Hello, and welcome...
I'm Helen Santa Maria. I run a belly dance academy, and in over a decade of teaching, I've encouraged thousands of women to learn this most beautiful of dances.
I've written this section in collaboration with DanceClass.com so if you're curious about belly dancing, you can find out everything you need to know, and dance along with my video clips for beginners that I created just for you.
First though, a bit of history.
An ancient dance dating back thousands of years, it’s difficult to pinpoint a birthplace for belly dance as it comes from a fusion of different traditional dances stretching from India, Arabia, North Africa and along the Silk Route.
Different cultures were exposed to the folk dances of other countries and regions through the flow of trade, materials, philosophies, technologies and artists, and the sensuous belly dancing style emerged from all these influences.
More recently, from the late 1930s to around the 1970s, Cairo became the Hollywood of the Middle Eastern film industry and featured many famously beloved dancers who were the lead actresses in countless films.
Belly dancing was no longer a domestic, folkloric tradition and became a more refined performance art for entertainment with glitzy costumes. This is more in line with how we think about belly dance today.
Belly dancing is part dance, part attitude and part mood.
It is a peek into a tantalizingly beautiful and mysterious world. And the atmosphere you can create doing these dances is mesmerizing.
The music is incredible - you won't be able to stop yourself from dancing to it. It absolutely entices your body to move.
You'll experience power, balance and breathing combined with the most sensuous small movements of the hips and arms.
It truly is beautiful to dance and beautiful to look at.
And it's very easy to learn. It's very fluid. So the moves feel natural to dance, unlike some other dances, which are all about rigid technique.
It seems to inspire your body to move and the steps and routines have a flow and rhythm that seems almost innate.
There is a great deal of artistic license that you can take and your personal interpretation of a movement or step only adds to its appeal.
So it is a wonderful dance to learn as a beginner. And this dance is
something that it is as fulfilling to practise as it is to learn new
You'll feel greatly rewarded by belly dancing after only a very short time. The routines you'll learn will come together surprisingly quickly.
You will get out of this dance what you put in and progressing through the levels will be rewarding and satisfying.
This is a dance for all woman - regardless of size, age or shape.
This is goddess dancing. Any woman can do it and feel amazing.
It may be a cliche but it is absolutely true. No matter what your age, dress size, height, weight or fitness level, you can do - and enjoy - a beginners belly dancing class.
In fact, we recommend Egyptian dancing to the women who say to us 'But I'd never go to a public dance class, not with my body. I'd think everyone was looking at me and laughing'. You're in good company. Lots of women feel like this.
Also, Egyptian dancing classes are safe, welcoming places for women to be. A place to celebrate womanly curves and appeal.
And finally, they are a wonderful, gentle exercise for the whole body.
Really, you can't get better than that. And our hearty recommendation is that you find a belly dancing class and have a go.
It'll make you feel fantastic.
Next, read all about those amazing belly dance clothes...