One of the great misconceptions about belly dancing is that it is intended to entertain men; historically speaking it has usually been performed for other women where the presence of men is not permitted.

It is a thoroughly feminine dance allowing you to connect with other women whilst raising confidence and promoting a feeling of ‘loving your body’.

Belly dancing is natural to a woman's bone and muscle structure with movements emanating from the torso, emphasising articulations of the hips and relaxed, natural isolations of the torso muscles rather than legs and feet. Correct posture and muscle control is important and enables a dancer to move the hips freely whilst avoiding lower back injuries. Good reasons to consider belly dance as a healthy form of exercise is for promotion of strong core muscles i.e. back, stomach, waist and pelvic floor.

Although performance costumes are often colourful, flowing, accented with scarves/veils etc., loose fitting pants and a scarf around the hips is all that is needed for the first few sessions. As technique develops additions such as finger cymbals, known as zills are common, as well as exotic jewellery, the most popular being intricate belts made of coins to give the soft jingle associated with the dance.

Since the turn of the century, belly dancing has grown enormously in popularity worldwide and has been in evidence in the UK since the early 1960s, leaning strongly towards the Egyptian/Arabic style, with little Turkish influence. More recently, Tribal Fusion Belly Dance, which is a modern form of belly dance, created by fusing American Tribal Style belly dance and American Cabaret belly dance, has become popular. This type of belly dance tends towards a series of very controlled and subtle muscle isolations and is reminiscent of snake-like movements. It is no less beautiful and well worth looking into especially if your tastes navigate towards the slightly gothic.

There are now many belly dance festivals, workshops, and seminars up and down the country to take advantage of to complement the weekly classes in your area. Whether you want to develop your performance skills or just strengthen your core and keep fit, belly dancing is a beautiful way to do both those



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