“Beyond The Veil” Explores the Healing Power (and Misconceptions) of Belly Dance
When most people think of belly dancers, they think of lithe young women in skimpy outfits, undulating and prancing around in a provocative manner to win the attention of all the men in the room. However, belly dance, also known as Raks Sharqui, has nothing to do with trying to be “sexy” for men—in actuality, it can be a very positive experience for women and can be a path for self-healing.
Grandmother’s Secrets: The Ancient Power Rituals and Healing Power of Belly Dance is part memoir and part history lesson. Author Rosina-Fawzia B. Al-Rawi recounts her grandmother’s instructions about the art of Middle Eastern dance, and much like the circular movements of a dancer’s hips, Al-Rawi keeps coming back again and again to her grandmother in the book.
However, Grandmother’s Secrets is not just about a young Arabic girl’s transition into womanhood, it also looks at both the theory and the history of belly dance itself. Al-Rawi takes us through ancient Egypt all the way up modern day Middle East. She examines how the dances were used to aid grieving women, help pregnant women, and to celebrate birth, as well as how modern women can use belly dance as a path for self-healing.
Plus, Al-Rawi also includes a technique section, should you feel the desire to put the book down and try your hand at an undulation or hip slide. She breaks down the movements so her readers can easily understand how to execute a hip slide, a chest circle, or even a shimmy or two.
Whether you’re an old hand at the world of belly dance or just a shy beginner, Grandmother’s Secrets is a fascinating read that strips away much of the misconceptions of this beautiful dance and forces its readers to give belly dancing as much respect as they would “traditional” dances.
Top image by Frank Kovalchek