Belly Dancer

"The philosopher's soul dwells within his head, the poet's soul dwells within his heart, the singer's soul dwells about his throat, but the soul of the dancer abides in all her body."
Khalil Gibran, The Wanderer

Typically, a woman who wears a midriff-revealing outfit and a lot of jewelry. She moves her hips and stomach in a way that can mesmerize onlookers. Occasionally, men belly dance too, but this is less common and may be Played for Laughs or Fan Disservice.

Often occurs in Middle Eastern settings. Serious performers of the sophisticated genuine article began to refer to it as "Middle Eastern Dance" in the 1980s. Strictly speaking, what Westerners think of as belly dancing is the Arabic raqs sharqi style. Some historians believe it was a way of exercising the muscles of the pelvis and abdominal area for women who were pregnant or had menstruation problems; or that it was part of a religious ceremony. Nowadays it's more for entertainment purposes, although it can be utilized as a form of exercise too.

Note that the revealing outfits are purely an invention and misconception made by people who don't know anything about belly dancing; female dancers of the original raqs sharqi style dressed more conservatively.

If a character dresses like a belly dancer, but is not actually one, she is a Bedlah Babe.

Please place only particularly notable real-life examples in the Real Life section.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Card Games 
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! game, there's an old Ritual Monster named Performance of Sword, who not only dresses like a belly dancer, but appears to be one. (The required Ritual Spell Card is called Commencement Dance, and also features a dancer dressed like this.)

    Comic Books 
  • Plaster of Paris from The Spirit.
  • In one issue of the Power Man And Iron Fist series, the cover advertised "dancing girls" in a plotline set in the Middle East. The dancing girls in question were Power Man and Iron Fist.
  • From Tell it to the Marines issue #4 from 1952.
  • Jommeke: Annemieke and Rozemieke perform as belly dancers in one of their albums where they are undercover in the Middle East.
  • De Kiekeboes: Fanny is forced to perform a belly dance in De Fez van Fes.

    Fan Fiction 

    Film - Animated 
  • Genie conjures some up in Aladdin.
  • One of the Pink Elephants from Dumbo actually transforms from a snake into a bellydancer and into an eyeball.
  • An elegant animation of a belly dancer is in the late-70s British film, Gulliver's Travels starring Richard Harris. The sequence with the bellydancer is a bit misplaced in the culture of Lilliput but well choreographed, drawn and executed. The funny thing is that although this is a children's animation feature, the dancer is bare-breasted!
  • The Chipettes dress like this in The Chipmunk Adventure. The Chipettes get dressed up like this. Not to mention that they also bare their midriffs.

  • Every. Egyptian. Movie. Ever. And most other Arabic-language ones too, come to think of it. A belly dance and dancer are to Arabic film what The Item Number and Item Girl are to Bollywood.
  • A rare male example in the film Alexander; Bagoas, the Persian dancer who performs for Alex at one of the big banquets. (He was real, and so was that hot & steamy make-out session he has with Alex later in the film.)
    • A more traditional female example was Roxana's dance.
  • There was a six-breasted alien in Jabba's palace who appeared to be a bellydancer in Return of the Jedi. In Tales from Jabba's Palace, we learn that she is actually 'fat dancer', a kind of performance that the Hutts prefer. She was selected for his performance because her species have fat cells that work like a sponge, allowing her to appear much, much fatter by absorbing water. This ability, plus the fake warts she is forced to wear, allow her to look like Jabba's mom.
    • Moving right along, Jabba's also got some more traditional examples in the human and twi'lek dancers. Although he seems to prefer feeding them to giant monsters.
    • Slave Leia anyone?
  • Used as part of a disguise/infiltration ploy in the first Charlie's Angels film.
  • The Flight Of The Phoenix (1965) (the 1965 version) has a scene where a character dying of thirst hallucinates a belly dancer in the desert. It's all very trippy.
  • Several in the James Bond films:
    • From Russia with Love: There's one under the opening credits and another in a dance scene at a gypsy camp.
    • Octopussy
    • The Man with the Golden Gun: She was the lover of one of the villain's former victims, and after he died, started wearing the golden bullet used to kill him in her navel when she performed. Bond needed the bullet as evidence and... Well, suffice to say, getting it from her wasn't easy.
    • Also in Casino Royale (1967) which was, err... a movie with James Bond in it.
  • Anisa Guzman is even credited as such in Wham Bam Thank You Spaceman
  • If a Sinbad movie does not feature one of these, be very surprised.
  • In Charlie Wilson's War the congressman's girlfriend does a belly dance for some Egyptian bigwigs, one of whom comments that it doesn't resemble any belly dance he's ever seen (there are some definite pole-dancing moves).
    • Truth in Television: Egypt is one of the major traditional centers of belly dancing (see above), so the minister knew what he was talking about. Though the real woman also had a sword that made the bodyguards very nervous.
    • The actress that played the belly dancer is Tracy Phillips, the daughter of the coach of the Dallas Cowboys, providing another tie between real-world Texas and the movie.
  • In Batman: The Movie (the based on the tv show one from the 1960s), a belly dancer rises out a suspicious package and does the "dance of the seven veils" to distract several soldiers while she gasses them.
  • The sexiness is subverted in Where the Spies Are (1965), where the amateur spy played by David Niven watches a belly dance while listening to his veteran agent partner grumble about how he's met "more randy girls back in England than in the mysterious bloody East." Niven does get involved with the belly dancer though, who also turns out to be a spy.
  • Parodied hilariously in Wild Wild West, after Kevin Kline has been captured by the big bad, Will Smith shows up to rescue him, dressed as a belly dancer. It's hilarious. Especially when his pasties turn out to be flame throwers.
  • The leading female in Slumdog Millionaire wears a very beautiful midriff-baring outfit, complete with big amounts of jewellery while she's about to be rented for the first time (the dance was part of the advertisement) when the lead finds her again after being separated from her.
  • Cannonball Run 2. Scariest belly dancers ever.
  • The "Can You Dig It?" sequence in The Monkees' film Head takes place in a harem full of belly dancers.
  • In The Secret of the Grain (original title La Graine et le Mulet) by Abdellatif Kechiche, the stepdaughter of an Arab restaurant owner, upon finding that the main course can't be served on time at the opening night, begins an improvised belly dance that has the entire audience transfixed. It provides the movie with its climax.
  • In the Tunesian movie Satin Rouge, widowed Hiam Abbass lands in a cabaret (a raunchy, male only cafe featuring belly dancers) when she wants to confront her teenage daughters lover, who works there as a musician. She ends up dancing herself.
  • One of the shadow puppets from Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
  • Rhonda Flemming in the movie Little Egypt.
  • Adrienne Canterna in Life with Mikey.
  • In The Son of the Sheik, this is Yasmin's job with her traveling vaudeville troupe. Unbeknownst to her, the rest of the troupe has a profitable side business in kidnapping and robbery.

  • In the Discworld novel Jingo Nobby Nobbs is forced to dress up as one. He is not allowed to dance, though. It was subsequently impliednote  that he enjoyed the experience more than he'd expected to and took up crossdressing afterwards.
  • Transito Soto, the Hooker with a Heart of Gold from The House of the Spirits, once dresses up as one as she speaks to Esteban about her and her friend's brothel. It lets her show off a snake-shaped tattoo around her belly button.
  • Merrill Joan Gerber's YA novel Also Known as Sadzia the Belly Dancer.

    Live Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: Belly dancers appear in Miss Brooks' Middle East themed dream in the episode "King and Brooks".
  • A weird reclusive artist crashes on Gilligan's Island and offends Ginger by asking if he can paint her while she's dressed as a "belly Dancer." Turns out he actually asked her to dress as a Bali dancer; that is, a dancer in a Balinese dress.
  • The dancer in the opening titles of Hawaii Five-O.
  • Fran and Grace in The Nanny disguise themselves as belly dancers in one episode when they think they're being held prisoner by the sultan of Kooristan, the father of one of Grace's friends, who also happens to have a harem of real belly dancers. Surprisingly, that episode was funny.
  • The Star Trek episode "Wolf in the Fold" has a belly dancer INSPACE.
    • And let's not forget the very first appearance of a Green-Skinned Space Babe in the pilot episode "The Cage".
    • Belly dancing is pretty much the Hat of Orion females.
  • Stephen Fry, on his Stephen Fry in America series, encountered a belly dancer, who also happened to be a member of the Salvation Army (four words Silent Hunter never thought he'd put in the same sentence). She pointed out that she takes tips, but not in Victoria's Secret Compartment.
    • Incidentally, the series also featured a "Mormon Missionary calendar". Yes...
  • Michael Palin's New Europe, of course, featured it when he went to Turkey. Palin had a go himself...
  • On an episode of the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids TV series, Diane takes belly dancing lessons with friend Eileen and then must perform at her recital in full regalia.
  • The Dark Star club on Babylon 5 had a lot of these.
  • The Batman series from the 60s had these on two occasions.
    • Marcia, Queen of Diamonds (played by Carolyn Jones) would wear the outfit on occasion.
    • The episode guest starring Liberace featured a trio of female henchmen who on one occasion wore the outfit.
  • Spy shows on TV featured these a lot. Go figure.
    • Diana Rigg squeezed into one during an episode of The Avengers
    • Get Smart featured a doomed agent named Tamara doing the dance ("There's no Tamara, Chief")
    • More recently, Sarah Walker of Chuck did this to seduce her fiancé into eloping with her. Since Chuck was about to seduce her too, Hilarity Ensues.
  • Megan McCormick attended a belly dancing class in Beirut in Globe Trekker.
  • On an episode of Parks and Recreation Leslie livens up her boring dinner party by inviting teachers from the Pawnee community center to demonstrate their skills, including a caricaturist, a fencing instructor and a belly dancer.
  • The fitness TV show Shimmy features a lot of this.
  • Belly dancers with miniature bombs in their navels feature in whatever episode it is/was of The Six Million Dollar Man.
  • Kelly Garrett disguises herself as one in a Charlie's Angels episode, "Angels on Ice (Part II)'', and another one is featured in another episode called "Angel in Hiding"
  • One dancer is in a Married... with Children episode, "Live Nude Peg''.
  • One is also known as 'Flame Dancer' in a So Weird episode, "Carnival".
  • One is named 'Fatima' in a Growing Pains episode, "Jason Sings the Blues".
  • One of these, a girl named Natasha, shows up in 1000 Ways to Die. Predictably, she ends up as the victim: while practising for a competition she carelessly throws her scarf up in the air, it gets caught in the ceiling fan, and you know where this goes...
  • Firefly: In "Train Job", a bellydancer at a pub-bar surreptitiously slips Mal the contact details for a new caper as she dances by his table.
  • One seen in an episode of Pugwall called "The Local Show".
  • In an episode of That's So Raven called "Psychic Eye for the Sloppy Guy".
  • In an episode called "Aptitude" from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
  • Barbara Eden in an episode of Rawhide called "Incident at Confidence Creek".
  • An episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway? had attractive twin belly dancers with snakes. The comedians kept alternating between humor and terror throughout the whole scene. Especially when one of the snakes tried to get very personal with Wayne Brady.
  • In one episode of the 1980s Casablanca TV series, the Girl of the Week is an ex-ballerina performing as a belly dancer at the Blue Parrot as cover for her work with La Résistance. Belly dancers are seen in the background in other episodes, as well.

  • The late R&B princess Aaliyah often incorporated various dance moves borrowed from raqs sharqi (especially "figure 8's" and "hip/belly rolls") into her choreography. The most clear examples can be seen in her last video filmed just before her death, 'Rock the Boat'.
  • Turkey often has these in the Eurovision Song Contest. For some reason, they usually end up with a lot of points.
  • It's all right, it's all right, ALL RIGHT! She moves in Mysterious Ways!
    • She makes a reappearance in the video for "Mofo". She is very pregnant, which is strangely in keeping with the historian beliefs mentioned above.
      • The belly dancer in question is actually The Edge's wife. Lucky bastard.
  • Shakira, the world's most famous Colombian, is one-quarter Lebanese and incorporates Lebanese cultural elements into her videos. See "Ojos Asi" and "Hips Don't Lie" for the most blatant examples.
  • Natasha Atlas reset the song Whatever Lola Wants as Middle Eastern pop, and the video is about what you'd expect. I think it used clips from an indie movie.
  • "Stop, Stop, Stop" by The Hollies is about a man who is so obsessed by a belly dancer that he grabs her in the middle of her performance.
  • Hilary Duff plays a belly-dancer in her video for Stranger.
  • Referenced in Akon's song "Belly Dancer."
  • Three of these ladies (one of them being a Wholesome Crossdresser) appear in the video for Los Tres's "He Barrido el Sol"


  • Neddie Seagoon visits Arabia in one of the episodes of The Goon Show. At some point, he is treated to an exotic dance of the "seven army surplus blankets", which strip off to reveal that the belly dancer in question is actually Eccles.


    Video Games 

  • Gwynn wears one of these in this Sluggy Freelance strip, in a fiendish attempt to kill Doctor Schlock. He would have died happy, at least.

     Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In 6Teen the small video store that Wyatt and Jude work at for awhile almost goes out of business because of a store called Taj Ma-homeVideo, whose cashiers dress in belly dancer costumes and sing Bollywood musical numbers about the store.
  • One is featured as a cameo in an Animaniacs episode, "Plane Pals".
  • Nikki belly dancing in a Beverly Hills Teens episode, "Splitting Image".
    • Another belly-dancer is in an episode called "Greens with Envy".
  • "Bosko in Bagdad" has frogs as belly-dancers.
    • A Bosko and Honey cartoon called "Circus Daze" features a belly-dancer in the sideshow at the beginning.
  • Harem cats are featured in "Catnip Capers", and reused in Gandy Goose's "Somewhere in Egypt" and Heckle and Jeckle's "King Tut's Tomb".
  • One shown in a Dexter's Laboratory episode called "Sister's Got a Brand New Bag".
    • Another shown close to the end of "D & DD", another episode.
  • In a Donald Duck cartoon, "The Autograph Hound", three silhouettes of belly dancers are behind a curtain, who then turn out to be the Ritz Brothers
    • Daisy Duck is featured in a penny arcade called "Dance of the Seven Veils" in a Donald Duck cartoon called "Good Time for a Dime".
  • Ghastly does it in an episode of Evil Con Carne called "Ultimate Evil".
  • Flip the Frog dressed up as a harem belly-dancer in "Movie Mad", and another Flip the Frog cartoon which is called "Circus" had a belly-dancer at the beginning.
  • One is featured in an MGM cartoon, "Good Little Monkeys."
  • One dancer is featured in a Hong Kong Phooey episode called "The Little Crook that Wasn't There".
  • Clarabelle Cow in a House of Mouse episode called "Ladies' Night".
  • A bunch of belly dancers can be seen in the Inspector Gadget episode "Arabian Nights".
  • One episode of James Bond Jr. has Tracy and Phoebe dressed up as belly dancers but they also happen to hate it.
  • An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had Lucius having several Nightmare Sequences involving being one for Jimmy as a result of an You Owe Me storyline.
  • Koko the Clown sees one through a keyhole in the Koko the Clown cartoon called "Harem Scarem".
  • Mickey Mouse dresses up as one in "The Opry House".
  • A harem belly-dancing girl mouse is featured in the Mighty Mouse cartoon, "Sultan's Birthday".
    • Another cartoon called "Law and Order" had one shown.
  • In the Muppet Babies episode "Gonzo's Video Show", Piggy briefly appeared as a belly dancer but doesn't do any dancing.
  • In an episode of Oggy and the Cockroaches called "3 Wishes and You're Out", three are shown in it.
  • One is shown on a poster at the carnival in a Pluto cartoon, "Bone Trouble"
  • A Porky Pig cartoon called "Wholly Smoke" features one during the song about smoking.
  • In the Sabrina: The Animated Series episode called "Boogie Shoes", one is called Salome, and she is shown as one of the judges, but doesn't dance at all.
  • A belly dancer appears in the Samurai Jack episode "Jack and the Warrior Woman".
  • Scooby-Doo
    • Velma and Daphne disguise themselves as belly dancers in the What's New, Scooby-Doo? episode, "Mummy Scares Best".
    • Velma dresses up as a belly dancer for a costume party in the movie Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy!
    • In one episode of the original Scooby-Doo series, Velma and Daphne Dress up as belly dancers, but it's a bit weirder than you'd expect, especially if you regularly watch the show.
    • In an episode of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo called "When You Witch Upon a Star", Scooby, Shaggy, Daphne, and Scrappy dressed themselves up as harem girls.
    • In an episode of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated called "Grasp of the Gnome", one is shown at the beginning.
    • Aliyah-Din transformed from princess to belly dancer while entering to the 'Prince' (Haman in disguise), and then turning back to princess in Scooby-Doo in Arabian Nights.
  • One shown in an episode of Shazzan called "A Thousand & One Tricks".
  • Sheherazade dances in episode 49 of the TV show, Princess Shéhérazade.
    • You may find it in here and/or in here
  • Wonder Woman belly dancing in a Super Friends episode, "Rub Three Times for Disaster", as a ploy by the heroes to distract their enemies while they make a go at retrieving the magic lamp.
  • In one episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987, the turtles enter a alternate universe where Shredder rules the world. In this universe, April and Irma are slaves to Bebop and Rocksteady where they dressed as belly dancers.
  • In The Archie Show episode "Veronica's Veil", Veronica disguises herself as a belly dancer due to Archie and Reggie paying more attention to Betty.
  • Marty Sherman in one episode of The Critic.
  • Princess Kashmir (real name: Shauna Tifton) on The Simpsons dressed as a belly dancer for a bachelor party on the season one episode, "Homer's Night Out" and has often appeared in her belly dancer garb in other episodes (such as the Couch Gag for "Marge vs. The Monorail" in which The Simpsons are joined by three rows of recurring characters). Originally, Princess Kashmir was going to be a stripper who dressed like a belly dancer, but the Fox censors at the time objected.
    • Some dancers are in Homer's dream in the episode, "Skinner's Sense of Snow''.
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Hero Hampton", Babs dressed up as one (known as Mata Harey).
  • In Total Drama Island, Izzy's special talent is belly dancing. It was so hypnotizing it made Owen fall in love with her.
  • One dancer is featured in the 2 Stupid Dogs episode, "Jerk".
  • Sincerity from What About Mimi appears as one in the episode "Teacher of the Year".
  • In a Willie Whopper cartoon called "Insultin' the Sultan", Willie's girlfriend is sold to the Sultan (by mistake) as a belly dancer.
  • Princess Salami from a Woody Woodpecker cartoon called "Socko in Morocco".
    • A belly-dancer is shown close to the end of the Woody Woodpecker cartoon called "Roamin' Roman" which reveals to be the lion in drag.

    Real Life 
  • Modern Egypt is the home of modern belly-dancing, producing the following famous names in the art:
  • We really need to note that what the West knows as belly dancing is something of an artificial construction. As noted above, it's generally raqs sharqi (Oriental Dance), which is a more sexualized version of the traditional dance of the Arab world, developed for the entertainment of wealthy men, and thus only practiced by women. However, the traditional dance of several countries is similar; this is particularly true of the Egyptian raqs balady ("native/local dance"), which is practiced by both men and women and shares many moves with the other thing. So in other words, if you ever see a guy on the dancefloor who looks like he's bellydancing: (1) well, he is, but (2) he's probably just Egyptian.
  • In Turkey, it is not uncommon for a slender, veiled dancer to perform a belly dance on the more sensual end of the scale, and then unveil to reveal that it was a male dancer, to the consternation (and in some cases probably delight) of the spectators. Obviously, the regular version exists there as well.
  • Western dancers blended raqs sharqi (often called "cabaret" in the West) with hip-hop and ballet to create "tribal fusion" bellydance, as demonstrated by Edenia Archuleta.
  • We now have Steam Punk belly dancers! I say...
  • Alla Kushnir, a Ukrainian belly dancer who has competed in World Championships. Her performance at Ukraine's Got Talent can be found here.
  • Shakira, Shakira!
  • Japanese pin-up girl Fumina Suzuki.
  • Unlike strippers or burlesque dancers, many professional belly dancers are hired to perform in the presence of mixed audiences (men, women and children). It is not uncommon to see belly dancers, male or female, performing at weddings, baby showers, or even retirement parties. Children will often learn to belly dance at a young age as well.
  • Bellydance Evolution, an LA-based dance company that puts on massive productions complete with storylines and world tours, including auditioning and using local dancers in each country they tour.