Belly Dancing for Fun and Fitness

By: Gail Metcalf

Belly dancing is a western term used to describe a form of dance that was developed in the Middle East. It has become very popular in the US, especially as a form of exercise for women to perform to keep physically fit.

The dancing includes primarily curves and twists, thrusts and drops that are more important than the actual footsteps that are used. The focus is always on the belly in belly dancing. The dance is known by different terms, such as Middle Eastern dance, Balady or Raks Balady, Egyptian Raks Al-Sharqi, Danse du Ventre, and the Oriental Dance.

Many experts claim this dance is the oldest dance of all and has been around forever. Its roots originate in ancient cultures from India to the Middle East. A common misconception is that the dance was originally intended to entertain men.

All through history, this dance has been done by women to entertain women and is based on fertility rites or parties that are held to prepare young women for marriage. In most cases, men are not even permitted to attend these rites or parties.

The belly dancing attire is meant to show off the midriff and the hips which gyrate with constant movement. The original costumes consist of a bra and a hip belt worn over a floor length skirt. The floor length skirt helps to hide the feet; movements which are not considered important as the focus remains on the midriff and hips. The costume embellishments are selected based on the audience the dance will be performed for in modern days.

The hip belt used in belly dancing can be made in any style and from most any fabric, but is usually made in silks, wool or even a coin belt. The style and fabric are determined by the style of belly dance being performed and the preference of the dancer. The main purpose of the hip belt is to draw attention to the hips. The belly dancing hip belt helps keep the possible multi-folds of a skirt in their proper place during the routine.

If desired, a belly dancing hip scarf can replace the hip belt. It has the same purpose, to draw attention to the hips and therefore must complement the skirt in color and style. It can be work low on the hip and drape lower on one side. Be creative with the belly dancing hip scarf and bring even more enjoyment to your audience.

As the dancer moves, you are taken in by the colors and style of the swirling fabric and the sounds of the fascinating jewelry as it moves with the body. The movements are sensuous and hypnotic and mesmerize the audience.

If you plan to take a belly dancing class, donít plan on the usual sweats that are acceptable at most fitness classes. Belly dancing is always performed in standard belly dancing attire to show off the important body parts and to get the dancer into the mood of the dance.

Belly dancing is a great way to stay in shape and have fun while doing it.

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Gail Metcalf provides information on belly dancing and why it's the perfect modern way to stay fit. Visit for more information. Article must remain intact with the author's name and website.

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