What is Oriental Dance or Belly Dance?

Characteristic for the Belly Dance is the isolation of movements in hips, chest, shoulders or head as well as fluid movements and a "shimmy" shake in hips or shoulders. To show the different dance forms shows often contains classic oriental dance with gracious movements and a drum solo with sharp and exact movements mixed with sequences of the "shimmy" hip shake.


Where does the Oriental dance come from?

The Oriental Dances includes a whole lot of different dance styles. The dances differs from one country to another, but there are also different folkloric dances in different parts of one country. Today it's hard to knowing exactly how the dances originally was performed. Many has agreed that during the history of time, dance has been a way of connecting the spiritual world with the life of earth before the entry of the religions.

There's a lot of different theories of where the oriental dance has it's origin. There's no doubt that dance has been practices world wide. One theory is that dance during all times has been connected to feasts. With it's spiritual power dance has been practiced in different ways, in different countries, during different periods of time and most important - it has travelled together with people and families from one place to another through hundreds of years. Migrations from India, through todays Turkey brought their dance to northern Africa where it interwined with the domestic dances which today is called Belly Dance or Raks al Sharqi - The dance of the East.

Belly Dances with tambourine, sword or daggers is mentioned in stories such as Arabian Nights. Many of the stories derives from India and travelled to the Arabs through Persia before it was completed during the 15th century and translated into Swedish during the 18th century.

During the Romanticism Europe started to take note of the eastern litterature and a curiosity around this exotic world awakened. When the oriental dance reached the western world during the late 1800 the idea of the folk dance changed dramaticly. The dance was to get influenced by ballet to be able to be put on stage. The dance costume became in two pieces to show of the belly and the veil got introduced to respond to the western countries ideas of the Mystics of the Orient. In time other accessories such as wings of Isis, fan veils and poi started to take place on the Belly Dance stage.


What does Oriental dance look like?

There are many different styles of dances from the Middle East. In Western countries the most well known might be belly dance. Here's an example of Maria performing an oriental piece at a festival in Uppsala, September 2015.
Choreography by Aziza (CAN).