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  1. #1
    V.I.P. Greek Bonfire's Avatar
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    Default Sibling Rivalry: Bellydance and Burlesque

    Here we go again. Personally, I would like to ask this dancer what in the world is she thinking and please stop putting these two topics in the same category.
    http://pincurlmag.com/sibling-rivalr...-and-burlesque

  2. #2
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    She's actually right though. She qualified the discussion as pertaining to bellydance as it evolved in the US and burlesque as it evolved in the US.

    Bellydance & Burlesque are both different 'over there' although the 'over there' in question is different for both - the UK/Western Europe for Burly & Egypt/Middle East for bellydance.

    I know that we want to distance ourselves from the raunch in burly, but we can't do that by ignoring history - which is pretty much the entire point of her article. Better I think to focus on the middle eastern traditions in bellydance than to pretend that we don't have some shared history with burly. Sure there would be bellydance without burly, and vice versa, but one has definitely influenced the other in the US.

    I'm saving the article for future reference, so thanks for posting it.
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    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    But what I don't get about the concept of tracking US belly dance back to Sol Bloom / Little Egypt, getting its skirts grubby trailing around in the burlesque tent and then reemerging tadaaah as American Art Form (and sister to now oh so cool burlesque) is that it seems to play down any ME input twice over.

    First, OK it is hard to tell what if anything early imitators owed to the original World's Fair dancers, so maybe this is fair enough, there could have been scores of Little Egypts making up their own art form right there. But what about dancers later on working in immigrant communities and trying to be more ME-facing rather than making it up in their own image? What about now when Egyptian star teachers travel the world including the US? If bellydance in the US is an American art form, WTH are the likes of Tito and Randa teaching? A subgenre?


    I know how to square it in my head - if I hear "bellydance" from those of a Tribal/ fusion persuasion that means The Umbrella encompassing the whole shebang. If I think it in terms of haflas and events here it covers a lot of mishmashery too. Neither are the same as bellydance the thing I am really interested in. Using the same word for a whole bunch of different things is going to keep confusing people forever.

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    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    I think she's talking about the AmCab tradition, not Egyptian style though. Therein lies the difference.

    I'm not terribly well versed on burly yet so I can't realistically discuss that side but so far all the literature I've read says that the US style of burly sprung from little egypt, the same way that amcab evolved from there - albeit amcab had more imput from middle eastern immigrants whereas us style burly (from what I've read so far) appears to have evolved more from vaudeville than from the uk tradition.
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    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    I have not a problem in the world with burlesque or anyone who wants to perform burlesque; I readily recognize it as a legitimate art form that is recently enjoying increased popularity. I do have a problem with belly dance and burlesque being linked in any size, form, or description beyond saying that both involve moving to music.

    The costumes are different, the music is different, the movement vocabulary is different and perhaps most important of all the intent is different. Middle eastern dance is a physical manifestation of emotional response to middle eastern music. Burlesque is a theatrical dance that deliberately appeals to prurient interest.

    AmCab springs not from Little Egypt and the Chicago World's Fair but from the mid-twentieth century arrival of middle eastern dancers in this country, first in New York and later in the San Francisco Bay area. It is a recognizable style of belly dance characterized by middle eastern music, costume, and movement vocabulary and has about as much in common with burlesque as it does ballet or western swing.

    Sibling rivalry? Horse apples. Burlesque needs to make its own way in the world without trying to ride to respectability on the skirt tails of belly dance by claiming a common origin.
    Last edited by Shanazel; 06-19-2014 at 04:44 AM. Reason: to tone down her original response to the self-serving article in question
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    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    AmCab springs not from Little Egypt and the Chicago World's Fair but from the mid-twentieth century arrival of middle eastern dancers in this country, first in New York and later in the San Francisco Bay area. It is a recognizable style of belly dance characterized by middle eastern music, costume, and movement vocabulary and has about as much in common with burlesque as it does ballet or western swing.
    That's what I was getting at (badly). Whatever the Little Egypts were up to in the name of belly dance - who knows? - I thought that American style belly dance, including Tribal, has its roots in the ME via immigrant communities and dancers. And at that stage burlesque is more a relation by marriage than a sister. Little Egypt may be the ancestress of the image of BD in the US, but as the ancestress of US BD itself, the actual dance? Not so sure.

    I know the article was not about Egyptian style, but by not specifying what bit of US bellydance it's about, dancers who are at all ME focused (even AmCab is ME-facing IMO, as Shanazel pointed out) are kind of nudged out of the picture when in reality they are at the core of it, far more than anyone channelling Little Egypt.

  7. #7
    Moderator Amulya's Avatar
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    "Bellydance, as it is known here in America, is in fact an American art form"

    That's a direct quote. I'm sure not all belly dance in America is only Am cab. (I assume she is referring to that and ATS/ITS/Tribal Fusion?) plenty of people do Egytian, Turkish, Lebanese styles, folkloric styles.

  8. #8
    V.I.P. Greek Bonfire's Avatar
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    I think it's more her opinion. Little Egypt and Nina Nightshade were/are both "bellydancers" and burlesque dancers but that does not make them related. I also am a Polynesian dancer but that is not considered related to burlesque. Just because both dance forms were performed under one tent does not make them related. They sell apples and oranges in the same food bazaar but they are not the same or even related. Any backup she used to justify this thinking did not convince me; in fact, I would say CanCan and burlesque are more closely related. And AmCab? Please, I've seen an awful lot of "amcab" here in the USA that looks much, much more authentic in terms of Middle Eastern dancing than even remotely resembling burlesque.

  9. #9
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    The fact that bump & grind was developed from bellydance moves (this is from my research, okay) is why she is saying they are related. If Burlesque isn't related then neither is tribal. You can't have one but not the other just because one is more "wholesome" than the other.
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  10. #10
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    The sexual source of bump and grind movements is obvious; no one needs a vocabulary of belly dance movement to execute those actions.

    Even so, wholesomeness has nothing to do with the lack of relationship between belly dance and burlesque or that between belly dance and tribal style. I don't regard ATS as belly dance but I do acknowledge the influence of belly dance on ATS whereas I do not agree that belly dance is a primary or even secondary source of burlesque.

    Burlesque's trajectory began nearly a century before the cabaret style of belly dance developed in the middle east and over a century before the first American belly dancer shimmied her way across the floor of a middle eastern restaurant. It started out as quasi-acceptable theatrical parody in early Victorian England and rapidly spread to the US complete with scantily clad ladies and raunchy humor. It was generally considered a lower form of entertainment than vaudeville and eventually evolved (or deteriorated, depending on one's point of view) into hoochie kooch and stripping by the middle of the twentieth century. The current renaissance of burlesque is based largely on romantic nostalgia; if one truly is interested in the realities of life as a twentieth century burlesque dancer I suggest reading a few memoires and biographies. The image of a young and victimized Gypsy Rose Lee awaiting a cab with her mother post performance, shivering in the cold in her high heels and a blanket wrapped around her nearly naked body, is one that has stayed with me.

    ATS style was advertised as belly dance in order to capitalize on the popularity of the latter in the second half of the twentieth century and perhaps to give credence to a new style of dance. Jamila Samilpour fused folk dances of the Middle East, northern Africa, India, and Moorish Spain, with her own fertile imagination and taught the results to other people. Several of her students branched out to teach their own forms of the style; Carolena Nerriccio formalized and cataloged movements that eventually resulted in AMT style. No, I don't consider the style belly dance (wrong costuming, music, and vocabulary) but I do think some elements of belly dance were utilized in creating the style.

    That pedantic enough for everyone?
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