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  1. #1
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Very crisp and snappy.

    Oh, guys, I am trying very hard, but it has not been easy for me to get my mind around the idea of men as belly dancers. I can appreciate the skill, I can appreciate the desire to dance, I would never ever say to a male, YOU CAN'T DO THAT, but I still watch and find myself thinking, this is just so odd... I'm sorry. I'm working on it, but it does seem to be a very stubborn prejudice that is apparently limited to belly dance. I have no problem with dancers of either gender in any other style I can think of. Give me time. Tell me why you love it. Keep showing me video clips. Be patient with me. For what it is worth, I know what it is like to face gender bias, and I am sympathetic even while I am thinking, this is so odd...
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    Very crisp and snappy.

    Oh, guys, I am trying very hard, but it has not been easy for me to get my mind around the idea of men as belly dancers. I can appreciate the skill, I can appreciate the desire to dance, I would never ever say to a male, YOU CAN'T DO THAT, but I still watch and find myself thinking, this is just so odd... I'm sorry. I'm working on it, but it does seem to be a very stubborn prejudice that is apparently limited to belly dance. I have no problem with dancers of either gender in any other style I can think of. Give me time. Tell me why you love it. Keep showing me video clips. Be patient with me. For what it is worth, I know what it is like to face gender bias, and I am sympathetic even while I am thinking, this is so odd...
    Interesting Shanazel.
    Maybe it's all the hip work that's not connected with obvious machismo culture (such as Latin dance).
    What do I love about men dancing? Same thing as I love about women, honestly. Expression of the music and themselves, sharing of emotion etc.

  3. #3
    V.I.P. Moon's Avatar
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    I can understand what you're saying, Shanazel. I also think it's great that men can also bellydance, but still I don't like it very much when watching clips. Not really because of the movements, but more because of the costumes. Why do so many male dancers wear those belly-showing shirts? Is it obliged??
    I would like it more to see them wearing longer shirts, or no shirts at all

  4. #4
    Senior Member Mouse's Avatar
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    I have to admit, I used to find it a little strange, but since my son has started to dance I see things from a new perspective. Together we have done a lot of researching through the net and I have come to really enjoy watching the mens dances and appreciate them in their own right. I especially enjoy the ones that dance in a very masculine way, but have certainly developed an appreciation for all the male dancers regardless of their style.

    The clip in the current discussion is no exception. That backbend is awesome - I wish I could do that!

  5. #5
    Moderator Zorba's Avatar
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    Shanazel -

    Thank you for having the courage of admitting your prejudice and your willingness to try to overcome it. Although I personally have had VERY little prejudice, there are some who have had to overcome a LOT - esp. in the UK apparently.

    My WebSite is full of my ravings about male dancers and where I feel we should fit in. To it I refer the curious.

    I will only make two points here:

    I dance because I, like any other human being, like to feel beautiful, exotic and all that (The concept of masculine beauty has been largely forgotten in today's world). Its lots of fun and I get to play dress up. Sound familiar? Hey! Guys are human too.

    For Moon's comment re: costumes. Costuming is a highly personal issue - especially for males in this dance form. I wear various belly revealing outfits - why wouldn't I? I'm a Belly Dancer and want to look like one. The whole two peice costume is a result of British colonialism anyway, so the "authenticity card" can't be employed here. Besides, it *is* designed to show off the dancer's body to the best possible advantage - regardless of gender.

    I *DO* *NOT* like male Belly Dancers in shirts or other covered costumes. This assumes they are doing Belly Dance, not traditional male folkloric dances. If they're doing Belly Dance, I want to see some skin and I want to be able to see what they're doing! Shirts et al are boring.

    Bare chested? Not my cuppa, but I don't have a problem with it. A male wanting to dance bare chested needs to avoid the BDSM look - "X" chains and the like. Some kind of top helps frame the torso and shows off isolations better than totally bare.

    Dem's me thoughts...

  6. #6
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zorba View Post

    I dance because I, like any other human being, like to feel beautiful, exotic and all that (The concept of masculine beauty has been largely forgotten in today's world). Its lots of fun and I get to play dress up. Sound familiar? Hey! Guys are human too.
    Yay!!! Go Zorba!

  7. #7
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    Beware - long and personal

    Shanazel,
    Great post and thread first of all. I commend you for stepping up and actually asking and researching instead of just turn your back and be hostile as many others do. I personally have been lucky not to experience too much of this - maybe 5 times through the 22 years I have been dancing. *knock wood*

    My reply to your post is based on my personal experience as an Egyptian technique and style dancer and reflects nothing upon other male dancers. It is merely my personal views and standards that *I* hold myself up against.

    I dance because I love the concept of movement. The concept of movements in MED charmed me at 10 and I actually started taking lessons at 18. It all started out as an intent to use these lessons as a motivation booster for my Indian dances as I was getting a bit....bored with them. My teacher put me on stage - I had no intent of performing actually, but after she put me on stage and people started asking where they could see me next time and if I taught - I all of a sudden felt an obligation to continue. Not to mention that I felt it would be disrespectful towards my teacher(s) not to keep it up after the generosity and patience they had showered me with while teaching me.

    So, why I dance? I love dance. I have spent all my life dancing and MEDs are some of the styles that have gotten to me and I have fallen in love with. At the time and point in life, development and career I am at now - it is natural for me to perform and display what I do and love, but it is also a tool. A tool to promote the artforms that are so close to my heart - and to motivate others to start/keep at it. My goal is to show all my instructors, contributors and supporters that I honour their investment in me and further their legacy through teaching and giving the knowledge they have given me to others. Today I am performing and teaching. In August I will start a Diploma Program furthering the knowledge so many have given me. Next year I may create teachers to assist me with this. The year after I might sit back and handle the administrative part while I let others step up and assist me with the practical part of furthering and uphighing the dance forms.

    I see a natural development as a dancer. You take your first lesson, you do your first performance, you become a dancer, you teach your first class, you give your first workshop, you become an instructor, you give your knowledge to others and keep on educating yourself at the same time - providing your students with continous flow of knowledge.

    Why I love the dance? Well, at first it was because I enjoyed it and it was a break from boredom with Bhangra and Bollywood. Then I loved the attention...until I realized the responsibility that was put upon my shoulders (not to ashame my instructors and supporters). Now I love the dance because of the fulfilling feeling it gives me - because of the relationship we have developed over time - because of the triumph I see in my students' eyes when they get a move right or realize something new or different about the dance - because of the fact that these dance forms have enabled me to give something to others that will fill their lives with the same kind of fulfilling feeling the dance gives me. And not to forget, I love the fact that my relationship with the dance never ends and keeps on developing into new dimentions every day, every week, every month, every season, every year.

    As a male dancer it is important to not immerse yourself and fall in love with the fact that you are a novelty, but rather push yourself to work past the novelty act and being the oddity. Work towards becoming a good dancer in general, not just a good male dancer - and not just a male dancer. A dancer's goal is to achieve the highest quality of execution and performance no matter what your gender is. Unfortunately, many male dancers get stuck at being the novelty and the clown act rather than work their shimmies off to continously improve themselves. Luckily, I see a slight trend of change on this subject. More and more male dancers are pushing themselves to reach their highest ability level possible. I bow to thee and applause thee for that! Thank you so much.

    I regard myself as a humble student of my instructors living up to the responsibility the put upon me when teaching me to further the knowledge and inspiration they gave me. I regard myself as a provider of knowledge and inspiration for my students. And if willing - I will put the same responsibility upon them as my instructors put upon me to further the beauty of these art forms and uphighing them.

    My life goal is not to perform forever, my life goal is to share my dance in any capacity possible. So far - thanks to the great support I have received all over the world, I have been able to share my passion and love for the dance on many stages, videos, discussion forums, at events, festivals, etc. I couldnt have done it without support from everyone out there though. However, tomorrow I might be sharing my passion and love for the dance in a different venue as an instructor and coach. I will not be bitter as long as I still am enabled to share the dance with people. The day I can not share the dance with people myself any longer, I will not be bitter as long as I see the dance being furthered through other performers, instructors and so forth.

    I think it is important to realize the responsibility we all have to this dance and choose what arena we want to enter.

    Now, why I dance the way I do....my main supporters are women. My main students are women. My main audience members are women. I would consider myself an insult towards the dances I practice if I was presenting anything less than a professional female dancer should. There is no excuse for a male dancer to hide behind their gender and be insufficient - and be supported for it. Yes, any effort should be supported. But no dancer should let this *limit* them from bettering themselves and eventually, in their own pace and spirit, reach a level where as they are presenting the best material they possibly can. In order to prove myself worthy of my instructors' time, worthy of the tremendous support from colleagues/friends/family/sponsors out there - I pride myself upon working as hard as I can to dance just as good as any woman out there. No, correction - I pride myself upon working as hard as I can to dance just as good as any dancer out there. Movement has no gender - and neither has dance - it is the person presenting and the expression/stylization of what is presented that gives the movements and the dance a gender. I choose to convince my venues that I can adapt a female expression as well as a masculine expression. It takes a lot of effort for a man to adapt a female expression well - and I like to challenge myself. One day, I might have enough representatives of my female expression through my students, proteges, instructors and what not - that I may withdraw myself from that expression and confine myself to a masculine expression. But until then, I am the only sample of both of my expressions available - so I'd better be displaying both so my audience can be convinced that I master my work - to some extent at least.

    As for costuming - I myself would have no problem dancing in just boxerbriefs even. I am proud of my body, I have great legs and my muscle work would be MUCH more visible if I did dance in boxerbriefs only. However, there are certain things that are subject to cultural limitations and connotations - such as nipples triggering a sexual connotation or having a bulge on the front of your pants doing the same. In lack of better constructed costumes that enhance the movements we men, just like women, intend to execute when performing - we guys end up with all kinds of costumes. Some more successful than others. It is essential to show midriff if you are executing a lot of ab work. You may cover up if you are doing more of a folklore piece. Another factor is - that more tightly fitted leg wear will make technical necessary movements visible in unflattering ways, and since dance is a visual art form displaying esthetic and pleasing visuals for the eyes - we guys tend to go a bit wider in our legwear. Heck, some even wear skirts to hide the hideously looking jiggle that appears at times - or wierd leg positions that happen when doing certain movements.

    My costuming is directly based off of Disney's Aladdin and a hybrid of an Orientalist fantasy....be it in the western world or the eastern world. Lately, my designs tend to be more about preference, fashion, colors, trends and exciting new stuff than being the typical "too short harem pants and a cut tshirt" look.

    I as a male dancer do not ask you as an audience member to be all jolly good about male dancers or me. however, I do ask that you look at the technical, visual, esthetical and style specific presentation - and if it pleases you, appreciate my dedicated and honest efforts to uphigh the dance alongside my female colleagues. There is always areas that can be bettered and worked on no matter what level you are on - but consider the level, experience, reputation, marketing and presentation of the dancer and "judge" accordingly.

    I hope this post will shed some light upon this subject, if not according to all male dancers - at least according to me.

    DaVid
    Last edited by DaVidofScandinavia; 07-21-2006 at 07:33 PM.

  8. #8
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    Ohhh, adding: I sometimes get requests from people to dance "more like a man"... however, I am a man - whatever I do is dancing like a man in the respect that I am a man by gender. My personal opinion is that expressions can, should and have to be diverse - otherwise it would be very boring to do what we do, which is dance. Also, one of the most aknowledged dance styles is Ballet and men are respected and acclaimed for their performances within this style - but if we're pulling the macho card... how macho is it to run around on toe in skin tight stretch lycra while jumping up and down on the floor with a huge pouch on the front of your pants with white makeup on your face? My opinion is "dance is about the concept of movement. A well executed, articulated and performed movement and well presented expression is what I look for - not the gender of the person doing it". I get just as sad when I see bad dancing by men as I get when I see bad dancing by women (all relevant to the factors I mentioned above).

    Im currently fixing some new clips for my website - however, they will not be longer than 1 minute each due to copyrights etc. But, it will be an updated taste of what I do these days
    Last edited by DaVidofScandinavia; 07-21-2006 at 07:40 PM.

  9. #9
    V.I.P. Moon's Avatar
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    Please don't understand me wrong,
    I didn't say that I think men schouldn't wear belly-showing shirts, I just said I don't like them

    Just like, in "real life" I don't like golf shirts on men or those horrible shoes with pointed toes on women

  10. #10
    Junior Member Selkie's Avatar
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    I enjoy watching male dancers of any dance genre, but I am particularly enjoying the male belly dancers. Women's dance can get a bit 'same old same-old' after a while, but the men are often fighting the perception that this is women's dance only. They fight the idea that these movements are only for women, men aren't supposed to shake their booties or twist their spines. So they work out for themselves what it means for them to dance, and the result is a rich variety of dancing styles. Some men dance in a fluid, "feminine" way, while others dance in a 'stiffer' fashion. Yet others make a dance that is difficult to describe, its difference is difficult to pin down in words, but is nevertheless distinct. Each dancer owns his dance in a way that a lot of the women dancers I've seen don't seem to.

    But when I watch a dance, any dance, its not the gender that I'm first drawn to, its the skill of the dancer. I like to watch good, skilled dance, I like to appreciate the mastery that the dancer has gained over his or her body. I don't care who you are, this 'layering' stuff isn't easy!

    Such controversies over men dancing isn't unique to belly dance though. Male ballet dancers have faced prejudice for years, including the ubiquitous accusations of being gay - which is ironic, because ballet started out as men-only dance. Same with my native Highland dance - most ironic thing I ever saw was a few years ago, some ignoramus yob catcalling a boy doing the Sean Truibhas, calling him queer for wearing a 'skirt' and doing 'girlie dance'!! :eek: (a small riot broke out and Mr. Ignorance was escorted off the premises...... *LOL*)

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