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  1. #1
    Member Ahava_Melantha's Avatar
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    Default BD origins in India

    I keep on hearing that bd history has origins in India. I don't see it. At all. they say because of a traditional pose that looks similar to a move done in chiftetelli that bd must of come from India.

    1. I don't see how all eastern dances can have one origin

    2. I have seen some traditional indian dancing and I still don't see it

    can anyone explain this to me. enlighten me. whenever I ask for further proof people act like i can't see that 1 + 1=2 or they become quiet.

    I would deeply appreciate the help.

  2. #2
    Moderator Farasha Hanem's Avatar
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    Hi, Ahava. I'm not exactly sure where some bellydance "experts" get that, other than Bollywood dance has a few hip-driven articulations, but not that many. It's been pointed out in past threads that Asian dances have more hand articulations, while Middle Eastern/North African dances are more hip-driven (and of course, Egypt is in North Africa ). You are exactly right in being able to distinguish the differences.

    For whatever reason, some people want to tie India to Middle Eastern dance, where no such connection exists. It's only wishtory on their part. Those who teach this have not done their homework, and refuse to give up their personal notions. Maybe someone else here can better elaborate on why some are so determined to believe that bellydance has any ties to India (and absolutely NO disrespect here on my part against India. I love that country and its dances, too---I just don't try to fit a square peg into a round hole).

    Although I can't explain why some are set on believing what they do, I have read some of their "theories." One author of a book I own states that in the 5th century A.D., the Romany from India travelled through Turkey and Persia, then on to Egypt and North Africa, and from those places, spread bellydance everywhere they travelled. No disrespect to the Romany, but, yeah, no. -_- The author cites no resources for what she wrote, just stating, "many people agree."

    While many cultures share similar articulations in dance, each culture puts its own spin on these movements that are peculiar to their country. Just because two or more cultures share a similar movement vocabulary doesn't mean they ran over to each other and said, "Heeeeeey! Lookie what WE can do, let's ALL do it!"

    Aaaaaaaand with that, I think I'll get off my iPad and get some sleep, I think I'm losing where I was going with this and am beginning to not make sense to myself! @____@
    Last edited by Farasha Hanem; 04-29-2014 at 07:25 AM.

  3. #3
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    India is seen as "high culture". Many people doing the hippy trail went to India. India has neat drugs. Indians (as a generalization) are attractive looking. India women are visible - and lightly dressed. Indian religions are looked up to. Britain had a long association with India with mutual respect with the ruling classes, and appropriate subservience with the lower classes (unlike Egypt where the upperclass preferred the French and the lower classes just hated the British).

    The Middle East is full of Arabs, Jews and Turks. All of whom we have been at war with for centuries (some European countries still celebrate the overthrow of the Turks). People from the Middle East are mostly Muslims - which is not cool. MEers don't look as pretty as Indians. They keep their women away from well meaning Europeans that only wanted to paint them and have sex with them. Their music is all out of tune which proves how primitive they are.

    Add to that a shocking ignorance of history and a romancisation of "Gypsies" (not helped by fantasies like Latch Drom) and you have a perfect storm. We like belly dance so it must have come from a place we admire - India - and have nothing to do with dirty Arabs. Simple.

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    Member Roshanna's Avatar
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    Totally agree with Kashmir and Farasha. I've never seen any convincing evidence of any important Indian connection. But I got into a bit of an online bustup with another dancer a little while ago when I cited "bellydance is from India" as an example of a common misconception about bellydance. She was utterly adamant that bellydance was brought to Egypt from India by the Roma, and said she had read books that supported this :-/

    I think Kashmir is right that people (especially British people, perhaps) like the *idea* of India as somewhere that they know a little more about than they do about the Middle East, that's a bit familiar and is seen as more spiritual and more glamorous (bollywood! yoga! tasty curry!). All very orientalist, but in a different way than people are orientalist about Egypt. India is seen as an ancient wise civilisation full of pretty shiny things, whilst the ME is seen as barbaric and backwards, and in the case of Egypt as having fallen from former ancient glory (which I'd guess is why people are also so keen on pharaonic origin myths).

  5. #5
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    You aren't seeing it because it isn't there.

    Interesting commentary on the subject.
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  6. #6
    Member Ahava_Melantha's Avatar
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    thank you all for the insight.

    its pretty interesting that Roma are used as evidence. Seeing how as one of the movements they use is sort of taboo or pushing the envelope in Egypt lol

    I love Romani and Domari dancing. I love Rajasthani dancing. and they are not the only gypsies, there are others who say that they are NOT Romani, but most of them just all grouped as Romany by ignorant people.

    but I don't think they spread it around. And I agree about wishstory. I see it a lot as many people hate hearing that belly dance might be arab or African. Oh boy.

  7. #7
    Moderator Amulya's Avatar
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    Will read the other posts later. The only 'roots' I could think of is where 'gypsies' (sorry for the word, I don't mean Roma, but all the different 'gypsy' people who originated from India, there are many) bringing dance with them from India and influenced local dances. I can see some similarities in Indian 'gypsy' dances but they are just a few.
    There was an exellent show years ago by the Dutch dance theatre which showed all the various 'gypsy' dances from over Asia, Middle East and Europe, there was also a folkloric 'belly dance' style included from Egypt, but sadly it was clearly choreographed by Suraya Hilal (or a follower of her style) so it was a bit incorrect. I have the show on DVD and watched it often because it really showed all the connections between different dance forms. Very interesting. If you come across it, it's worth buying.

  8. #8
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amulya View Post
    Will read the other posts later. The only 'roots' I could think of is where 'gypsies' (sorry for the word, I don't mean Roma, but all the different 'gypsy' people who originated from India, there are many) bringing dance with them from India and influenced local dances. I can see some similarities in Indian 'gypsy' dances but they are just a few.
    Except normal cultural flow is from high status to low - not vice versa. If you look at most Roma style dances what is really striking is how they have more in common with the local folk/socialdance than Roma from other areas. For instance - have you seen Hungarian Roma dance? Does it look anything like Roma dance from Turkey? from Germany? from France? from Spain?
    Quote Originally Posted by Amulya View Post
    There was an exellent show years ago by the Dutch dance theatre which showed all the various 'gypsy' dances from over Asia, Middle East and Europe, there was also a folkloric 'belly dance' style included from Egypt, but sadly it was clearly choreographed by Suraya Hilal (or a follower of her style) so it was a bit incorrect. I have the show on DVD and watched it often because it really showed all the connections between different dance forms. Very interesting. If you come across it, it's worth buying.
    Okay - so you recognized that the Egyptian was wishtory. What makes you think the 'gypsy' dance wasn't also made up to fit a pre-conceived worldview? I remember an exchange I had some years ago with a 'folk' dance company that was doing 'Egyptian' dance. None of of it was even vaguely Egyptian other than the costuming was vaguely Reda-esque. Basically the 'respected' choreographer (who wasn't even Egyptian - or Hilal trained) decided any hip work was vulgar so included none in any of their work!

  9. #9
    Moderator Amulya's Avatar
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    Because it was so clearly Suraya Hilal style

    The Dutch Dance Theatre is known to research their stuff really well, they don't want to come up with nonsense fantasy stuff. Yes there were dances that were completely different, they did include the countries you mentioned and more. All I say is that there were a few similarities here and there, but not that they are all the same.

  10. #10
    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    So far as I've seen in my own observations, the India origin theory seems to have three dominant sources:

    1. The 1993 movie Latcho Drom was misinterpreted by people who saw it. In this misinterpretation, people thought it was a documentary of how the Roma carried their dances from India to everywhere they went. But, that's the wrong way to interpret what the movie shows. I NEVER heard the India-as-origin theory for belly dance until after Latcho Drom was released. Now, it's possible the theory was out there somewhere, but I never heard it. However, after Latcho Drom, I heard the Roma-brought-belly-dancing-west-from-India theory a lot, probably because of the brief Egypt scene. Never mind that the music/dance in the Egypt scene bore NO resemblance to that appearing in the other scenes.

    2. A dancer named Meira did some research into the history of belly dance back in the 1990's, and for reasons that are not clear to me, wrote a long, extended segment on the history of the Gypsies. You can see the 1998 version of it here: https://web.archive.org/web/19990202.../BDhist2c.html She did not actually claim that the Roma carried belly dance to the Middle East from India, but the presence of this detailed information about the Roma in an article that was otherwise about belly dance history led many people to draw unfortunate conclusions. She was in the SCA at the time, so her work was published and widely read by SCAdians. Also, she was one of the first dancers to publish "history of belly dance" info on the web, which also caused her article to be widely read.

    3. FatChance embraced & popularized the notion of the Romany connection. I'm not sure where they got the belief, maybe from both #1 & #2 above? Advocating a Central Asian connection is useful in justifying a costuming aesthetic that involves cholis, multi-tiered skirts, fringed hip shawls, Afghani jewelry, and textiles from India.

    Anyway, most of the people I hear advocating the India-as-origin theory are typically repeating variations on one of the above theories.

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