"History Of Belly Dance"

Raqs sharqi "oriental dancing") is the classical Egyptian style of belly dance that developed during the first half of the 20th century.

Based on the traditional ghawazi and other folk styles and formed by western influences such as marching bands, the Russian ballet, Latin dance, etc., this hybrid style was performed in the cabarets of interbellum period Egypt and in early Egyptian cinema.

Raqs sharqi was developed by Samia Gamal, Tahiya Karioka, Naima Akef, and other dancers who rose to fame during the golden years of the Egyptian film industry. This has come to be considered the classical style of dance in Egypt by the 1950s. These dancers were famous not only for their role in Egyptian films, but also for their performances at the "Opera Casino" opened in 1925 by Badia Masabni. This venue was a popular place for influential musicians and choreographers from both the US and Europe, so many of the developments pioneered here can be considered new developments in the dance. Later dancers who were influenced by these artists are Sohair Zaki, Fifi Abdou, and Nagwa Fouad. All rose to fame between 1960 and 1980, and are still popular today. Some of these later dancers were the first to choreograph and perform dances using a full 'orchestra' and stage set-up, which had a huge influence upon what is considered the 'classical' style. Though the basic movements of Raqs Sharqi are unchanged, the dance form continues to evolve. Nelly Mazloum and Mahmoud Reda are noted for incorporating elements of ballet, and their influence can be seen in modern Egyptian dancers who stand on relevé as they turn or travel in a circle or figure eight.