Yoga of the Arabic Dance
Dance originally had a precise meaning in terms of ritual and ceremony, for it expressed the mysteries of life and death as people understood them then.
Like all early dance, it was originally connected with religious worship, at a time when religion was an integral part of daily life and had relevance to every aspect of human existence. But as primitive cultures grew more sophisticated and civilization suppressed the faiths of a former age, so too were the rituals connected with these bygone religions suppressed. Thus the female pelvic dance died out in many parts of the world. In some areas, however, it turned from a religious rite into a secular entertainment.
Accounts of it have come down to us from all over the world and from all periods of history. An ancient Greek version had, as its essential characteristic, the rotation of the hips and abdomen. In Cadiz in the first century AD dancers performed ´sinking down with quivering thighs to the floor´.1 In the seventh century AD a Persian scholar, describing the chief attributes of a great dancer, pointed out ´a marked agility in twirling and swaying the hips´.2 Chief among the areas where this type of dance survived is today´s Arab-Islamic world. There, an art developed out of the old rite which became, in time, a dance of great richness and subtlety.
When dance ceased to be merely a means of self-expression and a part of communal ceremony and became a secular entertainment, it was taken up and refined by the professional performers who now emerged on the scene. (excerpt from "Serpent of the Nile". by Wendy Buonaventura).