Where in the World is Raqs Sharqi: Costuming

Our raqs archivist will be sharing thoughts and conversations about how we approach raqs sharqi or bellydance in the commercial and cultural world. Our first installment is here with a short overview of costuming.

Raqs Sharqi or Bellydance is known around the world. With deep roots and origins in Africa, The Middle East (The Fertile Crescent to be specific). Raqs has gone through a myriad of western influence and changes but the root is still there in its place of origin. Some dancers mention authenticity when performing and promote that as the main reason some shows are better than others. Given that the dance is so diverse, authenticity is subjective. We like to pay homage to the roots of the work and look to design costumes that showcase what you would see in the regions of origin.


Due to global travel and limited access to the insides of the homes of the local people, imagination rose from the mystery of what was really going on behind the veil so to speak. The idea of a harem is an orientalist fantasy meaning that it is derived from fantasy and the day dreams of travelers unable to see what was really going on in the homes. This image has travelled the globe and harem pants (pantaloons) are a common garment used to identify bellydancers. While our goal is to focus on the roots, origins and dances of the actual people of the region (for some of us, it’s our own ancestors and relatives because our team is global and diverse) we do still sell these fun costumes which work best as classwear and are great for those just starting out. They allow a dancer the range of movement needed plus the opportunity to see what parts of the body are actually being used to create the movements. These pantaloons are accompanied by coined hip scarves as well. There’s nothing wrong with wearing these types of clothes to represent bellydance. It’s just essential to let your audience know that it is a fantasy vs. the actual culture from the region.


Harem Pants for Bellydance

Wear It Well

No matter what you choose to wear in this art, it’s great to give your audience a bit of education so they can understand what you are presenting. It helps viewers understand and engage with your presentation. Let us know what part of the art of raqs you’re presenting. Our team is well versed in various styles to be able to provide guidance to help you move forward in your cultural dance and commercial performance career.