Bellydancing Glossary

Bellydancing Glossary
Those new to the world of bellydancing may quickly get confused about some of the words & terms used in this genre. Below are some commonly used words & terms:

Beledi. (Pronounced "BELL uh dee".) Alternate spellings include Baladi, Beledy, and Balady. Most often, the word is used for a wonderful musical rhythm/beat.

Choli. (Pronounced "CHOH lee".) This is the bare-midriff, fitted blouse worn under saris by women in India and as part of some bellydancing costumes. You are more likely to see choli's worn by the American Tribal bellydancers.

Def. (Pronounced "def".) This is a Middle Eastern frame drum which looks like a large tambourine.

Dumbek. (Pronounced "DOOM bek".) This is the hourglass-shaped Arabic drum. May also be spelled Dumbec, Doumbek, Doumbec, or Darbuka. Traditionally, dumbeks are ceramic, with the head made of either goatskin or fish skin (more difficult to tune as well but sound beautiful!). Today, many dumbeks have synthetic heads (mylar), and the drum body may be made of metal. Many players prefer the metal bodies when traveling. They have a great sound & are alot easier to tune & replace the head should it get damaged or tear.

Hafla. (Pronounced "HAHF lah".) This basically refers to a party. Most hafla’s are belly dance festivals with vendors, food and several stage performances. Talk about FUN!

Mizmar. (Pronounced "MIZZ mar".) This musical instrument, which resembles a Zurna, produces a loud, blaring sound. It is a member of the oboe family of musical instruments. Sounds wonderful when played correctly ;-)

Ney. (Pronounced "nay".) Sometimes spelled Nay, this is a traditional instrument used in Turkish and Arabic folk music that resembles a flute both in appearance and sound.

Oud. (Pronounced "ood" as in "food") Sometimes spelled Ud. This is a musical instrument commonly used in Arabic, Turkish, and Armenian music. This stringed instrument is played/held like a guitar.

Rakkasah. This Arabic word means, "the female dancer". This is also the name of a very famous and popular annual belly dance festival that is held in California, in the month of March.

Raks. (Pronounced "rocks".) This is the Arabic word for "the act of dancing", and is sometimes spelled
Raqs. It usually appears combined with another word that defines what type of dance. Raks Al Asaya, for example, means "cane dance".

Raks Sharki. (Pronounced "rocks SHARK-ee".) Also sometimes spelled Raqs Sharqi. In Arabic, this means "dance of the East", and refers to cabaret-style belly dance as it is performed in nightclubs in Egypt, Lebanon, and other Arabic countries.

Sagat. (Pronouced "suh GOT".) This is the Arabic name for finger cymbals. Sometimes spelled Zagat.

Shimmy. A movement that resembles “shivering”. Usually isolated to the hips & shoulders. A very invigorating move to do....and impressive when sustained!

Taqsim. (Pronounced "tock SEEM".) You may also see it spelled Taksim, Taxsim, Taxim, or Takasim. It is an Arabic word which means "division", and refers to the section of music where a specific instrument is playing a solo. This is usually a rather slow & dramatic part of a dance.

Zaghareet. (Pronounced "zah guh REET".) The zaghareet is a high-pitched “yell”, making a distinct sound you will always recognize. Within the bellydancing community, it is an expression of approval for whatever the dancer/dancers are doing at the time.

Zills. (Pronounced "ZILLS".) Sometimes spelled Zils. This is the Turkish name for finger cymbals.

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