World Belly Dance Day, on May 13 this year, is celebrated on the second Saturday of May every year. It is one of the most respected styles of dancing in the world. It has a long, celebrated history across many countries. It’s known for featuring complex movements of the hips and torso, and shiny costumes with many ornaments. The most common style of costume is the ‘bedlah,’ from Egypt, where the dance most likely originated. Typically, it includes a fitted top or bra, a fitted hip belt, and a full-length skirt or harem pants. Full-length dresses are sometimes worn, especially when dancing in more earthy styles. There are also tribal-style costumes that adopt features of traditional folkloric costumes from all over the world. This includes circle skirts, pantaloons, and turbans or headdresses decked with feathers or flowers.
History of World Belly Dance Day
In the 18th and 19th centuries, European travelers in the Middle East wrote extensively about the dancers they saw there. They had watched the Awalim — a type of courtesans that were primarily musicians and poets — and the Ghawazi of Egypt. In his book, Andrew Hammond states, “the Greek historian Herodotus related the remarkable ability of Egyptians to create for themselves spontaneous fun, singing, clapping, and dancing in boats on the Nile during numerous religious festivals. It’s from somewhere in this great, ancient tradition of gaiety that the belly dance emerged.”
As a folk dance, it is performed at celebrations and social gatherings by ordinary people in their everyday clothes. Professional belly dancing evolved especially in the last 100 years, with elements of ballet and the addition of a veil and dancing being done on a stage for an audience. Egypt prides itself on its professional belly dancers, such as Badia Masabni, who is called the godmother of belly dancing. She popularized the dance form and made it accessible to an audience. Tayihac Carioca, belly dancing’s Egyptian Marilyn Monroe, was a belly dancer and movie star who added Brazilian rhythms to her dance style. Naima Akef, who passed away in 1966, had been a circus acrobat, and she added acrobatic movement and energetic spins to her routines.
Today belly dancing has also become a form of exercise that helps women bond and get fit. It burns 400 calories an hour. Balance, strength, coordination, and improved posture are some benefits. There are Egyptian belly dancing competitions that one can watch on YouTube now. Various countries, such as Egypt and Korea, have national belly dancing competitions. Belly dancing tutorials and online courses are also popular.
World Belly Dance Day timeline
The Greek historian Herodotus, describes the remarkable ability Egyptians have for dancing.
The first World’s Fair in the United States, in1876, is held in Philadelphia, and belly dancing is represented.
The dancers in the Egyptian Theater of The Street in the Cairo exhibit draw much attention.
They arrive in New York and begin to perform in restaurants and nightclubs, and later they begin teaching and touring the country with bands.
Nagwa, one of the most famous Egyptian belly dancers, does appearances worldwide.
No longer the domain of Egypt, belly dancing is very popular with worldwide performances on YouTube.
World Belly Dance Day FAQs
Is belly dancing religious?
No, but a study found that it heightens the sense of spirituality for most women who practice this form of dancing.
Why do belly dancers wear coins?
In the past, Middle Eastern women who were young and wished to marry would dance for coins that were thrown to them. They would then sew these coins onto their hips scarves, saving them for dowry, money that she’d give to the man she married.
What do belly dancers wear underneath?
For clothing, at the bottom, they recommend you wear stretch leggings, yoga pants, or jazz-dance pants. On top, a sports bra or another bra that offers adequate support underneath the proper top is suggested.
World Belly Dance Day Activities
Learn more about belly dancing
If you want to learn even more about the historical and cultural side of belly dancing, there are many ways to do so. There’s a lot of information online, including YouTube videos, and Goodreads has a whole category of books about belly dancing on its website with ratings and opinions from its users.
Watch a belly dance performance
The best way you can do this is to try to find out if there are any performances nearby that you can see in person. You should support your local artists as well as famous ones on tour. But if you don’t have the money, or live somewhere that doesn’t have these performers, that’s alright, you can watch some incredible dances on YouTube!
Learn how to belly dance
You’ve read about it and watched the performances, now it’s time to put your own body to the test. Look for dance studios near you and see if they are offering a course. Keep in mind, that this dance is more difficult than you might think. But what’s really important is that you have fun while learning!
5 Facts About Belly Dance That Will Blow Your Mind
Thomas Edison made films about belly dancers
The inventor of motion pictures is responsible for popularizing it in America too, some of these are “Crissie Sheridan” from 1897, and “Princess Rajah” from 1904.
American Tribal Style Belly Dance
This is a modern style of belly dance that was created in 1987 that takes elements from Indian, Middle Eastern, and African dances.
The last authentic Ghawazi performers
It’s believed that the Maazin sisters were the last authentic Ghawazi dance performers in Egypt, with Khayreyya Maazin still teaching and performing as of 2020.
Nowadays it’s used as a workout
It can be used to strengthen the quads, oblique, and glute muscles.
It’s beneficial for pregnant women
The stomach muscles that are developed by dancing play a pivotal role during childbirth.
Why We Love World Belly Dance Day
We’re not talking only about how it can help you tone your muscles and stay in shape. It can be a meditative experience as well. The ‘cool-down’ parts of classes and their ritualistic aspects are a form of therapy.
It’s a gateway to Middle Eastern culture
If this is your first time reading extensively about belly dancing, there’s a chance you already know more about Egypt than you did before. Belly dancing is very relevant in many countries of the Middle East, each with its own style. Just by trying to find out which style you prefer, you end up learning about many cultural differences between these countries.
It’s a way to meet other people
It can be hard to make new friends as an adult. The easiest one is sharing a space with people that have the same interests as you. When you dance with others, you encourage one another to express yourselves freely and try different things.
World Belly Dance Day dates