What exactly is Lebanese style bellydance?

I’m not sure how Lebanese style missed the boat on its popularity in the USA, but it’s definitely something we are missing out on! When I ask dancers what they know about Lebanese style, they say “It’s a mix of Egyptian and Turkish, right?” Wrong! Although it shares similar characteristics with both of those styles of dance, it is a completely separate style that has formed and evolved on its own. What makes it truly unique from other oriental styles is that Lebanon is a heavily European influenced culture (whose religion is largely Christian instead of Muslim). Below are several of the typical characteristics you will see in Lebanese style bellydance.

  • Use of both subtle/internal movements as well as flashy/athletic
  • Lots of prop usage- cane, veil, zills, sometimes sword
  • Use of tricks to wow audience- backbends, kicks, fast continuous spins, Turkish drops, splits, etc.
  • Folk styles can be included in the middle of oriental pieces (including dabke from Lebanon or even Khaleegi from the gulf)
  • Use of entire floor space
  • Music is typically upbeat with lots of variety (wider range of music is also used and can be borrowed from anywhere)
  • Snappy torso locks and fast, layered shimmies are common
  • Very theatrical!! They will try to impress the audience with all their skills. You’ll see lots of fusion as well! Sometimes even hints of ballet, Latin dance, and even tribal.

Costuming in vintage Lebanese dance included lots of heavy fringe, chunky beads, any type of skirt, and high heels. Modern styles still use heavy fringe, but anything goes. You’ll see everything from traditional to sleek and even crazy/risqué.

Popular Lebanese dancers include Samara, Nadia Gamal, Danni Boustros, Ibrahim “Bobby” Farrah, Badia Masabni, Amani, Hawayda Hoshen, and Dina Jamal

If you have any specific questions, feel free to send me an email and ask! Also, I will be teaching a Lebanese pop workshop at the 1st annual Maryland Bellydance Convention. Hope to see you there!

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