Other not so respected dance forms can be connected with the belly dance, such as Burlesque and Striptease. As many movies, night club promoters and dancers used the dance in their performances, and many people have only seen a belly dance thru these venues / mediums. Real belly dancers (raks sharki) do not care for the dance to be connected with Strippers and Burlesque, as the dance in reality is a very old, Beautiful and respected art form, but alas it sometimes is. More to come ...
"Dancing Girls" have been around since before the first century, A.D. such as the dancing girls of Gades (Dancing Girls of Cádiz*) in S/W Spain, which was once a Roman colony which had three distinct styles of dancing:
1) Cheironomia, or play of hands;
2) Halma, or play of feet; and
3) Lactisma, or jumps.
Dancing Persian Girls had been dancing before and after the arrival of Islam (founded 7th century.) Dancing girls were in such high regard that in 527 A.D. shows a dancing girl named Theodora (d.548) who married the Emperor Justinian (483-565) and became the Byzantine "Empress Theodora."
Belly dancing has changed dramatically throughout its long and torrid history. What sometimes is considered miled by todays standards was not even a thought in the ladies of a 100 or more years ago. Namely due to the way people can learn, study, practice, examine, research, define, etc. thru technology has made the newer Belly dancers far better than the women (and men) of the past. However, the women dancers of the past helped shape and form todays Belly dancers and were superior in their day as they had to study dance thru skill and sweat alone, no records, camera's, you-tube or dvd's for many of them. Remember, how you treat the past is how you will be viewed in the future, honor and preserve your past, in any dance form.
Awélim: In Egypt (NE Africa and SW Asia) the "dancing women" were called Awélim (wise or learned.) These dancing women who danced at a later period, like those of the East, were not looked upon as paragons of virtue. They performed in long, transparent gowns, beating drums or castanets in quick time.
The Egyptian (Raks) Gháwázees or Gháazeeyehs were generally hired to perform dances on certain occasions, such as a wedding. They would go through their evolutions with unveiled face, and the men sitting down in the court and watching them, while the women enjoy the performance from the windows of the harem. A more modern Egyptian dance, called the "Bee," is performed by a single dancer, who, in look or action, expresses the pain she feels on being stung.
Almèh: In old Hindu religious writings, The Hindu "dancing girls" were called Almèh, because they were better educated than the other females and of higher morals of the country, in which they formed a celebrated society. The entertainment which they supplied was well respected and called nautch, or the feats of dancing-girls. The almèh of the higher class knew, perfectly, all the new songs and dances; they committed to memory the most beautiful elegiac hymns that bewailed the death of a hero, or the misfortunes incident to love. No festival was complete without their attendance; nor was there an entertainment in which the almèh was not an ornament, or the chief excitement of pleasurable sensations. The most distinguished class of the almèh were introduced into the saloons of the great, not alone for their merits as dancers. They repeated with exceeding grace, and sung the unsophisticated harmonies or airs of their country.
The Almèh gained admittance to the favor of the public, and were solicited to attend marriages and every kind of entertainment, including funerals and other occasions of solemnity. In some hieroglyphics and paintings, the Almèhare generally depicted waving small branches or beating tambourines while they danced, singing the refrain, "Make a good day, make a good day, Life only lasts for a moment, Make a good day." Which is the same idea, it will be noticed, as that of the feasters in the Bible, who said, "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die."
However, in the lower order, there was an inferior class who could not claim to be Almèh, whose imitations of the former were but very humble and cheap; without the knowledge, the elegance or the grace of the higher order (Almèh) they had no choice but to frequent (dance in) the public places and the general walks of life; and to a refined mind (people who knew the difference,) created disgust when they wished to allure. These impersonators were the first to give the dance an unmoral view. These fake dancers were usually of poor training and weak of mind (similar to strippers who use Belly dancing.)
The Mughal Empire gave rise to the dance style known as "Kathak" a non belly dance (Men also dance in India; they are called Cathacks, and are between eighteen and twenty years old. Just like the bayadères, their performances consist of graceful poses and scarf movements, and they are dressed in magnificent costumes,) also the French referred to
the Kathak as "la danse du ventre" (basically meaning belly dance in French) and in Turkish it's called Oryantal Tansi (again, Oriental Dance.) Early Americans called it "The Abdomen Dance" or "Stomach Dance." Finally most people (American) call it the "Belly Dance" which supposedly was misnamed when Little Egypt danced for the infamous Sol Bloom at the Egyptian Theater, it was he who coined the term "Belly Dance." Little Egypt is said to have danced to the song "Streets of Cairo" as one of her songs.
Karol Henderson-Harding states "The spectators pay the dancer directly in the form of coins or cash thrown on the floor or placed on the dancer's body. There is no other dance form in which this occurs. In classical Greece, a woman from a poor family tied a sash around her hips and went to dance for her dowry in the marketplace. Spectators threw small gold coins at her, money which she then sewed into her bodice and hip-belt as decoration, since she had no where else quite as safe to keep them. Today, dancers still wear costumes decorated with "dowry" coins. In Egypt at the time of the fourth dynasty (approx. 2680-2560 BC), dancers were presented with gold necklaces in payment. By the 19th century, when the custom of tipping was known as "nukoot," a dancer would go into a backbend to receive the money, which would be moistened and placed on the dancer's upturned face.
It is still the custom for a belly dancer to receive money while she dances, and there is no other kind of professional dancer who respectfully receives money directly from her audience. Yes, strippers receive money but are not respected in their field of dance even if the stripper uses respected forms of dance such as Jazz, Belly Dancing, Raks Sharqi, Ballet or whatever during her act. Erotic and/ or Arousing dance is not a bad thing but it does have a limit and when that limit is reached it is no longer art but smut. (Note: Nudity is not a bad thing and can be artistic but, walking is normal, yes?, but done without clothes while strutting down central avenue is crossing a line... and dance has its lines as well... ya knows it when ya sees it.) So the next time ya see a Belly dancer who is truly doing her art well (Raks Sharki), throw her a twenty dollar bill and give the single dollar bill to the strippers.
The Phoenicians founded Cádiz (c.1100 B.C.) on the site the port of Gadir, which became a market for tin and silver of Tarshish. It was taken by the Carthaginians (c.500 B.C.+) and passed late in the 3d cent. B.C. to the Romans, who called it Gades (Cádiz). It flourished until the fall of Rome, but suffered from the barbarian invasions and declined further under the Moors.