Belly dancing is one of the oldest forms of dance, although it’s literal origins are unknown. One historian said belly dancing originated with the birth of women. French historians said that the name was first used in France, where it was called the “dance du venture,” the dance of the stomach.

The term “belly dance” was first coined in the States when a promoter labeled the dance at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. We do not see much of it up here in Washington, County, New York, so Maria and I were excited when a friend, Kitty Farnham, told us she was enjoying a belly dance at the Bennington Mason’s Auditorium in Bennington, Vt. last night for the benefit of Meals on Wheels, a non-profit organization that helps to feed the elderly and the poor.

We jumped at the chance, and were not sorry.

We had one of the warmest, most joyous and entertaining evenings in memory at the dance, which drew belly dancers from all over New England and New York.It was just a pleasure to see these woman – not just the stick figures we associate with dancing, but beautiful, ordinary looking women of different ages, all dressed in the traditional garb of the belly dancer.

The women were gorgeous, on many levels. Ordinary people rarely make into the American entertainment business. But these women knew how to entertain, and they gather in towns all over the Northeast to work hard with one another to keep this ancient art alive.

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