Sunday, April 3, 2011

What is Middle Eastern Dance

Middle Eastern Dance

Bellydance (more correctly known as Middle Eastern Dance, Oriental Dance or Raqs Sharqi) has developed from an ancient folkloric dance form. Contrary to what many Westerners believe, Middle Eastern Dance did not originate as a dance of seduction done in the Harem by concubines to titillate the Sultan.

For centuries, the role of Oriental dance in Middle Eastern society has been that of a folk dance that people would do at joyous occasions such as weddings, the birth of a child, community festivals, and community events. It was a dance that men, women, and children did for fun, not a "performance" done to entertain an audience. Just as we might dance the waltz at modern-day wedding reception, so people in the Middle East get up with their friends to shimmy to their favourite music.

The dance is suitable for women of all ages, body types and fitness. The great thing about Middle Eastern Dance is that it is body-friendly. Unlike other dance forms, Middle Eastern Dance does not require leaping, hyperextension of joints, or abrupt movements. Students develop self confidence, body awareness and creativity and increase their fitness, flexibility and strength.

Middle Eastern Dance can promote good health in the following ways:
• increasing cardiovascular fitness including improved circulation and reduced blood pressure;
• increasing flexibility and improving joint health;
• increasing muscle strength and coordination;
• burning calories - Middle Eastern Dancing burns 300-350 calories per hour;
• weight loss;
• reducing stress levels;
• developing a healthy body image;
• increasing social ties and friendships.

About the teacher: Souhair has studied Middle Eastern Dance for eleven years. Souhair founded the Zaghareet Middle Eastern Dance company in 2005. She studied and performed with the popular Canberra group the Veils of Baghdad, as well as taking numerous workshops with internationally recognized dancers including Amera Eid, Shareen El Safy, Yasmina of Cairo, Melissa Christina, Jrisi, Leonie Sukun, Tereska, Helen Ferris, Hadia of Canada, Russya of Germany and Devorah of Spain. She has taught both classical and modern Egyptian style Middle Eastern Dance for more than 10 years. She also teaches fusion styles such as American Tribal. Souhair has also studied Safe Dance at Tertiary level.

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