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Belly dance is a dance style with roots in many countries, but most originate in the Middle East. It is frequently feminine yet strong and often hypnotic style, but not only danced by women. Middle Eastern dance has folkloric connections and certain styles, including raqs balady are more accessible because of this. The term 'belly dance' stems from the French phrase danse du ventre (dance of the breath) which was first used in connection with dancers at the World Trade Fair in Chicago in the 1850s. Those dancers may have danced raqs balady the folkloric style of the dance. The umbrella of belly dance covers styles from Egypt, Turkeyish, through to the cabaret or raqs orientale style danced in restaurants and as entertainment. Some styles are casual, relaxed and easily learnt - folkloric, Gypsy style, even Ghawazee. There is even a rumoured connection between some belly dance and Morris dancing - to compare, watch Morris dancing and then watch the Saiidi style of dance. Raqs Sharki, is an active art form and can be seen to change through the influence of other cultures. Belly dance can be a more committed art form requiring focus, strength and flexibility to learn - such as the fusion between the controlled isoloated movements used in belly dance and activities such as yoga. There is great fun to be had tasting the different belly dance flavours!

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