Sexiness As A Byproduct of Belly Dancing

How erotic is the art of belly dance? Is it used for seduction, or is it instead an expressive medium for the dancer’s emotions and aesthetics? Or can it be both?

Thanks to Wikimedia for the image.

Dancers from Bloomington, Indiana interviewed in Bloom magazine (link to the article as pdf) argue that the dancer’s sexiness is a byproduct of being confident, graceful, and strong. The dance is sensual, but much of the sexiness is in the eye of the beholder…which, really, is the case with most aspects of sex appeal, isn’t it?

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About Jeana


Jeana Jorgensen, PhD recently completed her doctoral degree in folklore and gender studies at Indiana University. She studies fairy tales and other narratives, dance, body art, feminist theory, digital humanities, and gender identity.

  • Lionmml

    Belly dancing, like all dancing, is about life and self-expression. And sometimes you want to express “Dear God/Dess I just want to get laid tonight.”

    Sometimes all the audience can think is “Dear God/Dess I just want to get laid tonight.” This can, and often is coupled with “Dear God/Dess I just want to get laid tonight BY THAT BELLY DANCER!”

    In short, belly dancing is like life, filled with sensuality and eroticism on occasion just like everything else. :)

  • V-

    Belly dance and sexuality do go hand-in-hand, but not how most people think.

    I’m a semi-professional belly dancer, and when I dance in public it is not meant to stimulate arousal, or seduce anyone for sex… if there is a seduction, call it perhaps a seduction of charm. A light, friendly face, infectious smile, and perhaps just the glint of a flirt… that is belly dance. We are family entertainers!

    The process of learning how to belly dance, and learning about your body through belly dance, is absolutely sexual. You automatically feel like a goddess, so feminine and so absolutely beautiful. The more control you begin to command over your body, and the minute muscles involved in belly dance isolation it really lights a fire from within. You don’t suddenly desire to take up dancing on a pole, but your desire to jump on your significant other’s pole (whether flesh or otherwise ;) goes up considerably. Your partner’s desire for you also increases, especially once you’re comfortable enough to unveil your new moves. Behind closed doors, for your partner only, the dance does involve into a powerful tool for seduction, and foreplay.

    Belly dance is great for women, I think they ALL should try it!

  • Danelle

    I think one can say this about many forms of dance. Most dances have some form of sensuality about them, it is a means of a culture that both shames and praises women’s bodies, and exorcizes anything not directly from a western culture. This is why ballroom and say, square dancing are not considered to have sexual components.

    Even if you move away from the social dance aspect of belly dance, and look to more formal forms of dance, such as ballet, you see this dichotomy.

    In short, I think you are correct. I personally dance because I like to feel graceful and beautiful and sensual, not necessarily for the potential sex appeal to others.

  • Jeana Jorgensen

    That’s an excellent way of looking at belly dance–it, like other areas of life, can be sensual or erotic some of the time, or not.

  • Jeana Jorgensen

    I really like your point that culture has a way of valorizing expressive forms that conform to its values, whereas those other expressive forms (or dance genres, in this case) are thought of as overly erotic, or shameful, or excessive. Not to get too psychoanalytic here, but this corresponds rather neatly with Julia Kristeva’s concept of abjection: that culture reinforces its boundaries by marking everything outside those boundaries as abject, or horrifyingly dirty, wrong, impure, etc. It’s a basic process of Othering found in most cultures, to do with boundary-policing and values.

    Anyway, I am glad that you like to dance because you like how it makes you feel. I think that’s one of the best reasons to do it, because it’ll always make you happy regardless of context (whether or not you’re performing and so on).

  • Jeana Jorgensen

    You have a wonderful way of phrasing things, and as I’m also a belly dancer, I completely agree! I like your idea that belly dance is frequently sexual/sensual, but on a personal level more than anything else. I think the confusion of the personal and public sexual aspects of the dance is what’s really frustrating for us dancers–just because we like how the dance makes us feel as individuals doesn’t mean we want to project those same feelings onto every public performance!

    And yes, I’ve always thought of belly dance as family entertainment. My troupemate calls it “street dancing” — meant for everyone to watch and participate in while in the public sphere. If someone thinks it’s “inappropriate”, then the inappropriateness probably resides in that person’s mind alone!

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