Thousands of years ago, people were just learning to communicate, but the language of dance already existed. With the help of gestures and movements, a person told how he sees the world around him, what he feels.
The dance itself has always been associated with the life of a person, his people. It is no coincidence that each dance is associated with the character of the tribe in which it originated.
Oriental dance stands alone among all. It is called both bewitching and seductive, fragrant, affectionate, sometimes cruel, sometimes fabulous.
The technique of oriental dance is unique, but he himself personifies life itself, the movements of the dancers reveal mysterious secrets. In the West it is called "belly dance", but this name is incorrect.
There are various myths about oriental dances that explain how certain elements and movements appeared. But beautiful legends about beautiful dances are not always true, so we will understand in more detail where these or those techniques, movements, costumes came from and debunk the main myths.
All dancers wear jewelry on the navel. The idea of decorating the navel actually appeared only in the 30s of the 20th century in Hollywood. This is how oriental dance was imagined by local producers and directors. In the East itself, dancers do not have such adornments.
The belly dance uses a cane as a symbol for the shepherd's staff that women once used to graze sheep. The cane dance is from southern Egypt. By tradition, all the men of the area carried long staves with them, which they used as weapons. Gradually, even a whole military art of wielding a staff arose, and the dance depicts the fight with the help of this weapon. After some time, women began to dance with a cane, playfully playing around with men's amusements, and over time, "raks al assaya" - a dance with staffs, took shape.
On military campaigns, women accompanied men, entertaining them at night with dances. This was the basis for the appearance of the dance with the juggling of the sword on the head. There is no evidence to support this myth. Moreover, the sword-juggling dance itself is not very common in the Middle East. Researchers believe that the use of the sword as a folklore instrument in dance was prompted by a painting by the artist Jean-Léon Jerome in the 19th century. It was his painting that became the catalyst for the creativity of dancers around the world. It can be assumed that the model posing for the artist did indeed perform such a dance, her fellow tribesmen were also able to do this, but this technique was never generally accepted. In Egypt there is a similar dance when a man makes movements with a sword in his hand, performing aggressive actions. But even in such a dance there is no sword balancing, neither on the body, nor on the head.
Belly dancing was used in the harem to attract the sultan's attention. Of the dancers, the ruler chose the best. This misconception is the most common, but the facts easily refute it. The elements of the dance have been passed down from generation to generation, it is believed that it is based on techniques that allowed a woman to prepare her abdominal muscles for childbirth. Even today, such movements are present in rituals in the Middle East and North Africa. Women surround their friend, who is preparing to give birth, and begin to make circular movements with their hips, preparing her for the coming. In the harem, there was no such thing that the Sultan walked and thoughtfully chose a passion from the dancing beauties. The wives rarely saw the Sultan in large harems. The decision as to which of the young wives will belong to the husband that night was made either by his mother or by the eldest wife. Therefore, the energy of young girls was directed not at studying dance and mastering the skill, but at winning the favor of older and influential women. Although it is possible that the girls danced for each other, brightening up the dull days. Today in the Middle East, women often dance for other women - they can be neighbors, girlfriends, cousins, sisters, aunts. Dancing is entertainment, a pleasant pastime while waiting for your spouse. Dancing can be found at family celebrations, weddings and even some men's celebrations.
The purpose of belly dancing has traditionally been to seduce a man. As mentioned above, in the East, women dance mainly for each other, this tradition has been developing for centuries. Of course, some of the beauties used such a technique to seduce a beloved man behind closed doors, but this is an unconventional exception for the culture of the East. For people who grew up in such an environment, there is no such thing as a seduction dance, this is not taught to well-bred daughters.
In the Middle East, there is the traditional dance of the Seven Veils. It is based on the legend of how the goddess Ishtar descended into the underworld, leaving one of her veils at each of the seven gates. And this story is just a beautiful myth. There is a biblical story about a woman who danced for Herod, touching his heart. However, no details of this action are mentioned anywhere. But the title "Dance of the Seven Veils" appeared only in the 19th century in the play by Oscar Wilde. On the basis of it, Strauss's opera "Salome" was staged, in which the image of a girl finally appeared, taking off one shawl after another until she was left naked in front of Tsar Herod.
Belly dancing was brought to the Middle East by gypsies. This myth is completely difficult to refute, since this oriental dance is unlikely to have a single origin. Today, dances can be found in Africa that used and used hip movements long before the migration of the Roma to the West. And in Turkey, undulating movements appeared before the arrival of the gypsies. Although it is impossible to exclude their influence on dance and music. Gradually, as the gypsies penetrated, dances and music mixed, the gypsies contributed something of their own, adopting and transferring elements of other cultures. This is how the belly dance that we know and love today developed.
Gypsies loved to dance around bonfires, adoring nighttime romance. In fact, the life of the Roma was very difficult. When the public in Europe resented the situation of slaves in America in Romania, the Roma (as the gypsies call themselves) themselves lived in a similar situation. During the Second World War, the situation of this people became especially difficult; for most of their European history, the Roma are persecuted by the indigenous population, they are expelled from their habitats. So nomadic life is not conditioned by romance, but by the fact that people often did not have their own shelter.
Middle Eastern dancers had an outfit that consisted of a bodice and a belt, which were adorned with coins or tassel belt. Today it is difficult to imagine a dancer without such elements. In fact, embroidering dancers' clothes with coins was invented in the USA. Many also point to Hollywood costume designer Bob Mackie. The tassel belt, or choli, has traditionally been worn under the sari by Indian women. But its use as an element of dance was also invented in America; such an element was not used in traditional dress in the East and Africa. In the East, such tassels were used to decorate beasts of burden, and even then on special occasions. There is no evidence that Turks or Arabs used fluffy tassel belts when dancing. But on dancers such accessories immediately began to look good, it is not surprising that this "American" style quickly spread. Women with coins and tassels look exotic, but you should not perceive such clothes as ethnic for the peoples of the East.
The name of the belly dance "bellydance" (bellydance) comes from the spoiled Arabic word "baladi", which means home and means "dance of the Egyptians." In 1893, American producer Bloom coined this dance name to spark interest in his "Streets of Cairo" exhibition at the Chicago World's Fair. In his biography, in any case, he argued there, although many believe that the name of the dance owes its name to the French "le dance du vantre", which was a dance of North African peoples with belly movements. In fact, there are significant differences between the two dances. Bloom himself did not really think about the name, its similarity to anyone else. He relied on the word "belly". In those days, women were mostly pulled into corsets, naturally, the attention of people was attracted by the dancers who bared their belly. The phonetic similarity with the word "baladi" was noticed recently, there is no deep meaning in it.