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ORIENTAL DANCE 

A traditional dance production often includes the always popular Raks al Sharki, translated from Arabic, means "dance of the Orient" or simply, "Oriental Dance". 

Much of what we know about the dance comes from descriptions of Europeans traveling in Egypt during the nineteenth century. Those travelers dubbed the dance "danse du ventre", or belly dance, in reference to the unaccustomed movements of the torso and pelvis which were nonexistent in European dances.

Oriental dance is thought to be one of the world's oldest dance forms. The dance combines elements from many different countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Although the dance exists in various forms throughout the Middle East, it is mostly in Egypt that Raks Sharki has survived and developed in recent times.

Oriental dance actually uses the whole body, including movements of the head, shoulders, arms, and hands, with hip movements being far more predominant than isolated movements of the midriff.

In Middle Eastern dance the majority of basic body movement and dance technique is exactly the same. The divergences are characterized mainly by musical selection and interpretation, costume selection, and venue. The association of the dancer using full orchestral compositions wearing fancy "bedlah" or glittery and beaded "beledi" costume is most often labeled "cabaret".

This is the style of dance that is most often recognized in Western culture and is referred to as "belly dance". Though popular throughout the world, it is most often seen today in the clubs and hotels of Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt, The name "cabaret" was coined, again in the west, to differentiate the urban style from the country folkloric dances.


While the word "Oriental" may seem misleading geographically, in the 18th century Asia, the Near East, Far East, and the Middle East were all considered extensions of the Orient. For instance, while most people might construe that Oriental dance comes from Japan or China, none would question the fact that Oriental carpets are made in the Middle East.

 

 

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