Friday, March 1, 2024

Stomach Dance Actions: The place Did They Come From?

As a dancer, many occasions throughout class, my thoughts would begin to surprise in regards to the origins of that new bellydance step that the instructor was instructing.  The place the flirtatious arm actions got here from, the origins of devices such because the veil and the saber, and why it’s so mysterious and bewitching for viewers?

I’ve Arab heritage and given how Arab tradition can typically be fairly closed and traditionalist I’ve at all times discovered it superb that stomach dancing could be loaded with a lot sensuality, Extra so than many different dances. At this time I wish to share with you, every little thing I discovered about it in my very own analysis.

Take pleasure in this journey to historical occasions!


The middle of the Arabian dance lies within the hip, which is adorned with actions of the pinnacle, shoulders, arms and, naturally, the stomach.

The spectacular nature of this dance lies within the synchrony of the hips with the music and the emotion that the dancer conveys, whereas the number of steps and the dramatic results are what make it placing.

In oriental dance, the actions are sinuous and rhythmic, the legs by no means rise above the extent of the hips.

To bounce, our ear should turn out to be accustomed to the rhythms of Arabic music, which has very completely different from Western tempos, because it encompass sequence of irregular minor patterns that we dancers should study to comply with and even anticipate.

The prehistoric origins of stomach dance are a bit murky, however documented proof takes us again to Egypt in the course of the time interval between 1200 and 1300 B.C., when this way was utilized by priestesses within the banks of Nile River

Fragment of Painting from Tomb of the Dancers
Fragment of Portray from Tomb of the Dancers. By Jon Bodsworth, Copyrighted free use, through Wikimedia Commons

These have been occasions by which life handed as an incessant changing into, by which eternity was bathed by the waters of the Nile. Surrounded by a fertile land, by a number of magical gods, by a civilization by which glory was expressed with magnificent pyramids that sought to the touch the sky.

Egyptian girls danced each to pay tribute to the gods, to accompany the funeral processions, to have a good time and honor the pharaohs and to entertain at feasts and banquets.

One of many key themes within the oldest type of Arabian dance is considered one of human fertility being regarded as immediately associated to the earth. Girls have been attributed magical powers.

For instance, in Central Anatolia and the Mediterranean (Turkey), 1000’s of years in the past girls had ritual dances in honor of those magical powers. Males have been excluded from these rites.

Additionally, there have been many fertility dances in Historic Rome and Greece have been dancers carried out actions primarily based on the rotation of stomach and hips, and lots of of stated dances have been made in honor to goddesses from Syria and Turkey.

In Cyprus, birthplace of Aphrodite, girls carried out ritual dances accompanied by songs and percussion via which they put themselves in a trance.

These similar rites of honouring gods, looking for fertility, passed off in Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Egypt, Arabia and India. Throughout the 4th century A.D., Christianity got here to dominate the Center East, establishing a patriarchal society primarily based on a male God and prohibiting all such feminine dances.

The Copts, who’re Christians from Egypt, preserved the continuity of this dance via clandestine performances, incorporating sure modifications to align it with their newly adopted spiritual practices.

A while after, the slaves took the dance, the songs and the music out of the temples, though the performers haven’t been capable of take away the stigma hooked up to their career.

Later, in the beginning of the Center Ages, Islam was established, which signified a brand new eradication of dance within the streets. Resurfacing within the 18th century inside the context of slave communities, this dance underwent a revitalization.

Subsequently, the inflow of Turkish individuals, primarily consisting of people with enslaved backgrounds, contributed to the enhancement of its technical intricacy.

These slaves, retained within the historical medieval caliphates, represented their energy, so the sweetness and abilities of the dancers (singing, poetry, recitation) have been valued.

These dancers have been referred to as awalim, extremely revered and influential among the many caliphs; they carried out within the homes of wealthy individuals accompanied by denay, oud, qanun and tabla, whereas they interacted with zagats and swords of some spectators. Their exhibits have been even complemented with snake charmers and magicians typically.

There was additionally one other sort of dancers, the ghawazee or Egyptian gypsies, who danced within the open air for audiences of decrease social class, accompanied by nay, oud and tabla. The ghawazee are characterised by their preservation of the aesthetic essence of the dance, in addition to the non secular facet of it.

These dancers usually shared stage with magicians, minstrels and fortune tellers (they themselves made espresso studying) and their stomach dance costumes have a number of brilliant colours, ornaments, cons, pendants and bracelets. Their origin is Phoenician.

In its passage via completely different areas and epochs, the oriental dance was selecting up steps and components. For instance, the cane utilized in oriental dance was taken from the tahtib dance, a type of martial artwork of Egyptian males. The cane dance is named raqs al asaya.

Tahtib. Adelbayoumi, CC BY-SA 4.0, through Wikimedia Commons

Egyptian Tahtib is claimed to be one of many oldest martial artwork on the planet. Its full title is fann el Nazaha wal Tahtib, which suggests, “pursuit of righteousness via tahtib”. It consists of a fight between two or extra opponents utilizing a reed stick, tahtib, which measures between 1.30 and 6 meters lengthy.

The tahtib dance is carried out to the accompaniment of dwell music, to the Arabic rhythm of saidi, and contains jumps and gestures of blows, with out contact with the physique.

From the Persian dance, the fragile cadenced actions of the fingers and a part of the coquetry with shoulders and arms have been taken. In classical Persian dance, the dancer entered a state of upper consciousness in communion with the supreme being, to whom she dedicates the upward actions of her arms.

Likewise the shoulder shimmies when turning and the actions with the fingers aside are used within the Iranian dance generally known as bandary.

With respect to the saber, though it’s believed that it was a component integrated comparatively lately to the dance, there are visible references of dancers with scimitars from the late nineteenth century, as this portray by the French orientalist painter Jean-Léon Gérôme entitled “Dance with saber in a restaurant”:

Jean-Léon GérômeSabre Dance in a Cafe. Oil on canvas painting
Sabre Dance in a Cafe by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1875. Supply: PubHist.

The dance by which a tray with candles is balanced on the pinnacle was taken from the Moroccan dance generally known as raqs al seniyya, by which a tea tray is used.

This illustration by Charles Saalburg from the Chicago newspaper “The Inter Ocean” of 1893 exhibits completely different Halfway Plaisance scenes from the Columbian Exposition held that yr in Chicago. Within the heart seems a dancer balancing a tray with candles or a candelabra on her head, which might be raqs al shamadan but additionally raqs al seniyya.

Lastly, the veil, probably the most magical components, has been current in oriental dance since historical occasions, as evidenced by this bronze statue from the Hellenistic interval of a veiled dancer from the 2nd or third century BC:

Bronze statuette of a veiled and masked dancer
a veiled dancer, from Greece. third–2nd century BCE. Supply: MET Museum

I hope this text has served to carry some gentle in regards to the many mysteries that stomach dancing has to supply. Till subsequent time!

Different articles about Bellydance and Arabian dance:

Belly dance and Arabian dance costumes

Stomach dance costumes

Arabian dance, similar to the various different dance types, just isn’t solely in regards to the actions. It has a variety of costumes and equipment like …

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