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Belly-Dance Information

Please note that Layla is not presently teaching weekley Classes due to her  busy schedule.

Belly Dancing is a fabulous and fun way to learn an ancient beautiful art, and get fit at the same time!

Feel like a goddess as you work on your posture, alignment, and body toning! Belly Dancing is excellent for strengthening the abdominal core region, flattening tummies and increasing cardio-vascular stamina.

It’s is a fun and elegant way to make a change with your fitness and learn a new skill at the same time. 

Layla is an experienced and encouraging teacher who loves to share the ancient and beautiful art of belly dancing with all her students.

Having trained many students in Belly Dancing at Fitness First Health Clubs, she is able to teach students of all levels and can’t stress enough, the health benefits of Belly Dancing!

To find out more about lessons, contact Layla by email or by calling: 0410 425 009

Bellydance Information that you may like to read;
The term “belly dance” is a translation of the French term “danse du ventre”, which was applied to the dance in the Victorian era, and originally referred to the Ouled Nail dancers of Algeria, whose dance used more abdominal movements than the dances described today as “belly dance”. It is something of a misnomer, as every part of the body is involved in the dance; the most featured body part is usually the hips.
Raqs sharqi (Arabic: رقص شرقي‎; literally “eastern/oriental dancing”) is the style more familiar to Westerners, performed in restaurants and cabarets around the world. It is more commonly performed by female dancers but is also sometimes danced by men. It is a solo improvisational dance, although students often perform choreographed dances in a group.
Raqs baladi, (Arabic: رقص بلدي‎; literally “local dancing”, or “folk” dance) is the folkloric style, danced socially by men and women of all ages in some Middle Eastern countries, usually at festive occasions such as weddings. However, this naming is used synonymously in Egypt with Raqs sharqi as a generic term for “belly dancing”.

Technique and movements
Belly dance is primarily a torso-driven dance, with an emphasis on articulations of the hips.Unlike many Western dance forms, the focus of the dance is on relaxed, natural isolations of the torso muscles, rather than on movements of the limbs through space. Although some of these isolations appear superficially similar to the isolations used in jazz ballet, they are often driven differently and have a different feeling or emphasis, which is usually more subtle and contained.

Correct posture and muscle control is as important in belly dance as it is in other fields of dance, and enables a dancer to move the hips freely whilst avoiding lower back injuries. The basic posture used varies slightly between styles (in particular, the knees may be more or less bent, weight may be held slightly further back or forward, and ‘resting’ arm position may vary), but a kinesiologically correct posture should always be used. Some belly dancers also study Pilates or Alexander technique in order to achieve a healthy and efficient posture.

There is no universally codified naming scheme for belly dance movements.This is due to the folk/social dance origins of the dance form in the Middle East, and the very diverse range of teaching traditions in the West. Some dancers or dance schools have developed their own naming schemes, but none of these are universally recognised. Many dancers today prefer to use simple, physically descriptive names for groups of related movements.
Movements found in belly dance.

Many of the movements characteristic of belly dance can be grouped into the following categories

Percussive movements – Staccato movements, most commonly of the hips, which can be used to punctuate the music or accent a beat. Typical movements in this group include hip drops, vertical hip rocks, outwards hip hits, hip lifts and hip twists. Percussive movements using other parts of the body can include lifts or drops of the ribcage and shoulder accents.

Fluid movements – Flowing, sinuous movements in which the body is in continuous motion, which may be used to interpret melodic lines and lyrical sections in the music, or modulated to express complex instrumental improvisations, as well as being performed in a rhythmic manner. These movements require a great deal of abdominal muscle control. Typical movements include horizontal and vertical figures of 8 or infinity loops with the hips, horizontal or tilting hip circles, and undulations of the hips and abdomen. These basic shapes may be varied, combined and embellished to create an infinite variety of complex, textured movements.

Shimmies, shivers and vibrations – Small, fast, continuous movements of the hips or ribcage, which create an impression of texture and depth of movement. Shimmies are commonly layered over other movements, and are often used to interpret rolls on the tablah or riq or fast strumming of the oud or qanun (instrument). There are many types of shimmy, varying in size and method of generation. Some common shimmies include relaxed, up and down hip shimmies, straight-legged knee-driven shimmies, fast, tiny hip vibrations, twisting hip shimmies, bouncing ‘earthquake’ shimmies, and relaxed shoulder or ribcage shimmies.

In addition to these torso movements, dancers in many styles will use level changes, travelling steps, turns and spins. The arms are used to frame and accentuate movements of the hips, for dramatic gestures, and to create beautiful lines and shapes with the body, particularly in the more balletic, Westernised styles. Other movements may be used as occasional accents, such as low kicks and arabesques, backbends, and head tosses.

Belly dance in the Middle East

Origins and history of belly dance in the Middle East
Belly dancing is believed to have had a long history in the Middle East, but reliable evidence about its origins is scarce, and accounts of its history are often highly speculative.Several Greek and Roman sources including Juvenal and Martial describe dancers from Turkey (Asia Minor) and Spain using undulating movements, playing castanets, and sinking to the floor with ‘quivering thighs’, descriptions that are certainly suggestive of the movements that we today associate with belly dance.[8] Later, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries, European travellers in the Middle East such as Edward Lane and Flaubert wrote extensively of the dancers they saw there, including the Awalim and Ghawazee of Egypt.

Social context of belly dance in the Middle East
Belly dance in the Middle East has two distinct social contexts: As a folk or social dance, and as a performance art.

As a social dance, belly dance (also called Raqs Baladi or Raqs Shaabi in this context) is performed at celebrations and social gatherings by ordinary people who are not professional performers.Dancers wear their ordinary clothes rather than a special dance costume. Dances that could be described as belly dance are performed in this context by men and women of all ages in Egypt, often including young children. In more conservative or traditional societies, social occasions are often gender segregated, with separate parties for men and women – both women[11] and men may take part in dancing at single-sex gatherings. Belly dance is not the only social dance in this region. Other notable social dances include the Levantine dabke and the hair-tossing women’s dance of the Gulf states, Raqs al Nasha’al.

The version of belly dance that is performed on stage has its roots in the social dance, and is typically a more polished version of the same dance, with more emphasis on stagecraft and use of space, and special costumes designed to show off the movements to best effect. Professional performers (including dancers, singers and actors) are not considered to be respectable in the Middle East, and there is a strong social stigma attached to female performers in particular, since they display their bodies in public, which is considered haram. Historical groups of professional dance performers include the Awalim (primarily musicians and poets), Ghawazi and Köçekler.

Belly dance in Egypt

Egyptian bellydancer Randa Kamel

Today, Egypt is often considered the home of bellydance. Egyptian bellydance has two main styles – raqs baladi and raqs sharqi. There are also numerous folkloric and character dances that may be part of an Egyptian-style bellydancer’s repertoire, as well as the modern shaabi street dance which shares some elements with raqs baladi.

Egyptian oriental dance typically has a ‘contained’ or ‘internal’ feeling compared to other styles, and is usually relaxed, earthy and grounded.

Historically, public dance performers in Egypt were known as Ghawazi. The Maazin sisters may be the last authentic performers of Ghawazi dance in Egypt. Khayreyya Maazin was the last of these dancers still teaching and performing as of 2009.

Belly dance in Turkey

Turkish oriental dance is referred to in Turkey as Oryantal Dansi, or simply ‘Oryantal’. The Turkish style of bellydance is lively and playful, with a greater outward projection of energy than the more contained Egyptian style. Turkish dancers are known for their energetic, athletic (even gymnastic) style, and their adept use of finger cymbals, also known as zils. Connoisseurs of Turkish dance often say a dancer who cannot play the zills is not an accomplished dancer. Floorwork, which has been banned in Egypt since the mid-20th century, is still an important part of Turkish bellydance.

Another distinguishing element of Turkish style is the use of the Karsilama rhythm in a 9/8 time signature, counted as 12-34-56-789.
Many professional dancers and musicians in Turkey continue to be of Romani heritage, and the Roma people of Turkey have had a strong influence on the Turkish style(There is also a distinct Turkish Romani dance style which is different from Turkish Oriental).

Belly dance outside of the Middle East

Belly dance was popularized in the West during the Romantic movement of the 18th and 19th centuries, when Orientalist artists depicted romanticized images of harem life in the Ottoman Empire. Around this time, dancers from Middle Eastern countries began to perform at various World’s Fairs, often drawing crowds in numbers that rivaled those for the science and technology exhibits. It was during this period that the term “oriental” or “eastern” dancing was first used. Several dancers, including the French author Colette, engaged in “oriental” dance, sometimes passing off their own interpretations as authentic.

Although using traditional Turkish and Egyptian movements, American Cabaret or American Restaurant belly dancing has developed its own distinctive style, using props and encouraging audience interaction. Many modern American dancers also make use of the music of Egyptian Sha’abi singers in their routines.
In 1987, a uniquely American style, American Tribal Style Belly Dance, (ATS), was created. Although a unique and wholly modern style, its steps are based on a melting pot of ancient dance techniques including those from North India, the Middle East, and Africa.

Tribal belly dancing in Australia
The first wave of interest for belly dancing in Australia was during the late 1970s to 1980s with the influx of migrants and refugees escaping troubles in the Middle East, including drummer Jamal Zraika. These immigrants created a lively social scene including numerous Lebanese and Turkish restaurants, providing employment for belly dancers.

Early dance pioneers included Amera Eid and Terezka Drnzik. Both of these teachers have pedigrees linked back to Rozeta Ahalyea. Belly dance has now spread across the country, with vibrant belly dance communities in every capital city and many regional centres.
see also Academy of middle eastern dance ( AMED)

Belly dance costumes

Decorations on a tribal-style bellydance costume bra

Students from Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico City perform as part of Culture Week activities
The costume most commonly associated with belly dance is the ‘bedlah’ (Arabic: بدلة‎; literally “suit”) style, which typically includes a fitted top or bra, a fitted hip belt, and a full-length skirt or harem pants. The bra and belt may be richly decorated with beads, sequins, crystals, coins, beaded fringe and embroidery. The belt may be a separate piece, or sewn into a skirt.

Badia Masabni, a Cairo cabaret owner during the early 20th century, is credited with creating the modern bedlah style, which appears to have evolved from earlier costumes made up of a full skirt, light chemise and tight cropped vest with heavy embellishments and jewelry. Some dancers have speculated that the bedlah was inspired by glamorous Hollywood costuming, or created to appeal to Western visitors.

As well as the two-piece bedlah costume, full length dresses are sometimes worn, especially when dancing more earthy baladi styles. Dresses range from closely fitting, highly decorated gowns, which often feature heavy embellishments and mesh-covered cutouts, to simpler designs which are often based on traditional clothing.

Costume in Egypt
A separate decorated bra and skirt are worn. A belt is rarely used, and any embellishment is embroidered directly on to the skirt, which is often tightly fitted around the hips and made of lycra fabric.
Costume in Lebanon
As there is no prohibition on showing the stomach in Lebanon, the bedlah style is more common. The skirts tend to be sheer and/or skimpier than Egyptian outfits, showing more of the dancer’s body. The veil is more widely used than in Egypt. High heels are commonly worn.

Costume in Turkey
Turkish costumes are usually in the bedlah style. Distinctive features of many Turkish costumes include a V-shaped or triangular belt which may be shaped or contoured around the top edge, and a great deal of embellishment and beaded fringing on both the bra and the belt. Skirts are often fuller than their Egyptian counterparts, and are likely to be made of chiffon or velvet rather than lycra.

In the 1980s and ’90s a very revealing costume style developed with skirts designed to display both legs up to the hip, and plunging bras. Such styles still exist in some venues but there are also many Turkish belly dancers who wear more moderate costumes. Even so, many Turkish belly dance costumes reflect the playful, flirty style of Turkish belly dance.
Health and belly dancing.

Belly dance is a non-impact, weight-bearing exercise and is thus suitable for all ages. It is a good exercise for the prevention of osteoporosis in older people. Many of the moves involve isolations, which improves flexibility of the torso. Belly dance moves are beneficial to the spine, as the full-body undulation moves lengthens (decompress) and strengthens the entire column of spinal and abdominal muscles in a gentle way.
Dancing with a veil can help build strength in the upper body, arm and shoulders. Playing the zills trains fingers to work independently and builds strength. The legs and long muscles of the back are strengthened by hip movements.[29] Paffrath researched the effect of belly dance on women with menstruation problems. The subjects reported a more positive approach toward their menstruation, sexuality, and bodies.

Beginning in the late 1990s, belly dance hit the mainstream marketplace with fitness videos/DVDs by such artists as Veena and Neena, Rania Bossonis, and Dolphina. These videos are still popular throughout the world and have been credited with opening a new market of belly dance fitness classes throughout the US and abroad.

People known primarily for belly dancing include:
Fifi Abdou
Ariellah Aflalo
Naima Akef
Nejla Ates
Rachel Brice
Terezka Drnzik
Amera Eid
Nagwa Fouad
Amar Gamal
Nadia Gamal
Samia Gamal