In recent years, foreign dances have become a central focus of the fitness world. Activities such as ballroom dancing, Zumba, and even interactive video games or workout videos like Just Dance, which incorporates a variety of cultural moves, are skyrocketing in popularity. One of the hottest trends that has captured the attention of our nation is belly dancing. Not only does it work you core like crazy, but it is also one of the sexiest forms of exercise out there, providing a solid workout and self-esteem boost all in one!
Even today, the origins of belly dancing are hotly debated, but there are four theories that dominate popular belief: Religious: Many believe that belly dancing originated as a religious dance that was performed by priestesses in order to promote fertility. It began predominantly in Egypt, but can also be traced back to Mesopotamian and Grecian cultures. Childbirth: Others insist that the dance was associated with aspects of childbirth, especially labor. Middle Eastern women performed it in order to prepare other women for the birth of their child. Social: This theory claims that belly dancing began in Egypt, and was intended as a form of social interaction between women and families. Gypsies: The final theory is that it was actually traveling gypsies who introduced belly dancing to the Middle East. Styles varied between tribes and were quickly adopted by many countries, especially Egypt. Because of its unknown origins, belly dancing quickly became a fascinating, but taboo, form of dance when it arrived in the U.S. It gained recognition in the States during the 1893 Chicago World Fair, catching the attention of the prim Victorian bystanders because of its shocking, sensual nature. Even though belly dancers in the Middle East usually only performed for other women or their families, they swiftly acquired a scandalous reputation in the U.S. because of their rapid hip movements and barren midriffs. The term "belly dancing" didn't even exist until an American decided to capitalize on this intriguing art form and used the title as a campaign to increase awareness and popularity. Despite its nonsexual origins, belly dancing quickly became known as an erotic, burlesque-like dance with a questionable reputation and undeniable allure. Hollywood soon snatched up the trend and churned out a series of movies that promoted the stereotypes circulating about belly dancing, which eventually triggered an opposite reaction in Egyptian studios in the mid 1900's. Movies celebrating the history of belly dancing grew in popularity and became an integral part of Egyptian culture.
For more information on the history of belly dancing, click here! (via Aleenah Belly Dance) Now, especially in the States, belly dancing is blended with a variety of different dances styles to stay fresh and attractive to the mainstream culture. It has fused with many western dance styles to create a heated cardio workout that promotes women's sexuality and self-confidence. Check out this video of a profession belly dancer to get a taste for the dance:
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Click on the video below to see what a belly dance fusion class is like:
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In the midst of kids, work, carpools, and more, we often neglect our own well-being and even our sexy side. Belly dancing encourages women to get back in touch with their inner sensuality in a positive way, all while burning tons of calories in the process! Looking for a belly dancing class near you? Check out the links below and get that midsection moving! Anaya Belly Dance Habeeba's Dance of the Arts Keshvar Project Cincinnati Belly Dance