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  1. #11
    Senior Member walladah's Avatar
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    Default I like the debate this uninformed article sparked

    in both here and on FB.

    I like it more because it is one very good example of reverse orientalism we face everyday concerning the modern styles of bellydance.

    To my great amazement i realised that there are people in western-european or anglosaxon societies demand that all modern bellydance is their own inventions, let alone pros, costumes, etc.
    This discourse, which i consider colonial in its essence, is very interesting because it is very good in neglecting evidence on the clothing, jewellery, dancing, women's empowerment, etc that already existed in the East during several historical contexts?

    Now, the article takes the argument a step further, that all modern bellydance in US is american.

    It is funny, because even if we despise all ancient evidence f.ex. on dancing with veils, on movement reproduction on vases, sculptures etc, we can find parts of our art to exist quite longer than the USA. I do not say that in ancient times people were bellydancing like we do, because we do not know. But from the position of the bodies of the ancients dancing scenes we can see some things or positions that are common with ours. Let alone that some findings give sequence of movements, but we have not many archaeologists specialising in dance, let alone in bellydance. Same with art historians, almost no-one specialises in bellydance. Till this situation of ignorance for all of us is reversed, any fierce statement on what is american invention and what is middle eastern is out of the question.

    What i do say is that probably we miss sources. i found evidence, not orientalist paintings, but detailed description of bellydance with swords in early 19th cent. in greece, quite earlier than the commercial fairs. So who is she the one to tell me that this is an american invention?

    I think that the american dancers have contributed vastly to the dance and to make the dance respectable and deorientalise it in the western societies, but how did it came that this contribution dismisses the social context of the dance and all the people who still dance it without the mediation of the western culture? no mediterranean dancer doubts the US origin of ATS or Tribal Fusion, we love that those styles emerged in USA and actually express a western society. I also love that we dancers exchange styles, ideas and techniques taking from our communities and giving them to the world, but, wait, how would the writer feel if i dismissed all ATS contribution to modern bellydance as a non-american dance? how would she feel if i danced tribal fusion (i do) and tell everyone, "this is local, americans never gave anything to bellydance than what existed already"?

  2. #12
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    All societies have ill-informed individuals. I've heard as much nonsense about Americans as I've heard from Americans. One can attempt to educate the clueless or simply allow their blather to go in one ear and out the other. Alas, the end result is too often the same: nothing changes.

    Or am I too cynical?
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  3. #13
    Senior Member walladah's Avatar
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    Default Nothing changes! THe one who does not want to listen, will not!

    Can you imagine that i was listening tonight the show of a colleague at the second radio station i am assigned with a show too on mediterranean music (oh yes, i have a second one at a very popular radio station now!) and he was talking about greek makams telling "everything is greek, it comes from the ancient greece, forget about turkish makam names, those are relics of the ottman past, everything is greek only".

    I asked one of my mentors in the station whether i can open this discussion without mentioning my colleague in my own show, i.e. to discuss how music in the mediterranean is based on common makams, with differences of course depending on regions and historical contexts. And of course, even ancient greek people recognised that they took most of their makams from non-greek tribes.

    But i know that my colleague in his show will continue his "greek-only" propaganda and i will be speaking to people who, but listening to my show, are already educated enough to recognise common musical tradition.

    What can we do? i see my own culture are very embedded in the mediterrean and yes, we have also great western influeces as well. How can people believe that there is pure-borderlike culture? that's nonsense.

  4. #14
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Whenever someone play the "everything is <insert name of pet culture here> card" it reminds me of a sketch show from a few years ago where one of the regular characters would insist that everything was Indian. So it makes me smirk inwardly no matter how intellectual the reasoning.

    As for the "it's all Greek" thing...



  5. #15
    Senior Member walladah's Avatar
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    Default hahahaha! that was really funny!!!

    but it is not true that all those things are greek inventions.

    the video is tooooooo flattering to be true.

    Yesterday, i had a phone lecture by a very famous musician and philosopher who works on ancient music of the mediterranean and he explained to me in 2 hours where greeks took their music scales from.

    Actually, greek people have always been copying things. Yes, copy was very creative to the point that the originals have been forgotten. Sometimes, it was disastrous, f.ex. they copied interest-bearing debts without regular debt-emancipation (western europeans were meant to copy this deficient copy).

    There is a famous fairy tale among sufi philosophers, and also narrated by Mevlana Jalalleddin Rumi himself in Meshnevi. It shows that copying others is not an easy thing, let alone to copy and make the copy better than the original. I really laugh when people say that greeks never copied anything. Only those who cannot recognise beauty cannot copy

    http://www.mythfolklore.net/3043myth...i/pages/05.htm

  6. #16
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    "Good artists copy; great artists steal." (Usually attributed to Picasso.)
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  7. #17
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    My father was educated in Russian controlled eastern Europe and was very surprised when he came out to the West to discover Pythagoras was not a Russian!

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