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W hether at hip, ambient club events, in evening classes, at gyms and sports halls, or at Middle Eastern restaurants, belly-dancing is experiencing a revival in Tokyo. It is tempting to dismiss this as an oriental cliche: either a titillating amusement for bored suburban housewives, or an exotic divertissement of sheiks.

Though belly-dancing’s reputation is built on images of seduction, it is an art form whose history goes back at least to the time of Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.). Its roots lie in the fertility rituals of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, with the undulating belly said to resemble a woman giving birth.

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