Introduction Egypt Turkey North America

A Rough Guide to the Styles of Belly Dance
by Ainsley


*Note: This article is a work in progress. If you've come across it on Google, please try again in a month's time when it should be completed.

This article gives an overview of some of the most common belly dance styles.

What is "Belly Dance"?

Oriental Styles

Folk vs. Folkloric

"Folk" dances are dances done by ordinary people in the course of their daily lives. Folk dances may be social or ceremonial, and they are typically learned informally through observation and imitation.

Because they aren't designed with an audience in mind, folk dances may not always be very interesting to watch: a person dancing for fun, for example, might repeat the same movement over and over or stand in the same position throughout the dance. A performer who wants to present a folk dance to an audience will therefore often adapt it to make it more entertaining. She might pack a greater variety of movements into one dance than a social dancer would. She might add travelling steps or include staging changes to give the dance more visual interest. The resulting dance may be called "folkloric": it is folk-inspired but not identical to the dancing that an ordinary person would do.

In this article I give both folk and folkloric examples of traditional dances where possible so that readers can compare how these dances look in their native cultural contexts to how they are typically presented on stage.

Further Education

For more resources on styles, see:

Bellydance Stuff
Shems Dance