While no one is positive of the exact origins of belly dancing, it is known that belly dancing has been around for centuries and has traveled to many nations and continents. The history of belly dancing is art with a purpose. History has shown that belly dancing has been used to worship goddesses, in prep for child bearing, entertainment at festivals and just plain fun. Belly Dancing in the Middle East In Farsi Belly Dancing is called Raks Sharqi, which means simply Oriental dance. In the western tradition belly dancing has been viewed as a dance of seduction however in the oriental tradition the dance was for ladies eyes only, no male eyes got to see this beautiful dance. As sensual and revealing as the art has become in western tradition originally history shows that the dance was done in garb that covered the body well with no skin showing. The dance was done in a way that allowed the light fabric to dance with the dancers movements As belly dancing moved to the west the interest in it grew greatly. Originally introduced to the U.S> during the 1893 world fair in Chicago it suffered an almost certain lackluster debut as the Egyptian Dance Show. However when an enterprising promoter re-titled the art Belly dancing and became an instant hit. Western culture mad many changes to the art first and foremost in garb. In the 1930's in Egypt the move to make belly dancing more alluring began by removing layers of flowing clothing in favor of bare bellies. However by the 1950s the bare midriffs caused such a stir that belly dancing was banned until a concession was made that the bellies would again be covered. History In American Today Belly Dancing is enjoying a rebirth of sorts however, when belly dancing hit the United States due to its sultry nature laws would only allow it to be performed on vaudeville or in the burlesque. Hollywood took this underground culture and spun it for the big screen often type casting the dancers as prostitutes or damsels in distress. This has led to a stereotype that modern instructors and dancers have to overcome. As the interest in belly dancing took root in the states the public interest in learning the art also grew. By the late 1960s belly dancing lessons became more and more commonplace, which caused a growth in the number of people claming to be teachers, which of course cause issues among the instructors. Each instructor in order to create a unique "brand" of belly dancing began to alter the art. Because of this evolution a lack of unified definitions and terms came into being. This has kept the art from taking root in the dance world at large. To rectify this problem a movement has begun to codify choreography and terms to bring about a unified system. This movement has been spearheaded by an organization known as American Tribal Style Belly Dance (ATS). The bottom line is that Belly Dancing is alive and well and growing in popularity.
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