Belly Dancing India is a portal to provide information about belly dance classes, festivals and events in India, particularly in the Delhi-NCR region.
What is Bellydancing?
Belly dance is a Western term for a traditional Middle Eastern dance form. Some American devotees refer to it simply as "Middle Eastern Dance". In the Arabic language it is known as raqs sharqi (literally "eastern dance") or sometimes raqs baladi (literally "national" or "folk" dance). The term "raqs sharqi" may have originated in Egypt. In Greece and the Balkans, belly dance is called tsiftetelli. The term belly-dance is a creation of Orientalism, and is first attested in English in 1899, translating French danse du ventre.
Bellydancing in India
Belly dance is a fairly new dance form in India but is picking up in cities like Goa, Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai. However, there aren't many trained Indians in the art. The people taking the movement forward are mainly foreigners so it's largely an unexplored art form in India.
History of Belly Dance
Belly dance (Arabic Dance) is a Western term for a traditional Arab dance genre known as raqs sharqi ( literally "oriental dance") or sometimes raqs baladi ( literally "dance of country", and so "folk" dance). It is also sometimes called "Middle Eastern Dance" or the "Arabic Dance" in the United States.
Today there are two forms of Oriental belly dance; the first is called raqs baladi, a social dance performed for fun and celebration by men and women of all ages, usually during festive occasions such as weddings and other social gatherings. The second form, the more theatrical and the more popular in the West today, is called raqs sharqi. Like raqs baladi, raqs sharqi is performed by both male and female dancers. In regions where belly dancing is native, boys and girls learn it informally from an early age by observing and imitating their elders during family/community celebrations and gatherings with friends.
Historically, most of the dances associated with belly dance were performed with the sexes separated; men with men and women with women. Few depictions of mixed dancing exist. This practice ensured that a "good" woman would not be seen dancing by anyone but her husband, her close family, or her female friends. Today, sex segregation is not as strictly practiced in many urban areas, and sometimes both men and women will dance socially among close friends at a mixed function. However, while social dancing at family functions is accepted and even encouraged, there are many people in Middle Eastern societies who regard the performances of professional dancers in revealing costumes for mixed audiences as morally objectionable. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that such performances be banned.
Artistic depiction of belly dancingBelly dancing was orginally from Ancient Babylon in southern Iraq. The women of the Adnanite Arabs who are the descendants of Ismael son of Prophet Ibrahim who was from Babylon improved the way of belly dancing and men improved the way of drumming. The drum beats people hear today are the same beats that the Arab tribal men used. Belly dancing was passed on through generation to generation. Before the arrival of Islam the Arab tribes in Arabia used to gather women in private gatherings or special occasions and perform the belly-dancing, while men from the tribe perform on the drum. Men used to have large feasts of food and wine and watch women while they were dancing.
After the Arrival of Islam, belly dancing was banned due to religious reasons unless the wife performs for her husband which is acceptable. During the Ummayd and the Abbasid Empire in Iraq, belly dancing was involved more often with rich and noble men. They used to gather poor women from the society and make them dance. Later on, The Arabs were purchasing slaves from all over the world, especially Persia, India and North Africa and had the local Arab women teach them how to perform the belly dance. Later on they were everywhere in the Arab world specially Baghdad in Iraq where the capital city of the Arabs and Muslims located. In the era of the Abbasid Empire, in every occasion and private nights, they gather the belly dancers to dance for them for their own pleasures and enjoyment.
During the time of the Abbasid and the Fatimid Empire, the Arab invaders settled in Egypt and convert most Egyptians to Islam and purchased many Egyptian slaves and taught them how to belly dance. Since that time, the Egyptians adopted the belly dance from the Arabs and it was passed on through generations. Egyptians have been known for having good belly dancers as it became the easiest point for the Arabs to enjoy themselves.
The Roma were originally thought to be Egyptians, or "Gyptians", and hence are commonly known as "gypsies". In addition, the ethnic origins of some Egyptians as a mixture of Sinti and Roma is disputed. However these Egyptians adopted it from the Arabs. In effect, in any case, notable differences can be seen between Turkish belly dance which has strong Arabic influences.
There is also some evidence that belly dancing is a reworking of movements traditionally utilized to demonstrate or ease childbirth. There are numerous oral historical references, backed by commentary in The Dancer of Shamahka. This particularly relates to a sub-set of dance movements found in modern raqs sharqi.
Because the most visible venue for belly dance is nightclubs (as well as video and DVD recordings of popular Egyptian dance celebrities), it is this version, rather than the folk or social versions, that is most popular. The costume now associated with this dance is called bedleh in Arabic (meaning "suit"), and was adopted by dancers in Egypt in the 1930s, eventually spreading to other countries in the region. It owes its creation to the harem fantasy productions of vaudeville, burlesque, and Hollywood during the turn of the last century, rather than to actual authentic Middle Eastern dress. Lebanese Badia Masabni dubbed the godmother of oriental dance, singer, actress, and a night club owner in Cairo is credited with adopting this costume because it was the image that Western tourists came to expect, rather than the native caftan/kaftan - which mostly concealed the contours of the body, with a scarf or belt tied around the hips to highlight the movements. The caftan is still used by performers to cover their costumes when not on stage. One of the major contributions Badia made to oriental dance was lifting it up out of the traditions of chaabi or traditional dancing. Where before the belly dancer had a limited repertoire of arm movements she got the idea not only holding them out to the sides, but lifting them higher above the head and using more flowing gestures later known as snake arms. Not only did Badia Masabni's ideas influence how dancers carried their arms and the use of veils. She also influenced dancers to use more space on the stage. The ghawazee and almeh were performing almost entirely on one spot.
Since the 1950s, it has been illegal in Egypt, for belly dancers to perform publicly with their abdomens uncovered. Costumes for Raks Sharki are usually a long, one-piece gown or a two-piece outfit (a decorated bra top and skirt) with a sheer body stocking covering the midsection. In either case, the costumes are usually elaborate and elegant, with rich fabrics lavished with bead work, jewels, and beaded fringe. Beaded belts are usually sewn directly onto the skirt and there are matching accessories such as necklaces, arm and ankle bracelets, earrings, and headpieces. The look for Raks Sharki is glamorous and feminine
Lebanese belly dance costumes are usually elegant nightclub styles, consisting of the typical two-piece belly dance outfit of a decorated bra top and a matching belt (usually beaded) over a skirt. The skirts tend to be sheer and/or are made with less fabric than Egyptian styled outfits, showing more of the dancer's body. Using rich fabrics and jewelry the costumes of Lebanese belly dancers are very glamorous, sexy, flirtatious and elegant. The veil is more widely used and the veil matches the outfit. Unlike Egyptian dancers, Lebanese belly dancers are allowed to uncover their abdomen in public performances and do so. A unique characteristic of Lebanese dance is that the dancers often wear high heels when they dance.