Belly Dance

In Turkey belly dance is called "gobek dans". It developed through the influence of many different cultures and continues its long process of development today. One of its origin could have been the Greeks which participated in esoteric religious rites which included dancing throughout their history. Some dancers think Egypt is considered to be the source of belly dance. For Saudi women, the dance itself was considered to be sacred, and not intended to be seen by men at all.

After its appearance at the Chicago Exposition at the turn of the century, Americans discovered it and the French name "danse du ventre" was translated into the "belly dance".

Across borders and cultures, "belly dance" is recognized as a dance style of its own. There are several points that make oriental dance different from other dance forms and reveal its diverse heritage. It has traditional associations with both religious and erotic elements. This ambiguity has caused belly dance to be disdained, scorned, and loved by many. Its apparent origins are the fertility cults of the ancient world.

Oriental dance is uniquely designed for the female body, with an emphasis on abdominal muscles, hip moves, and chest moves. It is firm and earthy, traditionally with bare feet connected to the ground. It is a dance characterized by smooth, flowing, complex, and sensual movements of the torso, alternated with shaking and shimmy type moves.

The dancers often use some type of rhythm instrument to aid the musicians, or as the sole accompaniment to their dance. The use of various other props in the dance such as snakes, swords, veils, and candles. These items have magical, protective functions for primitive peoples that can still be found in the folk dances of these countries. Snakes clearly relate to the ancient mystery cults. The snake is a complex symbol which represented both male and female principles, and also immortality in the form of the snake eating its tail.

In Turkey today, the belly dance is very popular. You can watch it on TV and it is still the custom for the bride and groom to hire a belly dancer for their wedding or for a family to hire her for the circumcision parties.

In Turkey, the spectators pay the dancer directly in the form of cash placed on the dancer's body. Mostly information was obtained from "The World's Oldest Dance" : The Origins of Oriental Dance By Karol Henderson Harding a.k.a. Cala of Savatthi.



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