Regional Styles of Middle Eastern Dance

When it comes to Middle Eastern dance, it can be tempting to group it all together as one genre. However, this is far from the truth. The region is incredibly diverse and each country has its own distinct style of dance. From the fluidity and elegance of Egyptian dance to the lively and energetic Turkish dance, the differences are vast. Each style has its own unique music, movements, and costumes that reflect the culture and traditions of the region. In this article, we will take a closer look at the characteristics of the different regional styles of Middle Eastern dance, exploring the nuances and intricacies that make each one special.

Egyptian Dance

Egyptian Dance
Egyptian dance is one of the most recognized styles of Middle Eastern dance, characterized by its fluidity, sensuality, and femininity. This style of dance has a rich history dating back to the pharaonic era, where it was performed in the temples and royal courts. Egyptian dance is known for its intricate movements, colorful costumes, and the use of traditional musical instruments such as the tabla and the oud. To understand more about the Egyptian dance style, let’s take a closer look at its music, movements, and costumes. To learn more about the origins and evolution of Middle Eastern dance forms, click here.

Music

The music in Middle Eastern dance is an integral part of the performance, setting the pace and providing the mood for the dance. Each regional style of dance is associated with its own unique musical heritage.

Egyptian Dance: The music of Egyptian dance typically features lively, upbeat tempos with strong percussion and vocals. The most common instruments used in Egyptian dance music are the tabla, a type of drum, and the mizmar, a woodwind instrument. The music is often made up of long, elaborate compositions with different sections.

Turkish Dance: Turkish dance music often features a mix of different sounds and influences, blending traditional Turkish instruments with Western-style instrumentation. The music is typically fast-paced and has a distinctly playful feel. Common instruments used in Turkish dance music include the zurna, a type of woodwind instrument, and the davul, a drum.

Lebanese Dance: Lebanese dance music is characterized by a slower, more sensual tempo. The music features a mix of traditional Lebanese instruments, such as the oud and qanun, as well as Western instruments like the violin and guitar. The vocals in Lebanese dance music are often haunting and emotional.

Persian Dance: Persian dance music is typically composed of complex, multi-layered rhythms with both instrumental and vocal components. The music often features a mix of traditional Persian instruments like the santur, a type of hammered dulcimer, and the tar, a long-necked string instrument, as well as Western instruments.

Moroccan Dance: Moroccan dance music is known for its vibrant, upbeat tempo and its use of a variety of percussive instruments, such as the darbuka, a type of drum, and the qraqab, a type of castanet. The music also often features traditional Moroccan string instruments, such as the oud and the guembri.

The music in Middle Eastern dance is a crucial element for setting the tone and creating the mood of the dance. The musical heritage varies based on the regional style of dance being performed, and each style has its own unique blend of instruments and sounds. For more information on the cultural significance of Middle Eastern dance, check out the article on the role of Middle Eastern dance festivals.

Movements

The movements in Middle Eastern dance are as diverse as the different regional styles, and there are certain key characteristics that define each style. In Egyptian dance, the movements are fluid, sinuous, and often include intricate shimmies and rolls of the hips and abdomen. The arms and hands often make delicate, air-like movements that accentuate the flow of the dance. Turkish dance, on the other hand, is characterized by vibrant, upbeat movements that involve fast and intricate footwork. Arm movements are sharp and fluid, with a lot of focus on spins and turns. In Lebanese dance, the movements are elegant and refined, with a lot of emphasis on long, flowing lines and graceful turns of the head and neck. Persian dance, by contrast, is characterized by more grounded, earthy movements that focus on twisting and undulating the torso. Moroccan dance involves a lot of playful, joyous movements that often incorporate clapping and spinning, with a strong emphasis on energetic footwork.

It is important to note that within each regional style, there is also a great deal of variation and diversity, and each individual dancer will bring his or her own style and personality to the dance. However, these general characteristics provide a good starting point for understanding the different styles of Middle Eastern dance.

Table of Middle Eastern Dance Movements by Region:

Region Movements
Egyptian Fluid, sinuous, shimmies, rolls of hips and abdomen, delicate arm and hand movements
Turkish Vibrant, upbeat, fast and intricate footwork, sharp and fluid arm movements, spins and turns
Lebanese Elegant, refined, long flowing lines, graceful turns of head and neck
Persian Grounded, earthy, twisting and undulating the torso
Moroccan Playful, joyous, clapping, spinning, energetic footwork

It is fascinating to see how the different movements reflect the unique cultures and traditions of the respective regions. Middle Eastern dance has a rich history and is still evolving today as it continues to influence and be influenced by other dance styles and cultures. For more information on these influences, you can read our article on The Influence of Middle Eastern Dance on Other Dance Forms.

Costumes

When it comes to the costumes worn during Middle Eastern dance performances, they vary depending on the regional style.
In Egyptian dance, female dancers often wear a bedlah, which consists of a beaded bra and a hip belt with a long skirt or harem pants. Male dancers typically wear an embroidered shirt with loose pants.
In Turkish dance, female dancers wear a colorful, flowing costume called a çarşaf, which covers their entire body and is often decorated with coins, while male dancers wear a vest, shirt, and pants.
Lebanese dance costumes tend to be more conservative for women, often including a dress or gown with a slit, while men might wear traditional, embroidered clothing.
Persian dance costumes include a tunic, pants, and a scarf or shawl for women, while men might wear a vest, shirt, or robe.
Moroccan dance costumes can include a beaded or sequined dress with a decorative belt, and sometimes a cape or veil. Male dancers might wear a jellaba or kaftan.

It is important to note that these costumes are not just for show, but have cultural and historical significance as well. For example, the coins on a Turkish çarşaf represent wealth and the fabric of traditional Persian costumes reflects the country’s silk production. For more information on Middle Eastern dance costuming, visit the Costuming in Middle Eastern Dance article.

Turkish Dance

Turkish Dance
When it comes to Middle Eastern dance, Turkish dance stands out with its energetic and lively nature, which is heavily influenced by elements of folk dance. The dance form has an intricate blend of movements that reflect the country’s culture and history, making it a fascinating aspect to explore. Turkish dance is popular in various Middle Eastern countries, and it has its own unique style that sets it apart from other regional styles. Let’s delve into the characteristics that define Turkish dance, including the music, movements, and costumes that make it such a captivating form of dance. To better understand the cultural significance of Turkish dance, we recommend checking out the article on the role of Middle Eastern dance festivals.

Music

Music is a crucial element in Middle Eastern dance, setting the tone for the movements and defining the regional styles. Here we describe the music associated with each of the different regional styles of Middle Eastern dance:

  • Egyptian Dance: The music used in Egyptian dance is often traditional and classical, with deep roots in Egypt’s musical heritage. The instruments utilized include the qanun, which is a type of zither, the ney, or a type of flute, and the tabla, or hand drums. Egyptian music often combines instruments and rhythms from various regions of the Middle East.
  • Turkish Dance: Turkish music is often characterized by complex rhythms and intricate melodies. The music used in Turkish dance is typically performed using the ud, which is similar to a lute, and the darbuka, which is a type of drum. Turkish music is known for its fast tempo, and the movements of Turkish dance often match the tempo of the music.
  • Lebanese Dance: Lebanese dance music is generally characterized by soft and romantic melodies. The instruments used in Lebanese dance include the oud, a type of lute, and the tablah, or drum. Lebanese dance music is often influenced by Western music, particularly French and Spanish styles, and is frequently accompanied by Arabic pop songs.
  • Persian Dance: The music associated with Persian dance is often performed using classical Persian instruments, such as the tar, which is a type of lute, and the setar, which is a type of guitar. Persian music is characterized by its use of quarter tones and rhythmic improvisation. In Persian dance, the movements often mimic those seen in traditional Persian rug dances.
  • Moroccan Dance: Moroccan music is often characterized by its lively rhythms and use of percussion instruments. The music used in Moroccan dance is frequently centered around the use of the guembri, which is a type of bass instrument, and the qraqeb, which are castanet-like instruments. Moroccan music often has a trance-like quality, with complex rhythms that are the basis for the movements of the dancers.

It’s worth noting that Middle Eastern dance has important cultural significance, particularly for women. The dance form is often used as a way for women to express their cultural heritage and reclaim their bodies in a society that can sometimes restrict their movements. Despite common misconceptions, men also have a history of performing belly dance in the Middle East, especially in the context of religious and cultural celebrations.

Movements

Egyptian Dance:
– Egyptian dance is characterized by fluid, flowing movements that emphasize the graceful movement of the arms and hands.
– One of the most notable movements in Egyptian dance is the hip drop, which involves lowering one hip while keeping the other raised.
– Other common movements include shimmies, undulations, and figure 8s with the hips.
– Egyptian dance also often incorporates travelling steps such as the chasse, which involves stepping to the side, bringing the feet together, and then stepping to the side again.
– Egyptian dance is known for its sensual and fluid quality.

Turkish Dance:
– Turkish dance is known for its energetic, upbeat movements, often characterized by fast turns and spins.
– One of the most iconic movements in Turkish dance is the shoulder shimmy, which involves rapidly shaking the shoulders up and down.
– Other common movements include hip drops, figure 8s with the hips, and graceful arm movements.
– Turkish dance often incorporates complex footwork, involving steps such as the cross step and quick-quick-slow pattern.
– Turkish dance is known for its joyful and lively quality.

Lebanese Dance:
– Lebanese dance is often characterized by graceful, fluid movements combined with sharp accents.
– One of the most notable movements in Lebanese dance is the stomach flutter, which involves quickly vibrating the stomach muscles.
– Other common movements include hip drops, twists, and figure 8s with the hips.
– Lebanese dance often incorporates delicate arm movements, sometimes with the use of finger cymbals.
– Lebanese dance is known for its expressive and emotional quality.

Persian Dance:
– Persian dance is characterized by graceful, flowing movements that often tell a story or convey a mood.
– One of the main movements in Persian dance is the twirl, which involves spinning in a circular motion.
– Other common movements include arm movements such as wrist circles and upward arm sweeps.
– Persian dance also often incorporates elaborate footwork, involving steps such as the heel-toe and the grapevine.
– Persian dance is known for its graceful and storytelling quality.

Moroccan Dance:
– Moroccan dance is characterized by sharp, percussive movements combined with fluid, undulating movements.
– One of the most notable movements in Moroccan dance is the hip drop and lift, which involves quickly dropping and then lifting the hips.
– Other common movements include shimmies, twists, and figure 8s with the hips.
– Moroccan dance often incorporates acrobatic movements, such as backbends and cartwheels.
– Moroccan dance is known for its energetic and dynamic quality.

Costumes

Middle Eastern dance costumes are known for their intricate designs, and each type of dance has its own unique costume. Let’s take a closer look at the costumes for each of the regional styles mentioned earlier:

Egyptian Dance Turkish Dance Lebanese Dance
The costumes for Egyptian dance are typically made of sheer fabrics, such as chiffon or silk, and are often adorned with beading and sequins. The skirts are long and flowy, with slits that show off the legs. A belt, known as a bedlah, is worn around the hips and is heavily embellished. The costumes for Turkish dance are often more conservative than those for other styles. Women typically wear a long skirt or dress with a high slit, paired with a crop top or bra. The colors are often bold and bright, and the costume may feature embroidery or beading. Lebanese dance costumes are similar to those for Egyptian dance, with the addition of sleeves. The skirts are often tiered and flowy, and the costume is heavily embellished with sequins, beading, and embroidery. Women may also wear a headdress or veil.
Persian Dance Moroccan Dance
The costumes for Persian dance often feature a long, flowing skirt and a top with billowing sleeves. The colors are typically bold and vibrant, and the costume is often adorned with silver or gold coins or other metallic embellishments. The costumes for Moroccan dance, also known as raqs al-assaya, often include a long, flowing dress or skirt and a jacket or bolero. The dress and jacket may be heavily embellished with beading, embroidery, or fringe. Women also dance with a cane, which is incorporated into the choreography.

As you can see, the costumes for each style of Middle Eastern dance are unique and beautiful in their own way. They often incorporate sheer fabrics, bold colors, and heavy embellishments like sequins, beading, and embroidery. These costumes not only enhance the beauty of the dance but also reflect the cultural significance and history of each style.

If you want to learn more about the cultural significance of Middle Eastern dance, check out this article on the cultural significance of male belly dance in the Middle East. And to bust some common misconceptions about Middle Eastern dance, read this article on common misconceptions about Middle Eastern dance.

Lebanese Dance

Lebanese Dance
One of the fascinating and captivating styles of Middle Eastern dance is characterized by the Lebanese culture. This style reflects the rich and diverse history of Lebanon which has undergone multiple invasions and has been influenced by various civilizations. Lebanese Dance is known for its elegance, grace, and its expressive movements that capture the essence of the music it accompanies. In this section, we will explore the unique characteristics of Lebanese dance, from its music and movements to its traditional costumes.

Music

One of the defining characteristics of Middle Eastern dance styles is the unique music that accompanies each form. Egyptian Dance is typically accompanied by classical Egyptian music, which usually features a prominent singer and a full orchestra. The singer’s voice is often modulated to evoke different emotions or enhance the dancer’s movements. The music typically has a strong beat and is usually in a minor key, which creates a sense of melancholy and yearning.

In contrast, Turkish Dance is set to Turkish classical music, which is characterized by its ornate, intricate melodies and use of the oud, a traditional Middle Eastern stringed instrument. The music typically features a singer and a small ensemble of musicians, and often includes improvisational solos. The rhythms are complex and varied, and the tempo can range from slow and languid to fast and energetic.

In Lebanese dance, the music is typically faster and more rhythmic than Egyptian dance, and may include a mix of traditional Lebanese music and more contemporary Arabic pop. The music often features a strong bass line and percussive instruments like the darbuka, a type of drum. The dance movements often include sharp, snappy movements that are timed to the music’s rhythm and beat.

Persian dance is set to traditional Persian music, which is characterized by its use of the tar, a type of plucked string instrument, and the daf, a type of frame drum. The music is often complex and ornate, with intricate melodies and rhythms. Persian dance movements are often more fluid and delicate than other Middle Eastern dance styles, and the music reflects this with its gentle, lyrical quality.

Moroccan dance is set to a variety of traditional Moroccan music styles, including the Andalusian-influenced Gharnati and the Berber-influenced Ahidous. The music typically includes a mix of stringed instruments, percussion, and vocals, and has a lively, rhythmic quality. The dance movements often include hip and shoulder shimmies, as well as more intricate footwork.

The music of Middle Eastern dance is a rich and diverse tapestry, reflecting the individual cultural styles and influences of each region.

Movements

Each style of Middle Eastern dance has its own unique movements and styles. Here are some of the characteristic movements for each:

Style Distinctive Movements
Egyptian Dance
  • Undulations: A wave-like action of the torso, with the chest and/or hips moving in a smooth, rippling motion.
  • Shimmies: A fast, trembling movement of the hips or shoulders.
  • Isolations: Moving one part of the body while keeping the rest still, such as moving the hips while keeping the upper body still.
  • Traveling steps: Steps that move the dancer around the stage, such as a grapevine step or a step-together-step.
Turkish Dance
  • Figure eights: A movement of the hips in a figure-eight pattern.
  • Spin: A fast turn on one foot with arms raised above the head.
  • Scoops: A movement where the hips drop down and then are lifted up in a scooping action.
  • Arms: Turkish dancers often use a lot of arms movements, such as sweeping and lifting.
Lebanese Dance
  • Hip twists: A movement where the hips twist from side to side.
  • Kicks: Lebanese dancers often incorporate kicking movements into their routines.
  • Shoulder shimmies: A fast trembling movement of the shoulders.
  • Arms: Lebanese dance often incorporates arm movements, such as lifting and gesturing.
Persian Dance
  • Hand gestures: Persian dance often involves intricate hand gestures and movements.
  • Twirls: Persian dancers often incorporate graceful twirls into their routines.
  • Side-to-side hip movements: A movement where the hips move from side to side while the upper body remains still.
  • Arms: Persian dance often incorporates flowing arm movements.
Moroccan Dance
  • Shimmies: A fast trembling movement of the hips or shoulders.
  • Ground work: Moroccan dance often includes movements on the floor, such as rolling or crawling.
  • Hip drops: A sharp drop of the hips to the beat of the music.
  • Spins: Moroccan dancers often incorporate fast spins into their routines.

In addition to these characteristic movements, each style also has its own unique flair and energy. Middle Eastern dance is a beautiful and diverse art form that continues to captivate audiences around the world.

Costumes

The costumes worn during Middle Eastern dance performances play a crucial role in enhancing the grace and elegance of the dancers. The costumes are not only a reflection of the region’s fashion and culture but also aid in executing the dance moves with ease and comfort. Let’s delve into the specifics of each regional dance costume.

In Egyptian dance, the costumes worn by dancers are flashy and vibrant, designed to showcase the dancers’ movements. Egyptian dancers often wear a bedlah, which consists of a bra, a belt, and a skirt. The bra is elaborately designed with intricate beadwork and sequins, and the skirt is usually made of chiffon, which accentuates the movements of the dancers. The costume may also include an assuiti (a type of fabric with metallic threads) and a raqs sharqi dress (a long dress with slits on the sides).

In Turkish dance, the costumes signify the cultural and historical richness of the region. The dancers wear a bindallı, which is a two-piece costume consisting of a cropped top and a long skirt. The top is adorned with gold and silver coins, and the skirt is typically made of silk, satin, or velvet, with fringes or tassels attached to the hem. The dancers may also wear a Karaköy dress, which is a colorful and flowy dress inspired by the Ottoman era.

In Lebanese dance, the costumes are an amalgamation of traditional and modern styles. The dancers wear a taraz, which is a long and flowing dress that incorporates intricate patterns and designs. The costume may also include a bedlah or a fustanella (a full skirt worn over pants), which further enhances the beauty of the dance movements.

In Persian dance, the costumes reflect the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Iran. The dancers often wear a chador (a type of full-body veil), which adds a mystical flair to the performance. The costume may also include kilij (a type of traditional jacket), tunban (a type of pants), and ruband (a type of sash worn around the waist).

In Moroccan dance, the costumes mainly consist of kaftans, which are long, flowy robes that come in various colors and designs. The dancers may also wear a hijab (a type of headscarf worn by Muslim women) or a tarbouche (a type of hat traditionally worn by men).

The costumes worn during Middle Eastern dance performances not only add to the aesthetics of the dance but also symbolize the cultural and historical richness of the region. The intricate patterns, vibrant colors, and intricate designs showcase the unique identity of each regional style.

Persian Dance

Persian Dance
When it comes to Middle Eastern dance, the Persian style is just as unique and enticing as any other. Known for its graceful and fluid movements, Persian dance has been influenced by both courtly and folk traditions. The music that accompanies this style is just as important, often featuring instruments like the tonbak, ney, and daf. Additionally, the costumes worn during Persian dance performances are also intricate and ornate, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of Iran. Let’s dive deeper into the characteristics that define Persian dance.

Music

When it comes to Middle Eastern dance, the music is an essential part of the experience. Each regional style is characterized by distinctive music that reflects the culture and history of the region. Let’s explore the different types of music used in Middle Eastern dance.

Regional Style Music
Egyptian Dance The music of Egyptian dance is rooted in classical Arabic music, which features a mix of percussive and melodic instruments. The most common instruments used in Egyptian dance music are the tabla, qanun, violin, and oud. The music is often slow and sensual, with a strong emphasis on melody and rhythm.
Turkish Dance Turkish dance music is influenced by both Middle Eastern and European music styles. The most prominent instrument in Turkish dance music is the darbuka, a type of drum. The music is often lively and fast-paced, with complex rhythms and intricate melodies.
Lebanese Dance The music of Lebanese dance is characterized by a fusion of traditional Arabic music and Western pop music. The most common instruments used in Lebanese dance music are the oud, violin, and qanun. The music is often upbeat and energetic, with a strong focus on percussion and rhythm.
Persian Dance Persian dance music is characterized by a mix of traditional Persian music and modern sounds. The most common instruments used in Persian dance music are the daf, santur, and tar. The music is often slow and melodic, with a focus on complex rhythms and intricate melodies.
Moroccan Dance Moroccan dance music is influenced by Berber music, Arabic music, and African music. The most common instrument used in Moroccan dance music is the guembri, a type of bass guitar. The music is often fast-paced and lively, with a strong emphasis on rhythm and percussion.

As you can see, each regional style has its own unique music, which plays a crucial role in creating the mood and atmosphere of the dance. Whether you prefer the slow and sensual music of Egyptian dance or the fast-paced rhythms of Moroccan dance, there is a Middle Eastern dance style that will speak to your soul.

Movements

The movements in Middle Eastern dance styles are intricate and often focus on isolating specific body parts. Here are some of the key movements in each regional style:

Egyptian Dance:

  • Shimmies: Rapid, vibrating movements of the hips or shoulders. There are several different types of shimmies in Egyptian dance, including the 3/4 shimmy and the camel shimmy.
  • Undulations: Fluid, serpentine movements of the torso. Egyptian dancers often use undulations to convey emotion and tell a story through their movements.
  • Layering: The practice of performing multiple movements at once, such as a hip circle while also executing an arm movement. Egyptian dance is known for its complex layering.
  • Traveling steps: Steps that move the dancer across the stage, such as the grapevine step or the cross step.

Turkish Dance:

  • Figure 8s: Rolls of the hips that create the shape of the number 8. Turkish dancers often execute quick figure 8s in succession.
  • Spin turns: Fast, dizzying turns that showcase a dancer’s balance and control.
  • Arms: Turkish dancers use their arms to create flowing, circular movements that complement the movements of the hips.
  • Fluttering movements: Rapid, flittering movements of the hands or fingers. These often accompany more slow and deliberate movements of the torso or hips.

Lebanese Dance:

  • Stomps: Sharp, percussive movements of the feet. Lebanese dancers use stomps to accent the rhythm of the music.
  • Shimmy walks: Steps that incorporate shimmies, such as a sideways walk with a hip shimmy. These movements are often done in lines or circles with other dancers.
  • Twists: Spiraling movements of the hips or torso. Lebanese dancers often use twists to convey a sense of joy and exuberance.
  • Fluid arms: Elegant, flowing movements of the arms that complement the accents of other movements.

Persian Dance:

  • Spins: Graceful, sweeping turns that showcase a dancer’s balance and poise.
  • Hand gestures: Persian dance features an extensive vocabulary of hand gestures, each with a specific meaning or emotion. These gestures often tell a story or convey the lyrics of the music.
  • Arm undulations: Fluid, snake-like movements of the arms that often accompany other undulating movements of the torso.
  • Footwork: Persian dance includes intricate footwork that often features quick toe taps and heel strikes.

Moroccan Dance:

  • Shoulder pops: Sharp, staccato movements of the shoulders. Moroccan dancers often use shoulder pops to accent the beat of the music.
  • 360 degree hip circles: Circular movements of the hips that travel all the way around the body. These movements are a signature of Moroccan dance.
  • Arm waves: Fluid, undulating movements of the arms that complement the movements of the hips.
  • Footwork: Moroccan dance features intricate footwork that often incorporates quick heel bounces and stomps.

Each Middle Eastern dance style has its own unique movements that make it distinct. Whether it’s the fluttering movements of Turkish dance or the sharp shoulder pops of Moroccan dance, these styles offer a rich and diverse range of movements to explore.

Costumes

The costumes in Middle Eastern dance are known for their vibrancy, elegance, and intricate details. Each regional style of Middle Eastern dance has its own distinct style of costume that differentiates it from the others. Let’s take a closer look at the costumes worn for each regional style.

Egyptian Dance:

  • The costumes worn in Egyptian dance are usually brightly colored and adorned with sequins, beads, and other embellishments.
  • Women typically wear a bedlah, which consists of a bra top and a shimmery skirt. Some women also wear a long flowing cape called a assuit.
  • Men usually wear a galabiya, which is a long tunic with loose-fitting pants.

Turkish Dance:

  • Turkish costumes are often bold and dramatic, featuring bright colors and intricate patterns.
  • Women typically wear a kaftan or a skirt and blouse combination, often made of chiffon, silk, or velvet.
  • Men also wear a kaftan or a vest and pant combination, often made of the same materials as women’s costumes.

Lebanese Dance:

  • The costumes worn for Lebanese dance are usually more conservative than other regional styles, with longer skirts and sleeves.
  • Women often wear dresses with beaded or embroidered patterns, or a two-piece outfit consisting of a blouse and long skirt.
  • Men wear a long-sleeved shirt, vest, and pants, often made of velvet or silk.

Persian Dance:

  • Persian costumes are heavily influenced by the country’s history and culture, and are often more ornate and detailed than other regional styles.
  • Women often wear long, flowing dresses made of silk or taffeta, with intricate beading and embroidery.
  • Men usually wear a long tunic and baggy pants, often made of velvet or silk.

Moroccan Dance:

  • Moroccan costumes are known for their bold colors and patterns, and often feature fringe, coins, and other embellishments.
  • Women wear a kaftan, a long-sleeved robe that can be plain or ornately decorated.
  • Men often wear a djellaba, a long, flowing robe that is typically made of wool or cotton.

The costumes worn for Middle Eastern dance are an essential part of the art form, reflecting the richness and diversity of the culture and history of each region.

Moroccan Dance

As we move forward in our exploration of Middle Eastern dance styles, we come across a fascinating and unique form of expression known for its dynamic hip movements and joyous energy. This particular style of dance hails from the North African country of Morocco, known for its vibrant culture and rich history. Moroccan dance, as it is commonly known, has been influenced by a variety of ethnic groups over the centuries, and thus carries with it a diverse array of movements, music, and costumes. Let’s delve into the world of Moroccan dance and discover what makes it so captivating.

Music

When it comes to Middle Eastern dance, the music plays a crucial role in setting the tone and mood for the performance. Each regional style of Middle Eastern dance is accompanied by unique and distinct music that reflects the culture and traditions of that specific region.

Egyptian Dance

Egyptian dance music is characterized by its strong rhythms and intricate melodies, making use of instruments such as the tabla (drum) and saxophone. The music is often quite lively, with a lot of emphasis placed on percussion and rhythm.

Turkish Dance

Turkish dance music is heavily influenced by Ottoman court music and has a more traditional sound. The music is typically performed using zills (finger cymbals) and a drum known as the davul. The melodies are often slow and melancholy, with a focus on long, sustained notes.

Lebanese Dance

Lebanese dance music combines elements of Arab, Mediterranean, and Western music, making use of instruments such as the oud (a stringed instrument) and the keyboard. The music is typically quite lively and upbeat, with a strong emphasis on rhythm and percussion.

Persian Dance

Persian dance music, also called Iranian dance music, is characterized by its use of traditional instruments such as the santur (a kind of dulcimer) and tombak (a drum). The music is generally quite complex, with intricate rhythms and melodies.

Moroccan Dance

Moroccan dance music is known for its use of the gimbri (a three-stringed bass instrument), the bendir (a frame drum), and castanets called qraqeb. The music is often rhythmic and upbeat, with a lot of emphasis placed on percussion.

The music of Middle Eastern dance plays an integral role in the performance, with each regional style featuring its unique flavor and style.

Movements

Middle Eastern dance movements are known for being graceful, fluid, and precise. Each regional style of Middle Eastern dance has its distinctive movements that reflect the culture and the emotions behind the music. Let’s explore the unique characteristics of the Middle Eastern dance movements in the different regional styles below.

Egyptian Dance Turkish Dance Lebanese Dance Persian Dance Moroccan Dance
The Egyptian dance, also known as Raqs Sharqi, is characterized by its fluid and undulating movements. The dancers use their hips, shoulders, and arms to make undulating waves that sweep across their whole body. The movements are soft and flowing, emphasizing the dancer’s grace and fluidity. Turkish dance emphasizes rapid and intricate hip movements. Turkish dancers use sharp and defined movements that focus on the torso and hips, while their arms and hands are used for fluid gestures and accents. The movements are energetic and lively, making the dance more upbeat and joyful. Lebanese dance, also known as Dabke, is characterized by its upbeat and lively movements. The dancers use a lot of hops, kicks, and stomps to the rhythm of the music. These movements are usually done in a line, emphasizing the collective unity and celebration of the dance. Persian dance, also known as Persian Ballet, is characterized by its delicate and precise movements. The dancers use small and intricate movements with their feet and arms, while their upper body remains still. Persian dance tells a story with its movements, reflecting the culture’s history and traditions through dance. Moroccan dance, also known as Raqs Maghribi, is characterized by its unique hip movements. The dancers use a lot of shimmying and shaking of their hips, often with a lot of energy and force. The movements are full of passion and intensity, making the dance more sensual and expressive.

As you can see, each regional style of Middle Eastern dance has its movements that reflect the cultural identity within the region. From the fluid and undulating movements of Egyptian dance to the lively and ‘foot-stomping’ movements of Lebanese dance, Middle Eastern dance represents a diverse and comprehensive form of artistic expression.

Costumes

Costumes play an important role in Middle Eastern dance styles, as they can often reflect the historical and cultural influences of the region. Here are some distinct costume features in each dance style:

Egyptian Dance:

  • Bedlah (meaning “suit” in Arabic) is a two-piece costume consisting of beaded or sequined bra and a decorated skirt, often accented with fringe or tassels.
  • Hip scarves made of chiffon or silk are worn to accentuate hip movements.
  • Zar dresses, typically worn for the zar ritual dance, are brightly colored and embellished with coins, beads, and mirrors.

Turkish Dance:

  • Bedlah or choli (cropped blouse) and a skirt or harem pants are commonly worn.
  • Belts, adorned with coins, beads or fringe, are worn around the hips to accentuate movements.
  • Long, sheer skirts are sometimes worn over harem pants.

Lebanese Dance:

  • Dresses with full skirts and tight, beaded bodices are commonly worn.
  • Veils or wings are sometimes used as props and worn on the arms or back.
  • Jewelry, especially large earrings and necklaces, are often worn to enhance the elegance of the costume.

Persian Dance:

  • Tunics with long-sleeves and a flowing skirt are commonly worn.
  • Headpieces and scarves are often worn.
  • The colors of the costume are usually bright and vibrant, such as pink, blue, and green.

Moroccan Dance:

  • Kaftans with long sleeves, embroidered bodices, and flowing skirts or harem pants are commonly worn.
  • Sequins, coins, and fringes are often added to create a shimmering effect when the dancer moves.
  • The costume is often completed with a headdress or turban.

The costumes accentuate the dancer’s movements and add to the overall performance. Their distinctive styles and features make Middle Eastern dance an art form that is not only about the dance itself, but also the cultural significance behind it.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is evident that Middle Eastern dance holds a rich and diverse cultural significance. Each regional style has its own unique characteristics that distinguish it from the others.

Egyptian dance is known for its smooth and flowing movements that are heavily influenced by the music. The use of props such as the veil and cane add an element of gracefulness to the dance.

Turkish dance is characterized by its vibrant and energetic movements that are performed in intricate patterns. The use of the zills, or finger cymbals, is a staple in Turkish dance and adds a percussive element to the music.

Lebanese dance is influenced by the surrounding regions and has a mix of both fast and slow movements. The use of the debke, a traditional line dance, is often incorporated into Lebanese dance performances.

Persian dance is known for its repetitive and rhythmic movements that are performed in a circular pattern. The use of hand gestures and facial expressions add a storytelling element to the dance.

Moroccan dance is characterized by its hip-focused movements that are performed in a lively and celebratory manner. The use of the tambourine and the henna ceremony are often incorporated into Moroccan dance performances.

Overall, Middle Eastern dance is a beautiful and intricate art form that has captivated audiences for centuries. Its diverse regional styles continue to evolve and adapt, and it is an important part of the cultural heritage of the Middle East.

Preguntas frecuentes

What is Middle Eastern Dance?

Middle Eastern Dance is a culturally rich art form that originated in the Middle East and has spread throughout the world. It is also known as belly dance or oriental dance.

What are the origins of Middle Eastern Dance?

Middle Eastern Dance has roots in ancient civilizations including Egypt, Greece, and India. It also incorporates elements of traditional Middle Eastern folk dances.

Do men perform Middle Eastern Dance?

Yes, men perform Middle Eastern Dance in some cultures, such as Turkey and Egypt. In other cultures, it is primarily performed by women.

Is Middle Eastern Dance only for entertainment purposes?

No, Middle Eastern Dance has cultural and spiritual significance in many regions. It is often performed at weddings, religious events, and other celebrations.

What is the difference between Egyptian and Turkish Dance?

Egyptian Dance typically emphasizes fluidity and grace, while Turkish Dance is more energetic and dynamic. The movements and music also differ between the two styles.

What are some common movements in Middle Eastern Dance?

Hip movements, shimmies, and undulations are commonly seen in Middle Eastern Dance. Arm movements, isolations, and traveling steps are also utilized.

What kind of costumes are worn in Middle Eastern Dance?

Costumes vary by region and style, but many feature flowing skirts, fitted tops, and ornate accessories such as coin belts and headpieces. The costumes often enhance the movements of the dance.

Is there a specific type of music used in Middle Eastern Dance?

Yes, Middle Eastern Dance is often performed to traditional Middle Eastern music that features unique scales and rhythms. Instruments such as the oud, tabla, and qanun are commonly used.

Can anyone learn Middle Eastern Dance?

Yes, anyone can learn Middle Eastern Dance! It is a great form of exercise and self-expression. Classes and tutorials are available for all skill levels.

What are the benefits of learning Middle Eastern Dance?

Learning Middle Eastern Dance can improve flexibility, strengthen the core, and build confidence. It can also deepen cultural awareness and appreciation.

Referencias

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