To many, belly dancing is seen as a provocative and luring dance that serves one purpose - to entertain men. History has shown that in the Middle East, belly dancing was performed for other women during fertility rites or parties preparing a young woman for marriage. According to Dolphina, an AFAA Certified Fitness Instructor, Sivananda Certified Yoga Instructor and professional belly dancer, about 4,000 years ago religion became a dominant force in the Middle East and a woman's standing in society was lowered. During the Middle and Renaissance Ages, dancing was against Islamic law and dancers were put in a separate cast. Even with the shift, belly dancing continued to be popular, but its focus was transformed and was seen as an entertainment element in society rather than a ritual performance in sacred ceremonies. "During the Ottoman Empire, female gypsy dancers were hired to entertain the women living in the harems (women's quarters) - continuing the legacy of women dancing exclusively for women. At the end of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey became a republic, religious restrictions were lifted and women were allowed to dance again, this time for women and men," according to Dolphina. In general, contributions to belly dance range from ancient Indian temple dances and religious rites from matriarchal cultures. Many countries in the Middle East are considered the founders of belly dancing - Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are just a few. Because many of these cultures rarely wrote about the dance, the history of belly dancing was passed down through many paintings and eventually spread all throughout Europe and eventually the globe ...




Map of the Middle East

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