Belly dance is a Western-coined name for a type of Middle Eastern dance. Originally a solo, improvised dance involving torso articulation, belly dance takes many different forms depending on the country and region; both in costume and dance style, and new styles have evolved in the West as its popularity has spread globally. Belly dance is primarily a torso-driven dance, with an emphasis on articulations of the hips. Unlike many Western dance forms, the focus of the dance is on relaxed, natural isolations of the torso muscles, rather than on movements of the limbs through space. Although some of these isolations appear superficially similar to the isolations used in jazz ballet, they are sometimes driven differently and have a different feeling or emphasis.
However, belly dancing is now considered a great exercise and is used for many health reasons. The graceful hip drops, rolls and pivots of this dance utilize muscle groups in the abdomen, pelvis, trunk, spine, and neck, working with the body instead of against it and also incorporating the mind as well as the body. It can help build strength in the upper body, arm and shoulders. Playing the zills trains fingers to work independently and builds strength. The legs and long muscles of the back are strengthened by hip movements. Belly dance moves are beneficial to the spine, as the full-body undulation moves lengthens (decompress) and strengthens the entire column of spinal and abdominal muscles in a gentle way.