The term "belly dance" is a westernized name referred to an Arabic dance which features movements of the hips and belly, danced widely in Egypt and Middle East. It has evolved to take many different forms depending on the country and region, and it is also called Oriental Dance or Raqs sharqi.
It is the oldest dance in the world and it appears in ancient mural of Egypt around 5 BC. Although there is little evidence about its origin, the most popular theory is that it evolved from a religious dance performance, to worship a feminine deity. It then developed as a court dance, performed in front of Sultan.
Today, belly dance is popular throughout the world with various styles such as Egyptian style, Greek style, Turkish, Lebanese and American tribal style.
Impression of Belly Dance (by flamenco dancer)
As I listen to the music, I found myself drawn into the graceful world of Arab.
Origin of flamenco is in Gypsy from India, and it is said that Belly Dance was influence by them as well. I felt something similar in the base of rhythm.
I was surprised to see a male belly dancer acting on stage a few years ago. Still, I had a strong feeling that it was a dance for women. But now, I found it quite fun and I recommend for men to dance as well as for women.