Western-Style Belly Dance

There are a ton of different Western Belly dance styles including Gypsy, Goddess/spiritual, fusion and even fitness Belly Dance. But the two main styles practices here are Classic/Modern American Belly Dance and Tribal.

Classic American Belly Dance

This style is sometimes called cabaret or nightclub style. It was inspired from the Middle Eastern movie industry and nightclub dance scene, primarily in Cairo and Istanbul. American belly dance differs from traditional Eastern dance because the American style has so much more freedom in the interpretation of movements and a more extensive use of veil work, floor work, props, and finger cymbal playing. American Bellydance is usually performed as a solo, routine that would include a vail dance, fast section/slow section drum solo and a finale. As long as a dancer stays within the boundaries of the bellydance core movement vocabulary, the dancer pretty much has free range to express their creative individuality. Costuming generally has a glamorous or luxurious style (think Hollywood glam design). They usually wear a two-piece decorative bra and skirt or “harem” ( Think MC Hammer) pants.The stomach is usually showing, though not always. Hip belts that match the designs of the bra or top are usually paired with the costumes along glittery accessories and jewelry… Classic American belly dance costumes can range from simple to all-out glits and glam.

Tribal Belly Dance

Tribal belly dance started in the Bay Area around the late 1960’s when a bellydancer by the name of Jamila Salimpour introduced this more ethnic and folkloric dance at festivals. It became well known at local renaissance fairs and street festivals for its unique costuming elements borrowed from ethnic cultures from the Eastern World. The style quickly spread throughout the US and to other parts around the world and is usually performed by a troupe (group of entertainers). The style usually involves a group who mimic each other, therefore the movements tend to be slower and deeper. They tend to do floor work or more movement closer to the ground for a earthly interpretation. Swords are used often and finger cymbals are also sometimes used. Veil work in Tribal belly dance is not used in the same manner as in Classic American style. Their costumes tend to be more covered up with a layered look of heavy fabrics and earth-tone colors. Ethnic jewelry, tassels, turbans, and tattoos are usually used, and quite extensively. Exotic make-up may be heavy with facial tattoos and ethnic hairstyles created with braids and hair extensions. There are three different forms of tribal bellydance that include American Tribal, Tribal Fusion and Gothic.

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