M asks: “My 19 year old daughter is taking belly dancing classes offered through Adult Education and I was wondering if it is considered part of New Age? I feel concerned and uneasy about it. What are your thoughts on this?”
Belly dancing is not considered part of the New Age. It is primarily a Middle Eastern dance form known as raqs sharqi in Arabic and oryantal dansi in Turkish which, roughly translated, means “exotic oriental dance.” There are various forms of belly dancing, including Turkish, Egyptian Oriental, and American Tribal.
It is an ancient dance form with historical evidence of its use dating back to Egyptian tomb paintings of the fourteenth century BC depicting dancers in poses similar to belly dancing.
The only connection to the New Age that I was able to find was in some dance shops that include belly dancing classes along with New Age dance forms such as drum and dance circles. There are also some belly dancers associated with pagan groups known as Tribal and/or Goddess belly dance, but these seem to be novelties rather than the norm, and would probably not be offered at your friendly neighborhood Adult Education class.
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