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  1. #1
    V.I.P. lizaj's Avatar
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    Default The origin of Belly Dance

    Just as a matter of interest..when you first began to learn this dance, from where did you imagine it might originate?
    I have met people who didn't give it a second thought.
    I Have met people who haven't really thought about.
    I have met people who thought it was a fantasy dance.
    Along with most people here in the UK, it was for me something done by performers (female) in Turkey and Egypt.
    I never realised the numbers of nations was much wider.
    I never considered it as a social dance.
    I never thought about its connection to ME and North African folk dance.
    I never considered there was an American connection except through Hollywood's representation.
    I certainly never thought about a male contribution.

    In fact until I saw my first advert for a class, I didn't realise I could learn to do it myself.
    It has taken me on an amazing journey to encompass far more than the dance and hey there's further to go..just amazing and so enjoyable.

    Before your eyes were opened, students and you teachers who were once teachers, what did you believe? And how have you got to where you are now?

  2. #2
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Pretty much the same for me.

    I hadn't really thought about belly dance before, hadn't even seen it performed properly. I associated it with the Middle East but no specific countries. I knew it wasn't Bollywood and didn't associate it with India. And I knew about the Hollywood harem image, but assumed that was probably so much tinsel, especially as no one was going to have a whole course of six weeks learning to wiggle around playing Jeannie.

    I've got to where I am now by carrying on with classes, going to workshops and shows, and hanging about here. Knowledge-wise, mostly hanging about here.

  3. #3
    Member LeylaLanty's Avatar
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    I already knew it was from the Middle East and that it was done by female performers in Middle Eastern countries and in Greece.

    I didn't know it was a social dance until much later when I started performing and hanging out socially in Arab restaurants/clubs where I saw the customers dancing.

    Because of a LONG background in international folk dancing, I figured out quickly that it had to be a folk dance and that was confirmed by watching Arabs and Turks dancing socially.

    Being American, I knew about that connection - had heard of Jamila Salimpour's classes while I was at Cal Berkeley.

    At the beginning, I didn't know that males had ever done it as performers or even socially. That knowledge came some 5 years later with my experiences in Arab restaurants/clubs and getting information from my teachers, Aida al Adawi and Jamila Salimpour.

    It's been a magic carpet ride from the beginning! As Liza said: "It has taken me on an amazing journey to encompass far more than the dance and hey there's further to go..just amazing and so enjoyable."

    I've gotten to where I am now by diligently seeking out the best teachers in America, then going first to Turkey and multiple times to Egypt to observe the dance in its original environment and to take classes with some of the best teachers there.
    Last edited by LeylaLanty; 05-12-2009 at 01:01 AM. Reason: correct spelling

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Mosaic's Avatar
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    Long before I began to dance I knew it was from the ME, but because I hadn't been exposed to Male dancers I think I just a assumed it was a female dance.

    My ideas of the dances origins was that it was a dance/s performed mainly for fun in one's home, village or at some sort of celebration.

    My earliest exposure was at a Lebanese friends home, when they had family/friend get-togethers, they would all end up dancing and I loved it. It was so much fun. Very natural and folkloric.

    When I was in Egypt in January, we travelled from Luxor to Cairo on the overnight train, and for several hours we were down in the club car dancing our little hearts out, so spontaneous and so much fun, The staff danced with us and it so reminded me of the times with my friends family.

    My thoughts then were - this is why I love the dance - There is so much joy and a genuine love of life in the dance, no matter where you are from or how you earn a living you are all equals, humanity at its best

    I suppose my love of Egyptian (and other areas of the ME but to a lesser degree) history added to my quest for understanding the various facets of the culture and dance is one of those facets of course

    I didn't have a clue about the American/hollywood side of it, or had never given a thought to that.

    I agree, it has been and still is an amazing journey.
    ~Mosaic
    Dance is like glitter, it not only colours your life, it makes you sparkle, you find it everywhere and in everything and it's near impossible to get rid of. (unknown)


  5. #5
    Senior Member maria_harlequin's Avatar
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    I was quite guilty of the Ancient Dance syndrome when I first heard about belly dancing. I also thought it was directly linked to child birth rituals in desert tribes. Heh.

  6. #6
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    I'm not sure I can remember that far back! I think I thought it was an ancient dance of the Fertile Crescent - definitely not India or Indonesia. Unsure if I knew men did it - but men belly dancing became a fact pretty early on - thanks to information from Aisha Ali, hearing about Bobby Farrar and exposure to Yousry Sharif and Dr Mo Geddawi..

  7. #7
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    I lived in California when I first learned to dance, and the San Joaquin Valley in the late 1960s and early 1970s was a microcosm of Mediterranean cultures. My first teacher was a first generation American whose parents came from Armenia. She told me that the style I was learning was brought to America by immigrants from Armenia, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. Once in America, the dance and the accompanying music took on a western flavor that some called Amerabian.

    I also knew that more traditional styles of belly dance were still done in the middle east. It was always a huge deal when someone went on vacation to Egypt or Turkey and came back with movements and ideas we weren't familiar with. We incorporated those new things into our own dance repertoire the same way the country incorporated immigrants.

    Nowadays there is a lot of discussion about whether the old AmCab dancers were insensitive or ethnocentric or just clueless, but the blooming of American belly dance was a typical cultural phenomenon in a country that has blended many cultures into a single nation. Back then, I didn't have a clue about Hollywood belly dancing or ATS or that there would ever be heated controversy about whether the style I did and do was "authentic" or "fusion" or any of the other terms that are used so freely now. It was just belly dance. I loved it then and I love it now.

  8. #8
    V.I.P. Moon's Avatar
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    When I first started I thought it originated from the Middle East, from the way women dance together on weddings and stuff, without men watching.

  9. #9
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    Belly dance rise up in egypt

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