How to dance arabic style

Arab music: dance |

Belly dance 



Dance: introduction

Dance styles in the Middle East 

Middle Eastern dance rhythms 
Explanation and examples

Dance of the Seven Veils 
A European invention (

Website of a Palestinian dance troupe that founded the Popular Art Centre in the West Bank

Dance in Oman 
Oman Centre for Traditional Music

The Omani dance of death 
Fann al-dan is an ancient dance perfomed following a death. Article by Nasser Al-Taee

Life stories of female entertainers 
by Karin Van Nieuwkerk (extracts from A Trade Like Any Other - Female Singers and Dancers in Egypt, 1995)

Cross-dressing in Middle Eastern dance 

Oasis Dance Camp 
Dancing holidays in Morocco

"Raqs Sharqi" (literally: "oriental dance") is the name used in the Middle East. The term "Belly Dance" is said to have been coined in the United States to attract people to an exhibit called "The Streets of Cairo" at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.

Belly dance 
General background and explanation from Wikipedia

What is belly dance?

Roots of oriental dance  
By Carolina Varga Dinicu (

A brief history of oriental dance 
From social dance to performance art. By Salome (

Music and rhythm
A belly dancer's view, by Ann Sabin (

Belly Dance Museum  
History, plus some famous dancers

The art of Middle Eastern dance - lots of information

Raqs Sharqi - Middle Eastern dance

A line dance for both men and women. The national folk dance of Lebanon, also found in Syria, Jordan and Palestine. 

History and background (Wikipedia)

The Dabke – an Arabic folk dance

The Origin of the Lebanese Dabke 
World Lebanese Cultural Union

Dabke dance of Lebanon & Palestine 
"A symbol of national prestige and patriotism"

Mastering dabke footwork 
Basic dance moves

In his book, “An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians”, the 19th century British orientalist Edward Lane gave a disapproving description of the female dancers known as Ghawazee:

The Ghawazee perform, unveiled, in the public streets, even to amuse the rabble. Their dancing has little of elegance; its chief peculiarity being a very rapid vibrating motion of the hips, from side to side. 

They are never admitted into a respectable hareem, but are not unfrequently hired to entertain a party of men in the house of some rake. In this case, as might be expected, their performances are yet more lascivious than those which I have already mentioned ... I need scarcely add that these women are the most abandoned of the courtesans of Egypt.

The Ghawazee of Egypt 
By Jasmin Jahal

The Ghawazee tradition 

Historical background from Wikipedia

A Berber blessing dance

"Dance as community identity in selected Berber nations of Morocco." By Carolina Varga Dinicu (

Guedra: the FAQ 
By Karol Harding

Guedra dance of Morocco 
By Jasmin Jahal

Originally from Libya, hagallah is performed by the bedouin of western Egypt. It has been described as a wedding dance and also as a girl's coming-of-age dance.

Cultural setting, costumes and choreography


The name - variously spelled Schikhatt, Shakhatt or Chikhat -  means "female sheikhs". This is an erotic women-only dance, originally performed for the bride before her wedding, with the idea of teaching her how she would be expected to move in the marriage bed.

Schikhatt: from sex education to social recreation
By Carolina Varga Dinicu (

A "candle dance" traditionally performed in Egypt during weddings. The name comes from the candelabra worn on the head.

Egyptian Belly Dance with candelabra - shamadan...   
by WorldDanceCarnavals

"Candles have had a place in Middle Eastern rituals for hundreds of years"

Raqs Shamadan 
Candelabra dance

Raks Shamadan  
History, tips, care and repair

Raks al-shamadan and candle dancing 
Dancing with fire safely and effectively

Shamadan for sale  
(bellydancebazaar. com)

A dance performed to drive away evil spirits. It originated in the Sudan but is also popular among women in Egypt. 

The zar ceremony 
by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

The zar revisited 
by Me'ira (Karol Harding)

The mysterious zar 
by Arabella

How to Learn Arabic Dance

By: Janine James

Asian woman in national dress image by Arman Zhenikeyev from

By: Janine James

Arabic dance is a traditional form of dancing that involves movements of the abdomen. Arabic dance is often performed by women; it is usually seen as being very sultry and seductive. According to tradition, these belly dances come from tribal Arab religions and were done out of respect for the goddess of fertility. Today Arab Dance has grown to be a very popular dance style that is practiced all over the world. There are several basic steps that can be paired together to create your very own sultry dance.

Things You'll Need:

  • Belly Dance Waist Scarf
  • Traditional Arabic Music
  • Form-Fitting Clothing (Like Yoga Pants And A Tank Top)

Put on your form-fitting clothing; this will allow you to move your body about with great ease. Also begin playing the traditional Arabic music that you have selected to begin. Start stretching to avoid getting cramps while you are dancing. Since Arabic dance involves using your abdomen, make sure to stretch this area very well. You can do so by bending down and touching your toes. Another good abdomen stretch is lifting one arm up and leaning far over to the opposite side. After you feel warmed up, put on your belly dance waist scarf—this will add more movement to your hips, along with noise from the coins that often adorn belly dance scarves.

Arabic dance is all about isolating specific parts of your body and only allowing several movements at a time. One of the most basic movements found in belly dance is the figure-eight move. Make sure that your feet are flat and that your pelvis is tucked in slightly. Lift your chest and begin pushing your hips backwards allowing them to sway in a figure-eight pattern from side to side. Do this slowly at first, and once you get the flow of your figure eight, you may begin swaying into the pattern faster. Hold your arms out while doing this for support and balance.

Walking in Arabic dance can be easily done by using similar hip movements. Travelling steps can be done by sticking out one of your legs, bending it slightly at the knee and gently shaking your hip. Allow most of the work to come from your hip rather than your leg. Switch legs and do the same thing on the opposite leg. Start transitioning legs until you feel comfortable switching legs back and forth at a quick pace.

Pelvic circles are another common Arabic dance move. You are able to achieve this move by simply tilting your pelvis in slightly and making a circle using your hips. You can create more dramatic circles by lifting the balls of your feet slightly each time that your hip rolls to that specific side of your body. Pelvic circles can be made very small or very large depending on how wide you choose to move your hips. You can do them at a slow or a fast pace.

Use your hands while you are practicing these dance moves. This can be done by coiling your hands and arms in small circles. Both of your arms do not have to move in the same direction or be at the same height; in fact, it will add more depth to your movements if you have both of your arms doing different movements. You can practice this while doing the various basic Arabic dance moves. Combining these moves and changing their paces will allow you to create different dances at your leisure. Arabic dance is all about improvisation. Move faster or slower by following the beats in the traditional Arabic music that you are listening to.


  • Yasmina's Joy of Belly Dancing: How to Belly Dance

Writer Bio

Janine James has been writing professionally since 2005. She has worked for a variety of different publications including "[X]press Magazine." James is a San Francisco State University graduate, holding a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and creative writing.

Related Articles

Arabic dance Dabq

Traditional Arabic dance Dabq — dynamic, emotional, bright and free. It gives a sense of solidarity, uniting even strangers - often people, having heard their favorite tunes, drop their business and join the dancers. And how to dance dabka, in Lebanon , where it is especially popular, everyone knows from an early age - this dance conveys the spirit of strong friendship of the Lebanese people and charges with a good mood.

Dabka is rightly called the Arab step - the dance consists of fast and varied steps, jumps, kicks.

The pace and mood of the whole group is set by the leader - ras (from Arabic "head"), who quickly rotates beads like a rosary in his hand. Instead of a rosary in his hands, there may be a handkerchief weighted with a special weight, a short thick cane, or even a saber. It is believed that his hands characterize the weapon, and with his feet he emphasizes his connection with the earth.

The leader is allowed to improvise, all the other dancers obey him - synchronously repeat energetic movements, keep a single rhythm and cheer each other up with fervent exclamations, lining up in a line of 20-30 people, which gives rise to a feeling of a single whole and an irresistible desire to merge with the dance. Dabka is so rhythmic and bright that it is hard to sit still while watching the dancers.

Dabka is considered a male dance, but can be performed by women as well as by a mixed group. Men dance widely and sharply, their jumps are long and high. Women have more modest movements, and some of them they do not do at all, giving men the right to solo.

The origin of dance.

The Dabka dance originated in Lebanon, and there are a lot of legends about its origin. According to one of them, the dance originated during the construction of houses, when men jointly trampled down thatched roofs. It is believed that in the same way, farmers trampled the earth to make it fertile. Another legend claims that when the Ottoman Empire invaded the territory of modern Lebanon, the inhabitants danced on the roads, breaking them and preventing the Turks from getting from city to city.

There is a version that the origin of the dabka, which is also called the dance of solidarity, was influenced by Turkish culture. At the same time, Gypsy culture first influenced Turkish culture, and Turkish culture itself, in turn, influenced Arab culture. As proof, the same songs are cited by the Arabs and the Turks. Be that as it may, the dance enjoys great recognition in many Arab countries.

There is no single style of dabka, in each country and even city it has its own presentation, its own character. Syrians, Palestinians, Iranians brought their influence to Dabka, making the dance more diverse.

In Lebanon itself, there are several types of dabka - traditional , Baalbakiya , Badawiyya , Khaizrani (symbolizing the struggle) and others. All of them are very similar to each other and originated from songs with similar names, under which they are performed. During the holidays, the traditional dabka is preferred so that everyone can join the dance.

For the first time on stage, a dabka was performed as part of an international festival in Baalbek in 1960 , and this was preceded by a request from the Lebanese President Camille Chamoun to the famous Russian choreographer Igor Moiseev , so that he, having studied the steps of the dabka, would establish a classical basis for dance. So, thanks to the Russian choreographer, the dubka became popular. Subsequently, the dance was modernized by the Lebanese brothers-composers Assi and Mansour Rahbani .

In 2007, a world record was set in Palestine - the longest dabka round dance out of three thousand people!

Music .

Dabka is a very temperamental and incendiary dance, which does not leave any spectator indifferent with its "hot" rhythms.

Music for dubka is groovy and fast with a four-quarter rhythm. This is a folklore rhythm often used in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Less often, a three-quarter rhythm can be found, which is explained by Turkish influence. The dance is accompanied not only by music, but also by a song with male vocals.

Dabka musicians play the darbuk (tabla), an ancient percussion instrument, a small goblet-shaped drum; rebabe - a one-string instrument, and the melody is played by a mizmar - a folk wind instrument.

According to one version, the dance could get its name from - darbuki ("darba" - from Arabic "hit"). The darbuka is the solo instrument in the dub, while the tablist who plays it also participates in the dance.

Traditional costume.

As a rule, the colors of clothes are matched to match the national flag of the country. In Lebanon it is red and green. Costumes are decorated with their own symbols, often crosses are embroidered on them - this is how the dancers show their religious affiliation.

Men dance in a plain shirt, waistcoat and wide trousers ( shiruel ), which are tucked into high boots. A red cap is put on the head - tarboush or a scarf is tied in a special way.

Women's costume is brighter, more complex and varied. This may be borrowing men's clothing; skirt, bloomers or long robe; a blouse with a vest or caftan of medium (or slightly lower) length; apron. Small handkerchiefs can be sewn on the sleeves, and a scarf is necessarily tied on the head. Women dance either in boots or in shoes with small heels. There is also a kind of belt.

Nothing reflects the culture of the people like their dances, and the dabka lives in the very soul of the Lebanese. Even the modern youth of Beirut in jeans and sneakers familiar to everyone, holding hands to the thundering rhythm of the DJ, loves to perform their national dance at real dab-parties in nightclubs.

Text: Grishina Julia

history and legends of Arab countries

Oriental dances: history and legends of Arab countries

Talk about oriental dances usually comes down to exotic belly dance or belly dance. It was the swaying of the hips, the wave-like movements of the stomach that formed the basis of this style. But the characteristic choreographic pattern is the foundation. After all, there are a large number of types of oriental dance, which combines the cultures of all Arab countries.

The history of oriental dances: from ritual to exotic

The first mention of oriental dance style can be found in the ancient temples of Egypt. On the frescoes decorating their walls, drawings of dancing people have been preserved. Similar images have been found in Mesopotamia, the oldest civilization. The frescoes are over 3000 years old.

It is not possible to find the origins and exact information about the appearance of dance after three millennia, which makes the style more enigmatic and mysterious. It is literally shrouded in legends. One of them says that initially the dance served as a ritual and helped relieve birth pangs. Women surrounded the woman in labor and made characteristic movements with their hips, driving away evil spirits from the newborn.

A little later, the dance was used in rituals associated with the cult of the Goddess of Fertility. In those days, the land for the inhabitants of the Arab countries was practically the only source of food. To get a generous harvest, the priestesses in the temples performed a belly dance, which was associated with the birth of a new life.

The whole Near and Middle East was under the power of sensual dance. Over time, the style began to change: from a ritual dance, it turned into a folklore or folk dance. Each ethnic group that was part of the region brought something of its own to the movements of the dancers. There are hundreds of folk dances, the progenitor of which was the oriental style. They are united by two points: the performer is necessarily a woman, the main elements are the movements of the hips and abdomen.

Seductive dances of oriental beauties were also appreciated by European merchants and merchants who began to travel around Egypt around the 16th century. It was at this time that the country became part of the Ottoman Empire, which allowed the inhabitants of the Old World to visit it fearlessly.

Europeans adopted Arab traditions, but Mata Hari helped them spread throughout the continent only in the middle of the 19th century. Speaking to the public, she stated that she was performing Indian ritual dances. This aroused great interest in oriental art. In 1889The first show was held in Paris where belly dance was performed by Arab women. 4 years after this event, the movements of oriental beauties were already enjoyed in Chicago thanks to Saul Bloom. Since then, Egyptian dancers have ceased to dance only for the home environment - the audience craves their mesmerizing performances.

The attitude towards dance is also changing in Cairo, which by the 20th century became a major city. A large role in this process was played by Badia Mansabni, a dancer of Lebanese origin. She opened a nightclub in the Egyptian capital in the style of a European cabaret. Oriental dances have become a part of concert performances, and not just a domestic hobby of Arab beauties. Moreover, Badia attracted European choreographers to train girls. Teachers combined oriental style movements with other directions, creating a unique dance school.

But not only the emergence of nightclubs helped Egypt become the center of oriental dance. In the 40s of the XX century, musicals began to be shot in the country, where the Arab culture, in particular music, played the main role. Not done in productions and without dance scenes. At the same time, Egyptian filmmakers looked to European and American films for inspiration. The mixture of cultures in art led to the popularity of the Egyptian school of dance around the world.

In the 90s, Egypt ceased to be the center of the Arabic dance style. The wave of wealthy tourists has dwindled, leading to the closure of nightclubs, and Muslim extremists who have appeared in the country have banned women from dancing in public. Against this background, the style began to develop in Turkey and Lebanon.

Oriental dances do not cease to excite modern women. Age and country do not matter. It is enough to see the graceful swaying of the hips once in order to have a desire to master this art. It is difficult to say how many oriental dance schools are open around the world. Given the interest in this area, one thing is for sure: their number will only grow.

Interesting facts

  • Belly dance or bellydance is a term coined to spread the style in the United States. It is believed that he was introduced into use by Saul Bloom to add seductiveness and attractiveness to the direction. As history shows, the politician did not lose.

  • Traditional clothing for women performing bellydance is a bodice, a floor-length skirt, or harem pants. This image has become entrenched in the minds of modern people, although initially the costume was much more modest. The girls wore long, closed dresses, and their hips were emphasized with scarves. To meet a dancer with a bare stomach was nonsense. What caused such drastic changes? Hollywood. American directors imagined the East as bright, brilliant and seductive. This became the basis for creating the "American" image of an oriental woman, which, by the way, spread to the countries that were the progenitors of the genre.

  • According to one of the hypotheses, originally oriental dances were part of the male military culture and originated in Tibet about 13 thousand years ago. Later, women adopted and modified the dance style, making it more attractive to the opposite sex.

  • Echoes of the oriental style are found in the ethnic culture of the Hawaiians. How to explain this fact, given the barrier between the continents in the form of the Atlantic Ocean, is not yet possible.

  • The spread of the genre in Europe is also associated with the name of Napoleon. According to one version, he ordered the heads of 400 dancers to be cut off so that they would not tempt his warriors with their dances. According to another, the French emperor was so fascinated by the beauty and grace of oriental women that he surrounded himself with 400 dancers.

  • The ancient Slavs mastered the art of belly dance. For them, it also carried a sacred meaning. Every year on the wedding day, the wife danced for her husband in order to remain young and desirable for him.

  • The Bible preserved the myth of the beautiful Salome, who enchanted King Herod with her dances. During her performance, the girl threw off 7 veils, remaining completely naked in front of him. The admiring king swore to fulfill any request of Salome. She asked for the head of John the Baptist. Herod kept his promise. Whatever the legend says, the dance of the seven veils won over the public and was even reflected in painting. You can admire the image of Salome in the paintings of Maurycy Gottlieb and Benozzio Gozzoli.

  • It was belly dancing that helped to win the attention of the Sultan, to stand out from the rest of the wives in the harem. In Islamic countries, the style acquired a different sound and became associated with the art of seduction. The thin line between dance and striptease causes numerous disputes so far.

  • There is a beautiful legend about the appearance of bellydance. She says that the ordinary bee became the reason for the origin of the style. She flew under the clothes of a young girl, which made her intensively twist her hips and stomach. An attempt to get rid of an annoying insect eventually turned into a dance.

  • Tatyana Nurlabekovna Zelenetskaya is considered the first Russian belly dancer.

  • The culture of the East became an inspiration for M. I. Glinka. The composer reflected his vivid impressions of the dance of Circassian girls in the opera Ruslan and Lyudmila.

  • The Egyptian government earns about 400 mln dollars annually from belly dancing. The fact is that dancers are required to pay a tax for the public performance of bellydance.

Oriental popular music

Touching the Arab culture, you will be surprised at the number of songs to which the famous belly dance is performed. They are composed in Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Iran and other Eastern countries. Egyptian music of the 40s was especially widespread. The composers of those times managed to win the love of many women around the world. We offer you to touch the enchanting music of the East

  • "Noura Noura" Farida Al-Atrash. The works of this composer of Syrian origin could be heard in almost every musical produced in Egypt. He spent 40 years writing songs in an oriental style. At the same time, Farid did not miss the opportunity to independently perform his compositions, which attracted even more attention to his person.

"Noura Noura" (listen)

  • "Enta Omry" by Umm Kulthum. The music for this song was composed by Mohammed Abd-al-Wahhab. The composer became famous far beyond the borders of his homeland: he wrote the anthems of Libya, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. In his work, Mohammed used not only Arabic motifs, but also European ones. In particular, he was impressed by French culture.

"Enta Omry" (listen)

  • "Gabar" Abdel Halim Hafez. For his unusual, bewitching voice, this singer was nicknamed "The Nightingale of the Nile." Singing talent is not the only thing Abdel remembers. The musician created a whole galaxy of works that have become classics of Egyptian culture.

"Gabar" (listen)

"Welak" (listen)

  • "Ommi" Marcel Khalife. This Lebanese singer and composer gave his first performance during the civil war. The thirst to present his work to others was stronger than the fear of death. And until now, his songs, written in the traditional Arabic style, are popular among connoisseurs of oriental culture.

Oriental dance varieties

More than 50 types of this style are known. Such diversity is associated with the cultural characteristics of the countries where the dance spread.