Persian Belly Dance

Written by Serena Berger
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Persian belly dance is an art form, which sadly, is enjoyed more in the rest of the world then in its country of origin. At present in Iran, shows of Persian belly dance are infrequent, and only women are allowed to attend. This is because conservative Muslims do not believe that men should be allowed to see women in the attire or performing the movements associated with this dance form.

Nuances of Persian Belly Dance

Persian belly dance is different from other forms, in that the movements themselves of torso and hips are small and understated. The expressiveness comes from the hands, eyes, and face. The steps are light, delicate, and feminine and often include intricate patterns.

Persian belly dance is actually very difficult because the meter and phrasing are not constant as they are in the music most Westerners are familiar with. The melody is usually improvised, and often the dancer wears small cymbals on her fingers with which she is expected to participate in making music as well as trying to follow it as she dances. This means that a Persian belly dancer is not just versed in movement, but also in the complexities of music.

Dancers may perform with a veil, but in versions of belly dancing practiced outside of Muslim countries, the dancer rarely does. Speaking of veils, it may interest you to learn that the Dance of the Seven Veils is not affiliated with belly dancing--Persian or otherwise. That is more of a burlesque or cabaret act which borrows certain movements from the belly dancing tradition, but the idea of stripping or arousing sexual interest with belly dancing contradicts the spiritual and traditional aspects of Persian belly dancing.


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