Puedes leer este artículo en español pinchando aquí.
Either if you are new in belly dancing or you have just started and are getting more and more interested around it: welcome to Hipsinc!
In this article you’ll find a lot of useful information that will help you on your first steps in raqs sharqi and to get a general idea of what belly dance is.
This is what you will find here:
What is Belly Dance?
Belly dance is also known as raks sharki or Arabic dance.
It is a dance form with a very cryptic and unknown origin. There is little documentary evidence, but we are probably talking about the Ancient Egypt!
It is a dance form gentle with the body. It helps you develop organic movements that you already have in your body.
Nowadays, it’s characteristics are its fluid and wavy movements and the isolation of different parts of your body.
Even though everyone thinks belly dance is a hip centered dance -and they are not wrong!, belly dancers dance with their whole body.
8 Basic steps for belly dance
Below you can find some video tutorials that I’ve been recording in the past years.
To start with, the best bet is the forward and backward step, the side to side hip hits and the figure eight. Here they are:
Forward and backward step
Hip hit side to side
Once you body is a bit warmer, you can carry on with the following steps:
Reverse Figure Eight
Basic Chest Lift
And to cool down and wrap up today’s session, you can try to softly moving your arms and hands with elegance:
Arms and hands Basic Posture
Basic hand movement
I have put together a youtube playlist including all these videos to make your life easier. You can watch it clicking here.
And hey! If you are going to visit my youtube channel, subscribe!
Fancy a challenge?
Two intermediate/advanced level movements.
Have you already done all the basic steps?
Well, if you feel like you’d need a bit more of a challenge, I’m sharing with you a couple more of movements. These two new movements are intermediate and advanced level.
You can try to do the Camel and the Egyptian Walk independently of you current dance level, just for fun. I have only one request: please, don’t get frustrated if you don’t manage to do them!
For some people is quite natural and easy to learn certain movements but the usual case is that you will need time and practice.
So here they are:
A very brief introduction to belly dance history.
Even though there is no clear evidence, it’s thought that we can find the origin of belly dance in the Ancient Egypt.
There are some toys and dolls from those times that seem to be in dancing mood 🙂
Documented or not, our intuition says a lot about the close relationship between belly dance and fertility, pregnancy, birth and postnatal rituals.
As my friend Aixa Laxmi said in the interview I did to her:
Belly dance archaeology can be found in its movements.
Based on my personal experience, Arabic dance can also help alleviate menstrual cramps. Here is a video I did a while ago about dance and menstruation.
Since Ancient Egypt times many things have changed, and this dance form has been seen with different prisms.
There is a belief that it was firstly introduced in Al Andalus – what is now the South of Spain- by the slave artists brought in caravans from Orient, in the muslim conquers.
These slave artists used to dance in the palaces of Granada, Córdoba y Sevilla.
Beside the slave artists, we also had the Gawazi: nomadic dancers that would also read the future. They also were tattoo artists and practiced circumcision.
Gawazi women would travel from Alexandria to El Cairo and they were exiled Mohammed Ali around 1850.
From then onward, belly dance decayed, until 1920-1930. Then, some dancers started to be featured in big Egyptian productions as well as having their own shows, venues -cabarets.
This period is known as the Golden Era, and goes mostly in between 1920/30 and 1970.
During the Golden Era, belly dance was massively adopted in Occident. It was also marketed and profited, as Occident does with everything.
A little bit later, thanks to the internet and the globalization, belly dance was spread in the whole world. Many schools and signature styles all over the world have been created.
In 2001, the Colombian singer Shakira launched her single “Eyes Like Yours” where she introduced a bit of belly dancing and some touches of Arabic music
This was a very successful single and video clip and encouraged millions women to start practicing belly dance.
I didn’t start dancing because of Shakira, but I did start more or less on the same period. I can consider myself one of those millions. I will share my personal story with dance in another article very soon.
Are there different styles in belly dance?
You might have heard about different belly dance styles or not, depending on where you are based or the information that your teacher has shared with you.
We could tell that nowadays belly dance is divided in different styles like the following:
- Tribal fusion
The basic movements and steps on most of the styles are the same.
Differences can be found more in things like acrobatics, giving more importance to particular parts of the body, the choice of music and the customes.
To avoid having and endless blog post, I am working on a separate article talking about the different styles. If you don’t want to miss it out, subscribe to my newsletter here. You’ll get the article straight in your inbox as soon as it’s freshly finished.
Music for belly dancers
Belly dance music is very vast. It’s the kind of topic you could write a whole library about and you would still have a lot more to share.
There are many different instruments, artists and classifications for Arabic music (origin, use, rhythms, melodies, used instruments, etc).
But in my opinion, beyond any analysis or descriptions, the most important thing is always to listen to music and to feel what you like most. I’ll write another article on belly dance music soon.
Here you can listen this spotify playlist I made with some of my favorite artists.
Where can I learn how to belly dance?
After Shakira and her Eyes Like Yours single back in 2001, we saw a quick grow on places to learn belly dance.
I’ve already been teaching women of all kinds and backgrounds for almost 20 years.
I’ve been lucky enough to teach in dance schools, therapy groups, cultural centers, gyms, associations…
At the moment you can learn with me for free in my youtube channel.
I also offer classes in my online school, which is still young and constantly growing (I have BIG plans for it!)
And if you prefer to enjoy the perks of a face to face class…
How to find your perfect belly dance teacher?
Due to a lack of regulation and to the quick expansion of belly dancing in Occident there are a lot of under qualified teachers.
This could be a problem, but every cloud…
I wrote an article a while ago on How to find you perfect belly dance teacher. I’m currently translating it into English (it was originally written in Spanish).
Subscribe to my newsletter and get it straight in your inbox as soon as it’s ready.
Benefits of belly dance
Not long ago I asked my students what benefits they felt coming to class and why did they choose belly dancing.
I had a big range of answers -we all are different, but most of them could be summed in the following:
- In class they get rid of the stress and they improve their general well being.
- They feel happier, like in a cloud.
- They have fun, laugh and socialize.
One of them told me that back in the day she was looking for a dance class for adults and not needing a partner. She found belly dance, and she couldn’t be happier!
Along with all the benefits that come with exercise in general, belly dance specifically brings:
- Strengthen your pelvic floor
- Alleviate menstrual cramps
- It’s an amazing way to express your emotions
- Improves your flexibility
- Prevents osteoporosis
- Improve your strength
- Improve your coordination
From my own personal experience and knowledge I could tell you 8 million more benefits but, what for?.
Access for free to your very first belly dance lesson
If you have enjoyed this article and you have enjoyed following me in the videos, I’m sure you will be interested in the free full belly dance class I’ve prepared for you.
To get into the class, all you have to do is to fill out the form below – or any of the forms in dance pandemic and confirm your subscription in the email that you will get.
In a few minutes you will get the link to the class. Straight to you inbox.
And if you wish to keep on learning belly dance, you can find me teaching in Central Croydon classes every Tuesday at 6pm.
Would you do me a favour?
If you have found this article useful, I’d like to ask you 3 things:
- Share the article with those one you think will enjoy it, and in your social media.
- Leave a comment below, they always make me very happy. I promise I’ll reply to every single one of them.
- Add this article to the favourites in your browser. That way you can always come back to it. You don’t want to risk forgetting where you found it, do you?
Thank you very much for having spent some time here. I hope to see you soon!