Belly Dancing and How It Evolved Over the Centuries - Write a Research/Definition Essay

Essay by peanutkerrvertCollege, Undergraduate December 2008

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Many civilizations had a role in the art of belly dancing as we know it today. In early times, people danced during rituals. As time progressed, however, dancing took on a new meaning. People began dancing simply for the enjoyment of it. It was during this time that different forms of dance began to immerge. One of these dances, called belly dance, has become very popular throughout the world. Today it is used more for exercise, entertainment, and healing purposes.

It seems that belly dancing originated from the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Africa. History tells us that belly dancing may, in fact, have originated from Egypt. Other experts believe that the roots of belly dancing go back as far as the “temple rites of India.” Egyptian tombs show paintings dating as far back as the fourteenth century BC, depicting what look like dancers posing in positions similar to those used in modern-day belly dancing.

Other types of paintings were found in Persia that depict what look like belly dancers from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Also, the Romanticism movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries caused many to believe that there was a link between belly dancing and exotic harems. This belief became prevalent following the depiction by artists of the time of harem life in the Ottoman Empire. However, Saudi women did not use romanticism in their form of the dance. They believed the dance to be sacred and not to be performed in front of men (“The Act of Belly Dancing”).

Shamanism played an important role in the origination of belly dancing, as well. This is due to the fact that a lot of the movements and hand clapping techniques utilized by the shaman were eventually transferred by later generations to other types of dance, including...