The origin of bellydance
The origin of bellydance can be traced all the way back to
India. Groups of Ghawazees migrated from India and went north.
Some of them ended up in Spain and some in the Arab countries.
Their dances got influenced by local dances and over time the
bellydance arose. In that way is the bellydance several 1000
years old and deeply rooted in the Arab culture.
/ Oriental dance / Raqs Sharki
Many names for the dance. In the Arab countries the dance is
"Raqs Sharki" i.e. the dance from the East.
The word bellydance is a translation
of the French "danse du ventre", which arose during
the French occupation of Cairo.
Oriental dance can describe a number of dances from the
Mittle East and Northern Africa, while the term bellydance
describes the dance that arose in Cairo during the 1920-30.
The golden age
The period around the 1940’s is called the golden age of
bellydance, where artistic ideas developed freely in Badiya
Masabni’s popular nightclub "Casino Opera". Dancers,
musicians, singers and composers exceeded the limits and took
the dance into new directions.
Performances took place in nightclubs and dancers had parts in
movies and became stars. The bellydancers of today is still
looking to the dancers of the golden age for inspiration.
Western influence - the two-piece costume (bedlah)
The two-piece costume
decorated with beads and rhinestones arose during the golden
age and is partly influenced by the western fantasy about
During the same period the bellydance was also influenced by
western dances such as ballet, jazz and wals. Western
instruments were introduced and the orchestras got bigger.
There are many genres within the bellydance. Many genres are
regional originating from the folklore.
The most used Egyptian genres are:
Baladi is an older genre that arose i the late 1800 amoung
poor farm workers that travelled to Cairo to find work.
The word baladi can be translated as "from the country" as well
as "my country". Baladi describes the style music and the style
of the dance, which is grounded and slightly introvert.
Classical / Raqs
Sharki arose during the golden age and has a clear
influence from ballet among other.
The music is classical Arab music presented by large orchestras.
The music is often long and has many variations within the
The style is very elegant and the expression deponds on the music.
Shaabi is a newer genrer that mainly is danced to popular
The word Shaabi means people and the style is cheerful and not