Belly dance is a Western term for a traditional Middle Eastern dance form. Some American devotees refer to it simply as “Middle Eastern Dance”. In the Arabic language it is known as raqs sharqi (literally “eastern dance”) or sometimes raqs baladi (literally “national” or “folk” dance). The term “raqs sharqi” may have originated in Egypt. In Greece and the Balkans, belly dance is called tsiftetelli. The term belly-dance is a creation of Orientalism, and is first attested in English in 1899, translating French danse du ventre.

Belly dance is a fairly new dance form in India but is picking up in cities like Goa, Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai. However, there aren’t many trained Indians in the art. The people taking the movement forward are mainly foreigners so it’s largely an unexplored art form in India.

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