The oriental dance, or belly dance, originated in the Middle
East about the 14th century BCE. Despite beliefs that the
dance was used as a way for women to seduce their sultan,
belly dancing was created by women for women, and was used
at such celebrations of femininity such as births and weddings.
It is believed that the dance originated as a fertility dance.
According to BellydancebySasha.com, engravings found in the caves
of Addaura, in Palermo City, Italy, show women dancing to the
goddess of fertility.
Although it is unclear how and why the dance was invented, there
is no doubt that belly dancing is indeed a difficult and intense
workout requiring pure muscle control and muscle isolation. It
is also a combination of belly rolls, snake arms, shimmies, and
body waves. All of these moves have to be in coordination with
music and drum beats, which makes it more difficult.
According to rumpuree.com belly dancing was introduced to the
western world during the late 18th century by French explorers.
In 1893, the dance was introduced to America by promoter Sol
Bloom, at the Chicago World’s Fair.
Although the dance was a hit in some major cities, the Victorian
era was indeed a conservative one. Some people weren’t
ready to accept the idea of a woman dancing and baring so much
skin. Nonetheless, it was only a matter of time before the dance’s
exoticism and gracefulness caught on in other major cities.
As the dance grew more popular, women added different props to
their routines, such as canes, finger cymbals, swords, veils,
and other items.
Little by little belly dancing gained acceptance in America. Thomas Edison made
several films of dancers during the late 1800s: Turkish Dance, Ella Lola, Crissie
Sheridan and Princess Rajah. Today belly is dancing popular around the world.
It can also be an ideal way to stay in shape, with benefits that are both mental
and physical. Dancing provides a good cardio-vascular workout, which also increases
blood flow and thus oxygen to the brain, and it helps increase flexibility and
Glenda Buis, an Air Force member stationed in Hawai‘i, uses belly dancing
as a way to maintain the fitness that her job requires. Buis performs with the
belly dancers in Paradise Troop. “I enjoy how I feel every time I perform,” said
Buis. “I also love the recognition I get from my friends and family.”
For Corina Evans, a University of Hawai‘i student majoring in linguistics
and also a dancer in Paradise Troop Dancers, staying healthy is very important. “I
have to workout because diabetes runs in my family. I belly dance because it
keeps me from gaining weight, and it helps me express my femininity in an elegant
and positive way. Belly dancing has helped me to stay focused and happy,” she
Evans says, “Belly dancing helps her to deal with the stress that she faces
as a student. “Before and after my exams, I go to the dance studio and
dance for about an hour. It helps me a lot, plus it keeps me smiling,” said
Belly Dancers in Paradise is a local dance troupe owned by well-known belly dance
instructor Malia DeLa Pena, who has been teaching belly dancing for almost nine
years. She performs at Pyramids Restaurant on Kapiolani Boulevard every Sunday,
and she offers classes in different studios around the island.
For more information about belly dancing, Belly Dancers in Paradise, or to locate
a dance studio in your area, call Malia DeLa Penia at 808-381-3100 or visit her
Web site at www.BellyDancersin Paraside.com.
Another view of the Dancers in Paradise