Bellydance originated over 6000 years ago in Egyptian, Turkish and Phoenician cultures as a staple part of almost any celebration.
American bellydance tends to be more freestyle and blends styles from the Middle Eastern and North African traditions.
Bellydance performances are becoming more frequent at some festivals, themed-restaurants and parties. Bellydance is a highly respected form of art and there are accepted customs when enjoying a dance performance. Clapping along with the music or giving traditional Middle Eastern calls is encouraged. The dancer may also encourage a viewer to participate by standing up and doing a bellydance move.
Generally, tip in the side of the dancer’s belt or the tip basket, if available. A dancer will indicate where tipping is appropriate by extending a hip or a shoulder. Never try to tip in the front of the belt or bra. Bellydancing is assuredly not stripping and you will offend the dancer and possibly be asked to leave.
Leaving during a dance, waving money at the dancer, talking while the dancer is at your table or trying to talk to the dancer during a performance are all discouraged.
Traditional bellydance can be enjoyed by the entire family, including children. Most traditional bellydancers actually start practicing with their families from very young ages.
Bellydance for Fitness
Many resources are now available for potential students in the United States. For proper technique, it is best to begin study at a studio. However, videos and books are available for home study as well. After learning the basic moves from practicing with the videos, loosen things up by putting together your own sequences. Original music by the Gipsy Kings or other regional musicians make better soundtracks than the cheesy video backgrounds. Look up new moves in books and practice them on your own.
A tip for learning hip pops and shimmies is to tie a scarf around your waste before practice. It doesn’t have to be as shiny and jangly as traditional coin belts. Any scarf will accentuate your movements and make you more aware of how your hips and core muscles work together.
Bellydance serves as a total body workout can offers cardio fitness, strength training, muscle toning without bulk, and can build a more healthy body image from movement awareness.
Invite your friends over for a hafla. In this traditionally women-only festival, ladies gather to dance for each other, learn new moves and relax. It may seem awkward to shake your hips in front of all your friends first, but after a few goofy ice-breaker moves you will all feel more comfortable. Cut loose and in no time your friends will be shimmying away some calories and learning moves that can be incorporated onto modern dance floors as well.