Middle Eastern Dance/Raqs Shari

Performed by Torkom Movsesiyan

Raqs Sharqi is an important but neglected cultural component of Middle Eastern culture, specifically in Egypt. The term Raqs Sharqi derives from the Arabic language, where “raqs” stands for dance and “sharq” for East. Therefore, its literal translation from Arabic into English is “Eastern dance.” The main body movements of Raqs Sharqi revolve around the hips, articulations of the torso, pelvis, abdominal muscles, hands, arms, and head. As of today, Raqs Sharqi remains the most popular dance in Egypt, and that is why the country is often referred to as the pillar of Raqs Sharqi. Yet, there is no compelling evidence that reveals the true origins of Raqs Sharqi in terms of place and time because this folk dance dates back thousands of years. Might Raqs Sharqi be the oldest dance on earth? As with other indigenous dance forms, no one knows for sure. Hence, this ambiguity has given rise to much speculation about the origins of Raqs Sharqi. In the West, Raqs Sharqi is popularly known in French as “la danse du ventre,” which in English means “belly dance.”