Belly dance, Oriental dance, Middle Eastern Dance, Raqs Sharqi, Danse du ventre, Tsiftetelli. As many names as many descriptions.
Generally speaking we could talk about a form of Folk dance originated in the countries of Middle East and
Raqs Sharqi literally translated means 'dance from the East', and has its roots in Middle Eastern fertility ceremonies - a dance performed by women for women.
It was originally taught to girls from an early age in order to strengthen their abdominal muscles in preparation for childbirth.
The muscle isolation techniques require practice and control, and the smaller the movement,
the greater the control and the more the muscle is exercised. It's a fact that exercise mitigates pain.
Oriental dance is characterized by smooth, flowing, complex, and sensual movements of the torso, alternated with shaking and shimmy type moves.
In traditional Raks Sharki the movement originates from the true center - the stomach using abdominal muscles, hip moves, and chest moves.
It is firm and earthy, with bare feet connected to the ground. Not only is the Raks Sharki dancer less concerned with "floor patterns,"
but the movement is also more confined to a "vertical tube" space configuration.
Good posture is extremely important. If dancing causes the lower back to hurt, then the dancer is using bad posture.
Arms should flow gracefully from one position to another, and should be carried mostly at about chest level.
The dancer's great skill lies in the ability to isolate and move different parts of the body separately, such as the hips, upper and lower stomach, chest and head.
With the arms held out and up, the dancer can easily work her shoulders and body against the muscle resistance of her own arms.
Dancers perform with a number of props including the candles, stick, zills, veil, Isis wings, poi-veils, fans, candelabra, sword and snake.