Benefits of belly dancing

This article about belly dancing is both informative and enlightening especially for people who want to find out more about this ancient art form. The author clears the misconception about belly dancing and highlights on why belly dancing can be beneficial to our body and mind.

Hannah Corr explains why this Middle Eastern dance form is popular with women of all ages

Bellydancing is a very misunderstood and misrepresented dance form. Most people are familiar with the bejewelled Arabian princess dancing provocatively for a largely male audience. Unfortunately this seedier side still exists, but it is mainly a dance form that celebrates what it is to be a woman.

From a very young age women are told not to stick their hips out, not to lift their chests and certainly not to shake their behinds, but in bellydancing you do all this. And more. It is a dance that uses the female body to show the beauty and strength in all women.

The movements taught in bellydancing centre on the belly and hip area (which is where Hollywood got the name 'bellydancing'). They are either smooth and flowing such as figure 8s, camels and circles - the graceful and soft movements, or powerful and striking such as shimmies, hip hits and Egyptian walks. Both styles of movement are very feminine, and you will see both in a dance performance or choreography.

Bellydancing is a very active dance which builds muscle strength, especially in the thighs, ankles and hips. It also helps tone the thigh and stomach area as well as improving posture. It is known to help relieve arthritis and muscle pain (it helped get rid of a recurrent problem I was having with back spasms), but I would always ask your dance teacher if it is safe to dance if you have a medical condition.

As well as being a great physical workout it boosts confidence and makes women feel not only aware but proud of their bodies regardless of size and shape. It is a dance that says 'look at all these amazing things I can do with this body', and it enables women to get out of that negative mindset of seeing themselves as too fat or believing their chests are too small. There is no such thing as 'the perfect body' in bellydance, all women can do it.

Plus, of course, it is great fun and you and you get to dress up. Costume is an important part of bellydance and in most classes women will wear a coin belt which not only looks nice but helps to figure out the movements using the sound the belt makes. There are all sorts of costumes to suit all of the different styles of bellydance - ranging from the beaded bra and belt cabaret costume to the heavier 'tribal' costumes that have many layers and turban-style headresses.

The history of the dance itself is quite complex and many dancers and teachers prefer to use the terms 'Arabian Dance' or 'Oriental Dance' rather than bellydance which has a trivial connotation. Its origins are mainly Egyptian, but it is found all across the Middle East and North Africa.

It was originally a ritual dance performed for the Goddess, as well as being a fertility dance that helped during the processes of conception, pregnancy and childbirth. It is believed that it was a dance practised and performed by women for women. The dancing for a male audience came about by men who feared this ancient and powerfully feminine dance and wanted to contain it.

Bellydancing is huge in South Wales at the moment and there are classes in Cardiff, Newport, Monmouthshire, the Valleys and elsewhere.

Check your local leisure centres and community halls for details or see what classes are adverstised on the web.

Hannah Corr is a bellydance teacher and performer in Cardiff

Source :

Click here to find out more about belly dance classes in Chichester and Bognor Regis


Belly dance with Jenn

"When I dance, the sun sails safely through the night;

When I dance, the future is formed by my feet;

When I dance,the stars move through the heavens;

When I dance, Venus shimmers the desert;

When I dance, dust becomes silver, stones are made of gold!"

Cosi Fabian

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