an Arab/Middle Eastern form of dance consisting mainly of hip gyrations and undulations, but also some steps. the modernized form popular today is derived from the Classical Egyptian style, said to have been brought to Egypt by the Gawazi gypsies from India, although the actual hip movements are thought to have been present in the middle east for thousands of years. each different tribe and ethnic group had/has their own style. the original name for it is "Raqs Sharqi". the term "belly dance" was givin by Europeans and other whites who did not understand it.
in the Classical Egyptian style, there is the side to side hip gyration, called the maya, which has been popularized by Shakira. there are also belly rolls, which are very hard to learn to do with the abdominal muscles. there is also the shimmy, which can be done with the knees or the hips, and can also be done with the chest. there's also ticking, which is isolating the hips back and forth, side to side.
in the middle east, belly dance is illegal to perform in public in many countries, due to Islam's influence on their laws. in America, it is often performed in Greek restaurants. most Arab people keep the dance alive by women performing it for other women, especially at bridal showers, baby showers and other celebrations and get togethers where men are not present.
"she's a belly dancer, she works at the restaurant with the good gyros downtown"
"she can belly dance, her grandmother taught her"
"they used belly dance as a fertility exercise, and to prepare for childbirth"