Five Misunderstandings of Belly Dance

By Bellydanceplanner - August 01, 2019

 Attention! Five Misunderstandings of Belly Dance

1. Do Dancers Have to Show their Bellies? 

Not necessarily. While it's true that most belly dancing costumes are revealing, there are many types of them, and you can choose one depending on your preferences. Also, some dances within BD have a typical dress. For example, the chandelier dance is mostly performed with gowns or Beledi dresses, so that the attention of the spectator does not deviate too much from the instrument that accompanies the dance. There’s also three-piece costumes that cover most of the body, they are mostly used in Egypt thought. One advantage of BD is that the dress code is not usually as strict as other dance schools (ballet, tango, …), so you can choose something that you feel comfortable with.


Beledi dresses

Three-piece costume

2. Is Belly Dancing Just Shaking the Belly? 

Absolutely not. Moving the abdominal muscles is only one part of BD. In fact, it can be a complete workout for the body, since it involves arm movements (involving bicep, triceps and shoulder muscles), hip movements (walking and rolling hips to one side in sharp movements), back and bottom muscles, and in order to do the famous bally shaking (better known as shimmy) you need to isolate each part of your body so the only thing that actually moves during shimmy is your belly and waist. Also, you learn to dance with different instruments: finger cymbals, chandeliers, veils, isis wings, and even a snake! It can be quite challenging, as it involves rhythm, tempo and body coordination.

Isis wings

Finger cymbals

3. Is Being “SEXY” a Must for Belly Dancers? 

This is one of the biggest misconceptions of belly dancing. This dance revolves around sensuality and femininity, not sexuality. Before dancers wore many layers of clothing and no skin was shown. They bounced the layers of clothing with powerful pelvic tilts. So much so, that even with the ban that Egypt did in the ’50s, with the exception of not showing the belly, the spectators were still compelled by the charisma, strength, and sensuality that the dancer transmitted with her arms, glances, and union of movements with the drumbeats. And no, many of these dancers don’t have the perfect bodies that media sells today, but they sure steal glances with their movements and hair tossing. The costume and visuals are just one part of the performance, not the entirety of it.

 4. Will Belly Dancing Make Your Stomach Bigger? 

In fact, with constant practice and time, it will do just the opposite. Remember that this is a low-impact form of exercise (which means calorie expenditure), so, the more you dance, the more you shape your belly and waist. Besides, the continual contraction of abdominal muscles will help you tone that area, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have a six-pack like bodybuilders: this type of dance accepts women in all shapes and sizes and it’s not about strenuous activities that will leave you at low levels of body fat. You’ll be toned but not ripped. And it is logical since an extremely ripped abdomen won’t give the visual effect that characterizes belly dancing.
Alla Kushnir

Another thin belly dancer

5. Are Thin Bodies Not Appropriate for Belly Dancing?

As we said earlier, belly dancing is the most inclusive among all types of dance. It is true that the stereotype of women from the Middle East is not extremely thin or “gym ripped”, but that doesn’t mean that only a woman who has very defined curves or that is “big” is the only one that can emphasize the movements of the belly. Remember that belly dancing is more than just belly movements, it involves the whole body, and if you have a good and correct technique, you can be an excellent belly dancer even if you are naturally slim. Alla Kushnir is thinner than most belly dancers, and she’s between the most popular ones in the world. Belly dancing is to celebrate your femininity, build self-esteem and simply enjoying yourself.

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