Belly dancing is a popular form of dance that has its roots in Egypt. This expressive and captivating style is best known for its focus on dynamic torso movements, and has made its way into pop culture across the globe. If you’re interested in learning how to belly dance, this guide will get you pointed in the right direction.
The Origins of Belly Dancing
Belly dancing has a long and mysterious history that is often debated over by scholars and dance enthusiasts. Some say that the origins of belly dancing can be traced back nearly 6,000 years, to when early societies would use expressive dancing as a part of religious rituals. Although there’s no doubt that forms of dancing played a role in early civilizations, we lack hard evidence that ties modern belly dancing to these ancient rituals.
Belly dancing as we know it today most likely had its start in 18th century Egypt. A traveling group of dancers known as the ghawazee pioneered the form, and, later, spread it throughout the Middle East and Europe. Since then, various stylistic refinements were added by cultures throughout the world, including new influences from ballet and Latin dance. In the 1960s, many Americans became interested in how to learn belly dance, and global popularity of the style exploded in North America.
Belly Dancing for Beginners
Watch any advanced belly dancer, and it’s clear that muscle isolation is a critical part of the style. Learning how to belly dance gives you exquisite command of core muscles and hip movement. There are a few iconic belly dancing moves, including:
- Hip lifts: This move makes it look like the hips are quickly swinging from side to side. Although it looks as if the hips are making this move in isolation, it actually comes as a result of straightening one leg while keeping the other slightly bent. The head and shoulders should be kept still so that it looks as if only the hips are moving.
- Shimmy: Once the tempo of the alternating hip lifts is increased, a vibrating movement is produced, which is known as the shimmy. The muscles of the lower back are also involved in this movement. You can also shimmy with the shoulders.
- Belly roll: This move comes as a result of isolating the lower and upper ab muscles. Contracting the lower ab muscles and then the upper ones creates a rolling motion once you get the hang of it. If you can’t access this move at first, don’t be discouraged! It will come with time as your core muscles develop.
How to Learn to Belly Dance
While online resources such as blogs and videos can be helpful for beginners, properly learning how to belly dance requires the help of an instructor. Your dance teacher can show you how to isolate the correct muscles and gracefully perform these expressive moves. If you don’t have any dance teachers in your area, online belly dancing lessons are a great option. Visit our directory and find a belly dance instructor today!