“Play your cards right and you might get the chance to see my belly dance” – Coco Lee
By: Daniel Otero
The rhythm which came from Coco Lee’s 2005 song, evokes a memory of love, desire and longing. With a sexy and sinuous grace that flows from head to toe. One that exudes around the belly. To beautifully embody an enjoyable moment in classical dance. This dance is more than sexy, it is cultural; but enlightening with the times and a rhythmic dance which never went out of style. It is attractively gracious and sensual. But more than that, it came from the soothing rhythms of a mystical empire, and one which rushed through the Middle East like wildfire. A lullaby in pleasure for all those who love culture and want to know further about its origins.
One of the most beautiful and cultural dances which originated from the Egyptian nation around 200 B.C.E. (Before the Common Era); which was around 2,200 years ago. The oldest dance on record. What started some 22 centuries before, evolved into a phenomena which transcended way past the Middle East, India, sweeping through Asia, Europe and the Americas.
However, there is one misconception about the belly dance, many people consider it to entice or provoke men sexually. It was a dance actually adapted for women; therefore, it was meant to indicate their femininity. To be performed barefoot and adaptable to their bodies. Furthermore, it was a dance for the right of passage into womanhood. It was to be in connection with Mother Earth. When women performed this dance, it was for their conception and marrying rites. In olden times: men weren’t permitted to be present, watch and even less, do this sacred dance.
On trips from Northern Turkey to south of the Arabian Peninsula, the Belly dance is somewhat unique, special. And on the path through Northern Africa, from Egypt to Morocco, this dance held itself uniquely true to its traditions. Later corrupted through the centuries by evil men of power in pursuit of pleasures and greed: only reserved at one point for the rulers of countries (e.g. kings) and their harems.
It is a dance in present-times for all to enjoy. Not only for the nobles, but for those who wish to understand something that is as special as any dance transcending through time. That leaves every sense of the body impacted with desire, the want for more to dance away in precious space and style.
The belly dance is sexy, but not cheap; it is sensual, but never old-fashioned; it is classy, but not old; it is cultural, but never trashy and nothing to do with the contemporary dances evolving from the streets.
It is part of the list of classical dances which have impacted nationalities across the world. The order is as follows: the belly dance, flamenco, ballet, waltz, tango, mambo, cha-cha and salsa. All these dances transcended from a century to centuries-old traditions. Those which are enigmatic, people still want to learn, practice and do these gorgeous methods of movement in our-modern times.
To watch a belly dancer perform, it is just perfection in rhythm. The beauty of style… From the way her hair cascades down the back and the dancer graciously swings it to the front. Belly dance teacher Ponyo mentioned and I quote, “The hips and body swing perfectly like a streamline flow!” Showcasing gorgeously the leg and thigh. The neck moves in a pattern, left to right and right to left, with a controlled movement. The hands and arms move with gracious suaveness as one. All these steps connect into a graceful dance that only the dancer can feel and comprehend all too well. There is then, a strong-fluttering movement of the torso. Soothing, indeed.
There is love in this method for the dance. Belly dancing is one to watch carefully and it is never to become superficial, but to admire deeply in a class of its own. It is an honour, because in present-times, it’s not only a dance, but a great exercise to tone the body and enjoy in the greater pleasures of life. This pleasure is for all sexes to come together and learn a dance which will personally impact their lives.
Dedicated to my friend and colleague, Claire Chen. Moreover, this is dedicated to a fascinating-young teacher called Ponyo, “Thanks dear teacher for teaching me the art of the belly dance and making a dream come true. What I learned so far, you are never too young or old to learn something new, have fun and that there are no limitations to the human spirit.” This article was written for the both of you! – D.O.