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Belly Dance in Cairo

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Uploaded on Jul 24, 2008

The origin of the name 'belly dance' comes from the French ''Dance du ventre' , which translates as "dance of the stomach". Belly dance is also often referred to as "oriental dance" and also sometimes raks sharqui. This is Arabic for "Dance of the east".
Origins of Belly Dance

The type and style of dancing which we now call belly dance, can be traced back over 6000 plus years. The early pagan communities often worshipped a matriarchal deity and extolled the magic and fascination of the ability of women to create life. There is a lot of historical evidence which links the ritual of fertility dances at that time, with symbolic re-creations of giving birth, to modern belly dancing. The sharp hip movements, deliberate muscular contractions and spasms, as well as sinewy undulations, demonstrate strong connections to the body's responses during labour and delivery. The dances spread from Mesopotamia to North Africa, Rome, Spain and India. It is thought gypsies travelled and spread belly dance. This blending can be seen in the use of the neck slides introduced from India and the transformation of hip shimmy to foot stamping in flamenco dance.
Performances in Egypt did not only involve women. Gypsies also danced for the public at celebrations, wedding processions and in front of coffee houses and market places. Referred to as the ghawazee , their repertoire was a mix of music and dancing, including improvised performances with veil, sticks, swords and candles. Generally, public dancing was tolerated by the authorities, because they earned a substantial revenue by taxing performers' profits. However, religious complaints finally outweighed the financial benefits and public ghawanzee dancing was outlawed in the city of Cairo in 1834. Between 1849 and 1856 the ban was lifted and dancing was allowed in Cairo again, although the sanction against dancing in public remained. The dance moved inside to a music-hall type environment and Egyptian cabaret-style dancing was born.

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