What Is Belly Dance?

Written by Elif Tarik

Belly dance is an ancient form of art that was originally used for fertility around 2000 years ago.It was performed by women for women at birth rituals. It only became a way to entertain men during ottoman empire rules in the harem. Since then it has travelled and evolved in many different ways but still the principals remain the same. It is a dance that involves mostly pelvic and spinal movement and a lot of shaking.

What type of styles are out there? Egyptian, turkish, gypsy and tribal belly dance are the most commonly known styles in the uk. What is the difference between these styles? Egyptian dance involves a lot of skippy moves where one is like a bird hopping around and a lot of shimmying in the abdominal area. Turkish dance, has the same and a lot of back bends and floor work is used. Gypsies use a different rhythm more grounded folkdance.

Tribal dance has very controlled slow movements. It’s a fusion between above forms, indian dance, flamenco and body popping. This form is getting more popular and changing rapidly. Modern music is used which makes it more open to people who don’t quiet understand arabic or turkish music.

Can anyone do it? Yes certainly. Even though this dance is mainly performed by women, a lot of male dancers are doing a good job at it. What is it good for? It is a cardiovascular exercise and like any form of dance it will help you increase muscular strength and flexibility. It works in the centre of the body your core and pelvic floor which will help with your posture, back aches, period aches, will helps digestion and in this modern times where women are getting pregnant later in their lives this dance will help you conceive better. After all this is why it was done in the first place. Furthermore, it will increase confidence in women and I often have stories passed on to me by my students where they say, belly dance help them go through emotional traumas in their lives.

What do I need? Really nothing! You can dance bare feet in comfortable clothes. Although there are a lot of jingly nice belts around, a simple scarf around your hips will be enough to help you with your learning.


Elif will be writing the Fit Club. She is a certified fitness instructor and a professional Belly Dancer with years of experience performing in the UK and overseas for a variety of events. If you want to check her classes, please log onto bellydancinglondon.com