MAZAZIK - Classical and Contemporary Egyptian Dance - History

A HISTORY OF EGYPTIAN DANCE

The traditional dance of Egypt has a long and complex history. Rooted in ancient times, as a social dance it has been mainly handed down within the family and is seen on occasions such as weddings, religious festivals and family gatherings. It later developed as a performance art and was practiced mainly by women.

In certain periods, it was studied as a respected art form but the pressure of commercialisation has had a negative effect on the dance. The term "belly dance" has been connected to the dance since Western travellers first encountered it in the 19th and 20th centuries and started to imitate aspects of it. The term "belly dance".itself was first used to publicise a troupe of Egyptian dancers at a World Trade Fair in 1893. Unfortunately, the term stuck and many dancers bowed to the pressure of catering for a specific market and subsequently much of the power and subtlety of expression was lost.

However, there are now dancers working to restore the dance as a respected and skilled performance art. Now we have the opportunity to learn about the rich traditions and explore the various styles for ourselves.

There have been successive waves of activity in the dance; the Egyptian films of the 40's and 50's, the rise of the Egyptian dance superstars in the 70's and the discovery of Oriental dance in the West which led to dancers all over the world, and the contemporary work of Suraya Hilal which has opened the way for dancers to explore the dance of Egypt outside the limits of Belly Dance.

 

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