What is Bellydance?...

Bellydance is much misunderstood. When it is first raised in conversation the usual response is accompanied by raised
eyebrows and giggles. It is somehow imagined as an exotic form of striptease, being about nothing more than shaking
bodies, baring flesh and tantalising men. The truth is somewhat different - the dance requires skill, technique and
musicality to interpret and bring alive the music. Whilst it is a powerful and sensual dance form, it is more about women
being comfortable and confident in their own skins than exciting men.
Bellydance is a westernised name that is used to describe a range of dance forms originally coming from the Middle East. It is also sometimes known by other names such as Arabic dance, Raqs sharqi, Oriental dance, Middle Eastern Dance or Egyptian/Turkish etc Dance.

Despite the name "belly" dance,the
movements are generally more focused
on hip movements than the belly. In
general, however, the dance form
is characterised by movements
involving isolations of the body - that
is carrying out a move in one part
of the body, whilst the remainder
of the body remains relaxed
and unaffected.

Bellydance has developed
differently from region to region
around the world, with countries
including Egypt, Lebanon and
Turkey each developing their own
distinctive style.

Whilst it is often simply the idea of just
having a dance that often gets people
involved in bellydance, the stage at
which people often get hooked is when
they can connect with the music and
the sentiments of a particular style and
the culture that surrounds it. For Claire,
it is Egyptian dance in particular that
has inspired her. The music and the
relaxed earthiness, strength of self and extremes of joy, love, despair and humour that it can express are what she finds addictive.

Why Bellydance?...

Egyptian culture seems to have far stronger links to dance in day to day life than we have here in the UK. Egyptian women of all ages, from 3 to 90 years old, will dance for and with each other at celebrations such as weddings. This sometimes seems unusual to us in the UK, where some seem to believe that dancing should be limited to fit, young exhibitionists, and should not be enjoyed by everyone as a celebration of living. The movements used within bellydance are very natural movements, which help make this dance form available to a far wider range of ages, body shapes and levels of fitness than many other dance forms. Perhaps most importantly, bellydance is about interpretation of the music and personal expression. This allows every dancer to put their own style, emotions and personality into the dance... as such, everybody who bellydances brings something unique to it.