On the social traditions of belly dancing in general
I find it important to clarify to my Western students some cultural aspects of Belly Dance in the Middle East. “Belly dancing is for men’s entertainment” is a Western misconception that I like to dispel from the first class of their Beginners course, to allow them to feel the fullness of what they are learning, and sink into a more self-nurturing space with learning their craft.
In traditional Arabia, women dance when they are together with other women, for the fun of it, for the expression of joy. It is totally approved of when women are amongst themselves. Grabbing a scarf and wrapping it around her hips, the Arabic woman will start dancing naturally to music on the radio or TV or to singing and clapping from her female family and friends. In this tradition girls learn from their mothers and grandmothers, which puts them in good stead to grow into women as their bellies and pelvic areas have been well tuned for motherhood and general feminine health. After leaving a gathering, women feel uplifted physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. It is a natural way of releasing stress and staying healthy on all levels. Dancing for men’s entertainment is not the origins of Belly Dance. Dancing in front of men is considered shameful in some sectors of Middle Eastern society. Professional dancers are usually looked down upon, unless they are famous, in which case they are idolized; a double standard but true nonetheless.
means “of the country” or village. The Baladi form of Belly Dancing is performed in villages and countryside around Egypt, where women danced together and entertained each other in family and community gatherings. It is a very earthy style of Belly Dance, done on flat bare feet and very grounded. The costuming is in full dress, no bare bellies. Much of the movement is centered in the hips. Arms should be held casually and elbows heavy. There is a proud energy to the dancer.Source: Shemiran Ibrahim, http://www.ShemiranIbrahim.com, Belly Dance Student Guide
How I see Baladi
When one dances Baladi, it feels like you are insisting that your true inner feelings are acknowledged. You are just standing there with your heart wide open, saying, “That is me! Embrace me!”.
I see this music and style as a special gift for us, women. In this dance under the influence of the captivating melodies we are allowed to express our deepest feelings and let it all out, so that we feel relieved and uplifted.
Below is a video of a Baladi performance of mine, danced in a hard and important moment of my life, when I was to make live-changing decisions. Hope you enjoy it and feel the passion for life in it!
How do you feel when dancing Baladi? What does this style mean to you?
I will be happy to read your comments below!