Belly Dancing isn't manly.

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khanjar

New member
This '' Manly'' thing as used for example in this context, '' BellyDance is not manly'', the assumption made largely in the west. I have been pondering this concept of ''manly'' for some time now, and have it that it is indeed a concept, an idea and nothing more besides an unwritten code of stereotypical ideas.

For example, look up the word '' manly '' and you come up with largely nothing, but pertaining to the word ''masculine''. Look up masculine and you come up with ''male like charachteristics'', which leads nowhere, except the stereotypical male ideals and ideas.

So, what are the stereotypical male ideals, well, from my research they are what the media tell us they are, as no one I know is like what is portrayed in the media, some may live up to the media ideals, want to be like them, but what the media portrays, might very well be fantasy and what people try to aspire to might be depriving them from just being themselves.

Take the movie industry, and the advertising industry of the former, movies, in what context is the 'hero' seen, often arduous situations, the leader of the pack, the epitome of virility and things akin to what we might think of men back in the year dot when survival was a game of hunting, killing and dragging the woman back to the cave by their hair. Fine for those times, but times have changed, no longer do we need to be a caveman to exist. The advertising industry, again, what context are the most popular 'manly' products sold in, definately not holding the baby in the home, yet in reality, many men do hold the baby in the home.

The other thing about being manly in the present age, is it is an excuse, nothing more than that, a word males can hide behind to justify bad modern social behaviour, behaviour there are many prosecutable laws against, excessive drinking, brawling to name a couple, there being others obviously, many of them if not all not acceptable in civilised modern society.

The other thing 'Manly' is, is an excuse to the self to thwart the self in seeking new adventures, pleasures and learning.

So, for all those male would be dancers that look in here, have the courage to be yourself.
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
Very true, but be prepared to encounter Egyptians and other Arabic speaking people who make the same statements. Its not just Westerners who think and say this, but Easterners as well although it could be for different reasons.

For example, I often get stones thrown at me on youtube for Tito's and myself by Egyptians and others who make the statement "Men don't belly Dance". When I point out to them that socially they do, they tend to agree that its true, but the don't do it ON STAGE. To them, doing it at home is fine, but doing it on stage is a woman's job. There are some Egyptians you will meet, even dancers, who will try to tell you that men don't even dance socially in this way. I had an ex member of the Redda Troupe try to tell me this. Fortunately, in the same car, was Atef Farag, the current director of the Redda Troupe who told him that his statement was not true and men in Egypt do and always have danced that way socially. This guy, a Nubian, from Upper Egypt, who you would think would know better, then say's, "this is a recent thing":doh:

In the West is the concept that a man can't be sensual and sexy. Its even in our language. Women are beautiful, men are handsome or cute, but never beautiful. Women are alluring, but men aren't. Its only in the past 20yrs or so that we've been allowed to call men sexy. So there is this fear, aversion to sensual sexual energy in men. Its okay to be the aggressor, the initiator or sexual activity, but to be admired for his beauty, or be the object of admiration, never, unless its with the understanding that he has the power to be the boss. Chicks dig him and he's going to score, yeah, way to go! But never, isn't he just beautiful. Never to just acknowledge his beauty and be the object of attention for no other reason but his beauty. Only women are the objects of such attention.

In Egypt, a woman is gameela, a man gameel. Different gender designations, but still the same word. Men are allowed to be beautiful, they are allowed to be sensual and sexy and this is often reflected in the way they dance. however, there is often the Western overlay on top of the culture and the paranoia of how they will be perceived. And so, to see a man doing this sensual dance on stage in front of the whole world becomes a threat, because it carries the potential for misunderstanding and the slander of Arab manhood in the eyes of an already hostile foreign community. Should such bullshit be challenged? Absolutely, I do it all the time. However, as always, my advise to any male dancer is to invest in a very thick skin and to understand the issues that drive the attitudes in both cultures regarding this issue.
 

khanjar

New member
True Tarik, I battle with those who try to deny me, even down the pub with ale in hand when it get's known what my interest is. I battle people with reason and understanding, it is often I get to the point where the antagonist goes away quietly considering what it is to be what he is, often to come back another day and never saying a word against my interest. It awes nay sayers that what I do I am proud off and enjoy, I have transcended the ball and chain of so called normality, and I have the freedom to be me.

One interesting verbal conflict against a nay sayer, it ended with the person's wife saying she would like to see hubby belly dance, it was ok with her in an artistic expression sense, not as an object of humour.

Though I am vocal in my re education of some, an education based upon fact, I am wary and sometimes secretive of my activities, I guage the opponent as to whether I believe they have the intellect to understand a different view. But quite often as the ideas of manly go, a bunch of people are'nt worth the effort, but take one of the bunch they can see something else, as it is human for the uncertain to hide in a group and there adopt the dominant thought.

What has occured in the originating countries might very well be the result of interaction with the west of the past, but it is my belief what has been done can if not be undone, be apologised for as an error attributed to insecure and arrogant thinking of the minority who held infuence, definately not the ordinary man. We largely have thrown off the shackles of those who held power over us, those we understood to know better based upon their position in society, we have to now live in a society of the present and future, where it is us that matter most, the common man, maybe we will all come to see the error of the past and make amends for past actions.

Just to remember, it was not the common and often uneducated man that had leisure and time to travel, record and report, but that was the reserve of the wealthy who used the common man to maintain their position. Often it was the common man who died on battle fields for the cause of the wealthy.
 

Makeda Maysa

New member
In the West is the concept that a man can't be sensual and sexy. Its even in our language. Women are beautiful, men are handsome or cute, but never beautiful. Women are alluring, but men aren't. Its only in the past 20yrs or so that we've been allowed to call men sexy. So there is this fear, aversion to sensual sexual energy in men. Its okay to be the aggressor, the initiator or sexual activity, but to be admired for his beauty, or be the object of admiration, never, unless its with the understanding that he has the power to be the boss. Chicks dig him and he's going to score, yeah, way to go! But never, isn't he just beautiful. Never to just acknowledge his beauty and be the object of attention for no other reason but his beauty. Only women are the objects of such attention.
Wow, no one told me. I call men "beautiful" all the time. In fact, there's nothing more beautiful than a well-built man. Whoo! (*fanning myself*) You need to check out my blog's "Hotter than Hell" series - a whole long list of beautiful and even downright pretty men.

Oh, and also? I am quite the aggressor - ask my husband!;)

I totally get what you're saying, but I had to tease ya!
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
No one told me, either. Damn, ahead of my time again. Pass the fan, Makeda- though I don't know if it's the thought of a well-designed male or hot flashes...
 

da Sage

New member
Send me your....

If there is a non-manly beautiful man out there who bellydances and cooks and cleans and can't get a date...I'd be happy to help him out.:D:lol:
 

YasminMay

New member
That is a very interesting concept about the 'beauty' of men. I agree that men are deffinately beautiful, but there are so many reservations is voicing the word to them. But in regards to belly dance... no matter what the male's physical appearance is, if he makes the dance beautiful then he too is beautiful. Masculinity / manlyness needs have no input in he dancing if he does not wish it too. It's a shame what the west has put upon male dancers lately. Men can dance too, and they often turn out to be wonderful dancers.
 

cathy

New member
Conservative messages so often have to do with attempts at social control and trying to preserve the status quo, or even roll back to earlier times. People who espouse these rules about appropriate behavior are threatened by the alternatives.

Of course men can be beautiful and always could! This goes for sexy as well as more classical kinds of beauty (as the Greeks knew full well)


I had people (females too!) tell me when I was growing up that it was wrong for women to pursue careers like doctor, lawyer, politician, bank president, that God did not intend women for jobs involving that level of power and responsibility, that women were too frail and flighty to handle it. That if a woman really wanted or needed to work, it was OK to be a secretary or a nurse as long as she had a man to tell her what to do all day. What *%&$!

This is the same thing in reverse.
 
Tarik, great points. I would reverse it as well though and ask..can you call a woman handsome in the US? The word handsome had been given a masculine connotation where as beautiful has been given a feminine connotation. Through this the gender associated words also bring other connotations with them, although - from what I understand, they are intended to "cover the same".

There is a very big difference in the approach to men, masculinity and the definition of such between Europe, Asia and the US. I cant speak for Australia or Africa as I haven't lived there. I'm sure others would be happy to chime in and share their experience on that area. Asia at least used to be very embracive of "more fluidly moving" men. With the western influence - I believe that there is a change going on here. Europe seems to be embracing the more metro-masculine efforts. The US has a very stereotypical male template with little room for "experiments" with what could be considered male, masculine or even handsome. The definition is rather narrow compared to Europe and Asia. I believe we in the arts especially experience a heavy thought process on this subject. Although, I must say - Tarik - you have done a good job at fusing built, muscular, strong male and bellydancer together in a just way. Your look is very fitting for the US market and perception of "male".

I will have to say that I as a male dancer have never been approached with the "men shouldnt bellydance" attitude from anyone. My experience is almost the opposite. Most people embrace the knowledge behind what I do (although I feel like the more I know already, the more there is to know ahead!). I dont really ask anything more than that - whether they are comfortable watching a male dance is rather a personal issue than the ability to appreciate the skill, ability and knowledge behind the dancing before you. It would be great if everyone in the audience could be just as zillous every time I dance, but that would not be a fact for any type of audience. I am sure we have all experienced that the audience often goes quiet and looks disconnected with the mood of what we as dancers present when its really paying attention as well.

I always got weird looks for being a dancer whether it was Bhangra or Bellydance. So, in Bellydance I have had people be weary of it, but they usually warm up to the idea pretty quickly...even easier if I am present to perform. My colleagues and I would get a kick out of observing the audience members' body language and expression change over the 5 or 10 minutes I would dance. They would start out with a leaned back and restrained posturing with a serious facial expression - to then end up leaned forward with a smile on their face clapping along with the song.

I would say that - in my experience - the ME attitude that men shouldn't bellydance is rooted more from the fear of something "established" and "familiar" changing than the fact that they feel that men really shouldnt dance. This fear is often connected with the fear of the "west taking over" and erasing their culture, identity and along with that remove the elements in their lives that make them feel safe and in control of their own enviroment. We see similar issues in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries.
 
Also, when talking about masculinity and femininity in dancers we often times confuse it with the look of the dancer rather than the stylization of the dancer. Alas, we confuse the dance technical stylization of expression and execution with personal views of men and women, masculine and feminine.
 

Elianne

New member
Oh my god... khanjar... this is my first post... i love it how you stand up for men. Belly dancing shouldn't be seen as something only women can do or should do. Man can dance too! I mean... of course... men dance different than women, but that doesn't mean it's bad! Not at all. I think it's very inspiring for people to watch men bellydance. Those men are not affraid of being marked as 'gay' or something in that way. They are not affraid to be who they are. I admire that in people. When I started bellydancing, there was this boy. He didn't mind to be in a group full of girls. No,.. he just liked to dance! That's not wrong! If you do what you love to do, it's the best thing you can do for yourself. Enjoy life... and if that is by bellydance. Let's bellydance then =D
 

Pirika Repun

New member
I will have to say that I as a male dancer have never been approached with the "men shouldnt bellydance" attitude from anyone. My experience is almost the opposite. Most people embrace the knowledge behind what I do (although I feel like the more I know already, the more there is to know ahead!). I dont really ask anything more than that - whether they are comfortable watching a male dance is rather a personal issue than the ability to appreciate the skill, ability and knowledge behind the dancing before you. It would be great if everyone in the audience could be just as zillous every time I dance, but that would not be a fact for any type of audience. I am sure we have all experienced that the audience often goes quiet and looks disconnected with the mood of what we as dancers present when its really paying attention as well.

I always got weird looks for being a dancer whether it was Bhangra or Bellydance. So, in Bellydance I have had people be weary of it, but they usually warm up to the idea pretty quickly...even easier if I am present to perform. My colleagues and I would get a kick out of observing the audience members' body language and expression change over the 5 or 10 minutes I would dance. They would start out with a leaned back and restrained posturing with a serious facial expression - to then end up leaned forward with a smile on their face clapping along with the song.
Good to hear your audience ALWAYS accept you as male Oriental dancer.

However, I have some questions.

1. Do you perform mainly Western audience or Arab audience?
2. When you perform, what kind of costume are you wearing? I saw your shaabi video that Caroline posted on Shaabi thread and I saw you wear two piece costume like on your avatar. Do you wear different kind of costume such as gallabeya or totally street cloth type of costume that recently Tito and also Tarik wearing? Or just two piece costume?
3. If you wear different type of costumes, costume makes different reaction from audience or always the same?

I saw Tito’s interview on YouTube, and he said like he perform and wear costume to not offend anybody and still be himself. So, I think that’s why he wears gallabeya or street cloths to cover this body, and address him as man and not imitate woman. He is Muslim, and he knows his culture, and NOT all people accept him as professional Oriental dancer. So, compare to Tito’s situation, and Tarik mentioned many times that he had hard time as male Oriental dancer (even in NYC), you are very lucky to accept by all audience.

I would say that - in my experience - the ME attitude that men shouldn't bellydance is rooted more from the fear of something "established" and "familiar" changing than the fact that they feel that men really shouldnt dance. This fear is often connected with the fear of the "west taking over" and erasing their culture, identity and along with that remove the elements in their lives that make them feel safe and in control of their own enviroment. We see similar issues in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries.
I don’t know about ME attitude toward men shouldn’t dance because western take over idea. I understand your point, but I don’t know if this is direct effect for “male shouldn’t dance”. I think more religious and cultural related situation than fear. We talked about “Dance is haram” so many times in this forum, and I think basic idea is “any dance is haram”. That’s why not only professional male dancers, but female dancers also in the same situation. I mean, all look down from the society and other negative images. You can dance at “home” but can’t dance “on the stage” and “that (suggestive/ seductive) way.” I was talking my Moroccan friend who is old and religious guy, and he told me that “dancing and singing are haram.” And he said both men and women dance is haram. He didn’t mention anything about “fear” or “western take over” but more of his religious belief.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
That is a very interesting concept about the 'beauty' of men. I agree that men are deffinately beautiful, but there are so many reservations is voicing the word to them. But in regards to belly dance... no matter what the male's physical appearance is, if he makes the dance beautiful then he too is beautiful. Masculinity / manlyness needs have no input in he dancing if he does not wish it too. It's a shame what the west has put upon male dancers lately. Men can dance too, and they often turn out to be wonderful dancers.
I often tell people that I seek the centuries-ago forgotten concept of "Masculine Beauty"...
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
To be perfectly honest, I cannot work out some of the issues with mens dancing because it operates on many levels.

The discussion appears quite complex as it is caught up in masculine,feminine and sexuality issues.
Even in gay culture there is a feminine and masculine image (ie. YMCA).

There are popular norms of male and female expecttaions in many cultures and they may differ around the world, but they are present.

Just because it different from your own cultural norms of male and female it does not mean the culture does not have them.

I think because the East does have different boundaries it is often misunderstood. For example, men holding hands in the street does not mean Egypt is 'gay friendly'.

I think Tarik is trying to take mens dancing to another place whilst accepting that there are cultral limitations. He does this for a reason as he explains.

There are two dance scenes in this world... the one in the Middle East and the one in the West. Very different rules apply believe me.

The womens dance scene is the same, they dont understand where the boundaries are and very rarely consider the context of what they have seen.

Tito understands these well and he manages to balance all of the issues successfully. he is very aware of the 'two scenes' and his place within both.

At an international dance festival in Cairo last year, I saw a few male dancers wandering around. One in particular was topless, very nice well tones body and wore very tight trousers which clung to every contour of his nether regions. A classic case of not knowing or understanding any boundaries.

Most Egyptians I know will not accept that a male belly dancer is not 1000% gay. I cant recall one who thinks any different... including Tito despite his best efforts to stay 'manly'.

I have completely lost my point now, which is what happens when I start thinking about this discussion. It is because there are two worlds in this dance and there are cultural norms which apply for both men and women around the world.

It has been part of our programming for centuries and it starts with our names when we are born and it goes from there.
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
Finally figured out a quick way to do multi quotes

To be perfectly honest, I cannot work out some of the issues with mens dancing because it operates on many levels.
Yes it does.

The discussion appears quite complex as it is caught up in masculine,feminine and sexuality issues.
Even in gay culture there is a feminine and masculine image (ie. YMCA).
A point I've tried to make before. Contrary to what many people think, homosexuality and effeminacy do not always go hand in hand. Most of the gay men I know are very masculine in that you would never know unless they tell you.

There are popular norms of male and female expecttaions in many cultures and they may differ around the world, but they are present.
True. Its just that in this case, there are disconnects on so many levels. Men do dance with the same moves socially, but there are many Westerners who not only don't know that this dance grew out of a social dance, they have no idea that men also do it. Then there are the Arabs and Egyptians you meet who would like to pretend or down play the reality that men DO dance this way socially. Add into this, the fact that once upon a time, it was not uncommon to see men of all sexual orientations and expressions from masculine to effeminate performing. No one got bent out of shape, no one took watching such entertainment to be as reflection on themselves and this was at a time when the only law in Egypt was Sharia law. So what has changed and why? Obviously, something has and I believe that something was Egypt's colonial experience under the British.

Just because it different from your own cultural norms of male and female it does not mean the culture does not have them.

I think because the East does have different boundaries it is often misunderstood. For example, men holding hands in the street does not mean Egypt is 'gay friendly'.
Very good point and one I got very heated about when we had the discussion on Arab male sexuality a while back. People see men dancing in a way that they assumed is "feminine" and rather than realizing that they were wrong in their perception in the first place, they project their world view on the culture and assume he's gay or imitating women. It never occurs to them at any time to simply ask a question and be open top learning. But then again, what could those wogs possibly be able to teach anyone from the intellectually superior West right?:rolleyes:

I think Tarik is trying to take mens dancing to another place whilst accepting that there are cultral limitations. He does this for a reason as he explains.
Yes. My ultimate goal is to do my humble part, as do we all, in promoting this dance. But because I came to Earth in this body, I've had to contend with the issue of perception etc. I'm aware of the culture as it exists today in the streets, I'm aware of certain aspects of the culture regarding dance pre-colonialism, I'm aware of the current situations and points of view and I can see the possibilities and potential. I know that the majority of the current generation has no knowledge of the fact that there were at one time, male performers. Therefore, I have to meet people where they actually are, not where their great great grand parents WERE. I haver to realize that they are not use to seeing men dance in a certain context, understand that there is a fear there, what it is and why, and then show it can be done in a way that doesn't confirm or trigger that fear.

There are two dance scenes in this world... the one in the Middle East and the one in the West. Very different rules apply believe me.

The womens dance scene is the same, they dont understand where the boundaries are and very rarely consider the context of what they have seen.
Exactly.

Tito understands these well and he manages to balance all of the issues successfully. he is very aware of the 'two scenes' and his place within both.

At an international dance festival in Cairo last year, I saw a few male dancers wandering around. One in particular was topless, very nice well tones body and wore very tight trousers which clung to every contour of his nether regions. A classic case of not knowing or understanding any boundaries.
I'm so glad you said this. Although the rules for dress are more relaxed for men over there, it doesn't mean they are non existent. I had an issue with a guy at Ahlan one year too. His pants were so tight I could see the blood flowing in the veins in his naughty bits. Not only that, but his pants were so low he had all this untrimmed bush hanging out the top. There's a big difference between showing off a nice physique and looking like an all out sharmoot, ( a guy who's for rent y'all). Unfortunately, this cultural misunderstanding is often carried on stage.

Took me a while to realize that too much beads and sequins on a guy can freak Arabs out. Simpler always seems to go over better. For me though, the pressure is dealing with the Western audiences and their expectations. They love the glitzy costumes, especially the women. So for me, I walk a tight rope. If its a mostly western crowd, I wear the glitz with the mesh shirt, Egyptians, no skin, very little glitz, preferably no fringe. Chains yes, rhinestones yes, because they are part of regular fashion now, coin scarf yes, but I know that the coin scarf pushes it just a bit

Most Egyptians I know will not accept that a male belly dancer is not 1000% gay. I cant recall one who thinks any different... including Tito despite his best efforts to stay 'manly'.
Most Egyptians I know consider any kind of male dancer gay and that includes the folk troupe boys. Just as most of them will not consider that a Rakassa is not 1000% a prostitute either for pay or for free. I've had to push this concern out of my head. I realize that they will think what they want to think and Egyptians, always looking for a source of entertainment at any cost..... well its a lot more entertaining to think that we're all a bunch of gays and whores now isn't it? What would sell more tickets? The movie about the dancers who do their shows, then go home, (ALONE) dog tires and sit in front of the tellie, or the story about the sexually charged slut puppies who get them guys all charged up and then takes their victims home for all sorts of wild escapades? I just realize that I'm not under any obligation to cater to anyones fantasies or negative expectations. If I wanted escapades, I'd get straight to it and not waste time tiring myself out!

I have completely lost my point now, which is what happens when I start thinking about this discussion.
It had something to do with the new world and the conspiracy that 911 was an inside job didn't it?:think::lol:

It is because there are two worlds in this dance and there are cultural norms which apply for both men and women around the world.

It has been part of our programming for centuries and it starts with our names when we are born and it goes from there.
Which is why I hate it when people give overly simplistic answer to very complex and multi layered real life issues. In the past, when I've disagreed with individuals. It wasn't that they were wrong, just that there was more to the story.
 
Good to hear your audience ALWAYS accept you as male Oriental dancer.

However, I have some questions.

1. Do you perform mainly Western audience or Arab audience?
2. When you perform, what kind of costume are you wearing? I saw your shaabi video that Caroline posted on Shaabi thread and I saw you wear two piece costume like on your avatar. Do you wear different kind of costume such as gallabeya or totally street cloth type of costume that recently Tito and also Tarik wearing? Or just two piece costume?
3. If you wear different type of costumes, costume makes different reaction from audience or always the same?

I saw Tito’s interview on YouTube, and he said like he perform and wear costume to not offend anybody and still be himself. So, I think that’s why he wears gallabeya or street cloths to cover this body, and address him as man and not imitate woman. He is Muslim, and he knows his culture, and NOT all people accept him as professional Oriental dancer. So, compare to Tito’s situation, and Tarik mentioned many times that he had hard time as male Oriental dancer (even in NYC), you are very lucky to accept by all audience.



I don’t know about ME attitude toward men shouldn’t dance because western take over idea. I understand your point, but I don’t know if this is direct effect for “male shouldn’t dance”. I think more religious and cultural related situation than fear. We talked about “Dance is haram” so many times in this forum, and I think basic idea is “any dance is haram”. That’s why not only professional male dancers, but female dancers also in the same situation. I mean, all look down from the society and other negative images. You can dance at “home” but can’t dance “on the stage” and “that (suggestive/ seductive) way.” I was talking my Moroccan friend who is old and religious guy, and he told me that “dancing and singing are haram.” And he said both men and women dance is haram. He didn’t mention anything about “fear” or “western take over” but more of his religious belief.
Thank you your questions Pirika.

1. Do you perform mainly Western audience or Arab audience?

I perform for Western audiences, Arab audiences and mixed audiences.

2. When you perform, what kind of costume are you wearing? I saw your shaabi video that Caroline posted on Shaabi thread and I saw you wear two piece costume like on your avatar. Do you wear different kind of costume such as gallabeya or totally street cloth type of costume that recently Tito and also Tarik wearing? Or just two piece costume?

When I perform I have a range of costumes: fully covering losely fitted, fully covering tightly fitted, fully covering sheer and tightly fitted, two piece...By personal choice I have refrained from wearing street clothes type costumes thus far. I choose my costumes according to what music I am dancing and what venue. The loser fitted costumes are typically only utilized for folk dance presentations or for presentations before mostly dance crowd audiences.

3. If you wear different type of costumes, costume makes different reaction from audience or always the same?

In my humble experience - and I am not claiming to be anything but just another dancer that works hard at my craft just like everyone else here - the reaction I get is to my dancing, not to the type of costume. The type of costume really makes no difference as far as the audience's reactions, in my experience that is. I dont know what they may say when they go home, but "follow up reactions" at latter times haven't lead me to believe anything different than that they liked my work.

I separate between a religious reaction and a cultural reaction VS a personal reaction. I gather, and have experienced, that religious reactions are to get up and leave the room. The gender of a dancer really has nothing to do with that. A cultural reaction may be related to the typical perception of gender specific roles in the dance and discomfort when these get "mixed up". I however, have never had anyone just say "guys shouldnt dance"... the reactions I get have been more nuanced and...lets say educated? I dont find a comment like "I dont feel comfortable watching a man dance, but you're good. That doesn't mean that I want to watch a man dance though." to be exclusive of male dancers, really. Maybe I should, but I dont. That's a personal restriction being presented along with the aknowledgement of ability. My goal is really not to make people sexually attracted nor comfortable when I dance. I look at my work in performance as a presentation of art/entertainment. Not a mode of enticement. If the audience member is enticed - great bonus for them. It doesn't - or shouldnt - really make a difference to my dancing or presentation or regard for it.

I agree that the regard of male dancers - or dancers at all - in ME culture is comprised of very multi-faceted complex religious, social, cultural and societal aspects. I merely wanted to bring forth one of the aspects by mentioning the fear of "westernization". I am by all means not saying that this is the only - or main - reason.

I have had long conversations with Uncle Tito in this regard as well. He indicates that he loves the dance more than his fear of reprimand for being in the profession he is in. However, he is not looking to be ignorant or foolish about how he goes about it. I respect Uncle Tito immensely for his work and the intelligent and professional way he goes about these matters.

I would be careful with lumping religious, cultural, social and personal views upon male dancers - even dancers at all - into the same pan and read all reactions as disregard for what we do. The arguments and grounds they come from are more complex than that, and we need to address and disect the arguments and the grounds they come from the same way. At least, that's my feeling about it.

Being raised in a Sikh Punjabi family - in Norway, I am well aware of religious, cultural and social aspects of complex issues such as the regard of arts in general, and dance arts in specific. It is often tempting to lumb everything together, but it serves no purpose to to that with complex matters such as these.

:) I hope that gives a better insight to what I was trying to add to the discussion.
 
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Caroline_afifi

New member
The type of costume really makes no difference as far as the audience's reactions, in my experience that is. I dont know what they may say when they go home, but "follow up reactions" at latter times haven't lead me to believe anything different than that they liked my work.
Generally speaking, do you think we actually get to hear what people think of our costumes other than the ones who say they like it?

I separate between a religious reaction and a cultural reaction VS a personal reaction. I gather, and have experienced, that religious reactions are to get up and leave the room.
The thing is, why would someone who was so religious be there in the first place? In my experience of seeing people leave a room, it has been to do with not liking the performance/immapropriate costume and disgust.
It is very difficult to assume it is to do with religious conservatism.


The gender of a dancer really has nothing to do with that.
I do believe that on occasions it does. there are some people who have a very strong reaction to male belly dancers, I have seen it.

A cultural reaction may be related to the typical perception of gender specific roles in the dance and discomfort when these get "mixed up". I however, have never had anyone just say "guys shouldnt dance"... the reactions I get have been more nuanced and...lets say educated?
can you expand on this a little? I am not sure I understand it.

I dont find a comment like "I dont feel comfortable watching a man dance, but you're good. That doesn't mean that I want to watch a man dance though." to be exclusive of male dancers, really. Maybe I should, but I dont.
Sorry, I cant follow this either! sorry..

That's a personal restriction being presented along with the aknowledgement of ability. My goal is really not to make people sexually attracted nor comfortable when I dance. I look at my work in performance as a presentation of art/entertainment. Not a mode of enticement. If the audience member is enticed - great bonus for them. It doesn't - or shouldnt - really make a difference to my dancing or presentation or regard for it.
yes.

I agree that the regard of male dancers - or dancers at all - in ME culture is comprised of very multi-faceted complex religious, social, cultural and societal aspects. I merely wanted to bring forth one of the aspects by mentioning the fear of "westernization". I am by all means not saying that this is the only - or main - reason.
I agree with you.

I have had long conversations with Uncle Tito in this regard as well. He indicates that he loves the dance more than his fear of reprimand for being in the profession he is in. However, he is not looking to be ignorant or foolish about how he goes about it. I respect Uncle Tito immensely for his work and the intelligent and professional way he goes about these matters.
No direspect for uncle Tito, but do you think 'the love of the dance' would see through all of the crap if he wasnt making big bucks??

I think he would take a rain chack to be quite frank. I am not singling Tito out here but the 'love of this dance' increases with the bank account in most cases.

I would be careful with lumping religious, cultural, social and personal views upon male dancers - even dancers at all - into the same pan and read all reactions as disregard for what we do. The arguments and grounds they come from are more complex than that, and we need to address and disect the arguments and the grounds they come from the same way. At least, that's my feeling about it.
I dont get the first part but we have already said this is a complex issue.

Being raised in a Sikh Punjabi family - in Norway, I am well aware of religious, cultural and social aspects of complex issues such as the regard of arts in general, and dance arts in specific. It is often tempting to lumb everything together, but it serves no purpose to to that with complex matters such as these.
Sorry, I dont follow this either. In what way do you percieve things being lumped together?

:) I hope that gives a better insight to what I was trying to add to the discussion.
It will when I understand it! :D sorry for asking you to explain further, but I would rather do this than build up assumptions of what you have said and be way off base.
 
Hey Caroline!

Wow, thank you for the questions. Let's see if I can clarify.

(ps: I dont know how to quote a quoted post - so I'm going to do my best to address your questions in a separate post)

Generally speaking, do you think we actually get to hear what people think of our costumes other than the ones who say they like it?
I understand why you would ask this. I don't think it is common for audience members to comment directly to a female dancer if they disapprove of the costuming as directly as they tend to do with male dancers. My answer is: generally: no, but specifically - yes.

The thing is, why would someone who was so religious be there in the first place? In my experience of seeing people leave a room, it has been to do with not liking the performance/immapropriate costume and disgust.
It is very difficult to assume it is to do with religious conservatism.
Well, I'm not the one to point fingers at people for double standards in their religious stand. What I will say is that eastern practice of religion, position of religion in society and entitlement to be present often outrules the western logic of just not putting yourself in a situation/venue where you would have to disapprove of things. I have seen such situations happen to artists of great class, quality and covered-up-ness of both genders. I'm not really assuming - I have actually investigated this subject to great extent both within Middle Eastern and Indian cultures.

I do believe that on occasions it does. there are some people who have a very strong reaction to male belly dancers, I have seen it.
I believe you. I have been present when similarly strong reactions have been made towards female dancers as well - or even to the appearance of an audience member by other audience members. I think you will agree that merely the gender of a dancer is not the only factor that triggers such strong reactions.

In the case of male dancers, it is more the notion and association of homosexuality.- and condoning the male dancer and the homosexual association by not reacting... along with gender roles - than the fact that people just cant stand watching a man dance.

A cultural reaction may be related to the typical perception of gender specific roles in the dance and discomfort when these get "mixed up". I however, have never had anyone just say "guys shouldnt dance"... the reactions I get have been more nuanced and...lets say educated?

Caroline said: can you expand on this a little? I am not sure I understand it.

I dont find a comment like "I dont feel comfortable watching a man dance, but you're good. That doesn't mean that I want to watch a man dance though." to be exclusive of male dancers, really. Maybe I should, but I dont.
Ok, lets see. These two go together. The first part I say that people tend to get uncomfortable when culturally set gender roles in dance are - in their opinion - "mixed up".

Second I say, or tried to say, that the reactions I have experienced - not speaking for everyone else or assuming that they haven't had other experiences than mine - have been more of the type "I dont feel comfortable wathcing a man dance, but you are good/competent/know what you are doing." to then be followed up with "that doesnt mean I want to watch a man dance. I'm just saying".

In regard to Uncle Tito...he tried to/has been dancing in Egypt for many years before he gained success, fame and glory. I dont believe he had an easy time of it - and I dont think he is wrong in enjoying the less than guaranteed fruits of his pain and suffering and hard work today. There are many male dancers that have put up with all kinds of "crap" in order to dance whether they made a big name and a large bank account for themselves or not. I see where you are coming from - but believe me - with the crap people - both male and female - go through to be able to just take a weekly class and not even aspire to perform....there are people out there that do love the dance to that extent. I think it comes across stronger in enviroments where arts generally are looked upon as a timepass and not a profession - and anything not associated with a "real" profession is a waste of time. We are very privilaged in the west to be able to "waste" so much time on things we want to do rather than things we *have* to do. Of course the success and flood of currency is a great patch on the wounds left from any bad experience in the past or that one is currently going through...but not everyone achieves success or a flood of currency...they still keep dancing though. That goes for both male and female dancers. I'm not saying you are wrong in the perception that "money heals all wounds", but I believe that there is more to it than that for many, but not necessarily for everyone.

There are several dancers that come from very wealthy backgrounds that would rather work as an averagely paid dancer and be disowned by their families than give up the dance and be taken into the grace of wealth and family.

Being raised in a Sikh Punjabi family - in Norway, I am well aware of religious, cultural and social aspects of complex issues such as the regard of arts in general, and dance arts in specific. It is often tempting to lump everything together, but it serves no purpose to to that with complex matters such as these.
Ok, here I am saying - in a round about way - that the issues of religious, cultural and social views of dancers are complex and should not be lumped together..be it that the isssues are in regards to male or female dancers. Meaning, we have to separate the issues.

Arts are regarded VERY differently from country to country, from culture to culture. Dance arts tend to be turned into the black sheep of art and receive a lot of negative press, whereas drawing, painting, sewing, vocal arts, poetic arts and musical arts usually get recognized at a somewhat acceptable level.


It will when I understand it! :D sorry for asking you to explain further, but I would rather do this than build up assumptions of what you have said and be way off base.
Did that clarify things a bit or did I just confuse more? Thank you for asking rather than assuming :) I appreciate that. Hopefully, I was able to clear up stuff.
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
[
QUOTE=DaVidofScandinavia;117967]Hey Caroline!

Wow, thank you for the questions. Let's see if I can clarify.

(ps: I dont know how to quote a quoted post - so I'm going to do my best to address your questions in a separate post)



I understand why you would ask this. I don't think it is common for audience members to comment directly to a female dancer if they disapprove of the costuming as directly as they tend to do with male dancers. My answer is: generally: no, but specifically - yes.
wow that is interesting. Are you saying that people are generally more honest with men?

Well, I'm not the one to point fingers at people for double standards in their religious stand. What I will say is that eastern practice of religion, position of religion in society and entitlement to be present often outrules the western logic of just not putting yourself in a situation/venue where you would have to disapprove of things. I have seen such situations happen to artists of great class, quality and covered-up-ness of both genders. I'm not really assuming - I have actually investigated this subject to great extent both within Middle Eastern and Indian cultures.
Yes I know what you mean now. Gaving saud that, there are many reasons why people leave and not just religious of course.

I believe you. I have been present when similarly strong reactions have been made towards female dancers as well - or even to the appearance of an audience member by other audience members. I think you will agree that merely the gender of a dancer is not the only factor that triggers such strong reactions.
No it's not but if we look at the case of male dancers, just the fact they are male can be enough to make people walk. I saw it happen a few months ago in Cairo.

In the case of male dancers, it is more the notion and association of homosexuality.- and condoning the male dancer and the homosexual association by not reacting... along with gender roles - than the fact that people just cant stand watching a man dance.
Yes that is right when you explian it like that.


Ok, lets see. These two go together. The first part I say that people tend to get uncomfortable when culturally set gender roles in dance are - in their opinion - "mixed up".
yes

Second I say, or tried to say, that the reactions I have experienced - not speaking for everyone else or assuming that they haven't had other experiences than mine - have been more of the type "I dont feel comfortable wathcing a man dance, but you are good/competent/know what you are doing." to then be followed up with "that doesnt mean I want to watch a man dance. I'm just saying".
OK, I understand now.

In regard to Uncle Tito...he tried to/has been dancing in Egypt for many years before he gained success, fame and glory. I dont believe he had an easy time of it - and I dont think he is wrong in enjoying the less than guaranteed fruits of his pain and suffering and hard work today.
I personally dont begrudge him a penny, but I think the association with money is very relevant.

You can be a dancer and love dancing and not make a penny.

The pursuit of money is a big factor in this dance in Egypt (and beyond in many cases) Dancers may not make any money dancing in Egypt but the investment into the 'fame' side of life does ensure some financial reward, travel and longevity.

There are many male dancers that have put up with all kinds of "crap" in order to dance whether they made a big name and a large bank account for themselves or not.
mmm, it is a choice at the end of the day and even at the low end it is still a better paid job than doing room service in a hotel or serving Kushary.

I see where you are coming from - but believe me - with the crap people - both male and female - go through to be able to just take a weekly class and not even aspire to perform....there are people out there that do love the dance to that extent.
Where is the suffering coming from in this situation?


I think it comes across stronger in enviroments where arts generally are looked upon as a timepass and not a profession - and anything not associated with a "real" profession is a waste of time. We are very privilaged in the west to be able to "waste" so much time on things we want to do rather than things we *have* to do.
yes, and have the finances to do it.


Of course the success and flood of currency is a great patch on the wounds left from any bad experience in the past or that one is currently going through...but not everyone achieves success or a flood of currency...they still keep dancing though. That goes for both male and female dancers. I'm not saying you are wrong in the perception that "money heals all wounds", but I believe that there is more to it than that for many, but not necessarily for everyone.
Yes, there is more to it.
There is all the personal adoration etc. love of the dance and a whole load of other stuff too!

There are several dancers that come from very wealthy backgrounds that would rather work as an averagely paid dancer and be disowned by their families than give up the dance and be taken into the grace of wealth and family.
In MED? I think in the west you have to have a certain amount of money to indulge in this dance. It is also a fairly eady place to attain status and a 'name' unlike other forms of dance.

Ok, here I am saying - in a round about way - that the issues of religious, cultural and social views of dancers are complex and should not be lumped together..be it that the isssues are in regards to male or female dancers. Meaning, we have to separate the issues.
I think we have to untangle them but i am not sure they can be totally seperated.

Arts are regarded VERY differently from country to country, from culture to culture. Dance arts tend to be turned into the black sheep of art and receive a lot of negative press, whereas drawing, painting, sewing, vocal arts, poetic arts and musical arts usually get recognized at a somewhat acceptable level.
Yes, this is true but some dances have managed to change their puvlic perception and have become 'high art' this is currently being discussed in another thread.

Did that clarify things a bit or did I just confuse more? Thank you for asking rather than assuming :) I appreciate that. Hopefully, I was able to clear up stuff.
[/QUOTE]

yes, it did thank you :D
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
As much "problem" as being a male Belly Dancer is (in the west), I'm so very glad that I *am* in the west. I have a hard enough time dealing with the relativistic BS in my part of the world without having to worry about Egypt, et al. Since I have no intentions of dancing there, I'm not worrying about it...

Now with that said, I've had my collisions with Middle Easterners - surprise, surprise. Most of the younger men don't have too much of a problem with me - sequins, beads, jewelry and all - but most of the older men won't even look at me! I've won a few of them over after they've come to know me better - but not all by any means.

Whatever - I do what I do, its up to the audience to interpret/like it as they will. For the most part, my audiences like me. I'm content.
 
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