Monday, November 14, 2011

The Art of Belly Dancing Performances

If you wish to visit Middle East or Egypt to be precise, you will not miss the most popular ancient attraction of belly dancer, a dance that movements and sequences so energetic and erotic. Dances that give you lots of energies and make your blood circulation pump up faster trough the music and the rhythm of the performers.

About the image above: A belly dancer performance 
at Stella Di Mare Sharm El Sheik, Egypt

In this occasion I would give you most of my view s based on the belly dancer in Egypt, as I watched the dance only in this country.

Here, belly dancer is called Raqs Sharqi means erotic dance of the belly or stomach. This unique movement of the belly muscles, a chest and hip move is really suitable and maybe designed especially for Arabic female body. The dance itself is really complex and full of energy yet smooth, sometimes is really firm and earthy with combination of hip movement, shimmy, body, belly, chest, head, hands to form a sensual imagination.

Belly dancers will have a nice beautiful body; correct posture of body will help the dancers perform more confidence, easier to create sensational movements and of course will attract the audience with their talents.

About the image above: An Egyptian figure spread her wings 
while dancing, photo taken at art market, Egypt

About the image above: A belly dancer performance, 
she dances under the moonlight, Sinai, Egypt

Important movements on the dance are:

Focus on belly muscles. The vibration of the stomach muscles created fusions that gives the name to this dance as Belly Dancing. Characteristic and size of the belly of the dancers will show how good that she can dance. The smaller the belly size will give make the dancer look more sensual and erotic. The vibration of the belly is like a ‘kpal bhati pranayam’ in yoga session; with faster rhythms. Exercising belly give a stronger muscles and better performance. To keep belly healthy is very importance, to show the belly is sensual is a must for every dancer.

Chest. With fitted bra, will press the bubs and give sensual effect to the dancer. Bigger bubs will make the dancer easier to attract the audiences with minimum movement.

Hip. With shimmy movement will create amazing vibration of the beautiful hip. The performers may combine few movement with different speeds, contraction of the muscles, or move in different directions, back and forward swing motion, side to side or up and down.

Combination. Dancers will show movement of the chest, belly, hip and maybe using hairs and hands to create a fluid sensation on the stage.

About the image above: A belly dancer performs an opening movement with golden Izis wings spread up, lead by the rhythm of the Arabic music

About the image above: A belly dancer is forming a side-to-side movement

The dances look like very spontaneous follow the music either live music or sound system. And as I see, the dancers really enjoy dancing, interpreted the music, lead the dancer in any directions, event sometime the dancer singing while dancing.

A belly dancer will perform barefoot and fitted costumes, which are included:
Bra (fitted design, decorated beautifully with beads, coins, sequins, and braid and sometime also have embroidery)

Skirt (the color of the skirt maybe dark or black, or very eye catching color like orange, dark green, blue, etc. Skirt also with fitted design, colorful, embroidery)

Belt (with rich design of beads, coins and sometime very colorful. It may the belt is designed to be part of the skirt.

Hand bands (with ornament use around the hands)

Head bands (sometime also ethnical and folkloric pieces)

Piercing also sometime also in use

Sometimes using wing of Izis or butterfly alike

May also have some bindis or temporary tattoo design around the hip, hands or belly area

About the image above: A belly dancer shown from the backside; 
skirt of the dancer with colorful design

About the image above: A belly dancer moves her body up and down
to form a combination fusion between chest and belly

Historically is very hard to track the evidence on how this dance has been invented. From few notes that has been captured around Egypt, only show that similar act appear in an old painting on the tomb (from 14th century BC) that maybe this is similarly to the dancers acted. I tried to ask few Egyptian friends and older generations, but the answers are almost nobody knows exactly how this amazing tradition maintain it popularity for such long time and still exist until today.

Nowadays, belly dancer performances can easily be found in every hotels and restaurants around Egypt. Most of the hotels show this cultural performance to their residents every week or two to introduce local art and culture. Most of the visitors are really enjoy and appreciate this event as one of the most unique occasion while they are in the country.

Here I will give you four dishes that may become favorite food for belly dancers

LABNEH – Lebanese Yogurt

Also known as strained yogurt or hang curd which is yogurt that placed in clean muslin cloth and traditionally it hang at least for 24 hours to make sure most of the water contains drop down and leave the curd, to make the yogurt really thick and creamy.

About the image above: Labneh, favorite dish throughout Middle East

8 cups of Greek yogurt or hang curd
salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

Prepare clean cheesecloth on a colander. Place the yogurt into the cloth and hang it at least for 20-24 hours to drain the excess liquid. After draining, transfer the yogurt to a clean bowl, season with salt and pour the olive oil. Keep the labneh in the fridge.

The labneh is good to consume with some cut fresh vegetables; carrot stick, cucumber stick, tomatoes, celery, bell peppers or other favorite food of yours.

Labneh made of yogurt is amazingly rich, creamy, yummy and thick. Good sources for lean protein.

HUMMUS - Chickpea Puree

Hummus means dip or spread, came from Turkish language. This is one of the Middle East ancient food and people from all over the world love it including myself. Rich in nutrients as one of the beans or pulses appear as a super food. Good source of protein and dietary fiber, which contain of iron, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and foliate. Excellent menu for vegetarian diet, usually eat with pita bread or other dish as a dipping sauce.

About the image above:  Healthy chickpeas pureedip called Hummus

1 cup of chickpea puree (use canned chickpea and make puree in the food processor)
2-3 tablespoons of tahina paste
2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
½ teaspoon of cumin powder
2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
salt to taste

In a clean blender, combine the ingredients and to a creamy paste then transfer to clean bowl, check the seasoning and keep covered in the fridge for later use.

Try to enjoy this excellent hummus dip with vegetables, pita bread or other favorite dishes of yours


Couscous is the grain family that considers the healthiest one.  Rich in foliate, vitamin B6, thiamine, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, niacin and many things still undiscovered. The profile of couscous is really amazing grain. You can cook it and combine with anything you like to add. Good as a vegetarian dish. This is one of my favorite diets.

About the image above: Couscous salad, rich in nutrients and a healthy diet

1½ cups of cooked couscous
1 bunch of fresh coriander or cilantro leaves
salt to taste
3½ tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 piece of lemon juice
½ cup of brunoised tomatoes
¼ cups of chopped fresh parsley leaves
3 tablespoons of chopped black olives
2 tablespoons of brunoised tricolors capsicums
1 piece of grilled chicken breast (optional)

In a clean bowl, combine all of the ingredients and toss carefully to enhance the taste. Keep covered in the fridge about 15 minutes for cooler salad or you can consume immediately with any of your favorite grilled chicken, grilled meat or fish!

Note: to cook couscous you need amount of water and boil the couscous until it cook about 8-10 minutes. Need little bit longer time if you wish to have a creamy couscous. May you need to flavor it with herb or saffron, or fish and chicken, is up to your preferences.  I like my couscous with a little hint of saffron to add the taste, gives a delicate aroma and of course the nutrients. Saffron is good as anti-oxidants to neutralize free radicals, anti-aging fans, to renew filling and rebalance mood, to decrease tumor production, to treat colds, coughs, pneumonia, asthma and many more.


The salad is really simple. Tomato, cucumber, onion this is the basic of the salad. This salad will serve in three meal of the day in any occasion. Fresh and healthy and match with any dishes that you may enjoy, this salad will give you a fresh hint.

About the image above: Fresh Arabic salad served for employees 
dining hall, taken by phone camera

½ cup of red tomato, maybe heirloom, after seeded, cut into cube
1/3 cup of red onions clean and cut into cube
½ cup of green baby cucumber, cut into cube
1 of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
milled black pepper to taste

In a clean bowl, combine all of the salad and toss them with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cover with plastic film and let stay in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to cool down the salad and give time for the vinaigrette to infuse the salad. Serve with your favorite dish or crumble some feta cheese to add texture and nutrients.


The original tabboulah is from Levantine cuisine, meaning seasoning. Nowadays tabboulah is becoming part of the mezza selection in Middle East cuisine. The dish is very refreshing, and good for vegetarian choice of dish. You can combine with chicken, meat or prawns as you wish, but the best way to have this is the simplest one with a basic recipe as appear bellow.

About the image above: Tabboulah created by Chef Emad Attia 
in Sharm El sheikh.

3 cups of chopped fresh flat parsley
1/3 cup of fresh mint leaves
1 cup of cooked bulgur
3 pieces of chopped tomatoes
1 piece of chopped medium green cucumber
5 cloves of minced garlic
1 piece of chopped red onion
salt to taste
2/3 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil

In a clean bowl, combine all of the ingredients and toss them well. Season the salad with salt and then cover with plastic film to refrigerate it for 2-3 hours before serving. Toss again prior to serving to mix the seasoning and salad together.

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