Belly dancing is one of the oldest, most popular dance forms in the world. It promotes fitness concepts such as strength, balance, and coordination. Mentally, it promotes discipline and concentration. Additionally, it’s one of the most expressive and artful dance forms around. Many modern artists incorporate belly dancing into their live event and music video dance routines, and there are many famous belly dancers from history with unique stories. Let’s take a look at why you might want to learn how to belly dance through a guided class.

Why people have belly danced over the years 

The history of belly dancing is not well documented. We know that it is a tradition that is at least 6,000 years old. The modern form can be traced to traditions in both Turkey and Egypt, with deep influences coming from countries like India, as well as countries in the Middle East and Africa. The genre of dance is named from the French language, with “Danse du ventre,” which translates into English as “dance of the stomach.” For generations, belly dancing has been a social activity for celebrations, weddings, and other special occasions throughout the year. 

Strength training and muscle toning 

Belly dancing requires very exquisite muscle movement. This helps with muscle toning and strength. The various moves help tone several important muscles: the gluts, obliques, and the quads. When belly dancing, it’s very easy to get lost in the moment and forget that you are getting great exercise. Belly dancing also burns calories; someone weighing 150 lbs will burn as many as 360 calories per hour.

Increased confidence 

Belly dancing inspires confidence on many fronts. First, the movements are beautiful. Beauty inspires confidence. Secondly, your body appearance improves over time, increasing your confidence. As with any exercise activity, endorphins and dopamine are increased in the body. These are the “feel good” hormones in the body that are associated with happiness, confidence, and contentment.

Balance, posture, and wellbeing 

Another hidden gem of belly dancing is that many moves are similar to poses from Pilates and yoga. When working the spine, knees, front and pelvic area of the body, you will correct your posture and reduce the likelihood of injury. Better posture is also associated with better overall health. You will be more mobile and less sedentary when it comes to your daily every day activities. 

How long does it take to learn belly dancing?

Professional belly dancers spend about three to five years learning and perfecting their moves. Imagine how easily you will master the basics when you are in a class with a master teacher. If you are looking to belly dance for exercise and fun, you will learn the basic moves in a class very quickly. After some instruction and some practice absorbing the movements, you will be able to enjoy belly dancing as a fun, recreational, and social activity.

What should I bring to my first belly dance class?

If you are going to take a belly dance class, and for future practice sessions on your own, there are only a few things that you will need:

  • Comfortable exercise clothing, so that you can move easily and master the moves.
  • A light towel for after your class.
  • Bottled water so that you stay hydrated during the class.

When belly dancing, proper hydration is super important. In order to stay fresh, keep your muscles relaxed, and stay comfortable, you might want to consider drinking ⅓ liters of water for every 30 to 45 minutes that you are planning on belly dancing.

Are there different types of belly dance moves to learn?

The most common style of belly dancing is the Middle Eastern style that takes its movements from the influence of styles found in Egypt, Turkey, and other countries throughout history. Over time, different styles of belly dancing have also emerged. For example, there is a cabaret style of belly dancing that took the most popular basic moves and was immensely popular during the 1960s and 1970s. 

There is a more refined Egyptian style of belly dancing, that is known for being elegant, with a lot of glamour. There is also the American tribal style, which is a series of moves based upon predefined cues. Tribal fusion is one type of belly dancing that merges different themes and costumes from around the world. In the world of belly dancing, there are a plethora of different styles and moves to incorporate into your personal routine, for both exercise and enjoyment.

Which musical performers incorporate belly dance?

Belly dancing is also found in the music of many modern performers. Artists such as Rihanna, Beyoncé, and even Shakira incorporate belly dance into some of their dance routines for music videos and live performances. 

There are also several famous body dancers throughout history. Badia Masabni was a famous belly dancer from Lebanon who was popular during the 1920s. Tahiya Karioka and Samia Gamal were two famous Egyptian belly dancers who were popular throughout the middle of the 20th century and were seen in movies. Another famous belly dancer from Egypt was Hekmet Fahmy. She was known for her involvement in espionage during World War II, most notably for using her belly dancing as a front to feed information to the Germans. 

Taking up belly dance classes can open a world of possibilities

A belly dance class is a worthwhile investment. Not only will you learn new and unique ways to engage with music, but you will also have an almost effortless means of exercise once you learn some basic moves. Belly dance classes will also let you develop good posture, muscle tone, and improve your overall health. Belly dance classes are also a great way to find new friends and people with similar interests.