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Body shapes and sizes play a big role in the style and types of belly dancing a belly dancer can perform. Anyone of any size can belly dance, but some movements are better suited to different body types, the point of this page is to explain those body types and how they relate to the indivdual dancer and their style of dancing.

Body Shapes Edit

Body-Types

The basic body shapes

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Rectangle Edit

The bust and hips are basically the same size. The waist is slightly smaller than the bust and hips. This body type is the most common with 45% of American women having this shape. As the name suggests the body is shaped like a rectangle, This means that bust and hips can still be large but the waist is also large, so there are very little curves. This is usually associated with being fit or athletic. You can tell if you are this body shape if you have the traits below (please note this is not definite):

  • Your hips and bust are balanced
  • Your waist is not very defined
  • You probably have a bottom that is more flat than round
  • You tend to gain weight in your torso first and then your upper thighs and arms

In relation to belly dancing, this body shape is actually very common amongst professionals. It is great for belly dancing as the stomach will take up most of the torso in this body shape. This is defiantly one of the optimal types of belly dancing as almost no moves are off limits, except for, in some cases, movements involving the hips aren't as noticeable as with other body shapes. Some dancers who have this body type are:

Triangle Edit

The hips are larger than the bust, and the waist gradually slopes out to the hips. Generally this means that you have large hips and smaller waist and bust. Typical characteristics are:

  • Your hips are larger than your bust 
  • You have a nicely defined waist 
  • You have an elegant neck and proportionately slim arms and shoulders 
  • You first gain weight in your bottom and legs flowed by your tummy and upper body

This is one of the most sort after body shapes in belly dancing and also the most common after rectangular. This body shape really showcases the belly in belly dancing, making moves like rolls and flutters very effective in comparison to other body types. Having Large hips also allows dancers to use a lot of hip movements and the curvature of their bodies allows for isolations to be very effective. This likely the optimal body shape for a belly dancer, altho other body types can still be just as effective. Some dancers who have this body type are:

Hourglass Edit

The bust and hips are basically the same size and your waist is well defined. Typical characteristics of an Hourglass Body Shape are:

  • Your bust and hips are well balanced
  • you have a beautifully defined waist
  • Your have gently rounded shoulders that align nicely with your hips
  • Your waist is obvious and gracefully curves out to your hips
  • You most likely have a rounded bottom and beautiful side as well as front profile
  • Your upper body is proportionate in length to your legs which are shapely

The body shape most women dream of and yet it is not very common at all. In belly dancing there are very few that have this body shape, it is not very common for a belly dancer to have this shape. The wide hips and bust as well as thin waist make this body shape amazing for lifts, slides and shimmies, probably the best for these kinds of motion. However this body type is not as effective with actual belly work due to the small waist, but of course this is just a generalisation and that is mainly depended on belly type. Some dancers who have this body shape are:

Inverted Triangle Edit

The bust is large, the hips are narrow and the waist is not very well defined. Typical characteristics of an Inverted Triangle body shape are:

  • You have a proportionally larger upper body
  • You have broad shoulders, and ample bust and a wide back 
  • Your hips are slim and your bottom may have a tendency towards the flat side 
  • Your waist is subtle and you have a tendency to gain weight in your belly and upper body

This belly type is the most uncommon in belly dancing due to the relative lack of a major belly or hips. There are few advantages to this body type such as chest lifts but in general the belly work is not as effective.

Round Edit

This is actually broken down into two groups; The waist is larger than the bust and hips. The hips are narrow compared to the shoulders. Breasts are ample in size. And also The waist is larger than the bust and hips. The shoulders are narrow compared to the hips. Breasts are small to medium in size.

This body type is relatively common amongst belly dancers. Some examples of belly dancers are:

Belly Edit

Athletic Edit

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Athletic Belly

This type of belly has a lot of muscle definition. It is very firm and the abdominal muscles are very clearly defined (what is generally called a six pack). This belly type is not very common amongst belly dancers due to its firmness which restricts the motion of the belly.

Example: Viktoria

Flat Edit

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Flat Belly

As the name suggest the belly is flat from the side and has little to no muscular definition. This belly type is accompanied by smooth, tight skin (altho looser than an athletic belly). This belly is generally associated with being healthy to underweight in some cases. This belly is good for belly dancing as it allows dancers to have a lot of motion in the belly, without compromising the hips and waist. Hence many belly dancers have this belly.

Example:

Toned Edit

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Toned Belly

This belly type is pretty similar to a flat belly, except there is more muscular definition and hence the belly sticks out a little. There is still little to no fat associated with this belly. Many belly dancers share this belly as it is very good for belly motions as the muscle work can be clearly seen but is not overdone by excess muscle, allowing a more fluid motion

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Average Belly

Example:

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Average Edit

This type of belly has a slightly higher fat content and hence it sticks out a little from the side, there is a little bit of a bulge. However this belly type is firm and has tight skin, allowing for a very smooth skin that makes the belly look extremely attractive. This is also relatively common amounts belly dancers and is in the middle ground, so any type of belly moves can be done with this type of belly.

Example:

Loose Edit

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Loose Belly

This belly type is the same as average but with a very slight increase in belly fat. However a loose belly has this fat distributed very evenly and hence has a flat appearance while resting but is very loose and very fluid while dancing. This fluidity makes moves like belly rolls, flutters and shimmies appear much more amazing, as the belly tends to jiggle a lot but can still be controlled to be firm and flat at times, with that said it has become the optimal belly type for belly dancing. This belly type is not as common as the rest but is still fairly common amongst professional dancers.

Example:

Chubby (round) Edit

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Chubby Belly

This belly type has a quite high fat content and hence sticks out a lot, forming what is called a muffin top. This type of belly actually has 2 forms, 1st it is very loose and baggy, and very fluid. 2nd is that it can be very smooth and plump but still fluid enough. Historically this would have been the optimal standard for belly dancing in places like the middle east and Egypt. It is still a very good belly to have and makes shimmies look amazing but at the same time takes away from belly rolls and such. Many dancers still share this type of belly.

Example

Bust Edit

Belly dancing can be done at any bust size, it is mostly dependant on belly and hips and waist, but can still be done by anyone. Bust size will largely not effect a dancers ability to dance but it does have a few effects on the types of moves they can perform.

A small bust (A cup to small B cup) will be perfect for demonstrating the belly as the small bust has less to focus on. This makes rolls, shimmies, hip lifts, snake arms and anything around the belly really stand out. The small bust means that moves such as chest lifts and slides can still be done with great effect but are less effective than in some of the larger sizes, however this is not always the case, such an example is Alex Delora.

A medium bust (large B cup to C cup) is perfect for demonstrating movements with the entire body (assuming relative waist and hip sizes). The bust size is small enough to not be too distracting during belly work but large enough to perform perfect chest lifts and slide, this bust size also opens up the possibility for moves requiring the entire body such as figure 8's.

A large bust (D+ cup) will be perfect for chest work. Chest lifts and slides become almost mesmerising with a large bust, however in a lot of cases this bust sizes does take away from the belly and hip work of the body, hence it is not as common to have a very bust belly dancers. However there are acceptations and it can work perfectly if the hips and belly are also proportionate to the bust, a great example is Shahrzad Raqs who has perfect balance of these features.

It should be noted that bust size can be apparently different during a performance due to the design of the bra in the costume.

Hips Edit

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The hip shapes of belly dancers