There really is something different about belly dancing. When you compare it to the other types of dance that are popular in the western world, such as ballroom dancing, ballet, and salsa, it stands out as being something very different. Today’s video shows Irina Akulenka performing an amazing belly dance routine that showcases everything special about belly dancing.

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Unlike many of the other popular dances which focus on steps and choreography, belly dancing is all about connecting with your body and precisely controlling it. People who enjoy belly dancing often feel a deep connection to their body when they dance, more so than with other types of dance, and one of the reasons for this may be that it connects us with our evolutionary past.

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Research has shown that the undulations of the spine that are performed when shimmying can be perfectly matched to the way that creatures like the salamander and lamprey move their spines when they swim. There may be something involuntary about the way we control our spines when we belly dance that taps into the neural circuits of our evolutionary ancestors.

And beyond this physical connection with our evolutionary past, belly dancing also has a spiritual element for many people. Lots of belly dancers indeed train just for fun, but a sizeable proportion of belly dancers feel a sense of spirituality when they dance, especially a connection to their femininity and the sisterhood. The movements of belly dance are a form of storytelling that can convey spiritual ideas and promote a profound connection between the kind and the body.

The physicality of belly dance also makes it different from many other forms of dance. The training and precise control over the abdominal muscles is a physical achievement in and of itself, which can be rewarding and can also contribute to the feeling of spiritual connection to the body. Along with this strength and control, belly dancers must also be graceful and fluid. While there is much less movement across the floor than there are with other forms of dance, anyone watching a belly dancer performing can instantly appreciate the technicality and training that goes into the dance.

Belly dance can sometimes be dismissed as an “exotic” dance that is performed for novelty purposes but in reality, it is an ancient form of dance that can be both an impressive physical feat and something truly spiritual.

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