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Middle Eastern dance (aka belly dance) is an ancient and expressive form of movement, associated with feminine and community-based celebration and ritual. However, it is also thought of as erotic, seductive, and titillating. Despite stereotypes, belly dance appeals to contemporary women as leisure. This paper examines the intrigue with belly dance in the United States, specifically why women practice this dance form and what their involvement suggests about the gendered nature of leisure, and the need thereof, in women's lives. It also considers the possibility that belly dance may be a feminist form of leisure. Based on participant observation, journal narratives provided by dancers, and publically accessible online discussions, findings are examined along four themes: healing, sisterhood, spirituality, and empowerment.

Published Citation

Moe, Angela M. 2012. "Beyond the Belly: An Appraisal of Middle Eastern Dance (aka Belly Dance) as Leisure." Journal of Leisure Research, 44(2): 2013-33.