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More Belly Than Dance?

Updated: Jan 6, 2022

"Can I ever get good at belly dancing if I've never had ballet?  I mean...we all know that ballet is the foundation of all dance, right?"
Belly dancer in hip scarf with ballet pointe shoes.
Is ballet really the foundation of ALL dance?

Well, let's Google it. Here's a screen shot of what comes up in my search.

Screen shot of Google search IS BALLET THE FOUNDATION OF ALL DANCE?
29 MILLION results for googling ballet as the foundation of all dance!

There are over 29 MILLION results on Google for ballet being the foundation of all dance.

Really?  ALL dance genres?  Hmmm...seems to me, that is a statement based on shaky ground.  With respect to the accomplishments and opinions of the authors of these findings, as my friend, Steve, says, "Authoritative, but WRONG."

Yes, I realize I do not have an accredited college degree in any form of dance (just a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and two decades of dancing), so I may be ruffling the feathers of academicians, but bear with me.  I think I can shed some light, and even open new possibilities for us dancers, whether we be experienced or beginners.

These are the common themes that I think are the most "legit" reasons for claiming ballet to be the foundation of all dance:

  1. It is highly codified*, and therefore has a well-developed methodology for teaching and measuring success.  (*Codified is a hotsy-totsy term meaning that they got their "act" together and everyone calls moves by the same names and learns and practices in an organized and effective manner.)

  2. Because of No. 1 (above), ballet standards are high which leads to competition, and ultimately, amazing technique and skills.

  3. Because of No. 2 (above), ballet training has the potential to teach ANY DANCER rigorous training habits and self-discipline.

Is Ballet the Foundation or the Bottom Line?

The opinions about ballet being the foundation of all dance is NOT a fact, and arguably it is NOT an UNbiased opinion, either.  Generally, the authors seem as passionate about ballet as I am about belly dance (btw, I love all dance, and yes, I mean all ).

Further, ballet is massively popular in Western culture with the dance academy industry in the billions of dollars.  Thinking from a business perspective...if you can convince your little tap and jazz dancers that they need ballet, too...well, that could help the bottom line of the studio, couldn't it?...just sayin'...

Line up of little girl ballet dancers stretching on the floor.
Arguably, millions of little girls study ballet every year.

But wait, there's more!  (But you knew that, because you know me, right?)

On a historical basis, ballet is relatively new to the human scene.  It's only been around for about half a millenium and has always pretty much been a formal type of dance, most often performed on a stage.  Whereas the roots of belly dance are millenia older than that and have roots as a social dance.  So, then, how could ballet be a building block of belly dance?

It's simple.  Ballet is NOT the foundation of belly dance.

However...I think we can learn A LOT from the genre of ballet. Here's how:

Number 1:  If we adopt the perseverence towards perfection in technique...WOW!  Ooooh la la.  What we can do...!

Number 2:  If we continuously strive to improve and collaborate on the the codifying of steps and moves—without losing the beauty of individual styles—wow, again!  I feel like the potential for our beloved dance form is infinite.

Which is exactly how I study it myself and teach (check out our tutorials here).  In fact, it was very early on in my own study of belly dance that I saw the potential for taking this art form to a much higher level than what I had seen.  I could see that if belly dance were studied and practiced with the tremendous discipline of ballet, that the dance as an artform could be phenomenal.

Belly dancer Jensuya in asymmetrical balanced belly dance pose.
Even more important than technique in belly dance is evoking the emotion of the music.

We can gain much in our beloved art form if we adopt the discipline of ballet practice.   More dance for our belly. Who's with me?

Read this blog post comparing ballet with belly dance and specifically how ballet can actually hurt your belly dance...and how it can help.

To see all our ONLINE COURSES, click on the image or click here:

© Jennifer Carpenter-Peak & Robert Peak 2020


O. G. Lauer
O. G. Lauer
Aug 30, 2020

I love your question. Belly dance or ballet? I see you dancing to the rhythm of your soul which encourages others to do likewise. Here's a question for you, if you were stricken with a debilitating disease and confined to a wheel chair or bed, your soul would still desire to dance in your dreams, so what would you recommend -- belly dancing or ballet dancing? My answer: Belly Dancing! That's your calling! That's what you inspire. That's who you are. Such a perfect, beautiful role model for anyone who aspires to dance. You rock it big time, cousin!

Mar 24, 2023
Replying to

Yes, Gary, you are right! In fact, at one of our restaurant shows recently, there was a woman who was in a wheelchair who said she couldn't belly dance because of that. I showed her how to dance with her arms—snake arms! Belly dance is about "being" the music...I think we can do that from "where we are" whether we have a lot of mobility or very little. 💕


Robert Peak Design
Robert Peak Design
Aug 30, 2020

Every little girl seems to aspire to be in or watch the Nutcracker Ballet. That one ballet seems to have set the hook over a hundred years ago and serves to influence much of the West. The funny thing is that the Nutcracker also has six other international dances in it, one of which is the Arabian dance, or belly dance. I wonder how well the Arabian dance is done in the Nutcracker Ballets of the world. In a lot of ways, I am glad that belly dance has not become an aristocratic dance, like ballet is. Ballet has beauty in its forms, but lacks the human emotion that belly dance evoke's. Nice post, Jensuya and you really g…

Mar 24, 2023
Replying to

Shokrun. 💕 Thank you, Drummer Bob. ❤️

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