Belly dance, also known as Middle Eastern dance, is a dance form that originated in the Middle East and North Africa. Its history can be traced back to ancient times, with evidence of belly dance being depicted in Egyptian tomb paintings dating back to 3000 BCE.

Belly dance has evolved over time and has been influenced by various cultures and regions. In the Ottoman Empire, belly dance was performed in harems and public places by both professional dancers and women of the royal court. The dance was also performed by the Romani people as they traveled throughout Europe.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, belly dance gained popularity in the Western world as part of the exoticism associated with the Orient. However, this led to misconceptions and stereotypes about the dance and its practitioners.

Belly dance experienced a revival in the mid-20th century, with dancers such as Tahia Carioca and Samia Gamal popularizing the dance form in Egypt. In the United States, dancers such as Morocco and Jamila Salimpour helped to popularize belly dance and develop its various styles.

Today, belly dance is a popular dance form practiced and performed in many countries around the world, with a range of styles and interpretations that reflect its diverse cultural roots. While it has faced criticism and controversy over its depiction in popular culture and media, many practitioners and enthusiasts celebrate belly dance as a form of artistic expression, celebration of femininity, and connection to cultural heritage.