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  1. #1
    V.I.P. Dev's Avatar
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    Default How relevant is Egypt to Modern Belly Dance

    Hello Group! How relevant is the Ancient History Of Belly Dance to the Modern Belly Dancing (Last 100 years) If we look at the History of Belly Dance , Its origin travelled from one country to the other country, Started in India travelled all the way to the Middle East, (Excuse me if I am wrong) Do you think Belly Dancing has now gripped the Western culture ? Belly Dancing now gets mainly ignored in Egypt, Probably they lost the essence of it, and the west has got it. What are your thoughts? Do you think Egypt is just a spiritual connection for the dancer but nothing else
    Last edited by Dev; 09-22-2006 at 10:16 AM. Reason: changed font size

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    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Egypt, etc.

    Dear Dipali,
    What has led you to the conclusion that belly dance gets mainly ignored in Egypt? Why do you think the dance started in India and why do you think it has lost its Egyptian essence? I do hope that you will respond to these questions because I am really interested in how you have come to believe what you believe about the dance.
    Belly dance is in fact alive and well in Egypt, and though there are now dancers in the west, this does not mean that the "west has gripped the dance" and forced out all of the Eygptian; only that they are developing new and different forms of dance here in the west that has some movement structures that borrow from belly dance as well as other forms. Egyptian belly dance does retain its essence. It is in every fibor of the native dancers, and there are some western dancers who also do it justice. The same can be said for the Lebanese and Turkish dancers, who regardless of costuming, musical changes, even new dance movements, still retain their ethnic and cultural flavor and spirit, which is after all, the real meaning and feeling of any dance form. People who have studied a dance style for a long time can often tell you if a dancer is a native of Egypt/Lebanon/Turkey, because of the essence of the dance, and the approach to the music and the movement. I could tell immediately that Esmahan is not Egyptian and that Randa is, for example, merely by the way they dealt with the music emotionally. That was without knowing a thing about either of them. Essence is alive and well and easy to spot. It is not easy to explain in words, but it is a truth of the dance.
    Regards,
    A'isha
    Last edited by Aisha Azar; 09-19-2006 at 02:51 AM. Reason: tyos

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    V.I.P. chryssanthi sahar's Avatar
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    Dear Dipali.

    It is not easy to specify the origin of belly dancing in ancient times. There are different theories about it and there are quite some books presenting those different opinions. Some researches say, belly dancing has its origin in the birth rituals of Black Africa, others say, it comes from the Astarte (Ishtar) rites of Middle East, others again say, it has it's origin in the ancient Greek rituals for Aphrodite (Venus) (I like this version the most, since I am Greek ). Nevertheless, we cannot not know for sure.
    As about Egypt, it is definitely the mother of the contemporary belly dance and still the most important belly dance country. It is not true, that belly dance is ignored in Egypt today. It is in a more difficult position, than it used to be 20 years ago, because of the growing Islamic fundamentalism, but Egypt is still the source for the art of belly dancing. On the other hand, it depends, what you call belly dancing. As you know (or at least, I hope you know), there have developed different styles of belly dancing in the past 40 years, but some of them are so different from the original Egyptian/Arabian style, that I'm not sure, if one can still call them "belly dance". If you want to know more about the styles, have a look at the forum "Dance Styles" http://forum.orientaldancer.net/forumdisplay.php?f=5

    Regards
    Chryssanthi

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    V.I.P. chryssanthi sahar's Avatar
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    Aisha, it's funny, we replied almost parallel

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    V.I.P. Dev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by A'isha Azar View Post
    Dear Dipali,
    What has led you to the conclusion that belly dance gets mainly ignored in Egypt? Why do you think the dance started in India and why do you think it has lost its Egyptian essence? I do hope that you will respond to these questions because I am really interested in how you have come to believe what you believe about the dance.

    Regards,
    A'isha
    Dear A'isha Azar. Its always nice to read your post/s, Why do I think ? Belly Dance started in India, No I donít think I am 100% correct, (Lets assume I have used one certain Belly dance historians thought) after reading so many articles about the origin of Belly Dance I am still not sure where Belly dance actually originated. But we know that the dance style travelled through many countries in many different forms, (again I could be wrong) Regarding loosing its essence in Egypt, Well numerous articles -News clips (I believe quite a few articles were published on this website .) it tells the story of the current situation of Belly Dance culture in Egypt, Either I am reading all the negative stories or its just the truth, Dear Aisha, I am not very educated in Belly Dancing. I have not gone through every detail of its past and present but am trying to learn, I am always willing to ask if I have any questions and want to know about it. And personally I thank you all for replying to my queries.

  6. #6
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Relevance, etc.

    Dear Dipali,
    Unfortunately, you are gong to read a lot of things about belly dance that have no basis in reality. However,do not despair! With time and experience, we learn to reason out what has the ring of truth and what is mythology or made up for someone's marketing mix. Learn to watch the dancers from the countries of origin very closely. Look for what it is that makes them have something in common with other dancers from the same country even when their dances might appear to be different. This is one key to learning about the essence of the dance.
    Learn to read and weed out what does not seem realistic for people to be able to know. For example, the term "ancient" as applied to belly dance: What are the proofs people offer? How can they determine that what was done 10,000 or even 1,000 years ago was "belly dance"? What are the proofs that the dance is a more modern development? Why might it or might it not have been an "ancient birth" or "ancient fertility" ritual? What qualities do rituals have that one does or does not usually see in an authentic ethnic belly dance performance? These are just a few of the questions about the dance that we all find ourselves asking if we are interested in understanding the dance. And as long as we dance there are opportunities to learn more!!
    Best wishes,
    A'isha

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    V.I.P. Moon's Avatar
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    "can't be proved (yet)" is not equal to "is not true"

  8. #8
    Administrator Salome's Avatar
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    My personal thoughts on the matter is that ancient history isn't really so relevant. But the contemporary history is relevant to what is going on today and 'we' have access to oral histories, film, traditions, photo's, and other articles to help us learn about the folk dances that gave birth to today's Oriental dance.

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    V.I.P. Tarik Sultan's Avatar
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    Default Egypt

    How relavant is Egypt to Raks Sharki today? For people who are into fusion, Tribal and gothic, perhaps there is not so much a concern, however, for those of us who are practitioners of classical and contemporary Raks Sharki, keeping that connection is not only important, but essential.

    It is true that the professional expression is currently in a state of decline today but that is a far different thing than saying its dead! There are still dancers who are striving there, not to mention extreemly gifted choreographers. Even if the performance venues were to close there, these people will still be traveling around the world sharing their culture with us.

    My favorite is Rakia Hassan. Yes, her name is on everyone's lips and regardless of whether you love her or hate her, you think the Festival is a cash cow or cultural event, she is undeniably a creative dynamo. Just when I've thought I've seen every movement, done every combination, Rakia will pull something out of her hat that's totally amazing, yet so simple that you slap yourself for not thinking about it yourself.

    During the Italian Renaissance there were a lot of artists, architects and scientists who received opposition from the Church and their work was often censored or surpressed, (some had their heart beats surpressed):eek: , however, could anyone deny the relavance of Italy to art, science and architecture during that time? same applies here. This dance is more than fancy costumes and wiggles. It is the product of a culture. Without keeping that connection, it will fade and become lost.

  10. #10
    V.I.P. Tarik Sultan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dipali View Post
    Dear A'isha Azar. Its always nice to read your post/s, Why do I think ? Belly Dance started in India, No I donít think I am 100% correct, (Lets assume I have used one certain Belly dance historians thought) after reading so many articles about the origin of Belly Dance I am still not sure where Belly dance actually originated. But we know that the dance style travelled through many countries in many different forms, (again I could be wrong) Regarding loosing its essence in Egypt, Well numerous articles -News clips (I believe quite a few articles were published on this website .) it tells the story of the current situation of Belly Dance culture in Egypt, Either I am reading all the negative stories or its just the truth, Dear Aisha, I am not very educated in Belly Dancing. I have not gone through every detail of its past and present but am trying to learn, I am always willing to ask if I have any questions and want to know about it. And personally I thank you all for replying to my queries.
    Hey Dipali:
    I understand your confusion. as Aisha pointed out, you have to be deserning with the sources and claims. Raks Sharki as we know it today was developed in the early 20th century. This is well documented. The movement vocabulary is based primarily on the traditional social dance called Raks Baladi. Exactly how old is Raks Baladi? No one can really say. There are descriptions of dances involving shaking of the hips being done in the region by Roman observers, but a closer look at the movement suggests that it is an amalgamation of different movement traditions.

    The hip movements are definately African. This can be seen by the fact that many of the movements are identical to those done all across the continent. The movements of the arms and hands are definately of Central Asiatic origin, as can be seen by the fact that those movements are identical to the movenents still being done in those areas today.

    A basic study of India's history will show that for most of their history, they were isolated from the rest of the continent. They never lead any conquests into Western Asia, however, Northern India was repeatedly invaded by Central Asian cultures, Afghans, Persians, and Mongols. This is why the music, languages and dances, unlike Southern Indan, have a lot of Persian, Arabic and Afghani influences. On the other hand, India did have a very significant influence on the religion, foods, arts and dance of South East Asia. Even to the untrained eye the dances of Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia all have a very strong Indian flavor. This was due to centuries of trade and settlements in those areas from the Indian Sub Continent.

    Tarik

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