Bollywood ♦ Belly Dance

Raqs Al Assaya

The Lighter Side of Belly Dancing: Raqs al Assaya

Belly dancing is considered one of the oldest dances in the world, yet its exact origins are unknown: some theorize it stemmed from a religious dance and others believe it started in Egypt or India. While the general public often pictures beautiful women dancing to hypnotic music, there are several different subsections of this art form. One of these is Raqs al Assaya, the ancient practice of belly dancing with a cane.

This style developed in Southern Egypt in response to the traditional tahtiyb dance, a martial arts-inspired ritual performed by men. Mimicking the men’s use of long stick-like weapons known as asa, women began incorporating a cane into their belly dancing routines.

Because Raqs al Assaya began as a response to a male-dominated routine, the moves are interactive with onlookers and tend to showcase the differences between men and women. The cane is the driving force behind this: in the hands of a man, it is a weapon, yet the dancers use it for fun instead. The result is a flirtatious performance with a marked back and forth nature and a lighthearted, sweet feel.

The music ranges from traditional to more modern and is performed by an old-style drum as well as a clarinet. Costumes for Raqs al Assaya typically consist of a long form-fitting dress with a sash accentuating the hips. Despite the decidedly feminine feel, Raqs al Assaya is less sensual and more girlish, making it noticeably different from more oft-performed styles of belly dancing, and ultimately providing a beautiful display of the differences between men and women.

Belly Dance with Cane | Raqs Al Assaya

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