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my own interpretation

my own interpretation


SO, WHEN AND WHERE DID BELLY DANCE ORIGINATE? This is a question that comes up quite frequently in our community. There are several different theories/origin myths.  I am going to compile the ideas I have found on credible websites and books and for the next 5 weeks I will post 1 theory a week and you guys can decide for yourselves what you think!


1. Descended from religious/ceremonial dance  – goddess worship

2. Came from fertility rituals and associated with childbirth

3. Derived from Ancient Egyptian social dances

4. Brought to the ME by gypsies from India.

5. Was born out of a dance of seduction



1.Disclaimer: *I am NOT an expert.*

2. When I was doing research, I came across a very popular paper by Andrea Deagon, “In Search of the Origins of Dance,” and I want to share this excerpt with you guys because I think this is important to keep in the back of your head as you do your own research/read TBB:

“When we are moved by something that is beautiful, or terrible, or vitally important to our souls, it is human nature to try to understand it.  One of the ways we look for this meaning is to try to find or imagine its origins.  We sense that, if we can find its ultimate beginning, perhaps we will also find its deepest truth — a truth that will open up the wellspring of our own creative power.  Our search for origins has inspired some of our most brilliant insights.  It inspires us to trace our genealogies, explore the intricacies of cell biology or evolution, and seek the ultimate source of all matter in the depths of space-time.  It inspires our philosophy and religion, from the Navajo stories of Changing Woman to the seven days of Yahweh’s creation to the presocratic philosophers’ exploration of the elements of earth, air, water and fire.  The search for the origins of what we hold to be precious and magnificent is fundamental to our way of understanding the world.  So it is natural that those of us who treasure Middle Eastern dance and want to understand it more fully should seek out its origins.”

And this:

“…We tend to use the past as a justification for present views or practices — we want to see our own ideas and practices as correct and natural, so we are easily distracted from the wide, confusing perspective of real history and slip into historical myths.  Only when we have come to terms with these tendencies in our thinking will we be able to explore the history of this dance, and form an accurate, respectful relationship with the women and men of the past whose dance was the precursor of our own.”


” The first dances were an essential part of worship through which human beings felt they were able to establish their relationship with divinity and a unification of the earth with a higher, spiritual world.” ~Tina Hobin (Belly Dance: The Dance of Mother Earth – buy it here! it’s so interesting! )

Some of the earliest identifiable depictions of dance can be seen in the Chauvet cave paintings in France. They have been traced as far back as 15,000 years – ~13,000 bce. Just for some context that is when people first began domesticating animals and the wooly rhinoceros became extinct.

wooly rhino  r.i.p 🙁

Further evidence of the significance of dance in early civilization can be found in the Bhimbetka rock shelters in India where there are images of men and women dancing with a drummer (some say from approx. the same time period as the Chauvet cave paintings, some say they’re older).

 Bhimbetka Shelter dancers

In later years, and by later I mean 1450 bce (3,465 years ago) images of a dancing goddess can be seen in this Mycenaean ring (and others like it) from the Tholos tomb of Vapheio.

Mycenaean ring from Tholos Tomb of Vapheio 1450 bce

So it’s pretty clear that dance was an important part of our ancestors social lives and ceremonies. Historians have speculated that the movements used in ritual/god/goddess worship dances came from the dancers observations of their surroundings: nature, animals, birds – they imitated their movements, mating rituals etc. The dances were performed for all occasions – birth and death,  planting and harvesting, war, rain sun, and moon worship.

Dances were done in circles representing the movement of the moon and sun, in spirals representing death and re- birth and in lines.

Dance became an integral part of shamanic practices, magical and religious cults. They were performed at funerals as seen in the image below from the tomb of Nebamun. Goddesses associated with funeral rites are Isis, Nephthys, Neith and Serket.


Musicians and Dancers from the tomb of Nebamun 1400 BCE – 1350 BCE Thebes, Egypt

Dances were also done as hunting rituals – there were several hunting goddesses: Cybele, Artemis, Hathor, and Isis.

This is “Seated Woman of Çatalhöyük c. 6,000 BCE. She is an Anatolian mother goddess who it is possible Cybele derived from. She is giving birth on her throne.

Worshiping the gods through dance was not just part of the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras. In Ancient Egypt  there is evidence in graves of the cult of the mother goddess – Neith/Nit (which we will talk more about next week). Evidence of dance in general has been found in many paintings/heiroglyphs in Egypt and could be linked to goddess worship.

So is it possible that the belly dance we know today is based in goddess worship?

In my opinion – Absolutely! Why not?

[polldaddy poll=8631617]


*Want to add an event to The Belly Blog’s calendar + What’s Coming Up Wednesday? Email me at


Anahid Dance party


If you’re in the NYC area, you don’t want to miss this party! I always have a great time at Anahid’s!


sira sword master class feb 22


I have taken many classes with Sira and she is THE BEST! Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn from a master!

MARCH 16-21ST, 2015

Ahmed Workshop March 16


Jealous of everyone in California! This should be amazing! In case you don’t know my feelings on Ahmed see two posts ago lol 🙂




*please note all of John’s amazing music is not available on spotify – for more music go here*

This playlist is in tribute to the life and music of legendary oud player, John Bilezikjian. I was sad to hear the news of his recent passing and wanted to do something to honor him here on TBB.

John’s music is an inspiration to dancers and musicians around the world. It’s full of beauty, complexities, and depth. His is the kind of music that makes you close your eyes and feel every strum of his oud.

Just a brief bio: John was an Armenian American based in L.A. Aside from being a master of the oud, John also played violin, mandolin, dumbek and bouzouki. He sang in Armenian, Turkish, Assyrian/Syriac and English. His other accomplishments include: starting his own record label – Dantz Records, collaborating with Leonard Cohen, Robert Palmer, Luis Miguel, Placido Domingo, Armen Chakmakian and Brothers of the Baladi, playing in several orchestras- Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, The Los Angeles Mandolin Orchestra, The Pacific Palisades Symphany, Boston Pops Orchestra, and Pasedena Pops Orchestra.

Alright guys, I’m gonna go dance to this playlist, hope you all enjoy. <3


L to R: Torkom, Kay, Ahmed, Me


Wow! I think I lost 5 pounds after Ahmed Hussien‘s Egyptian style workshop last night!

Ahmed started out with some pretty intense warm ups, during which he was cheering us on and making us laugh – his positive energy is completely contagious!

Then he moved into some combinations followed by a choreo which we worked on for the rest of the night. He was warm, encouraging, gave helpful corrections and made us all feel at ease as he interspersed his teaching with funny anecdotes.

I will be totally honest with you guys, there were basically 3 sections of the choreography – even though we did this a billion times I still messed up the second section single every time – but it didn’t matter at all – that’s how much fun I was having. I’m telling you all right now if Ahmed comes to your neck of the woods you don’t want to miss his class!

Here is an older video of him – how can you not smile watching this? 😀

Happy dancing guys!



Modeling for Bellydance Photo Shoots

By Ansuya


My modeling journey began at the age of 8 years old when I first enrolled in Le Mannequinette modeling school in Ventura, CA. There, I learned to walk the runway. I loved it so much I was given the “Model with The Best Attitude” award at the end of the session. I was then accepted into the LA Belle Modeling Agency in Santa Barbara, Ca where I learned to pose for the camera and then went on to shoot with popular local photography artists. From there I entered my local hometown pageant and won Miss Teen Ojai 1989 using runway, dancing, and interview skills. It was then that my mother decided we should try living in Hawaii, which was rich with local modeling opportunities as well as being a gateway into the Japan Bellydance market, perfect for a model of my petite height. In Hawaii I was accepted into the Amos Kotomori agency, worked a few local print jobs and then went on two spend two months living in Tokyo Japan represented by the Yoshie Modeling Agency. While there I was able to work for Shiseido. Little did I know I would be back to Tokyo almost a dozen more times as a Bellydance artist.

Modeling Meets Bellydance

On my last trip to Japan in 2014, I was able to combine my passion for Bellydance and modeling in a landmark shoot for Japan Bellydance Magazine. It was an honor to shoot with the amazing photographer, “Nam” and to be interviewed by the magazine about my modeling skills specifically relative to Bellydance. It was a full circle moment for sure. Since my early modeling days, I have found myself called upon to model in my Bellydance career for a multitude of fantastically creative reasons. From modeling for press, marketing campaigns, CD and DVD covers, and costuming lines, having these two words meet is the highest experience I feel you can have as a model. With complete freedom to celebrate ones shape, size, and personality, modeling for Bellydance photo shoots can be a wondrous experience of empowerment.

Sharing My Secrets

read more


Samara was born as Tahira in Baghdad, Iraq, 1963. She was born into a traditional Muslim family that wanted her to study engineering in Lebanon. They were not to pleased when she decided to do something more…creative. After moving to Lebanon, Tahira took the stage name, Samara, and became very inspired by Nadia Gamal, whom she asked for lessons. Nadia taught Samara three dances and advised that she develop a unique style.

Samara took that advice to heart and man did she come up with some unique stuff! She incorporated Polynesian, Greek and Indian and Spanish dance inspiration into her routines. She was also influenced by nature, for her NYE show in 1995, her concept was – the sea. “Her show opened with a huge clam shell on stage. As the music started, the lid was raised, and Samara slowly emerged, representing a pearl. Her costume was of the elaborate Lebanese variety, all in pearls,” (Samara: Sayyida Raks Sharqi, Best of Habibi). Even beyond incorporating different forms of dance, Samara had music written just for her (she also had her own band), and even used some American New Age fusion in her sets.

Samara’s distinct style gained her popularity and the name “Sayyida Raks Sharqi”(*) from the Lebanese press meaning, “Mistress of Oriental Dance.” After her first three years dancing in Lebanon (1981-1984), she began traveling and dancing around the world, ushering in her golden age from the mid 80’s-early 2000’s. She started out traveling to the cities of  Kano and Lagos in Nigeria and Abidjan in the Cote d’Ivoire. She later traveled to Europe and Arab countries as well.

Being so popular Samara had to regularly switch up her show, she would do this every 4-6 months, adding in new inspirations and music. She wanted to keep her fans on their toes and felt it was necessary for her to keep growing as an artist. She always wanted to out do herself, which in my opinion, is the best form of competition.

Learn more about Samara here.

Why I <3 HER:

You’ll see when you watch the videos! She is completely mesmerizing, I couldn’t stop watching video after video and I tried really hard to not make the longest youtube playlist of all time lol 😛 She’s very lively, incredibly creative and on top of that she has amazing technique. I’m also fascinated by her fusion of different styles, especially with all this talk I’ve been seeing recently about styles/categories of belly dance.

I hope you all enjoy the playlist!




*I don’t know why Raks has a K and Sharqi has a Q…anybody?