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Belly Dancing

Belly dancing is traditionally performed as a solo dance that demonstrates emphasized abdominal and hip movements. The movements found in belly dancing can be characterized as percussive staccato movements, fluid movements, and shimmies, shivers and vibrations. The dance isolates and uses large muscle groups of the abdomen, pelvis, trunk, spine and neck. Belly dancing is traditionally performed to Middle Eastern music, however other forms of music are acceptable as well. Belly dancing is performed wearing fitted top or bra, a fitted hip belt, veils, full-length skirts, or harem pants. The costumes worn are heavily embellished with generous amount of coins, sequins, beads, fringe and embroidery. The exposure of the mid-drift is typically desired in order to accentuate the hip movements.

Is this activity known by any other names?

Egyptian dance; Oriental dance; Middle Eastern dance; Arabic dance, Raqs sharqi (Arabic); Raqs beledi (Arabic); Tsifteteli

What are the origins of the activity abroad and in Canada?

Belly dancing originates from Turkey and Egypt, although it was likely influenced by other cultures. In Canada, belly dancing dates back to the late 19th Century.

Who takes part?

The majority of participants are females, from diverse ethnocultural backgrounds. Small numbers of men participate as well.

When does it occur / How often do you take part?

Belly dancing occurs primarily in two contexts: as a folk and social dance; or as performance art.

Are there any organized clubs, groups, organizations or leagues?

Om Laila Bellydance; Dragonfly Bellydance; Habeeba’s Dance Studio; Egyptian Dance Acadamy; Dark Side Studio; Arabesque Academy

Cultural Significance

Originally, belly dancing had a matriarchal significance and served as a cultural ritual for the preparation of childbirth in the ancient Middle East. It was seen as a religious dance that descended from fertility rituals performed by temple priestesses. Today, belly dancing is largely performed as a form of entertainment or exercise.

Is there anything else we should know?



  • Om Laila Bellydance
    64 Henry St.
    Toronto, ON M5T 1X2
  • Dragonfly Bellydance
    559 Bloor St W
    Toronto, ON M5S 1Y6
  • Habeeba’s Dance Studio
    179 Dundas St. E.
    Toronto, ON M5A 1Z4
  • Egyptian Dance Academy
    211 Danforth Ave
    Toronto, ON M4K 1N2
  • The Dark Side Studio
    244 Augusta Ave.
    Toronto, ON M5T 2L7
  • Arabesque Academy
    1397 Yonge St
    Toronto, ON M4T 1Y5
  • Stephen Leacock Seniors' Community Centre
    2520 Birchmount Rd
    Scarborough, ON M1T 2M5

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