Most ‘bellydancers’ prefer the term “Oriental Dance” when referring to their art form, as “bellydance” is a western term and gives no clue as to the rich history, cultural context and technical mastery which underpins the dance.
There is much speculation about the origins of Oriental Dance. Some allude to the dance developing from Goddess worship, birthing rituals, or harem entertainment but there is no definitive evidence for any of these suggestions. Today Oriental Dance, or bellydance, consists of a variety of moves, expressions and stylisations that are derived from the way the men, women and children of the Middle East dance in everyday life.
The Western and European world has influenced Oriental Dance immensely in all aspects. The skimpy, sparkly two-piece dance costumes often associated with bellydance only emerged in the last 100 years as a result of this influence; traditionally the people of the Middle East keep themselves modestly covered at all times - even when dancing.
Those who study and love Oriental Dance know that it has little to do with providing entertainment for men and more to do with genuine artistry, self-fulfillment, socialising, and well-being.
At Soul Dance we teach and perform a range of Oriental Dance genres from classical to folkloric to experimental. We aim to honor the cultural roots of the dance by teaching the earthy folkloric styles and giving students a grounding in the cultural contexts in which they exist. At the other end of the spectrum are the contemporary, experimental fusions which have developed, particularly in the West, in recent years and at Soul Dance we also embrace the best of these new trends.