Here comes a very much debated topic. Whilst all the information on the internet are true, they cover a huge vast of possibilities and information as to what bellydancing really is…
the coverage is HUGE!! Believe me.
My 8 years++ of learning Oriental dance allows me to receive so much information. And yes i have read almost all the different theories of what this curious form of cultural art is.
And mosts of them are true. Only there’s just too much coverage and versions… it feels too good to be true. It’s like a massive jam, everyone wants to include a piece of evident or details into the paragraph, so they try to fit in as much information as they can and thus the end-result is overwhelming. And as i said earlier, the information are true. they are bits & pieces of true-info attached together to form a big blanket to the question ‘What is Bellydance’ or ‘Where Bellydance originate from’…
Oriental dance is the dance of the Egypt middle east… as we know. It is started way before indian dance or african dance or any form of dance as the drawings on the walls (those pharaonic Egyptians drawings) recorded shows it’s very old before the B.C.
Originally, Bellydance is actually known as a dance only for women, by women.
Like a Hafla, held in the homes. These women are just minding their own business, dancing to their cultural dance.
The thing is… it’s made popular or well-known by a bunch of army mens. Bcos when the France invaded or came to middle east, they were entertained by bellydancers (so to say) in the clubs so afterwards, the soldiers were dancing a lot of these movements…etc (it’s a long story). And then somehow the soldiers moved/invade to other parts of europe america etc still dancing this middle east dance :D
I would not go into depth about the women of ‘Baladi’ & ‘Alma’ here on my wordblog cos it’s a sensitive subject to touch. I would rather explain that in class (to my students) and to my friends face-to-face in a more relaxed & casual enviroment :)
To make matters ‘worse’… usually the women at home will only dance in private right (Harem) so since the men couldn’t go in, the artisits/foreigners began visualising what they thought bellydancing is and draw a picture of women dancing naked for men (this one we already know yes) and bellydance became a curious-thing.
Also, long ago they have this fair like an international fair across the country so when the americans saw Bellydance being performed with exposed midriff, they went bonkers and thus “bellydance” became a popular name & dance… very, very rapidly.
So to answer the question… Yes, Oriental dance is actually a private dance held in the middle east. It’s held in the homes of middle east and are held on almost every celebrations in the egyptian community like wedding, dinner parties, even circumsation (which is so weird the boy-bird-2 kena cut off also have bellydance ah haha) but ya lah not bellydance in costumes! It’s more of a group of women and older women dancing with their Albaya.
And to continue answering the question: Oriental dance is initially a private dance held in the middle east… It wasn’t well known actually until (all of the above) happened. In a way, if (all of the above) didn’t happen, we probably wouldn’t even know what Oriental dance is… we’ve probably be stuck with malay/chinese/indian dance hehehe…
Lastly, we really appreciate it to be refered to as it’s original “Raks Sharki / Raqs / Raqs Sharqi” or just simply Middle Eastern Dance or Oriental Dance :)