The Different Types of Belly Dancing – Part 1

The Different Types of Belly Dancing – Part 1

If you have ever been captivated by the exotic and invigorating sight of a professional belly dancer going through the adventurous movements of a true and authentic belly dance, you have probably thought how they learned all the difficult moves.

In fact, although tradition belly dancing hails from the Middle East there are different styles: –

  • Egyptian Raqs Sharqi
  • Turkish Oriental
  • Iraqi Kawleeya
  • Egyptian Baladi
  • Zar Ritual
  • Saidi and Raks Assaya
  • Khaleegy

In this blog we look at the different styles, note the differences and explore what makes each style so exciting and captivating.

Egyptian Raqs Sharqi

In Egypt belly dancing is referred to as Raqs Sharqi which in Arabic means Dance of the Orient. Raqs Sharqi is a comparatively new version from the old Baladi or other folk dances of Egypt and is often termed Egyptian style. There have been many adjectives levied at Raqs Sharqi including: emotional, relaxed, graceful, delicate and simple. A lot of Egyptian culture is very laid back, soulful and poetic and this is shown in the movements of Raqs Sharqi. This style of dancing is very authentic and traditional and you will not see props such as veils or finger cymbals. Often Raqs Sharqi dancers want to follow a vintage look with their costume with bra and belt and a great deal of chiffon.

Turkish Oriental

Turkish Oriental belly dancing is very different to Egyptian Raqs Sharqi, it is fiery, fast, breathtaking and all action. There is also what most people would associate with belly dancing, finger cymbals, swirling veils and provocative and sexy floorwork. Some of the phrases used to describe this style of belly dancing have been: dramatic, energetic, lively, sexy and powerful. Raqs Sharqi dances take their audiences on a journey of emotion, Turkish Oriental grabs the audience behind the ears and shakes them into submission with a series of, shimmies, spins and wild movements. Costumes for Turkish Oriental belly dancing are ornate, including rhinestones, crystals, beads and sequins and are often fringed.

Egyptian Baladi

Baladi means my country in Egyptian and signifies a type of Egyptian culture. As well as a belly dancing style there can be found, Baladi music, Baladi bread, Baladi people, Baladi rhythms etc. The Baladi style of dancing is a happy improvisation straight from the heart. It is a country dance to be enjoyed rather than an art form for the stage. Baladi dancers often like to show off, and they take turns to show their skills at weddings and family get-togethers.

The following words have been connected with Baladi dancing: playful, joyful, earthy, simple and spirited. Traditional costume could be a Galabeya and perhaps a scarf tied at the hip. Low cut necklines are also popular with colorful head scarves. In part two of the different styles of belly dancing we delve further into the culture and types of other styles of this famous dance form. We look at the nuances between Iraqi Kawleeya, Khaleegy, Saidi and Raks Assaya and the Zar ritual which features heavily in Middle Eastern dance.

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