Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    V.I.P. janaki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    hong kong
    Posts
    1,217
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default What is your definition of belly dance????

    Hi all,

    I have these questions regarding belly dance. How do explain belly dance to;

    1. people that know nothing about it?

    2. People that percieve belly dance is sexual/strip show or a forbidden dance

    3. Kids.


    I find it difficult to expalin to people that already have a perception (wrong)about belly dance.

    Cheers
    Janaki

  2. #2
    V.I.P.
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Duluth, Minnesota
    Posts
    3,044
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by janaki View Post
    Hi all,

    I have these questions regarding belly dance. How do explain belly dance to;

    1. people that know nothing about it?

    2. People that percieve belly dance is sexual/strip show or a forbidden dance

    3. Kids.


    I find it difficult to expalin to people that already have a perception (wrong)about belly dance.

    Cheers
    Janaki

    That is a hard one Janaki. I have several coworkers who are not open minded enough to understand that BD has much history behind it and it is not done for sexual purposes. You could compare BDing to ballet or ballroom dance and tell a bit about its history and about how long it takes to learn to isolate areas of the body...If people are not open minded enough to listen, then it is their loss and I would not worry about it. Good luck.

  3. #3
    V.I.P. Kharmine's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Foot of the Rocky Mountains
    Posts
    1,970
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    It's a fusion of various folk dance elements from the Middle East with a strong Western influence, dating from the early 1920s. There are different styles, and one can certainly make it more flamboyant, let alone more suggestive, but it's a sensual dance, rather than a sexual dance.

    That's about as basic as I can state it. But some people will never "get" it.

  4. #4
    V.I.P. Yasmine Bint Al Nubia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Akron, Ohio
    Posts
    1,160
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Hi Janaki, Sometimes it's easier to explain our beloved dance form to people who are interesred in it. For others I'll simply ask them if they have seen a live bellydancer. If not, you'll know that their perspective isn't based on experience but guessswork.. I like Kharmie's explanation best.
    Yasmine

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    122
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by janaki View Post
    Hi all,

    I have these questions regarding belly dance. How do explain belly dance to;

    1. people that know nothing about it?

    2. People that percieve belly dance is sexual/strip show or a forbidden dance

    3. Kids.

    I find it difficult to expalin to people that already have a perception (wrong)about belly dance.
    Cheers
    Janaki

    In my experience kids are rarely a problem--they usually love watching the dance and see nothing wrong with it (especially little girls). For those who know nothing, I love Kharmine's answer. It sums things up simply and if they have a chance to see a dancer--all the better.

    For those who look for the sleezy, the posted answer is still good but they may not buy it. It may be they are misinformed, but they may have actually seen a dancer/dancers who reinforced or even created this image in their mind. I am not sure what to do about them.

    Also some people are very inclined to see sensual dancing as sleezy and will see even the most refined, classy dancer as "too sexual". In my old church I knew a few people who even protested a secular community center offering yoga classes as yoga is "sinful". Unfortunately, that is their problem, we can't cure people of their hang ups with a short answer. Life is too short.

    If the person saying such things is important to you, than I can see you may want to work on changing their perceptions. Otherwise we need to realize we cannot control what people think or say. And we can't control that sometimes it is other dancers themselves who create this image. So unfortunately it is not completely false.

  6. #6
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Pacific Northwest USA
    Posts
    5,313
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Belly dance defined

    Dear Janaki,
    Belly dance is a dance that originated in the Middle East, roughly a hundred years ago. The dance is an entertainment that was and is made of predominantly folkloric movements that have been lifted, accentuated and refined. The dance, while having some influences from countries other than those of origin, remains distinctly culturally tied to three main countries and styles and all other influences are very much filtered through these cultures. The main countries of origin are Egypt, Lebanon, and Turkey. These three countries continue today to evolve the dance, always through their own cultural filters. People who know and study dance can immediately tell the uneducated observer what style is being performed.
    The dance has an exotic and flirtatious and sexy reputation in countries of origin, due to two main elements within the dance itself.
    * The movements of the dance, which are often seductive, even when not directed at a specific person.
    * The fact that in dancing, one shows the very nature of one's soul as well as moving seductively. (It is my opinion that the real reaosn people do not think this dance is "ladylike" is because of this second element, far more than the first, in a societies where women are supposed to keep themselves modest and hidden. What is scarier then, than a women who is empowered to be who she is in the open, in front of crowds of people?)

    Other elements that affect the reputation of the dance are:
    * the Islamic culture that surrounds it,
    *the costuming that is far more revealing than what women wear in the streets in countries of origin,
    *and the music for the dance, which is incredibly sensuous and often very beautiful, and awakens many feelings in both listener and those who interpret and manifest it through dance.
    When adults ask me about belly dance, this is basically what I say, along with answering any sepcific questions. When kids ask me, I ask them what THEY think it is!!
    Regards,
    A'isha
    Last edited by Aisha Azar; 05-17-2007 at 11:05 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Brooklyn, New York
    Posts
    653
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Hi Janaki,

    I don't try to define what is and is not "belly dance" because I prefer the terms Oriental dance or Middle Eastern dance, or actually most of all I prefer Raks Sharki. But I know "belly dance" is most commonly used by the general public in English. I will explain this to anyone who says "oh you mean belly dance" if I have the chance. (BTW I am not looking to rehash any disagreements over the validity or acceptability of the term "belly dance" just wanted to represent my point of view to those who might not yet be familiar with it.)

    I agree with A'isha that "the dance....is made of predominantly folkloric movements that have been lifted, accentuated and refined." In other words Raks Sharki, the solo stage performance dance, originated about 100 years ago out of Raks Baladi, which is a much older folkloric version still done today by average folks at weddings or parties or just for fun in the Middle East and diaspora.

    While I agree with A'isha that this dance has an "exotic and sexy reputation" in my opinion this aspect is only one possible way of performing it, and--again in my opinion-- this interpretation limits the ways the dancer can dance and the way that viewers see it. I have no problem with tastefully sexy oriental dancers and I would have no problem being thought or called sexy myself, but that is not the essential core of the dance for me, either as a dancer or someone who appreciates watching it. (I know A'isha thinks I am in denial about this.)

    To people who know nothing about it I explain it originated in the Middle East and is very hip & torso driven as opposed to foot or limb driven as many Western dances are.

    To people who perceive it as a sex or strip show, I would say this is a common confusion for a lot of uninformed people (as well as some performers!) and that they should really try to see it in its rightful, authentic form to see for themselves. I believe that the term "belly dance" originated as a way of sensationalizing and denigrating this dance and as such, I prefer the more accurate names that do not have the same connotations. (Reminder: I am not interested in re-engaging in the debate on the name or whether the dance is inherently sexy vs. this just being one possible interpretation. I am just stating my view again for any newcomers.)

    To children who ask I might give a short demo of a few moves for them to try. My 12-year-old son imitates me sometimes, and I have caught him drumming zill patterns on the table as well.

    I agree with what Samsied said above "If the person saying such things is important to you, then I can see you may want to work on changing their perceptions. Otherwise we need to realize we cannot control what people think or say. And we can't control that sometimes it is other dancers themselves who create this image."

    Cathy
    Last edited by cathy; 05-18-2007 at 02:35 AM.

  8. #8
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Pacific Northwest USA
    Posts
    5,313
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Definition

    Dear Cathy,
    The only thing wrong with analyzing the dance as being sensationalized by calling it "belly dance" here in America,is that it also has the same kind of reputation in countries of origin. It is sensational, and denigrated there as well. It is not considered something that a "nice" girl would do over there. I would say much more so than here. It did not get that reputation in the United States by being called "belly dance" in English, but because, by its sexual and free nature, it was disturbing to both eastern and western sensiblities at the time when it was developing into a stage art, and pretty much since in many places. It is important to remember that it is looked upon as very low class in countries of origin, partly because of the sexuality in the dance. I think I explained this further in an earlier post. It is only here in the West that we consistently deny that part of the dance, and are always trying to clean up its image, as if we are doing something of which we should be ashamed. I don't buy into that. Personally, I think that belly dance does not need to be cleaned up as much as dancers need to just relax and do the dance with pride.
    Regards,
    A'isha

  9. #9
    V.I.P. janaki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    hong kong
    Posts
    1,217
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Hats off to you A'sha!!! So very well said!!! I couldn't agree with you more.
    Educating someone about this dance is very different from try and clean up the image. Bellydance has an image and I am very comfrotable with it. If we are so ashamed about it why dance at all!!!!

    Cheers
    Janaki

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •