I don't know

charity

New member
i should have learned well enough to steer clear of this thread. authenticity is a big issue to me. my opinion is that in the context of our learning there will be very little authentic middle eastern dance coming from european/american countries. cultural nuances are so ingrained. one cannot learn about another culture simply by partaking of one factor from it. not to mention this is a dance that many middle eastern people have VERY different opinions on.

i think it is so americanly arrogant to assume that you can do someone else's dance as well as them. we do the best with it. nothing wrong with that. we put it into our own context and make something out of it. that is why i call it belly dance rather than ME. it isnt ME. it wont ever be ME for most people. and to me, this is no big deal. i'm not trying to glorify the dance or a culture i know very little about.

the whole idea of one girl ruining the reputation of "the dance" seems a bit extreme. i think that in time her reputation will be decided. if she performs authentically, then her audience will reflect that. if not, well in a remote area, i'm sure she will still be able to draw a crowd. for those who like what they see, perhaps they will do some digging and come to find that there is much more to belly dance than they knew.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance, etdc.

i should have learned well enough to steer clear of this thread. authenticity is a big issue to me. my opinion is that in the context of our learning there will be very little authentic middle eastern dance coming from european/american countries. cultural nuances are so ingrained. one cannot learn about another culture simply by partaking of one factor from it. not to mention this is a dance that many middle eastern people have VERY different opinions on.

i think it is so americanly arrogant to assume that you can do someone else's dance as well as them. we do the best with it. nothing wrong with that. we put it into our own context and make something out of it. that is why i call it

belly dance rather than ME. it isnt ME. it wont ever be ME for most people. and to me, this is no big deal. i'm not trying to glorify the dance or a culture i know very little about.

the whole idea of one girl ruining the reputation of "the dance" seems a bit extreme. i think that in time her reputation will be decided. if she performs authentically, then her audience will reflect that. if not, well in a remote area, i'm sure she will still be able to draw a crowd. for those who like what they see, perhaps they will do some digging and come to find that there is much more to belly dance than they knew.


Dear Charity,
There happen to be a very few BELLY dancers , (and that DOES evoke in the average audience member an ethnic element,whether or not anyone else is willing to admit it,) who do the dance very well, and with the right cultural feeling. This might be because of their ability to empathize with others or because they moved around so much that they were never imprinted with a certain type of ethnocentricity, or because they somewhere in their souls, just "get it". It has nothing to do at all with arrogance, in spite of the fact that people like yourself prefer to think that. It is a surety of what belly dance really is and is not. It also helps to have spent a hell of a lot of time with the people of the ethnic group in question.This is NOT about drawing a crowd or what the girl is about, but instead what the dance is about. I get really, REALLY sick of the attitude that it's okay to do it wrong since so many people can not do it right. There are other ways to get around the issue of authenticity without just out and out faking one's way through the dance. I am sorry that you are either too young, to set into your own ethnocentric patterns of thinking or too egotistical about what you are doing to see that. I know that I have had it up to here with all the excuses when people want to walk all over a dance that does not belong to them and that they are too damn lazy or ignorant to try to understand on its own terms.

A'isha Azar
 

charity

New member
i'm in teal.

Dear Charity,
There happen to be a very few BELLY dancers , (and that DOES evoke in the average audience member an ethnic element,whether or not anyone else is willing to admit it,) who do the dance very well, and with the right cultural feeling. This might be because of their ability to empathize with others or because they moved around so much that they were never imprinted with a certain type of ethnocentricity, or because they somewhere in their souls, just "get it". It has nothing to do at all with arrogance, in spite of the fact that people like yourself prefer to think that.

no i dont prefer to think that. i think that if you were totally honest with yourself, it would ring somewhat true that you will not know a culture until you live it.

you cannot place yourself in a context and believe you understand. you have to be born there, raised there, fought there, survived there...implantation, transplantation gives you SOME helpful experiences. i do believe it is arrogant to believe that in 2-4-10 years, you can learn what it took a whole people centuries to learn or become. these are nuances found in dance. they differ from ours.

It is a surety of what belly dance really is and is not. It also helps to have spent a hell of a lot of time with the people of the ethnic group in question.This is NOT about drawing a crowd or what the girl is about, but instead what the dance is about. I get really, REALLY sick of the attitude that it's okay to do it wrong since so many people can not do it right. There are other ways to get around the issue of authenticity without just out and out faking one's way through the dance. I am sorry that you are either too young, to set into your own ethnocentric patterns of thinking or too egotistical about what you are doing to see that. I know that I have had it up to here with all the excuses when people want to walk all over a dance that does not belong to them and that they are too damn lazy or ignorant to try to understand on its own terms.

wrong is your interpretation. i dont understand why something can only be beautiful if its done one way, your way, the groups way... to me, yes that is arrogant and egocentric too. and walk all over the dance, i would never, but at the same time i would never try to offend a people by saying oh, i know what you mean, i know how you feel, i know how you live, i know how you love, i know how you suffer, i know how convicted you are...because i am too. no way, lady. not cool imo.

A'isha Azar
please dont think i have no respect for the dance. i have more respect for the culture, and that is a big difference.
 

sedoniaraqs

New member
i should have learned well enough to steer clear of this thread. authenticity is a big issue to me. my opinion is that in the context of our learning there will be very little authentic middle eastern dance coming from european/american countries.
If this is what you think, Charity, then the one you should be feeling frustrated with is the clueless dancer who knows little or nothing about the culture and the styles (yet wants to perform), not the trained and dedicated dancers who have tried to learn and teach the dance as well as possible.


i think it is so americanly arrogant to assume that you can do someone else's dance as well as them.
Who said that? I'm just curious. I haven't ever heard A'isha say that she thinks she dances exactly like or as well as Egyptians. I have certainly never said such because I don't believe i do, and I haven't heard anyone else say it either. Perhaps you are erroneously reading between the lines, or building a straw man.

If people who put a decade or two or three into trying to at least come close to the authentic are arrogant, then the person who wants to step out and be a belly dancer with zero or very little training and education must be, like, a thousand times MORE arrogant. Slapping a sloppy label like interpretive belly dance or nontraditional belly dance to cover up lack of understanding adds to the arrogance factor even more IMO. True fusion or nontraditional artists are those who know quite a bit about what it is they are fusing.


the whole idea of one girl ruining the reputation of "the dance" seems a bit extreme. i think that in time her reputation will be decided. if she performs authentically, then her audience will reflect that. if not, well in a remote area, i'm sure she will still be able to draw a crowd. for those who like what they see, perhaps they will do some digging and come to find that there is much more to belly dance than they knew.
I think what you are forgetting is that bellydancerrose came here of her own free will and ASKED FOR ADVICE!! We gave her honest advice, direct but politely worded, based on knowledge and experience, not white-washed fluffy I'mOKyou'reOK whatever-feels-good advice. Our advice is as much aimed at offering her some actual help and direction as it is to preserving the reputation of the dance.

Sorry, buts its not OK to publicly market yourself as professional belly dancer and seek gigs when your mom taught you some moves, you've learned in a vacuum, you have only danced to Shakira in your living room, you don't know what styles are, or if you have one or need one.

I don't know why this kind of a stance makes people so defensive and insecure, even people at whom the advice isn't even aimed.

The problem with the "one girl" argument is that its never one girl. There is one girl in every town, and a hundred in every city. Can one girl ruin the reputation of the dance? Not world wide, but locally, hell yes! Dancers could line up here with stories about how many opportunities to perform, teach, align with universities and schools, get grant funding or support, etc. etc. have been ruined by as little as one person destroying the public's conception of the dance and undercutting pricing structures. You may not have experienced this yet, but many of the rest of us have.

Sedonia
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance etc.

Dear Charity,
Sometimes we DO know what people mean and what they feel if we take the time and energy to step outside ourselves and really look and listen,to spend time with the people, etc. No one, not even Arabs themselves, know everything there is to know about the various cultures within cultures, etc. One can have empathy and understanding without having lived someplace or been brought up there. Sometimes there is just the right connection to and inherent understanding. It is entirely possible to have understanding enough to dance like an Egyptian, or a Turk or a Lebanese, because one understands the dance. One need not understand every molecule of the culture to do this, though knowing all one can is only going to be a good thing.This does not make anyone who can do this arrogant. You might be far more truthful to say that YOU can not.
Your speech about having to live in a country for generations does not hold true for all people in all circumstances. Lawrence of Arabia is one of the most famous examples of that. There have been people throughout time that simply found they were more comfortable and more understanding of a group from which they were not hatched. Me personally, I understand a lot about various Arab cultures, but there are of course holes in that education. However, I can say with total confidence that I can dance like an Egyptian. ( Note that I can not dance like a Turk or a Lebanese.) I have spent the last 33 years perfecting that and for the last 25, have had almost daily contact with people from various Arab countries, asking, observing , learning. For you that might mean little, but then, unless you are having the same kind of experience, you have no idea what anyone knows or does not know, and so you might just lay off that "arrogant" nonsense.
Go to my website and read about some of the things that Arab women have trusted me to write about in my "Women in Between" series. Tell THEM that I don't understand. There is a damn good reason why the trust me to write their stories, and it is not because I am arrogant and don't understand them. And I am not the only one like me, either. I can name several others without even having to think about it, including one very nice American guy who now lives permanently in Saudi Arabia with a Bedouin family.

Personally, I find it arrogant and egocentric to say that it is okay to do whatever one wants and call it "belly dance". Belly dance is a very specific dance, with very specific cultural ties and very specific ethnic essences. Belly dance is not an American art form; it is Middle Eastern/North African. American and other off-shoots need to have their own names so that when one is dancing for Mr or Ms Average Audience, they know what is going on. THEY are the ones who think that "belly dance" is a term denoting ethnic dance; not me. I am well aware of its Arabic name.
And as for you, I think you have not been dancing very long and should first learn a bit more about the dance and the people who have invested their lives in it before you go around spouting off about who is arrogant. Let me know when YOU have been dancing 10 years before you judge anyone else's ability to understand anything about the dance.
A'isha Azar
Lifetime dancer and student of Arab culture and people
 

Moon

New member
A'isha Azar said:
No one, not even Arabs themselves, know everything there is to know about the various cultures within cultures, etc. One can have empathy and understanding without having lived someplace or been brought up there. Sometimes there is just the right connection to and inherent understanding. It is entirely possible to have understanding enough to dance like an Egyptian, or a Turk or a Lebanese, because one understands the dance. One need not understand every molecule of the culture to do this, though knowing all one can is only going to be a good thing.
:clap: Finally!
I really don't understand why so many people think that people from a certain culture are automatically experts and the best at whatever originated from their country...
I'm Dutch, I lived here all my life and still I don't know anything about Dutch folkmusic, folk dancing or the appropriate costumes. I'm sure some random foreigner who studied Dutch folk dance for only a year will be already better at it than me, though I understand the lyrics. Ofcourse originating from a certain culture can give you a big advantage at learning something, but it will not automatically make you the best at something.
And even if that was the case, does that mean foreign people should just stop trying? When there's one person at school that gets an A+ for everything and you know you'll never be that good, is that a reason to just stop studying? Why can't you still try to get an A yourself?
 

teela

New member
I decided to add my two cents worth at this point. I live out in the bush and often end up doing the local dance. I can do the dance but i don't know what the words mean and i am unaware of the meaning of movements. The one dance I thought was about kids and comforting them, turned out to be about hunting seals. So just knowing the moves doesn't mean you really know the dance. So I agree with so many others on that.
 

Kharmine

New member
Oh, dear, here we go again. :rolleyes:

The term "belly dance" is an American one. It an old slang translation into English of the older French term "danse du ventre." There IS evidence the term originated probably due to underground advertising about the dances of the ME and Turkish dancers exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

Whether one agrees with that or not -- there is N0 verifiable evidence that it originated anywhere else, at any time, by anyone else. If there is, it has yet to surface on this forum.

Therefore, it is absolutely ludicrous to say "belly dance" could not include styles that originated in the U.S. -- whether called 'cabaret" or "Oriental."

"Belly dance" is a general, umbrella-type term, basically inaccurate, but accepted to cover the types of dances that evolved from the synthesis of traditional ME styles with a strong Western influence created in Cairo nightclubs -- which INCLUDES classic cabaret/Oriental as it developed in the U.S.

If we want to be accurate about ME-originated styles we should call them by their proper names -- raqs sharqi, oyrantal dansi, tchetteli or whathaveyou according to their specific characteristics.

Any and all of which can be done quite well by a GOOD dancer of any ethnicity who knows his/her stuff. The "right stuff" might be harder to learn but it's what makes belly dance what it is -- a specific fusion of ethnic ME dance styles and Western influence.
 
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Aisha Azar

New member
Dance Etcd.

Oh, dear, here we go again. :rolleyes:

The term "belly dance" is an American one. It an old slang translation into English of the older French term "danse du ventre." There IS evidence the term originated probably due to underground advertising about the dances of the ME and Turkish dancers exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

There is N0 verifiable evidence that it originated anywhere else, at any time, by anyone else. If there is, it has yet to surface on this forum.

Therefore, then it is ludicrous to say "belly dance" could not include styles that originated in the U.S. -- whether called 'cabaret" or "Oriental." It is a general, umbrella-type term -- basically inaccurate, but accepted to cover the types of dances that evolved from the synthesis of traditional MEstyleswith a strong Western influence created in Cairo nightclubs

If we want to be accurate about ME-originated styles we should call them by their proper names -- raqs sharqi, oyrantal dansi, tchetteli or whathaveyou according to their specific characteristics.

Any and all of which can be done quite well by a GOOD dancer of any ethnicity who knows his/her stuff. The "right stuff" might be harder to learn but it's what makes belly dance what it is -- a specific fusion of ethnic ME dance styles and Western influence.[/QUOT



A'isha writes:
Oh, please!! If there is verifiable evidence that Sol Bloom coined the phrase at the World's Fair, produce it. Any other theory is just as verifiable until such time as something other than Sol Bloom's autobiography is used as the "proof".
Belly dance is an American term that refers today, to a specific Middle Eastern dance. The words may be American but the dance is not. No one equates the dance with a good old down home dance from Illinois or New York and that is easy to prove, merely by asking the average American where the dance comes from. He/she never replies that it is the brainchild of artistic endeavor in the fabulous state of Arizona. I once again challenge anyone at all to go out and try it and see how often the general public says it is an American dance.
 
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Kharmine

New member
Oh, please!! Belly dance is an American term that refers to a Middle Eastern dance. The words may be American but the dance is not. No one equates the dance with a good old down home dance from Illinois or New York and that is easy to prove merely by asking the average American where the dance comes from.He/she never replies that it is the brainchild of artistic endeavor in the fabulous state of Arizona.
Um, I see (1) you changed the post I was originally responding to as the quote I have above shows, (2) you still haven't bothered to read my Sol Bloom post, (3) once again, you are demanding evidence of a kind that you yourself can't produce of your own claims, and (4) you're reworking something I never said.

Fact: "Belly dance" is old American slang that was very loosely translated from the older French "danse du ventre." Both terms were generally, inaccurately, and fairly indiscriminately applied to various Middle Eastern dances by clueless Westerners long before "raqs sharqi" was even a twinkle in some Cairo nightclub owner's eye.

(Which is why so many dancers today refuse to use the term because they see it as racist, colonialist, demeaning, etc.)

But, like it or not, cabaret/American Oriental has been classic "belly dance" for "average Americans" pretty much ever since foreign dancers taught their various styles to Americans decades ago.

Which is why I am puzzled as to why someone who prides herself on being an expert and an educator is trying to co-opt 'belly dance" to apply as a correct genre name (which it most certainly isn't) --and with the weird quirk of excluding the American style.

What I HAVE said about 'belly dance:" It is a fusion of different Middle Eastern dance styles with a strong Western influence. That definition applies to raqs sharqi, oryantal dansi and tchitelli and probably a few others that evolved from the era of the 1920s Cairo nightclubs. Including cabaret/American Oriental.

I apologize to all those who feel too many threads are getting hijacked by the same ridiculous argument. Anyone really interested can look up the information I've provided in other places, look at the evidence for and against, and decide for him/herself. Whether you call yourself a belly dancer, Oriental dancer or whatever, you owe it to yourself to do the research.

Thank you -- and, hopefully, now back to our regularly scheduled programming!
 
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Aisha Azar

New member
Dance etc.

Um, I see (1) you changed the post I was originally responding to as the quote I have above shows, (2) you still haven't bothered to read my Sol Bloom post, (3) once again, you are demanding evidence of a kind that you yourself can't produce of your own claims, and (4) you're reworking something I never said.

Fact: "Belly dance" is old American slang that was very loosely translated from the older French "danse du ventre." Both terms were generally, inaccurately, and fairly indiscriminately applied to various Middle Eastern dances by clueless Westerners long before "raqs sharqi" was even a twinkle in some Cairo nightclub owner's eye.

(Which is why so many dancers today refuse to use the term because they see it as racist, colonialist, demeaning, etc.)

But, like it or not, cabaret/American Oriental has been classic "belly dance" for "average Americans" pretty much ever since foreign dancers taught their various styles to Americans decades ago.

Which is why I am puzzled as to why someone who prides herself on being an expert and an educator is trying to co-opt 'belly dance" to apply as a correct genre name (which it most certainly isn't) --and with the weird quirk of excluding the American style.

What I HAVE said about 'belly dance:" It is a fusion of different Middle Eastern dance styles with a strong Western influence. That definition applies to raqs sharqi, oryantal dansi and tchitelli and probably a few others that evolved from the era of the 1920s Cairo nightclubs. Including cabaret/American Oriental.

I apologize to all those who feel too many threads are getting hijacked by the same ridiculous argument. Anyone really interested can look up the information I've provided in other places, look at the evidence for and against, and decide for him/herself. Whether you call yourself a belly dancer, Oriental dancer or whatever, you owe it to yourself to do the research.

Thank you -- and, hopefully, now back to our regularly scheduled programming!

First, I changed nothing in your quote. Second, I passed on my information as something that came from someone else and NOT the last word on where belly dance was coined. Third, I did read your post on Sol Bloom and thought it was just as unsubstantiated as anything I have heard on the subject. Don't try to second guess what I do and do not read. Fourth, the average American who sees ANYTHING called belly dance equates it with the Middle Eastern, to use your words, "Like it or not".And fifth, I have done more than my fair share of research and am smart enough not to throw around words, like "Fact:" until I know something to be true.And sixth, it is BECAUSE I have seen how some people have mangled the entire concept of what belly dance is that I, as an "expert and and educator" will continue to insist that belly dance is an ethnic dance with specific ethnic spirit and essence and movement and feeling. I am not alone out there either, no matter how you try to make it look that way. As I have pointed out many times now, there used to be a day when it was all just called "belly dance". That day is passed and many people now want clarity and definition for what they are seeing and doing. Hence we now know that belly dance is a dance with styling from various countries, etc. This is a step in the right direction.
A'isha Azar
 

Kharmine

New member
A'isha, I didn't say you changed my quote. I was mentioning that you changed what you said because I was responding to your original post. Some on the forum might have been puzzled, seeing a different quote from you than the one to which I was writing a response.

I do apologize for appearing to "second-guess" you on not reading the Bloom post -- somehow I had guessed that you had not, given that until now you gave no indication that you had. I suggest that you read the fuller article about Sol Bloom due to be published shortly on The Gilded Serpent online magazine.

And please be reminded that there has been NOTHING, anywhere that I can find, that contradicts Mr. Bloom's testimony so if you want to dismiss him, that's your choice -- but you have yet to produce any evidence that the term emerged anywhere else under any other circumstances as you have often contended.

When you make a statement about something you've simply heard, or even just heard and interpreted to mean something specific, and then respond negatively to requests for substantiation, it would at least appear that you think your small bit of evidence should be enough for anyone.

When you go on to say (as you have on other threads) that there is "plenty of evidence" that would back up your statement and then you refuse to produce any, that is also problematic.

As you say -- "...many people now want clarity and definition for what they are seeing and doing. Hence we now know that belly dance is a dance with styling from various countries, etc..." -- yes, and why that does not include cabaret/American Oriental in your opinion is rather odd, given that the accepted usage for many decades in the United States does include it.

Cabaret/American Oriental shares the same basic traits of Middle Eastern movements, musical styles, etc. as raqs sharqi and the other dance styles -- raqs sharqi might have originated as a fusion in Cairo but it incorporates styles from other countries, as do the other dance styles. And ALL of them have a strong Western influence.

But whether or not you consider its American style enough to dismiss it outside your own definition as a dance with a specific ethnic Middle Eastern origin, you simply cannot co-opt "belly dance' to mean what you want it to say. It has been around too long, and has included cabaret/American Oriental for years.

So -- be specific. Cabaret/America Oriental is not raqs sharqi or one of the other styles that developed elsewhere. It still has the same Middle Eastern origins specific to a catchall, slang term -- belly dance.
 

charity

New member
i should have learned well enough to steer clear of this thread. authenticity is a big issue to me. my opinion is that in the context of our learning there will be very little authentic middle eastern dance coming from european/american countries. cultural nuances are so ingrained. one cannot learn about another culture simply by partaking of one factor from it. not to mention this is a dance that many middle eastern people have VERY different opinions on.

OHHHHH my whole reply got lost, how can i redo it:mad: anyway

basically this is all i meant you take a dance out of its cultural context, and it is no longer authentic. i truly believe this BUT we do with it what we can, whats wrong with that. what is the fault in that? i am not trying to say i can represent this culture, to me to make that claim seems more OFFENSIVE than saying man, i dont know much about it, i just do it cause i LIKE it.



i think it is so americanly arrogant to assume that you can do someone else's dance as well as them. we do the best with it. nothing wrong with that. we put it into our own context and make something out of it. that is why i call it belly dance rather than ME. it isnt ME. it wont ever be ME for most people. and to me, this is no big deal. i'm not trying to glorify the dance or a culture i know very little about.

this is in regards to those telling this girl well you cant/shouldnt do belly grams or promote it as belly dance because you are not authentic. but what makes those who say that authentic in their own dance. why is their dedication, intention, passion more sincere than hers... why must we assume that it will be perverted or that she wont be able to do it justice...this girl isnt claiming to be a rep for the culture, she's only claiming to enjoy the dance. wheres the fault in that?

the whole idea of one girl ruining the reputation of "the dance" seems a bit extreme. i think that in time her reputation will be decided. if she performs authentically, then her audience will reflect that. if not, well in a remote area, i'm sure she will still be able to draw a crowd. for those who like what they see, perhaps they will do some digging and come to find that there is much more to belly dance than they knew.
all this means is hey if people like her, she will draw a crowd, authentic or not. for those who want something closer to authentic, then no they may not be present in her audience.

sedonia, i'm sorry i dont know what a straw man is.

i think my use of arrogant offended those who are passionate about their dance. but i cannot take that back because i do believe its true, empathy cannot take the place of actual experience. perhaps it can get you close and you can do a very good representation of authentic, but its just that a representation.
 

charity

New member
If this is what you think, Charity, then the one you should be feeling frustrated with is the clueless dancer who knows little or nothing about the culture and the styles (yet wants to perform), not the trained and dedicated dancers who have tried to learn and teach the dance Our advice is as much aimed at offering her some actual help and direction as it is to preserving the reputation of the dance.

Sorry, buts its not OK to publicly market yourself as professional belly dancer and seek gigs when your mom taught you some moves, you've learned in a vacuum, you have only danced to Shakira in your living room, you don't know what styles are, or if you have one or need one.

I don't know why this kind of a stance makes people so defensive and insecure, even people at whom the advice isn't even aimed.



Sedonia
hmmm, good points. (i didnt alter anything just deleted areas i dont intend on addressing.) i really dont know how to argue with this except to say that on more than one occassion i have been under the impression that a new dancer has to prove her intentions for wanting to "partake" of this dance.

i'm not going to let people define my passion for dancing in terms of authenticity. not when the dance has been removed from cultural connotation. and it has. this is my point, the dance has changed. it will always change. why is that bad? why cant she just enjoy it?
 

taheya

New member
Hi Charity, no one is saying that she cannot enjoy dancing...but it is different bringing it into the public arena. For credibility she needs to learn about what she is doing otherwise she risks making a fool of herself and the dance form. Janaki offered her experiences and it is important to learn from that.
 

charity

New member
your right, no one did say that. i dont know why i take that away from many things i have read.

perhaps when passion is involved, misunderstanding is inevitable. not to mention, sometimes i am under the idea that dance is a very competitive community.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance etc.

Responses below in context

A'isha, I didn't say you changed my quote. I was mentioning that you changed what you said because I was responding to your original post. Some on the forum might have been puzzled, seeing a different quote from you than the one to which I was writing a response.


A'isha writes-Or perhaps you are just looking for something to snipe about.

I do apologize for appearing to "second-guess" you on not reading the Bloom post -- somehow I hadguessed that you had not, given that until now you gave no indication that you had. I suggest that you read the fuller article about Sol Bloom due to be published shortly on The Gilded Serpent onlinemagazine.

A'isha writes- I read many things on this forum and others to which I do not respond for a variety of reasons. I have no need to read the fuller article in order to see that you have decided to think that if Sol Bloom says it, it must be gospel.

And please be reminded that there has been NOTHING, anywhere that I can find, that contradicts Mr. Bloom's testimony so if you want to dismiss him, that's your choice -- but you have yet to produce any evidence that the term emerged anywhere else under any other circumstances as you have often contended.


A'ishas writes- And YOU please be reminded that you have offered nothing other than his word to substantiate your claim that he started the term "belly dance".



When you make a statement about something you've simply heard, or even just heard and interpreted to mean something specific, and then respond negatively to requests for substantiation, it would at least appear that you think your small bit of evidence should be enough for anyone.

A'isha writes- My dear, you are calling the kettle black. YOU are the one who insists that your bit of evidence should be enough for me. Please do not confuse your issues with mine.

When you go on to say (as you have on other threads) that there is "plenty of evidence" that would back up your statement and then you refuse to produce any, that is also problematic.

A'isha writes- This is almost laughable. It is extremely easy to prove that since World war II, there are many many advertisements, playbills, lectures, dance shows, etc, in which the term belly dance has been liberally applied in the American context. The only thing that I have asked you for is similar proof that it was there before. Wrld War II. Your ONE offering has been Sol Bloom's autobiography, which by the way was written AFTER World War II. Prove to me in some substantial way that it was in popular use before then with just one ad, or other proof (and they should have existed, in your reckoning, by the 20s or by the 1930s at least, so don't pull that tired Victorian excuse out again. Please produce an ad, playbill or SOMETHING to prove your point.

As you say -- "...many people now want clarity and definition for what they are seeing and doing. Hence we now know that belly dance is a dance with styling from various countries, etc..." -- yes, and why that does not include cabaret/American Oriental in your opinion is rather odd, given that the accepted usage for many decades in the United States does include it.

A'isha writes- I now wonder if you read my posts, considering that I have very carefully spelled out, time and time again why I feel the way I do.

Cabaret/American Oriental shares the same basic traits of Middle Eastern movements, musical styles, etc. as raqs sharqi and the other dance styles -- raqs sharqi might have originated as a fusion in Cairo but it incorporates styles from other countries, as do the other dance styles. And ALL of them have a strong Western influence.

A'isha writes- and how many times have I said that movement is ubiquitous in dance and the same ones are found in many different dances? Movement does not make the dance. And as anyone who has been paying the least bit of attention can see, musical stylings have ventured far, far from Middle Eastern in western fusion dance today. And, once again for your benefit, when the dance movements and expressions have been added by Egyptians, Turks, etc, these elements are both incorporated and expressed through the filter of the culture of origin and therefore, they take on that particular feeling and slant...just as has happened in the west with Middle Eastern dance.

But whether or not you consider its American style enough to dismiss it outside your own definition as a dance with a specific ethnic Middle Eastern origin, you simply cannot co-opt "belly dance' to mean what you want it to say. It has been around too long, and has included cabaret/American Oriental for years.


A'isha writes- It is only among some dancers that the concept of me "co-opting belly dance" would even occur. Most people still recognize belly dance as the dance that in Arabic is called Raqs el Sharghi and in Turkish Oriental Tanzi. I would say those who deny this really obvious fact are the ones who are co-opting. If you ask the man/woman on the street where they think that American cabaret comes from, because they lack the education to know the difference, they will say some country from the Middle East, or answer in some other fashion that does not include America. This is the very reason why it is so important to give clear definitions that let the American public know what is and is not belly dance. It is NOT an American invention and never was. The term is the English version of the Arabic and
Turkish.

So -- be specific. Cabaret/America Oriental is not raqs sharqi or one of the other styles that developed elsewhere. It still has the same Middle Eastern origins specific to a catchall, slang term -- belly dance.
A'isha writes- You are correct, cabaret is not raqs sharghi and so should not be called by the name that evokes that Middle Eastern dance in the minds of the American public. I can not get more specific than that.
 
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Kharmine

New member
Why Belly Dance is American, too

A'isha given that your tone has been hostile towards me almost from the moment I very reasonably questioned your premise for your claims (and I am not the only one), and it appears to be getting more so -- I have decided to be done with you.

I have shown my irritation with you too often in a manner I should avoid and so will resist the temptation to address you in the future, no matter how pointed the gratuitous digs made even in discussions where I am not involved. (Do you not have something better to do than to try to bait me?) So, girlfriend -- vaya con Dios and have a nice life. I bear no ill will, it's just time to move on again.

But for the sake of others reading this I will make it clear why my position is what it is:

I recently did an interview for Zaghareet! magazine with Eddie "The Sheik" Kochak -- the Arab-American impresario of many, many record albums of belly dance music from the 1950s to today. Mr. Kochak is in his 80s and lives in Brooklyn. He was born of Syrian immigrant parents and has been honored over and over by various Arab-American cultural groups for his contributions, particularly in keeping alive Middle Eastern music and dance in this country.

His "Strictly Belly Dancing" series is legendary for making Middle Eastern music possible for Western dancers to perform to, and for Western audiences to enjoy. He partnered with the Iranian-born musical genius Hakkai Obadia (who founded Baghdad's first symphony orchestra) to bring Arab-style music to a Western sensibility. Until then, many American dancers found it difficult to put the movements they learned from immigrants and foreign performers to a music that was unfamiliar and very different from Western melodies.

Kochak, Obadia and others helped instruct and encourage a generation of American dancers in developing an American version of the styles they themselves grew up with -- those American dancers like Serena, Dahlena and others went on to become our "grandmothers," in a sense, of belly dance in America.

(BTW, both Kochak and Obadia were also recognized and accorded respect in the Arab world abroad for giving new understanding and appreciation to the musical and dance part of their cultures - this was before Islamic extremism started rejecting Western influence in Arab countries.)

Like the many other Middle Eastern/Turkish/Greek/Armenian, etc. immigrants and children of immigrants who were familiar with the different belly dance styles of their ancestral homelands, Mr. Kochak is of the opinion that the classic American-style, Middle-Eastern-derived dance he helped promote in countless nightclubs and ethnic celebrations in this country is indeed BELLY DANCE.

He makes no distinction between "Egyptian style," "ME style" and cabaret/American Oriental -- it is all belly dance, as much as is raqs sharqi, oryantal dansi and tchetilli. Different styles with their own CORRECT names, but same slang umbrella term. And yes, he does place ATS in a class by itself. He knows from fusion, folks.

Mr. Kochak and others like him (such as George Abdo and Freddie Elias, etc.) were not making money off any far-removed-from-the-roots rendition of their cultures. They were experts, teachers and educators. And they were the original promoters of American-style belly dance, one style of which we today call cabaret/American Oriental.

They, and many thousands of other Arab-Americans as well as Arabic folks and generations of average Americans, call it belly dance, and so do I. Because it is.

If anyone wants to read Mr. Kochak's interview, I recommend getting a copy of the March/April 2007 issue of Zaghareet! I did a lot of research for that article and many others, and the sources are easily available for verification. (Mr. Kochak doesn't do email, but he is in the Brooklyn phone book.)

And no, I don't get any money from the sale of the magazine. I wasn't paid for the article, nor, so far, for any of the extensively researched articles I've written for belly dance publications. I do it for fun and education, and so far no one has found anything wrong by my research so guess I'm doing it as right as I can.
 
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sedoniaraqs

New member
hmmm, good points. (i didnt alter anything just deleted areas i dont intend on addressing.) i really dont know how to argue with this except to say that on more than one occassion i have been under the impression that a new dancer has to prove her intentions for wanting to "partake" of this dance.

i'm not going to let people define my passion for dancing in terms of authenticity. not when the dance has been removed from cultural connotation. and it has. this is my point, the dance has changed. it will always change. why is that bad? why cant she just enjoy it?
Who said anything about not enjoying the dance? We are talking about the choice to step into a professional realm with no training in said profession.

And as for whether or not change in the dance is bad, I' can't see what that question has to do with my post (though this thread has certainly splintered off into many tangential directions...). This thread didn't start out about the evolution of the dance through time, it started out with a request for advice about going professonal from a dancer who needs some more training and knowledge before going professional. And if you reread the OP first post, it is clear that the idea that she *might* need something more before going pro originated with her, indeed it was the impetus for her posting in the first place. We just confirmed her suspicions and laid out advice that, if she took it, might lead to her becoming a professional dancer. It would seem that she actually didn't want her suspicions confirms but overturned, as she has apparently "left the building".

in the meanwhile, no one wants to stop her from enjoying the dance as a hobbyist who wants to turn pro someday.

Sedonia
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Eddie etc.

A'isha given that your tone has been hostile towards me almost from the moment I very reasonably questioned your premise for your claims (and I am not the only one), and it appears to be getting more so -- I have decided to be done with you.

I have shown my irritation with you too often in a manner I should avoid and so will resist the temptation to address you in the future, no matter how pointed the gratuitous digs made even in discussions where I am not involved. (Do you not have something better to do than to try to bait me?)

But for the sake of others reading this I will make it clear why my position is what it is:

I recently did an interview for Zaghareet! magazine with Eddie "The Sheik" Kochak -- the Arab-American impresario of many, many record albums of belly dance music from the 1950s to today. Mr. Kochak is in his 80s and lives in Brooklyn. He was born of Syrian immigrant parents and has been honored over and over by various Arab-American cultural groups for his contributions, particularly in keeping alive Middle Eastern music and dance in this country.

His "Strictly Belly Dancing" series is legendary for making Middle Eastern music possible for Western dancers to perform to, and for Western audiences to enjoy. He partnered with the Iranian-born musical genius Hakkai Obadia (who founded Baghdad's first symphony orchestra) to bring Arab-style music to a Western sensibility. Until then, many American dancers found it difficult to put the movements they learned from immigrants and foreign performers to a music that was unfamiliar and very different from Western melodies.

Kochak, Obadia and others helped instruct and encourage a generation of American dancers in developing an American version of the styles they themselves grew up with -- those American dancers like Serena, Dahlena and others went on to become our "grandmothers," in a sense, of belly dance in America.

(BTW, both Kochak and Obadia were also recognized and accorded respect in the Arab world abroad for giving new understanding and appreciation to the musical and dance part of their cultures - this was before Islamic extremism started rejecting Western influence in Arab countries.)

Like the many other Middle Eastern/Turkish/Greek/Armenian, etc. immigrants and children of immigrants who were familiar with the different belly dance styles of their ancestral homelands, Mr. Kochak is of the opinion that the classic American-style, Middle-Eastern-derived dance he helped promote in countless nightclubs and ethnic celebrations in this country is indeed BELLY DANCE.

He makes no distinction between "Egyptian style," "ME style" and cabaret/American Oriental -- it is all belly dance, as much as is raqs sharqi, oryantal dansi and tchetilli. Different styles with their own CORRECT names, but same slang umbrella term. And yes, he does place ATS in a class by itself. He knows from fusion, folks.

Mr. Kochak and others like him (such as George Abdo and Freddie Elias, etc.) were not making money off any phonied-up, far-removed-from-the-roots rendition of their cultures. They were experts, teachers and educators. And they were the original promoters of American-style belly dance, one style of which we today call cabaret/American Oriental.

They, and many thousands of other Arab-Americans as well as Arabic folks, call it belly dance, and so do I. Because it is.

If anyone wants to read Mr. Kochak's interview, I recommend getting a copy of the March/April 2007 issue of Zaghareet! I did a lot of research for that article and many others, and the sources are easily available for verification.

And no, I don't get any money from the sale of the magazine. I wasn't paid for the article, nor, so far, for any of the extensively researched articles I've written for belly dance publications. I do it for fun and education, and so far no one has found anything wrong by my research so guess I'm doing it as right as I can.

Karmine,
Oh yeah, I am the one who tried to assassinate YOUR character. You really need to look at yourself and see how you project your own actions onto me.
But you are right, since you pulled that stunt, I now feel quite a bit of hostility toward you and no longer feel any compunction to be polite. You see baiting where none exists since my thoughts on both the terms belly dance and on what it is have not changed one iota since you got on this forum. All you have to do is look back to see that I am not doing anything different than I ever have. Unless I am addressing you directly, my thoughts very rarely center on you.
You STILL have not given any proof that the dance has been known as "belly dance" since before World War II. As far as Eddie the Sheik goes, his music is Arab American; not Arab. I believe he used to refer to it as "Ameraba, and I think even he would admit and recognize a difference.There is a HUGE difference, and one only has to listen to say, Eddie and Hani Mehennah to see, feel, hear and practically taste it. The dancers that he was playing for were not belly dancers either. They were American Oriental dancers. I have hung out WAY after hours with enough Arab bands to know how they feel and what they think of most American dancers, regardless of what they say. Much of it was not very flattering as far as the dancing goes.
I happen to have a copy of a CD set called "the Music of the Arab
Americans". Even in the by lines they discuss this difference between the authentic music of the Middle East and fusionary music of the people who have made music here. It is referred to as a "little known aspect of American music", not as Arab music. The first cut is from 1916 and the last is from the 1950s. In case you doubt my word as you seem to love to do, here is the info:
The Music of the Arab Americans:A Retrospective Collection
Rounder Records
Corp. Date- 1997
Disc # Rounder CD 1122
 
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