In these essays, dancers and scholars from around the world carefully consider the transformation of an improvised folk form from North Africa and the Middle East into a popular global dance practice. They explore the differences between the solo improvisational forms of North Africa and the Middle East, often referred to as raqs sharki, which are part of family celebrations, and the numerous globalized versions of this dance form, belly dance, derived from the movement vocabulary of North Africa and the Middle East but with a variety of performance styles distinct from its site of origin. Local versions of belly dance have grown and changed along with the role that dance plays in the community. The global evolution of belly dance is an inspiring example of the interplay of imagination, the internet and the social forces of local communities.
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