ORIENTAL DANCE – ORIGIN & STYLES
Hanan and her show group are dancing what today is referred to as “oriental dance” or “belly dance”. This style of dancing includes a variety of different dances styles from Middle East and North Africa. Oriental dance covers everything from traditional folklore dance, to the latest within belly dancing from the scenes of Middle Eastern clubs.
Raqs Sharqi is the Arabic name for oriental dance and means “the dance from the East”. It is recognized as one of the oldest dance forms with origins from the ancient world of Egypt, Persia and India, with roots going back to thousands of years. Raqs Sharqi is often performed at festive occasions in Middle East Africa, but has also established itself in other parts of the world and is today growing in popularity as a dance form used for both exercise and entertainment.
In the end of the 1920’s and early 1930’s during the Golden Era of Egyptian cinema, the oriental dance gained great popularity when large night clubs started offering belly dance as a form of entertainment giving birth to the Egyptian cabaret style. The Egyptian film industry blossomed and many of the famous cabaret dancers like Tahia Carioca, Naema Akef and Samia Gamal where seen on the big screen. Today these great icons still continue to inspire dancers and audience around the world. It was during this time period when the two-pieced belly dance costume “bedlah” was introduced and became popular. Traditional native costumes covered and concealed the contours of the body, with only a shawl or belt tied around the hips to emphasis the movements.
Egypt has during the entire 20th century played a very big part in the development and marketing of the oriental dance. For example in 1959, the gymnast, dancer and choreographer Mahmoud Reda founded the “Reda Troupe”, which came to perform Egyptian folkloric dance all around the world. Mahmoud Reda created entirely new dance styles with his unique mixture of folklore, ballet and other western styles. In 1999 he was honored by the International Dance Committee of Unesco and in 2001 was given the title of “Dance personality of the year”.
Different oriental dance styles exist all across Middle East Africa, but Egypt has been very successful in introducing the Egyptian cabaret style to the rest of the world. However interest in other regional dance styles has picked-up and there is now a growing demand to see more traditional and modern styles from i.e. Iraq, Lebanon and Morocco.
Oriental dance is performed by both men and women and some of the most well-known dancers are men. The majority of men mainly perform folklore but also do styles which are traditionally performed by women.
During the past 20 years, oriental dance has continued to evolve and fusions have created new styles within the genre. The dance is constantly inspired by its surroundings and is always in motion. This evolvement has, however, made many dancers realise the value of preserving the origin of the dance. As a result, traditional dances with associated music has been thoroughly studied, documented and performed in a greater scale.
To Hanan and Hanan Group, the Arabic folklore dances are extremely important and they are always performed with a genuine love, joy and respect for the dance and its origin. Traditional and modern dance styles are carefully blended for a fresh innovative approach and Hanan is a well-known and much appreciated choreographer within traditional and modern styles.