November 15, 2014

1336 TURKEY - A belly dancer

Belly dance is a translation of the French term "danse du ventre", applied to the dance in the Victorian era, and originally referred to the Ouled Nail dancers of Algeria, whose dance used more abdominal movements than the dances described today as "belly dance". Actually is a misnomer, because every part of the body is involved in the dance; the most featured body part is usually the hips. Belly dance takes many different forms depending on the country and region, both in costume and dance style, and new styles have evolved in the West as its popularity has spread globally.

It is believed to have had a long history in the Middle East, but reliable evidence about its origins is scarce. Several Greek and Roman sources describe dancers from Asia Minor and Spain using undulating movements, playing castanets, and sinking to the floor with 'quivering thighs'. Later, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries, European travellers in the Middle East wrote of the dancers they saw there, particularly in Egypt. In the Ottoman Empire belly dancers used to perform for the harem in the Topkapı Palace.

Belly dance in the Middle East has two distinct social contexts: as a folk or social dance, and as a performance art. As a social dance, it is performed at celebrations and social gatherings by ordinary people. The version that is performed on stage is typically a more polished version, with more emphasis on stagecraft and use of space, and costumes designed to show off the movements to best effect. Professional performers aren't considered to be respectable, and there is a strong social stigma attached to female performers, since they display their bodies in public, which is considered haram.

In Turkey it is named Oryantal Dans, or simply Oryantal. The Turkish style is lively and playful. The dancers are known for their energetic, athletic style, and their adept use of finger cymbals, also known as zils. Connoisseurs often say a dancer who cannot play the zils is not an accomplished dancer. Floorwork, which has been banned in Egypt since the mid-20th century, is still an important part of Turkish bellydance. Many professional dancers and musicians continue to be of Romani heritage, and the Roma people of Turkey have had a strong influence on the Turkish style.

The costumes are usually in the bedlah style. Distinctive features include a V-shaped or triangular belt which may be shaped or contoured around the top edge, and a great deal of embellishment and beaded fringing on both the bra and the belt. Skirts are often fuller than their Egyptian counterparts. In the 1980s and '90s a very revealing costume style developed with skirts designed to display both legs up to the hip, and plunging bras.

Belly Dance - Wikipedia

Sender: Dănuţ Ivănescu
Sent from Didim (Aegean Region / Turkey), on 09.09.2013

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