The History of Belly Dance!

"What does the word belly dance mean?

Belly dance is known as Middle Eastern Dance, Raks Sharki, Oriental Dance and
Danse du Ventre.  These are just a few of the names the dance is known by.  

Belly dance was first introduced in America in 1893 at the Chicago's World's Fair.
The title of belly dance was coined due to the rolling belly movements and
undulations seen by the crowd.  And the name has stuck.  This term is used mostly in
America.  I prefer Raks, Beledi or Middle Eastern Dance.  The term belly dance does
not give the dance a true and accurate description.

Middle Eastern Dance is broken down into various styles.  

Classical Egyptian is very controlled movements, refined, elegant & will often
include many ballet moves.

Turkish is a flamboyant style of dance, large earthly movements, with lots of leaps
& pelvic movements.

Lebanese is a combination of Egyptian & Turkish.

Gypsy is a style of it's own with rich heritage, gypsies migrated across the world.
There are lots of variations to this style of dance.  It originated from India.

The
folkloric styles of Northern Africa & Egypt has influences that come from other
countries.

Khaleegi Dance is from Saudi Arabia & the Persian Gulf States.  Persian dancers
have the most beautiful hand movements.

Tribal, Urban Tribal or American Tribal as it is referred to in America.  
This style of dance is the American mixture of the ethnic styles of dance and not a
pure form of any.  It has been made most popular today by
Fat Chance Belly Dance.
The Ghawazee, the most famous tribe of Egypt.  Ghawazee
means female dancer.  They are known by the twisting hip
movements, shoulder shimmies, back bends & the shrill cry of
the zaghareet!

The Ouled Nail were a tribe of Berber women.  The women
acquired their wealth through dance & prostitution.  Ouled
Nail trained as young girls in the art of dance.  After years of
dancing & acquiring wealth, the women would return home &
marry!  Ouled Nail's are know by long black braids, earthly
movements, facial tattoos, kohled eyes & large amounts of
jewelry.  The costume were just magnificent! This group is one
of my personal favorites.

In Morocco, the dancers were the Shikatt; meaning learned or wise woman.
These dancers usually performed at weddings & gave the bride instructions
on marital duties.  Their dance move are the isolations of the pelvic area,
forward & backward.  The dancers also put to use the zills/finger cymbals.  
The typical caftan & head wrap was their typical costume.

Tunisian is dancing on the toes, small steps while moving back & forth,
arms in a "w" formation. The costume is the Haik, worn by men & women.

Many countries around the world have their own style of dance.  It has
been instrumental in sharing influences in the art of Middle Eastern Dance.

This is an introduction to the oldest dance from known.
The Ouled Nail of Algeria by Jasmin Jahal, June 1999
The Ghawazee of Egypt, by Jasmin Jahal, April 1999
Raksat Shikhatt-Dance of the Shikhatt by Leyla bint ish-Shamaat
Orgins of Oriental Dance, just surfing the Internet