Mediterranean-dance (including Belly Dancing) mailing list
Belly Dancing: Sensual, erotic and an inseparable feature of Turkish tradition for centuries
Belly Dancing sensual or sexual?
>Though I have always seen it promoted as an art form in this country,
>according to my acquaintances from various middle-eastern countries,
>in its native lands belly dance is the eastern equivalent of strip-tease.
Your acquaintances are incorrect. The dance was originally performed with many layers of colorful clothing, belted at the waist. No skin showed. The dancers bounced layers of skirts by tilting their pelvises violently.
During the 1950's, belly dancing was declared illegal in Egypt. After a popular uprising ensued, the government repealed the ban with one condition -- that dancers no longer show their stomachs. (That law still remains in effect.) Even though they could not show their stomach, the dancer had such charisma and strength that the audience was compelled to silence by the lift of their arms and the movements of their body by the dancer's union with the drumbeats. Today many Middle Eastern countries forbid women to perform the dance. There is a general fear of the tremendous power in the hands of women when they performed this dance."
In the U.S. In 1893, the promoter of an Egyptian music and dance group at the Chicago World's Fair became concerned because nobody was interested in seeing the dancing show. It occurred to the promoter to rename the performers "Bellydancers". Thus renamed, the dance created a controversy that became a media sensation. Lines gathered around the block, eager to witness the outrageous act of Bellydancing by "Little Egypt".
>Therefore they tell me, just like strip-tease, this is something a woman
>does in private, not in public performance -- unless she is getting
>well-paid or has exhibitionistic tendencies. (Or has a scheme she is
>cooking up: A veiled (sorry) reference to Salome.)
In the U.S., women are becoming involved in this very ancient dance, Bellydancing, as a way of celebrating woman's femininity, as it helps women gain confidence in their bodies. Bellydance exercises are also used in natural childbirth classes, and a recent survey done by Mideastern Dancer Magazine reports that women who bellydanced delivered their first child with shorter periods of labor.
Bellydancing is great for the lower back and spine, acts as an aid to exercise as the sweat and gentle nature of the hip movements help one to stay fit. Women who bellydance are having a lot of fun and feel young at heart!
>Though women are happy to do something special for their significant
>other, in this day and age when all our calendars are so full of work
>and children and relatives and friends and job retraining and god
>only knows what else, taking 8 or ten or more weeks of classes to
>turn on one's man might be simply too much commitment.
I don't know of anyone that learned the dance as a means to turn on their significant other. I would bet that their motives for learning Middle Eastern Dancing are not much different than those for one who wants to learn WCS, Hustle, . . . . . The difference is that once you get good at it, rather than dance with your "significant other" or other male partner, you dance alone or with other women and occasionally in front of an audience.
This file is part of the FAQ list for the newsgroup rec.arts.dance. The FAQ list is being maintained by Victor Eijkhout (victor at eijkhout dot net, talk about vanity), who appreciates being sent additions or corrections on the material in this collection. Copyright 1994-2000 lies with the maintainer and the contributors of various parts.
Listen up: Victor did not write most of this stuff; he just collected it. So don't send him any dance questions.
You may link to this page and make copies for private use in any form, but reproduction in any means, including book or CDROM, is not allowed without permission from the copyright holder. When linking, the page may not be displayed in a frame: use the full window, or open a new one.
It goes without saying that the maintainer of this FAQ takes no responsibility for any inaccuracies in the information presented here or for any use or abuse of this information. The maintainer is neither a doctor nor a lawyer.
Last modified on: 2000, Tuesday December 12.