'Come, sit next to me,' says Grandmother. 'Take this chalk in your hand. Now draw a dot and concentrate all your energy into this one dot. It is the beginning and the end, the navel of the world.' A young Arab girl tells her story as she is initiated into womanhood, telling at the same time a history of the dance that is known to us as 'bellydancing'. Far from the slightly risque, 'nightclub' image this kind of dancing has been given in the west, to women in the Arab culture the dance holds a significance that underlies their wellbeing and their sense of womanhood. The girl, now the author Fawzia Al-Rawi, fascinated by her own experience of the dance, has studied its earliest beginnings, through the days of the Pharaohs and the Roman Empire, and into the Arab world of the last three centuries. This book is her revelation of the effects of the dance's movements on both the body of the dancer and the whole psyche. It is also a practical guide for those who are inspired to put down the book and try the movements.
The author describes variations of the dance as it is performed for grieving and mourning, and to aid pregnancy and birth, conveying the spirit of these age-old rituals, and their possibilities for healing and empowering women today.