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Article ID: 15082

VoxAcct: 396488

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 1,133

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RSS Views: 46,282
A Tiny Bit of Belly Dance History

Author: One Witchy Mom
Posted: December 30th. 2012
Times Viewed: 2,458

Belly Dance, historically known as Raks Baladi (meaning dance of the people of the country) and it, originated as a form of entertainment for the common people. Many other dances come from the Middle East Dances such as the Dervish and Guerda are done for spiritual reasons.

The Dervish, which entails spinning, is practiced by the ascetic Sufis to achieve religious ecstasy. The Guedra is a trance dance by which the dancer channels energies from the four directions. It is also know as a Blessing Dance.

Saidi and Khaleegy have closer folkloric roots. Belly Dance’s most popular forms today are Cabaret, Classical, and American Tribal. From these we have many different genres; Gothic, Egyptian, Native Fusion, and Hip-Hop Fusion to name just a few. Basically, your creativity and imagination design the boundaries for Belly Dance.

The first recorded sensual dance dates back to a myth from ancient Sumerian times involving Inanna, the Goddess of Love, and her descent into the underworld to find her lover Damouz. At each of the seven gates, she removed an article of clothing or a piece of jewelry. As long as Inanna remained in hell, the earth was barren. When she returned, the earth again became abundant and fruitful. Some believe this myth evolved in the 'Dance of the Seven Veils' of Salome from the bible.

The Bible records Salome's dance but the first mention of removing veils rises from Oscar Wilde's play of Salome in 1883. Some claim this to be the origin of modern sensual dance and the strip tease, but other influences may have come from Parisian times and the Moulin Rouge striptease through to Middle Eastern belly dancing and American burlesque.
Today, many women learn the arts of Belly Dancing and dancing with Veils. Belly Dancing has been carried over from these legendary events. The skill has traveled from ancient Sumeria and into the Asia counties. It is reportedly adopted by the Rom who brought Belly Dancing through Europe.

In 1893, a man named Sal Bloom, looking for a way to awe the crowd, brought an Algerian village to the World’s Columbian Exposition. He called his version of the North African dance ‘belly dance’. The performance titillated those attending the World’s Fair who seemed to find the word 'belly' a taboo. In the 1930’s during the colonization of Egypt, a woman named Badia Masabny created a nightclub to entertain the western flavor of the dance. For the first time, the dancers wore two-piece costumes and belly dance was produced as a large stage production.

Belly Dance is so much more than just an enticing form of entertainment. In sections of the Middle East, it is performed by women, for women. The circle of women dance for each other at Hahfla (a gathering centered around food and belly dance) . It serves as a way for women to connect with each other, encourage, and acknowledge each other's beauty. It is also considered as a preparation and form of childbirth. The ancient Middle Eastern belly dance was thought to induce fertility in women and to strengthen their bodies in preparation for childbirth. Experts agree, it is a healthful, fun exercise that improves balance, muscle tone, and shapes the body.

In the early 1900's, the strip tease dance was added to burlesques shows to entice men to return. These featured famous dancers including Gypsy Lee Rose. Traveling tent shows had strip tease acts. The smaller tent dancers started to use the pole in the tent's centre to dance around. These tents became known as the dance pole tents. Another idea of where pole dance actually started is linked to the Maypole. This Pagan ritual was seen by some as a phallic symbol that may explain why some link it to the pole dancing we know now. Interesting to note, in the religion of Vodou there is a tent used as a Temple with a pole erected down the center, the Poto Mitan. This pole is used for spirits to slide down and enter into our world and the ritual. The earliest recorded pole dance was in 1968 with a performance by Belle Jangles at Mugwump strip joint in Oregon.

Sensual dancing as we know it today involves can involve dancing around a vertical pole. The old ancient strip tease became a forerunner to the modern updated variation. Pole dancing provides a display of acrobatics and strength, combined with a combination of sensual, flowing, feminine dance movements to form the art of pole dancing we now know and recognize. Many of the movements we currently associate with the modern strip tease have their origins in Belly Dance, and Belly Dance has its origins in the ancient sacred dance of Sumeria, and the Goddess Inanna.

Stigma attached to sensual dance and the art of Belly Dance may be one of the reasons why the dance appears to have little history documented and appears to have been 'underground' for many years. This is however a sad fallacy. Sensual dance and Belly Dance has rich history that can be traced back to ancient origins.

Today*, women of all cultures practice Belly Dance. It is losing its stigma for it's titillating effects and it is recognized for its health benefits, beauty and art. Belly Dance is a feminine, sensual, graceful art form that will increase confidence and sense of beauty for all women who partake.

*Ankhesenamun is a forming Belly Dance Troupe in Phoenix Metro area and is open to women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and culture with added emphases on the Goddess sized women (large gals) . For more information on Ankhesenamun Troupe please contact

Karol Henderson Harding (2008) , The World's Oldest Dance- A History of Bellydance (Revised) Extracted May 25, 2012

Jalilah (2009) , Badia Masabny Star Maker of Cairo, Extracted May 25, 2012

Naj (2011) , A History of Belly Dance. Extracted May 25 2010

Tacey Lloyd (2009) History and Origins of Pole Dance Extracted May 25 2012

Copyright: AACS, LLC 2009-2012


One Witchy Mom

Location: Glendale, Arizona

Bio: A student of Belly Dance and Spirituality seeking to share knowledge and joy of being.

*Ankhesenamun is a forming Belly Dance Troupe in Phoenix Metro area and is open to women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and culture with added emphases on the Goddess sized women (large gals) . For more information on Ankhesenamun Troupe please contact

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