Arabic belly dancing has changed over the years. The dance form, beginning as a traditional and enjoyable pastime for women in the Middle East, has evolved and incorporated many of the styles and ideas from western culture. This is very evident in belly dance costumes. From traditional to a mixture of modern, described below are several costume styles that are popular among belly dancers today.
Cabaret or American Restaurant
A cabaret-style belly dance costume is probably the most recognized and the one most people think of when they hear the term ‘belly dancing.’ This costume is usually flashy, with colorful fabrics and beaded accessories. It usually consists of a bra-style top, a skirt, and a belt to enhance the belly dancer’s moves. Egyptian Cabaret and Turkish Cabaret are both included in this style of costume.
The Egyptian Arabic belly dance style of costume consists of a full dress or a bra and skirt with a hip belt. Costumes today are usually decorated with beading, sequins, rhinestones, or fringe. In Egypt, it is illegal to show a bare midriff. Therefore, a body stocking or some type of netting is worn under the costume.
Turkish belly dance costumes are generally a more revealing cabaret style than most. The dancer usually wears the belt higher on the waist, and the skirt contains splits that reveal most (if not all) of the thigh. In addition, Turkish costumes also often include high-heel shoes that accentuate the dancer’s movement.
Upper Egyptian Beledi
The Beledi style of belly dance costume is an Egyptian costume that is more folkloric and traditional. This style consists of a long dress, usually made of natural fibers and made from glittery material. Arabic belly dancers often use this style to perform dances that are more folkloric in nature.
American Tribal Costumes
The American tribal style of belly dancing was created in America in the 1970s. Although it originated in America, it is a style that is becoming popular around the world. The tribal costume is influenced by a variety of sources including tribes from Northern Africa and Asia. Tribal dancers usually wear layered skirts, bras that are decorated with coins, and hip scarves decorated with fringe. They also usually wear heavy jewelry and use khol to paint their faces or tattoo their bodies.
And Many Others
There are many different belly dance costumes and styles, and each one is a way for the belly dancer to distinguish herself. Many of the belly dance costume styles are a fusion of traditional Middle Eastern styles and western influence.