Why I Belly Dance:
Let me begin by saying I haven’t planned this post out. When I’ve introduced myself as a Belly Dancer, the question occasionally seems to be implied somewhere along the lines “Why do I do Belly Dance?”. The answer for me is simple, I love it. But I want to answer why I love it. I mention it other posts, but I believe a dancer is an artist and they have the music, the stage and their moves to create a beautiful and fleeting image. An image that lasts only in memory or, in modern times, in video.
Entertainment or Meditation
Everyone has a different purpose for Belly Dancing. For me, it acts as both a medium for entertainment AND meditation. I am just as comfortable performing in front of strangers as I am Belly Dancing my way to a relaxed state. I don’t generally focus on anything specific when I’m by myself, I let the rhythm and music take my mind away. In front of people, it’s a similar and different state at the same time. While I was always seek to become one with the music, I’m aware that certain moves and combinations are enjoyed more than other. I guess I would say that I put more flare into Belly Dancing for entertainment. So, if I had to say what the purpose of belly dancing is to me, I’d say that it was a combination of entertainment and meditation, depending on the situation.
Although it isn’t in my two primary reasons for Belly Dancing, maintaining fitness is a close third. I’m not the type to workout regularly, and dancing helps me to get my heart rate up. For some, this is higher in the priority list. If you’re looking for a fun and interesting way to get some exercise, I definitely recommend Belly Dancing. It’ll definitely get the blood pumping and there will be times you don’t even realize that what you’re doing is exercise. For those interested in Belly Dancing for fitness, we have a fun beginner video out of the UK at http://www.pennyforyourshimmy.com/belly-dance-workout-lesson/.
While I don’t plan on going to much into this, I love dressing up in Belly Dancing Costumes. The makeup, the dress and the props – I love it all! It’s part of the fun. It’s part of what takes may away from whatever I’ve been focusing on for the day.
What was the Original Purpose of Belly Dancing?
I’ve touched on this one briefly in some of my other posts. The earliest dances were most probably ritualistic in nature. They were dances of praise and respect to the Great Mother, hoping for a blessing. This blessing is assumed to have originally been based on a desire for fertility among the people or group performing or watching the dance.
Later, although there is debate about when, the purpose of Belly Dancing probably shifted to a monetary one. A skilled Belly Dancer could demonstrate her ability at the market place and raise money for a dowry or other purpose. Some even believe that the origin of including coins in the Belly Dancing Costume may have began with dancers for money fastening the money they made to their outfit. I once heard this compared to a street magician putting money in a hat to encourage others to do the same. I’m not sure it’s exactly the same, but there may be some overlap in reasoning.
Wikipedia has a sparsely populated article that talks a little bit about the possible history here.