Some Middle Eastern Background
What we call "belly dance" in the west has its roots in the Middle East and North Africa (the Maghrib).
As dancers we interpret the music. Our bodies become a visual dimension of the music. But music is more than sound; more than melody and rhythm. It also can include the meaning of the words of the song - both literally and in a cultural context.
For this reason we need to know something of the people and culture who create the music we dance to. This section on Middle Eastern background is a very small start. I hope that some understanding of the geography and culture of this part of the world will enrich your dance.
Included here are:
- Maps and basic statistics for countries in the Middle East and North Africa
- A brief overview of major folk dance styles
- A brief overview of Arabic music
- A brief overview of the history of Arabic music and musical instruments by Wafaa' Salman
- Common Arabic words and phrases you hear in songs
- A brief collection of tips on pronouncing and reading Arabic
- Some lyric translations
- Information on traditional clothing
- Islam in under 500 words
- A brief history of Islam
- A collection of links relevant to the Middle East
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Updated by JEWEL