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The Art of Belly Dancing


There's a whole lot more to belly dancing than just learning the moves. This ancient art form requires emotional expression, musical interpretation and stage presentation in order to maximise its beauty.

"Belly dance" is a Western-coined name for a "traditional West Asian" dance including elements of raqs sharqi and is sometimes also referred to as Arabic dance or Middle Eastern dance.
The term "belly dance" is a translation of the French "danse du ventre" which was applied to the dance in the Victorian era. It is perhaps a misleading moniker as in fact every part of the body is involved in the dance; the most featured body part is usually the hips. Belly dance takes many different forms depending on the country and region, both in costume and dance style, and new styles have evolved in the West as its popularity has spread globally.
Pick up a few of our favourite key moves and the artistic expression will surely follow:
1. Belly Rolls
One of the more difficult moves to master, the belly roll is an impressive part of the belly dancer's repertoire. You need to lift your right hip and heel, leaning to the right, inhale and expand your rib cage and then pull in the lower portion of your abdominals. This motion should then be reversed by relaxing and expanding your lower belly as you draw in your upper belly. Alternating between the two movements will create an undulating wave with your abdominals.
2. Forward and Back Shimmy
Tilt your pelvis forward and then relax your pelvis. Do this rapidly and you get a forward/back shimmy. Keep your feet no wider than shoulder distance apart with your knees relaxed and not locked. Use the muscles in your bottom to tilt your pelvis, not your back muscles.
3. Walking Shimmy
A fast walking movement which over exaggerates the natural sway of the hips. The Walking Shimmy can be performed as one, two or three hip movements to every step. For the 1/4 shimmy step on your right foot and emphasise your right hip bumping out to the right side. Then step on your left foot and emphasise the left hip bumping out. Simple, easy, and great for fast walking. The 3/4 shimmy is the epitome of a shimmy walk and is not to be taken lightly; step right and the right hip lifts-drops-lifts. Step left and the left hip lifts-drops-lifts. Add a liberal sprinkling of attitude and release your inner diva!
4. Arm Waves
Arm waves are semi-circular, wave-like motions of the arms and hands. Although the basic arm wave is done in a complete half-circle pattern, belly dancers will more often use an abbreviated version by moving the arms in less than a complete half-circle. However, if you start by practicing the complete half-circle movement, you'll strengthen your arms for a wider range of motion in freestyle arm moves and other belly dancing arm techniques. Arm waves and arm ripples are most often done to slower tempos of melodic belly dancing music.
Learned moves ultimately form the basis of belly dance but the dance only reaches its true potential when enhanced by dramatic themes, musical interpretation, emotional energy and performance technique and once you become comfortable with this then belly dance is beautiful, liberating and fun.
Try it for yourself on our brand new belly dance holiday in Marrakech - call us for details.