Page 2 of 15 FirstFirst 1234567812 ... LastLast
Results 11 to 20 of 144
  1. #11
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    34
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Dear Kharmine,

    Good job and well done! Most people tend to have a simplistic view of the past but your research shows it was much more complicated.

    Take care, Rick

  2. #12
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Pacific Northwest USA
    Posts
    5,313
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Dance etc.

    Dear Group,
    I have read the one reference from what 1899, the Bohemian in Paris reference. I was not sure if this was a really authenticated reference, or if a later editor put in the "belly dance" part. Also, the danse du ventre is not just of Turkish origin. thanks for the input, Aniseteph.
    Kharmine can not find any references for sure, earlier than 1942. That is, as I had stated that my teacher told me, during World War II. She told me that American soldiers watching belly dance in the Middle East brought the term back and that it was not started by Sol Bloom. This research seems to support her claim. I feel that Jodette has been give her just dues. Danse du ventre may have been around longer, but the English translation has not. Jodette mentioned this, too, in saying that the soldiers heard the French calling it danse du ventre and dutrned it to the English "belly dance".
    Regards,
    A'isha

  3. #13
    Member Andrea Deagon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Wilmington, NC
    Posts
    208
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Very interesting discussion, and thanks for sharing research. A few comments into the mix:

    The caption for one of Aubrey Beardsley's illustrations for Oscar Wilde's Salome was "danse du ventre" in French (1894) and "Stomach Dance" in the English translation, which I believe was 1896.

    I've also seen a reference to the "hip dance" in a travel account of about 1911, so evidently "belly dance," though a translation of a popular French term, wasn't the only English way of describing the (to the Western eye) salient characteristics of the dance.

    In French, the term "danse du ventre" began to be used right about when the Franco-Prussian war created a lot of dispossessed French who then settled in Algeria, which pushed the disenfrachisement of native Algerians up a notch, which created incresing tensions between the two (duh!). In the case of Algeria, at least, "Colonial" really did mean heavily colonized, with a large French population. So it looks to me as if the term emerged to express this new level of intercultural hostility in a way that disparaged the dance and its performers.

    I can't access the Oxford English Dictionary right now, but IIRC in addition to the 1899 reference (where "belly dance" was only mentioned as the translation of "danse du ventre"), there was a reference from around 1932 in which "belly dance" was used figuratively, as in "the (something or other) was doing a belly dance." So this indicates to me that the term was in popular use at least among some portion of the population, so the readers of this work would have a reference point for the metaphor. But I could be remembering this wrong.

    La Meri reports that when she was in Morocco, the only term she ever heard to describe the dance was "danse du ventre," and this presumably included her Egyptian Jewish teacher. This was in 1928, when Badi'a Masabni was just beginning her rise to prominence in Egypt.

    Make of all this what you will ...

    On another topic --
    I was recently reading some programs from Armen Ohanian's USA performances, and saw that she had made a study of dance in Mexico, and was not only performing her Eastern dances (which ranged from Persian themes to interpretive dances such as "Nirvana") but Mexican dances as well. Which I think is very interesting, since she seems to be one of the few true "exotics" who actually made the transition into defining herself as an interpreter of cultures other than her own, on the Western stage. She also took care to distance her own performance from danse du ventre in every possible way. (I just presented a paper on Western women portraying Eastern dance, and Eastern women becoming "artists" by the Western definition, at the CORD conference in November, and Ohanian was part of it.)

    Joy in dance,
    Andrea

  4. #14
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Pacific Northwest USA
    Posts
    5,313
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Danse du ventre, etc.

    Dear Andrea,
    Can you give more info on that 1932 reference? I have also seen references to hip and stomach dance before "belly dance" became popular in America, but my memory is not very clear as to where or in what context. BTW, my mother, whose first language is French, says it s really something more like "dance of the abdomen" when precisely translated. ( I once had her translate the back of an album cover for me.)
    Regards,
    A'isha
    Last edited by Aisha Azar; 12-14-2007 at 02:32 PM.

  5. #15
    V.I.P. Kharmine's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Foot of the Rocky Mountains
    Posts
    1,970
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Aniseteph View Post
    I've been chasing some leads...

    In 1899 WC Morrow in "Bohemian Paris of Today" (p 95)

    You can get the whole book here. Open Library: Details: Bohemian Paris of to-day;

    The belly dance reference is just a footnote, and my reading of it is as a direct translation of danse du ventre rather than a term in its own right. It also says the dance was introduced to Paris by Turkish women from Egypt (don't know how authoritative this is, I don't think Mr Morrow is a dance scholar ).

    But part of it is still relevant over 100 years on (and not just American and French women now of course!)

    Isn't that great? ...
    YES!!! Christmas comes early!!! Bless, you, YES, Aniseteph! BRAVA!!!



    Somewhere on this forum I know I mentioned that I have this book, but then I completely forgot about it! (This is what happens when you have more books than memory...)

    I bought "Bohemian Paris of Today" on Ebay about two years ago for research I was doing on early notorious nightclubs (Paris had at least two of the time that are beautifully described in this book). Stuck it away when I was done and forgot about it. I remembered the danse du ventre references but completely blanked on that footnote, which had no significance for me when I first read it!

    OK, so it's back in my little hands now -- My copy says "1899" on the inside title page, with the British publisher listed as "Chatto & Windus, London." If anyone wants to see it, I will gladly fax or email a copy as I haven't figured out how to post this sort of thing online.

    The online copy says "1900," with an American publisher, J.B Lippincott, Philadelphia & London. Otherwise, the two books appear to be the same, down to the same wonderful illustrations, done by the second of the two authors, on whose notes the book is based, Edouard Cucuel.

    OK, so now we have a rare but perfect example of pre-1900 American use of "belly dance" in print, explained as the English translation of "danse du ventre," which by then was already a familiar European slang term for Oriental dance.

    The first author credited on the book, W.C. Morrow, was an American writer who died in 1923. This shows that at least one American knew very well what "danse du ventre" translated as, and that he had some background on the dance by 1899.

    This book was first published in 1899, and the online edition shows that the copyright was purchased in that same year by an American publisher who printed it the following year.

    As I can't put my copy online, I was thrilled to see Aniseteph's link with "Bohemian Paris of Today" that anyone can look at -- the reader can even turn the pages, what a neat trick!

    Go to Page 96 and one can see the rest of the footnote she mentioned. It is signed "W.C.M." -- the initials of W.C. Morrow. That means it was the author's own explanation at the time the book was first published, not an editor's later insertion.

    The term "danse du ventre" is used several times in the book; at some point Mr. Morrow must have realized he needed to add an explanation for non-French speakers. It's pretty frank speech for the times, but the whole book would have been considered risque -- not exactly something one would give one's granny for Christmas!

    For example, next to page 96 is an illustration of a wild Parisian party for artists and models with a young woman about to perform the danse du ventre, according to the caption. She's wearing what looks an imitation of ancient Egyptian dress -- she's topless, and there is no obvious underwear under her transparent skirt, but she does appear to be wearing dark, knee-high stockings, which looks rather weird.

    Morrow is open and sympathetic about non-marital sexual relations in a way that was rare for his time. He explains in the introduction that he is simply portraying exactly what life is like among these artistic and outcast folks in Paris with its "lack of adherence to generally accepted standards of morals and conduct."

    And you're right, Aniseteph, Morow was no dance scholar. This was his only published work of nonfiction.

    Most Westerners were unaware of the origins of "danse du ventre" except that it had to do with "the Orient." Some of the confusion had to do with the fact that Oriental dancers at the 1889 Paris Exposition, the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, and other big events came from Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Greece, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and what was then called Palestine. (You can read more about it in Donna Carlton's "Looking for Little Egypt.")

    Even the famous "Algerian & Tunisian Village" that performed at the 1889 Paris Exposition, which Sol Bloom brought to the 1893 Chicago fair, was actually an ethnically mixed lot. Their dances were different, but, as with the 1889 fair, generally got lumped together as "danse du ventre" or "Oriental dance."

    So, when Morrow states that the danse du ventre, "belly dance" (in its loose definition), was brought to France by Turkish women he is partly right. I recommend that people read his footnote -- he's ahead of his time.

    Where does this put Sol Bloom's 1948 contention that 'belly dance" became known at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago? Well, let's remember he didn't claim to have invented it, or even to have translated it from "danse du ventre" (although he must have certainly heard it at the 1889 Paris Exposition -- and he used the term all his life).

    Bloom simply states that "when the public learned" that "danse du ventre" translated to "belly dance" in English it immediately concluded that the dance was "salacious" and "I had a gold mine."

    To date, I have found nothing that challenges Bloom's memory or veracity in this case. And his memoirs have been out since 1948 -- one would think there would have been a few challenges to it by now, scholarly or otherwise, if there were problems with his account of this specific time, place and events.

    So, at the very least, we have proof of "belly dance" known as a term in the U.S. before 1900. We also have evidence that it was introduced in the United States much earlier, even if it only survived as underground slang until about the 1940s.

    By World War II, we have seen that "belly dance" was being used more openly in the United States. There is, so far, no reason to believe American service personnel didn't already know that bit of slang when they saw Oriental dancing in the Middle East.

    But that's what this thread is for -- to try to assemble evidence, based on things we can all look up and verify for ourselves.
    Last edited by Kharmine; 12-15-2007 at 02:49 AM.

  6. #16
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Brooklyn, New York
    Posts
    653
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Aniseteph View Post
    I've been chasing some leads...

    In 1899 WC Morrow in "Bohemian Paris of Today" (p 95)

    You can get the whole book here. Open Library: Details: Bohemian Paris of to-day;

    The belly dance reference is just a footnote, and my reading of it is as a direct translation of danse du ventre rather than a term in its own right. It also says the dance was introduced to Paris by Turkish women from Egypt (don't know how authoritative this is, I don't think Mr Morrow is a dance scholar ).



    But part of it is still relevant over 100 years on (and not just American and French women now of course!)



    Isn't that great?

    On the track of a 1931 reference, not a d-d-v translation, I'll be back...
    Aniseteph,

    Thanks! This is a most impressive find.

    I just ordered a copy from abebooks.com. I ordered the less expensive American 1900 edition, printing not specified, but if it matters enough to anyone to pay more for a collector's first edition copy, they have those also at $150. Obviously the first edition would be guaranteed not to have any editorial changes or additions made after the original publication date.

    Cathy

  7. #17
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    34
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Hey gang,

    Thanks for the info. If anyone is interested check out:

    Hawaii - LoveToKnow 1911

    This is from the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica.The phrase danse du ventre is used as a description of Hula. This makes me believe that the term danse du ventre was much more common than the term bellydance.

    I would say that French culture has had the lure of the exotic much longer and more deeply than Middle Eastern culture and that people would love to use french words to describe Bellydance. Bobby Farrah used the term danse orientale rather than any other name. The name danse du ventre gave the art form allure, a socially acceptable eroticism, and a little bit of the French prestige.

    Take care, Rick
    Last edited by Rick Fink; 12-15-2007 at 03:33 PM. Reason: spelling

  8. #18
    V.I.P. Kharmine's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Foot of the Rocky Mountains
    Posts
    1,970
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Fink View Post
    Hey gang,

    Thanks for the info. If anyone is interested check out:

    Hawaii - LoveToKnow 1911

    This is from the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica.The phrase danse du ventre is used as a description of Hula. This makes me believe that the term danse du ventre was much more common than the term bellydance.

    I would say that French culture has had the lure of the exotic much longer and more deeply than Middle Eastern culture and that people would love to use french words to describe Bellydance. Bobby Farrah used the term danse orientale rather than any other name. The name danse du ventre gave the art form allure, a socially acceptable eroticism, and a little bit of the French prestige.

    Take care, Rick
    You make good points, Rick. In the book Aniseteph and I mentioned, the quote by the author particularly likens belly dance as resembling the "hula hula." I also notice on YouTube that French post-ers of belly dance videos almost always use the term 'danse de ventre," so I guess the term is still pretty common there.

    OK -- so what can we take from our research about the term "belly dance"?

    Do we have any evidence that it originated as a slang term anywhere else but the United States, some time in the 1890s? Or, at the least, is there any evidence that it didn't come from English speakers loosely translating from the older French "danse du ventre"?

    Is "belly dance" a specific definition for a particular style of dance, more of a blanket or general term, or something in-between?

  9. #19
    Member Andrea Deagon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Wilmington, NC
    Posts
    208
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Here are a couple of references from the Oxford English Dictionary:

    1943 KOESTLER Arrival & Departure 54 The loud-speakers blared a hot belly-dance with drums and castanets.

    1931 C. BEATON in Wandering Years (1961) 217 The wow of the evening was Carmen, the *belly-dancer.

    1957 R. CAMPBELL Portugal ix. 192 The lundum..was a highly sensual song accompanied by much belly-dancing.

    I haven't followed up on any of these, but complete references are available from the OED.

    Danse du ventre seems to have been very solid as the French term for the dance -- in other words, at least to my knowledge, there aren't a lot of similar French terms that would translate to (for example) hip dance or stomach dance or muscle dance -- though I admit I haven't done an exhaustive search of French sources by any means! English translations waffle around, though, sometimes using a translation of danse du ventre, sometimes using another kind of descriptive, and sometimes using the French term.

    So I think that the ultimate dominance of "belly dance" in English comes about because of how solid the French term is, both in French descriptions of the dance, and in the way other nationalities translated the French, when they bothered to.

    It would have been pretty easy for someone literate to find out what danse du ventre meant at any time in American history. In the 1890's many of the middle and upper classes would have studied some French in school. It was then what English is now, the language of international communication. IIRC there is a mention in the New York Times coverage of the New York Streets of Cairo incidents in 1893, where it is mentioned that one of the constables did not know the meaning of "danse du ventre." This shows two things: (1) it was possible for someone of the lower classes (like a cop on the beat) not to know what danse du ventre meant, and (2) the average reader of the NY Times would have known what the term meant (and would probably have been amused by the constable's ignorance).

    "Belly dance" may not have been used in polite society, but the term was certainly there in the American consciousness from very early on. I'm not as sure about England, but I suspect the groundwork was well laid by the prominance of the French term. I have a German postcard from 1910-20 where a woman (Western) is identified as an "orientalische bauchtanzerin," "oriental belly dancer." So other countries were translating the French fairly early on.

    By the 1940's, euphemisms aparently weren't needed and there was no need to find ways to avoid saying "belly dance" since the term was not as offensive to sensibilities. So it surfaced in force at this point -- probably helped by the fact that the dance itself was resurfacing in American culture and consciousness, and returning servicement from WWII may well have played a big part in that.

  10. #20
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Pacific Northwest USA
    Posts
    5,313
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Belly dance

    Dear Andrea,
    I very much appreciate you not simply blowing off what Jodette said about American soldiers during WWII bringing back the term to America.
    Regards,
    A'isha

Page 2 of 15 FirstFirst 1234567812 ... LastLast

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
  •