As with any oral tradition, theories abound...

Goddess worship was thought to be at it's height in Ancient Egypt. For this reason, some dancers believe that working within gravity and barefoot paid homage to the Goddess. They also feel this practice exalted the female principles and the regeneration of life.

Presently, it is also thought by some dancers that connecting with the Goddess within affirms their female identity, strengthens their relationships with other women, and renews a sense of grace, power, and sensuality. Used as a sacred dance, some women have allowed themselves to reach depths of their psyche that have previously been repressed.

The Dance has been instrumental in allowing many women to connect the physical and emotional aspects of their being.

Another theory uses many of the wall paintings, artifacts, and hieroglyphics of the Pyramids as a point of reference. A great deal of the art depicts movements familiar to dancers of every style, pointing to the importance of dance in daily Egyptian life as a means of community.

Various schools of thought subscribe to the notion that women in the Harem performed a dance of seduction to garner the favour of the Sultan.

History has shown that only at very rare opportunities did the women see the Sultan. Meeting were generally arranged through an intermediary, usually the mother of the Sultan or his first wife.

As is the practice today, women danced in the Harem sharing a feeling of community with each other. They also used the movements to help prepare for childbirth.

Current practices in "natural" childbirth borrow many of its techniques from Raqs al Sharqi.

Ancient women celebrated the creation of new life through sharing the birthing experience.

Undulations, isolations, breathing exercises, concentrated thought, and the use of gravity are ancient childbirth procedures which have found their way back to the modern delivery room.

Post natal women find the gentle exercise of Middle Eastern Dance aids in restoring tone to the abdomen and strength to the pelvic floor muscles.

In addition to placing the decision making powers back in the hands of women, ancient techniques have once again restored childbirth to an experience to be share with those we love.

Novice dancers often look for references to Salome and The Dance of the Seven Veils.

Although an interesting myth, Salome and her dance were inventions of the incomparable Irish playwright Oscar Wilde. Originally written in French, Salome: A Tragedy in One Act, was stopped by censors during rehearsal due to the use of biblical characters in "inappropriate" settings. Despite the censors, the play was published in 1893. An English translation complimented with the lyrical illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley was published in 1894.

Subsequently, Richard Strauss continued the theme with his one act opera Salome produced in 1905 and first performed in Dresden. The Dance of The Seven Veils and Salome's song of triumph has been performed as a contained piece.

In 1876 French Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau used the fable as the inspiration for his painting Salome.

Veil work is not a traditional part of Raqs al Sharqi. Influenced by Hollywood, Egyptian nightclub owner and entrepreneur, Badia Masabni introduced colourful floating veils during the 1930's. Also established at this time were the two-piece beaded and coined bra and hip belt sets. Worn over diaphanous skirts, this image is synonymous with the Raqs al Sharqi.