish and Arabic than Greek. However, researchers believe it arrived in those countries from India with the first travelers and migrants who earned their living by performing on the streets. Later on, it mixed Indian elements with local traditions. You can also see such street dancers performing for tourists in Greece, thorough they are not ingenuine to this country.
What is belly dance actually called?
The style has a few other names. The first, most widely known name originated from a French ‘Danse du Ventre,’ meaning ‘dance of a stomach.’ However, Arabs call it Raqs Sharqi or the ‘dance of the east,’ and one more name is ‘oriental dance.’
Who is famous for belly dancing?
People from Turkey, Egypt, and the Middle East countries belonging to the Arabic culture are known as the best dancers in this style. According to their traditions, belly dance is a social and public entertainment performance meant to put people together for free time and help them communicate in person.
Where is belly dance most popular?
The style is very popular in Arabic countries. Egypt is known as the most entertaining tourist destination for watching authentic belly dance performances. Turkey also has many dancers performing for tourists. Nevertheless, the style has recently been revived and become immensely popular in European and North American countries.
Therefore, belly dancing is pretty popular worldwide nowadays. It is performed at festivals, big events, celebrations, and special occasions in Canada as a great means of entertainment and socialization. Every belly dance troupe is unique, and many Canadian dance companies have professional belly dance troupes for hire near me to offer their clients belly dance performances and classes. “Hips Don’t Lie” is one such professional company. You can also order the best Latin dance performance and other styles for your self-development, practice, or entertainment. Call us now if you want to learn more.