Belly dance is the oldest form of dance exercise. Its history dates back to the Ancient Middle East culture. Contrary to modern time perception, belly dancing is not meant to be a dance of seduction but is a dance of fertility, danced by women for and among women. Many cultures, even today, recognize the belly as the body’s physical and spiritual center, visibly associated with life, energy, emotional well-being and core strength.
Belly dancing is a total body and mind, low-impact fat-burning exercise that tones and sculpts the muscles while developing a positive mental attitude and appreciation of one’s body. One does not have to be slim to belly dance. As a matter of fact, the world’s best belly dancers happen to be over forty years of age, often having given birth to not one but several children.
History of Belly Dancing
Belly dance is the oldest form of dance exercise. Its history dates back to the Ancient Middle East culture. Contrary to modern time perception, belly dancing is a dance of fertility, danced by women and among women.
It was only in the 19th century when men had their first glimpse of belly dancing, through performances by gypsies in makeshift theaters. With the advent of travel, Europeans had their exposure of Middle East and North African cultures resulting in their fascination of belly dancing and a cultural phenomenon, called “Salomania” spread throughout Europe.
America had their first exposure of belly dancing in 1893 when an Algerian dancer named Little Egypt performed at the Chicago World Fair. Since then, belly dancing has found its way into the hearts and minds of Americans.
Belly dance has influenced the style of huge names in modern dance among them, Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham.
In the 1970s with the advent of the Women Liberation movement, belly dancing became a popular leisure activity that celebrated the women and visibly provided an emotional liberating moment with uninhibited dance movements, belly-exposing attires and an avenue to mingle with other women.
Today, belly dancing has evolved from mere dance entertainment to a regular dance fitness exercise that truly empowers the women with an enjoyable activity that helps her keep fit and healthy in her lifetime and for many others, staying in shape.
Why Belly Dance
Belly dance is a low-impact, fat burning, cardiovascular dance fitness exercise that helps tone the body and sculpts the muscles, fosters the spirit and promotes a positive mental attitude. It is also a very feminine way to get and stay in shape.
Belly dancing ‘s main principle is hinged on an exercise that works by isolating muscle groups, generally problem areas experienced by all women e.g. chest and upper body, abdominals, pelvic area, lower body and legs- working out one muscle group while holding the rest still, resulting in building core strength. This results in improving flexibility leading to eventual muscle toning and strengthening. It is the only exercise that allows one to focus on problem areas with well-defined exercises for each isolated muscle group.
Belly dance movements are highly feminine – subtly moving hips, softly gyrating abdominals and gracefully moving arms and hands – so unlike the crude squats and crunches.
Belly dancing can be done everywhere, anywhere; individually, in the confine of one’s homes or in friends’ homes or in gyms and fitness centers or dance studios. What is important is to wear the right attire and accessories to determine if you are doing the movements properly.