“Belly Dance” is a broad term referring to various styles of Middle Eastern Dance, including Arabic, Egyptian Cabaret, American Tribal, and Turkish, just to name a few. Each of these styles is characterized by isolations of muscle groups as well as the focus on movement from the core rather than from the limbs as in most European dance styles.
While belly dance in the East seems to have existed in some form or other since before recorded history it made its first appearance in America in 1893. Audiences at the Chicago World’s Fair thrilled at Little Egypt’s unique and exotic dance performances. The popularity of the art spread throughout the 20th century inspiring not only Hollywood and Vaudeville, but modern dance pioneers such as Ruth St. Denis and Isadora Duncan as well.
Popularity of belly dance for fitness soared in the 1970’s with the release of an album by Turkish dancer Ozel Turkbas, which included an instructional booklet. Women across the United States sought classes at YWCAs and private studios alike, finding a low impact cardio workout with fun, sensual movements that celebrated camaraderie among classmates.
Today, men as well as women across the globe are learning to belly dance, enjoying benefits such as increased body confidence, better posture, toned muscles, and increased agility, just to name a few.