Eastern-Style Belly Dance

So, Belly Dance comes in all sorts of styles from a ton of different places. People refer to it by different names in different regions and also, some of the styles are characterized by different techniques or moves, even different costume-styles. Each dancer has their own unique twist on whatever style they choose. Although somewhat similar, there are three common Eastern Belly Dance styles including:

Egyptian/Raqs Sharqi (raks sharki) Bellydance

In the first half of the 20th century, nightclubs in Egypt used belly dance as a form of entertainment. There are three main forms associated with Egyptian belly dance, called Baladi, Sharqi and Sha’abi. Middle Eastern stars performed in Arabic and Turkish nightclubs and helped introduce Oriental dance to the rest of the world. Egyptian bellydancers shoot for artistic and emotional interpretations of their music and friendly interaction with their audience. They rarely use finger cymbals, extensive veil dancing, or floor work (which is illegal in Egypt). Props are a rarity as well, with the exception of the occasional cane or candelabra (candlestick holder headpiece) dance. It has been illegal for bellydancers in Egypt to perform with their abdomens showing since the 1950’s, so, there costumes are usually a long, one-piece gown or a two-piece outfit (a decorated bra top and skirt) with a sheer body stocking to cover the midsection. The costumes are usually elaborate and elegant, with rich fabrics, lavished beadwork, jewels, and beaded fringe. The look is very glamorous and feminine. Check out the video below for a look at a baladi style dance and a sword dance[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcRigLZsDvA&feature=related[/youtube]

Turkish/oryantal dansi Bellydance

Turkish belly dancing has been strongly influenced by the Romani (Gypsy) people as well as influences from ancient Goddess worshipping cultures. Also known as Oryantal Dansi,  it uses the belly dance techniques of classic bellydance in a generally more energetic, flamboyant, and bold manner than other versions of Eastern bellydance. They use finger cymbals as well as a lot of floor work. The expression of sexuality has been openly shown at times, especially in the Turkish bellydance nightclub performances of the 70s and 80s. The 70s and 80s made the costumes notorious for their provocative and sexy look. They consisted of the typical decorative bra and skirt, except that the skirts were usually made with less material than other styles, revealing more of the dancers’ body. They wore beaded belts and lots of matching accessories. Fabrics used are usually sheer, often having cutouts on the belts or bras. Turkish costumes voice sexy, playful and flirtatious, although they have toned down over the years to concentrate more on the traditional aspects of the dance. Check out a Turkish Style dance below[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhGMx3upq14&playnext=1&list=PL8937A9C386AFC143[/youtube]

Lebanese Bellydance

Like other styles of Eastern bellydance, Lebanese belly dance is very ancient, most likely going back at least as far as to the Phoenicians. It is considered a blend of Egyptian and Turkish belly dance. It is however a little more energetic than the typical Raqs Sharqi, yet softer than the Oryantal Dansi. Lebaness style tends to have subtle influences from other genres of dance such as ballet and the use of finger cymbals and props are common. Lebanese costume style is similar to that of Eqyptian Bellydance expect Lebanese bellydancers are allowed to uncover their stomachs in public performances.

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