Calling it "hot Arab dance" without seeing the history and traditions behind it does a disservice to both the dance and the culture it came from. Middle Eastern dance is a vibrant, living artistic practice that deserves respect and appreciation from audiences all over the world. The origins of the dance are not sexual at all. There is a perception, reinforced in movies and TV in the West, that Middle Eastern dance has a sexual and lewd purpose, designed to titillate and arouse the male viewer. While it is good to appreciate Middle Eastern dance, it is also important not to project cultural attitudes and stereotypes onto it. Whether you call it "belly dance", "hot Arab dance", or the more appropriate "Middle Eastern dance," women and men have been shaking and swirling their hips for centuries. Just because a dance involves gyrating hips does not mean it is sexual, and the intent of most dancers is to enjoy the movement and create a thing of beauty. Of these two types, it is the raqs sharqi that is considered to be a hot Arab dance because the stereotype is that it will be danced by a woman wearing next to nothing, gyrating her hips in a way that is designed to drive men wild with desire. The fact is that Middle Eastern dance has a very complex and meaningful movement vocabulary, and to dance it well requires years of intensely-focused training in muscle control and rhythm patterns.
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