Belly Dancing is a Sensual Art for Women
The American Belly Dancer
Many women in America are familiar with the art of belly dancing. They hear about the fun and excitement from their grandmothers, mothers, sisters, cousins, and friends. They experience this dance by taking lessons from community instructors and video tapes.
Ozel Turkbas, a Turkish night club performer of the 1950s, introduced American women to belly dancing as entertainment for their husbands. Ozel used her actress talents and promoted this dance with skimpy Turkish style costuming that is sexually provocative. There is an attitude in today’s society causing women to be reluctant to share their belly dancing experiences in a conversation setting as some individuals have a sexy stereotyped picture and are uncomfortable thinking it to be strip teasing.A woman will talk about her gym exercises before admitting to taking belly dancing classes.
Non-belly dancing communities have negative thoughts and ideas about this dance style. Bible belt regions are reluctant to accept dance activities. Communities with assorted cultures are open to dance.
I advise my students to say they are taking Middle Eastern dancing, These words discourage negative feedback from others. The students learn a variety of night club (cabaret), ethnic, and folkloric dance movements. The words “belly dancing” seemingly bring forward negative mental pictures, comments, or stories. There have been many changes since the 1950s and both teachers and students are constantly educating the public.Other names women use are Raks Baladi, Raks Shaabi, Raks Al-Sharqi, and Dance duVenre.
Students who take a variety of styles gain knowledge that can educate and answer questions from inquiring minds. Drastic changes are being made in this sensual dance. The new American Tribal is becoming popular and requires more complex skills than early movements taught by Ozel Tukbas.
A dictionary source defines sensuality as pleasing to our senses. This dance is pleasing to today’s dancers’ mental and physical needs. Today’s students feel good about themselves as they build their self confidence and maintain healthy bodies.
Belly dancing was introduced to America in the 1950’s starting with the cabaret or night club style of dancing. It was promoted as entertainment for your husband.
Sixty eight years have passed since this dance was introduced in our country. Women have done much research to gain knowledge and understanding of this art form. The attraction to this dance is its independence and freedom of interpretation. It allows creative individuals to design personal choreography that moves with the rhythms. The ethnic and folkloric styles have basic rules or traditions dictating movements. Whatever identity name a person may wish to call this dance it will remain with us for as long as women are interested. This dance is centuries old and will continue to thrive.
Historically this dance was created, designed, and performed by women. It is considered the first exercise program which women used for child bearing and labor. Its movements are designed to work the muscles of the female body. Movements and choreography are designed by women’s creative imagination. Women generally use this dance for their personal entertainment and share the dance with other women at celebration gatherings. Performing before an audience evolved much later.
Traditional, ethnic, and folkloric dances have continued as originally thought to have been performed. However, creativity and contemporary enthusiasts are inventing new steps and movements to meet the needs of the new dancers. There are communities throughout the United States which have dance competitions for new ideas.
The newest creation is known as American tribal. This is America’s creativity of combining Flamenco, Ballet, and Middle Eastern movements into a new dance style.
Women have more choices of styles to select from the Middle Eastern and Americanized buffet of movements. It will take many years for any one person to learn all of the different styles.
Glamorous Folkloric Fashion
Costumes have changed with the advancements of textile, notions, and embellishments. There are choices from the elegant night club (cabaret) or the folkloric caftan..
Regardless of how much fabric covers the body the dancer will always feel sexy and sensual when wearing these costumes. Costumes add to the attractiveness of the dancer as well as making her feel beautiful and feminine.
Costuming is personal:
- Plan and complete the total costume from head to toe.
- It needs to fit the body.
- The costume should not restrict movements.
- The style, fabric, and colors compliment the performer, music and choreography.
- Match accessories.
- Hair style and makeup are suitable for the costume.
- Appropriate footwear. Choices include bare, beledi shoes, high heels, and sandals.
- The costume should not interfere when working with props.
Women have busy lives and greater responsibilities in our technological society. She is a career woman and a homemaker. Business and family responsibilities will keep her busy. It is said that a woman has fifteen years to indulge in her self interests. The other years are for nurturing.
There are occasions when a woman wants to feel and be a woman. This dance helps her with these natural female feelings and emotions. Women are sensual creatures and this dance is an outlet for her mental, physical, emotional, creative, and spiritual outlets. She needs to feel free and alive.
A Fantasy Harem
Sexy Versus Sensual
Sexy comes to mind when speaking of belly dancers. This is probably why some students do not want to tell anyone they are taking classes. Worst yet, don’t let your employer find out that this is your hobby. There are those who think that belly dancers are strippers. This is not true. The blame is with the strippers who have dressed their act with belly dancing costumes.
People have some strange ideas of what belly dancing is all about. I am not going to deny that there will always be this “sex” stigma. This notion will always exist.
Stop and open your mind as to how many of us experience belly dancing. If we need to be labeled sexy, then this term reflects our feelings of passion, heartfelt desires, and an overall sensitivity to the excitement for the dance, its costumes, the music, and performances that makes people feel happy. Middle Eastern music with its melodies and drumming rhythms represents the total woman.
The audience admires beauty, athletic abilities and is relaxed and mesmerized while watching an assortment of slow, medium fast, and fast movements by the performer.
Both the dancers and the audience find this dance interesting, intriguing, and appealing to their senses. .
Sensuality is experienced by the dancer through her natural senses. The dancer feels through her mind, body, and soul. The physical senses of seeing, hearing, touching, and feeling are sensually arousing. There are occasions when sense of smell and taste occur.
The sounds, vibrations, and emotional outpouring of the music captures and stimulates the dancer to interpret the song writers stories with body movements. The sensations of “at one” with self elicits euphoria while dancing. This spiritual state is the spiritual essence between the dancer and her audience.
Human beings are sensual creatures. We use all of our senses in order to survive. No one should be made to feel guilty experiencing pleasure from their selected hobbies.