Dancing Arabs

General information

Dance styles in the Middle East 

Middle Eastern dance rhythms 
Explanation and examples

Dance of the Seven Veils 
A European invention (shira.net)

Website of a Palestinian dance troupe that founded the Popular Art Centre in the West Bank

Dance in Oman 
Oman Centre for Traditional Music

The Omani dance of death 
Fann al-dan is an ancient dance perfomed following a death. Article by Nasser Al-Taee

Life stories of female entertainers 
by Karin Van Nieuwkerk (extracts from A Trade Like Any Other - Female Singers and Dancers in Egypt, 1995)

Cross-dressing in Middle Eastern dance 

Oasis Dance Camp 
Dancing holidays in Morocco

Belly dance 

"Raqs Sharqi" (literally: "oriental dance") is the name used in the Middle East. The term "Belly Dance" is said to have been coined in the United States to attract people to an exhibit called "The Streets of Cairo" at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.

Belly dance 
General background and explanation from Wikipedia

What is belly dance?

Roots of oriental dance  
By Carolina Varga Dinicu (orientaldancer.net)

A brief history of oriental dance 
From social dance to performance art. By Salome (orientaldancer.net)

Music and rhythm
A belly dancer's view, by Ann Sabin (bdancer.com)

Belly Dance Museum  
History, plus some famous dancers

The art of Middle Eastern dance - lots of information

Raqs Sharqi - Middle Eastern dance


A line dance for both men and women. The national folk dance of Lebanon, also found in Syria, Jordan and Palestine. 

History and background (Wikipedia)

The Dabke – an Arabic folk dance

The Origin of the Lebanese Dabke 
World Lebanese Cultural Union

Dabke dance of Lebanon & Palestine 
"A symbol of national prestige and patriotism"

Mastering dabke footwork 
Basic dance moves


In his book, “An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians”, the 19th century British orientalist Edward Lane gave a disapproving description of the female dancers known as Ghawazee:

"The Ghawazee perform, unveiled, in the public streets, even to amuse the rabble. Their dancing has little of elegance; its chief peculiarity being a very rapid vibrating motion of the hips, from side to side. 

"They are never admitted into a respectable hareem, but are not unfrequently hired to entertain a party of men in the house of some rake. In this case, as might be expected, their performances are yet more lascivious than those which I have already mentioned ... I need scarcely add that these women are the most abandoned of the courtesans of Egypt."

The Ghawazee of Egypt 
By Jasmin Jahal

The Ghawazee tradition 

Historical background from Wikipedia


A Berber blessing dance

"Dance as community identity in selected Berber nations of Morocco." By Carolina Varga Dinicu (orientaldancer.net)

Guedra: the FAQ 
By Karol Harding

Guedra dance of Morocco 
By Jasmin Jahal


Originally from Libya, hagallah is performed by the bedouin of western Egypt. It has been described as a wedding dance and also as a girl's coming-of-age dance.

Cultural setting, costumes and choreography



The name - variously spelled Schikhatt, Shakhatt or Chikhat -  means "female sheikhs". This is an erotic women-only dance, originally performed for the bride before her wedding, with the idea of teaching her how she would be expected to move in the marriage bed.

Schikhatt: from sex education to social recreation
By Carolina Varga Dinicu (orientaldancer.net)


A "candle dance" traditionally performed in Egypt during weddings. The name comes from the candelabra worn on the head.

Egyptian Belly Dance with candelabra - shamadan...   
by WorldDanceCarnavals

"Candles have had a place in Middle Eastern rituals for hundreds of years"

Raqs Shamadan 
Candelabra dance

Raks Shamadan  
History, tips, care and repair

Raks al-shamadan and candle dancing 
Dancing with fire safely and effectively

Shamadan for sale  


A dance performed to drive away evil spirits. It originated in the Sudan but is also popular among women in Egypt. 

The zar ceremony 
by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

The zar revisited 
by Me'ira (Karol Harding)

The mysterious zar 
by Arabella