Plus Size Dancers

Gia al Qamar

New member
Thank you for explaining yourself...I was, absolutely irate at the idea that anyone would pass along the misconception that the US is an inhospitable place for belly dancers who aren't thin. I am VERY glad that this was a misunderstanding and not the way that we're perceived...
I can't think of a dance community MORE accepting of our abundant differences than the world wide belly dance community.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Plus size

Dear Gang,
At 55 years old, I have been a plus size dancer for about 10 years. Before that, I was a thinner dancer by far. I can only say in my experience from both sides of the fence, that both the belly dance community and the general public at large tend to accept thinner dancers more. For example, look at the thin women in the BDSS, (some of whom have very little talent for the dance), that are lauded as great belly dancers all over the place. This goes on while some really fabulous plus size dancers get no attention at all in spite of their ability, their experience and their knowledge. I saw the same thing happen at the Nile Festival. There was a blonde dancer in red who's name I do not know who was an amazing, subtle and beautiful dancer, but the audience hardly clapped for her at all, while the thinner dancers who were not nearly as good often got tons of applause. I might add that the audience there was worldwide, so it is not just an American problem.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Kharis

New member
Dear Gang,
For example, look at the thin women in the BDSS, (some of whom have very little talent for the dance), that are lauded as great belly dancers all over the place. This goes on while some really fabulous plus size dancers get no attention at all in spite of their ability, their experience and their knowledge. I saw the same thing happen at the Nile Festival. There was a blonde dancer in red who's name I do not know who was an amazing, subtle and beautiful dancer, but the audience hardly clapped for her at all, while the thinner dancers who were not nearly as good often got tons of applause. I might add that the audience there was worldwide, so it is not just an American problem.
Regards,
A'isha
I was waiting for someone to state the obvious. This is the thing I
despise about BDSS. They are absolutely not at home to buxom dancers. The nearest they got to it was Dondi...and she didn't last long. It's all about show, and fat lasses and old gals don't fit into the stereotype, thank you very much. I know plenty of full figured dancers who could dance the BDSS off the bloody dance floor. The whole BDSS ethic is so formulaic it makes me wanna barf! Well done, Miles Copeland, astute business man that he is... he knows as well as we do that in the glitzy money making machine of show biz, there is no room for a performing muffin top or a Krispy Kreme loving belly dancer.

And guess what... on every forum belly dance board all over the world we applaude the BDSS for being superstars and mega talented and Oh, so beautiful...whilst bleating on about how larger dancers are sequestered and not appreciated and not accepted for being the other side of a size 14.

If they feel so strongly, why the hell don't these same people boycott BDSS shows for setting the bad example it does in terms of celebrating and perpetuating the myth that professional shows are the domain of skinny toned dancers? Miles Copeland is no better than those shallow, artless fashion designers who want women to look like anorexic young boys.

Is there any chance he'll read this and start auditioning some curvy, mature dancers? Not while we've all got a hole in our arses...
 

Aisha Azar

New member
BDSS ands Miles

I was waiting for someone to state the obvious. This is the thing I
despise about BDSS. They are absolutely not at home to buxom dancers. The nearest they got to it was Dondi...and she didn't last long. It's all about show, and fat lasses and old gals don't fit into the stereotype, thank you very much. I know plenty of full figured dancers who could dance the BDSS off the bloody dance floor. The whole BDSS ethic is so formulaic it makes me wanna barf! Well done, Miles Copeland, astute business man that he is... he knows as well as we do that in the glitzy money making machine of show biz, there is no room for a performing muffin top or a Krispy Kreme loving belly dancer.

And guess what... on every forum belly dance board all over the world we applaude the BDSS for being superstars and mega talented and Oh, so beautiful...whilst bleating on about how larger dancers are sequestered and not appreciated and not accepted for being the other side of a size 14.

If they feel so strongly, why the hell don't these same people boycott BDSS shows for setting the bad example it does in terms of celebrating and perpetuating the myth that professional shows are the domain of skinny toned dancers? Miles Copeland is no better than those shallow, artless fashion designers who want women to look like anorexic young boys.

Is there any chance he'll read this and start auditioning some curvy, mature dancers? Not while we've all got a hole in our arses...



Dear Kharis,
I am not one to have fits about beautiful young, thin girls dancing. In fact I am in favor of looks, beauty and talent being packaged together. The thing that bothers me about the BDSS is that beauty and thinness seems to be the major prerequisites for being in that dance company and talent as dancers is secondary.
I support young, beautiful dancers with my whole heart as long as they can dance. I have even sponsored them. I have no issue with Miles choosing only young lovely women, but I just wish he would also choose young, lovely women who can really, really dance their hearts out and have true talent for it!!
Some years ago Miles and I had it out on this forum. He ended up buying me tickets to see the show because he knew darn well I would never pay to see it. The performance was every bit as gruesome as I thought it would be, very watered down, very tepid, very lacking in the stuff that makes real belly dancers, both in emotional content and physical technique for the most part. There were a couple of good dancers on the technical level for American style dance. No Egyptian, no Turkish, no American Tribal, no Lebanese, no folkloric dance. There was bellynesian, a lot of either Rachel Brice style techno-tribal ( very awesome ONCE in a show, but not repeated throughout!!), or Jillina style choreography, some gymnastic stuff, a girl who could spin for an hour while we studied our fingernails, etc, yadda, yadda, yadda. What was good about the show? The costumes for the belly dance numbers were really superb!!
Anyway, to make a long story short, Miles Copeland and I ended up having drinks for 4 hours and we found out that we actually like each other as people...but his show is still one of the wost watered down excuses for Middle Eastern dance that I have ever had the agonizing experience of sitting through. These are supposed to be professional dancers.
It has nothing to do with their size. I support everyone's right to have only beautiful, thin, young lovely women in their shows,. My issue with the BDSS is that many of the dancers have no talent and ONLY looks. The true Superstars in this business tend to come in varied shapes, ages, sizes, colors and genders.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Kharis

New member
Dear Kharis,
I am not one to have fits about beautiful young, thin girls dancing. In fact I am in favor of looks, beauty and talent being packaged together. The thing that bothers me about the BDSS is that beauty and thinness seems to be the major prerequisites for being in that dance company and talent as dancers is secondary.
I support young, beautiful dancers with my whole heart as long as they can dance. I have even sponsored them. I have no issue with Miles choosing only young lovely women, but I just wish he would also choose young, lovely women who can really, really dance their hearts out and have true talent for it!!
Some years ago Miles and I had it out on this forum. He ended up buying me tickets to see the show because he knew darn well I would never pay to see it. The performance was every bit as gruesome as I thought it would be, very watered down, very tepid, very lacking in the stuff that makes real belly dancers, both in emotional content and physical technique for the most part. There were a couple of good dancers on the technical level for American style dance. No Egyptian, no Turkish, no American Tribal, no Lebanese, no folkloric dance. There was bellynesian, a lot of either Rachel Brice style techno-tribal ( very awesome ONCE in a show, but not repeated throughout!!), or Jillina style choreography, some gymnastic stuff, a girl who could spin for an hour while we studied our fingernails, etc, yadda, yadda, yadda. What was good about the show? The costumes for the belly dance numbers were really superb!!
Anyway, to make a long story short, Miles Copeland and I ended up having drinks for 4 hours and we found out that we actually like each other as people...but his show is still one of the wost watered down excuses for Middle Eastern dance that I have ever had the agonizing experience of sitting through. These are supposed to be professional dancers.
It has nothing to do with their size. I support everyone's right to have only beautiful, thin, young lovely women in their shows,. My issue with the BDSS is that many of the dancers have no talent and ONLY looks. The true Superstars in this business tend to come in varied shapes, ages, sizes, colors and genders.
Regards,
A'isha
I have no gripe with thin beautiful dancers either....I've been that thin dancer, and I'm not beautiful but currently not that fat either, but the chasm yawns wider with each BDSS promotional tour as the girls look thinner and gaunter and the superstar label gets wider and fatter. And yes, that show is dull as dishwater. And yes, the dancing is mediocre. Rachel Brice and her girls are about the only good thing and this time round in the UK, I'm not sure she was part of the show. Perhaps she's seen the light. If I were a dancer of her calibre, I'd deck out of a show that mundane too. The last time I saw the show (didn't pay as I was working at Raqs B) Petite Jamilla was the only thing that rocked my boat at all, through the sheer skill of her spinning. The rest was pretty dull, and if Jillina doesn't ditch that drum solo on tabla routine soon, it's gonna be the universal groan of belly dance...
 

Salma Parvaneh

New member
Hi!

Oh well, we had a discussion like that in our german forum a few days ago....here in the German Belly Dance Contests, you'll get points off in the judging when you are .....fat! (Whatever or however one defines fat-where does it begin?).

This is definitively not fair because it should be a competition in dancing and not in looking good-and by the way-who says that you are only looking good if you are slim? The very slim and bony ones do not get points off!
This led to the discussion that professionality is when a bellydancer is slim. These words came from a quite known german dancer.

Like you, Fran, I always thought that we live(or better:dance) in a nice community of lovely ladies whou stick together against the rest of the world.

Now I found out that it is not that way.

Your experience exactely coveres mine. Teachers in bellydance classes discriminate the "fat" ones (do you have a nice word for "fat ones"? We call them "Mollies") in this way that they never dance at first in the lines, they are always the "back of the horse" in the choreograpies. Sometimes teachers come and tell them that they should diet. Other "colleagues" talk bad and nasty, and by the way, the same happened to my youtube-vids. As a result I allow no commends and no ranking any more. My vids on this channel should show interested people what I do. I don't need any judging because I know my worth.

You can delete the nasty commends if you want-I did so.

Some customers are not nice to me as a fat one, too! They talk bad and they are not trying to do it silent; for me this is real bad bad education (my mother would have hit or kicked me for this behavior!!!!). On the other hand there are many customers, esp. Egyptians, who love this kind of shape.

In Germany some teachers have discovered this branch and give extra courses for Mollies.

My vice for you is not to give up, search companions who are on your side and teachers who are a little bit fat, too!

And always remember that just elephants can sway ;-)))

Happy Hippo Hips, and don't take it tooooo bad; this is what all these dull people want...
Salma
 

Phoebedances

New member
I agree that being a larger woman doesn't mean that you can't dance. In fact I seem to enjoy watching a dancer who has some 'shape' to her -- some natural curves enhance this dance to me and make the moves all that more sensual. My teacher wasn't skinny and she was one of the most beautiful, charismatic dancers I've ever seen on stage.

I've been trying to lose weight, but I'm hardly skinny and I've been rather larger. I'll probably never be considered 'skinny'. It was sort of funny in the troop in Indianapolis. It was me - shorter and plumper and then two tall very slender dancers in one choreography. :lol::lol:

I don't have any of the BDSS DVD, but I do have one called 'Bellydance Divas'. I was watching it the other night after not having viewed it in some time. All the dancers are so slender. Some are very 'good' but most of their performances leave me feeling that something is lacking.

When I look at all the DVDs for sale - including instructional ones, I don't know if I've seen any that feature dancers that aren't slender. I wish there were some that were offered, because I think that would be so affirming to women of all shapes. As dancers we should support those who have great technique more than simply being slender and wearing a gorgeous costume. I'm thinking particularly of the DVD I was watching and as I viewed it wondering to myself how a couple of the dancers became known as 'Divas' when I wanted to yawn when watching them.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
DVDs of zaftig women

I agree that being a larger woman doesn't mean that you can't dance. In fact I seem to enjoy watching a dancer who has some 'shape' to her -- some natural curves enhance this dance to me and make the moves all that more sensual. My teacher wasn't skinny and she was one of the most beautiful, charismatic dancers I've ever seen on stage.

I've been trying to lose weight, but I'm hardly skinny and I've been rather larger. I'll probably never be considered 'skinny'. It was sort of funny in the troop in Indianapolis. It was me - shorter and plumper and then two tall very slender dancers in one choreography. :lol::lol:

I don't have any of the BDSS DVD, but I do have one called 'Bellydance Divas'. I was watching it the other night after not having viewed it in some time. All the dancers are so slender. Some are very 'good' but most of their performances leave me feeling that something is lacking.

When I look at all the DVDs for sale - including instructional ones, I don't know if I've seen any that feature dancers that aren't slender. I wish there were some that were offered, because I think that would be so affirming to women of all shapes. As dancers we should support those who have great technique more than simply being slender and wearing a gorgeous costume. I'm thinking particularly of the DVD I was watching and as I viewed it wondering to myself how a couple of the dancers became known as 'Divas' when I wanted to yawn when watching them.




Dear Phoebe,
I have a DVD on the market and I am pretty darn chubby. Shareen El Safy is another one who is far from slender who is an incredible dancer, and she has several very good instructional videos out.
Mine is at www,.raqsazar.com, under video. I have always bought Shareen's directly from her in person,but I am sure she has other fans here who can give you an email address.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Sara

New member
I've been reading this topic and had a few thoughts.

First is that I don't think that Lizaj's first post was offensive. I think that what she said is something similar to what I would say. The impression I got from her post was that if the OP was unhappy with herself then perhaps she coud try and work on that. I don't think it was meant that she should or that larger dancers were not as accepted.

Secondly, I don't think that anyone should be made to feel unwelcome because of their weight. It doesn't just happen to larger dancers but smaller ones too. Lets not forget that. I think the problem is that (even in everyday society) people are quick to judge. Perhaps it makes them feel better about themselves, or they are just not in the right state of mind? I know at the gym I go to I get told all the time that I don't need to go by the ladies there and I make them feel bad. :rolleyes: Whatever though our weight is our business alone. If you are healthy and up for a challenge then as far as I'm concerned you have the potential to be as good a dancer as anyone.

In response to the OP.... there are so many talented larger dancers! You should not feel discouraged by these people. Chances are they are in dancing for the posing and looking good than they are for the actual dance. In this dance you cannot truely acomplish the spark in your dance if you don't accept yourself as you are and love youself, but I don't think it's all about acknowledging that alone. You also have to know your weakness and insecurities to make your dance as real to you as possible. When I dance for example I try to play on the fact that I am generally shy and blundering when I'm not dancing and if it's a song about love or falling for someone, then I immediately try to convey the emotions I feel when I'm making a fool of myself bumbling all over the place. Then again if I'm friendly with someone I can be way too flirty and I naturally convey that in my dance.

My weight (sadly lol) is very central to my life right now. That is the way I want it to be though. I have made the descision that I want to be fit and healthy when I go back to Uni. I don't want to settle for second best anymore. I don't want to eat all that bad food that makes me feel awful after eating (ie sweets, lol) but then again I still love the Chinese take away (and the adorable lady), the local Indian, and of course a bit of Sausage and Chips (with potatoe scollop and scraps) from the Chippy. To compensate I spend a stupid amount of time at the gym. But that is because I have never truely been happy with myself as I was, and I have this idea of what I want to look like and I am going to get there. It's my dream lol, and this time I'm really not going to stop till I get it. Of course this has changed my way of dancing. The movements look different, some of them better some of them worse. This dance allows for that though. :) It's part of what makes you always want to watch another performance to see how the moves look.

Anyway sorry for the long post, lol. Hope you're all having a lovely day.
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
We still and perhaps always will live in a society which deep down (and not so) hates fat. These days it is because of health.. (oh yeah).
Fatter people with the same qualifications do not get a job over a slim women. Same for men.

With regards to dance, it is not easy to carve a career out for yourself whilst fat. If you started your dance career slim and put on a few pounds then you will be accepted. Not my opinion, just my observation. There are of course always the exception to the rule but I think we live in the Western world of fat facism.

It is also no longer cool to be fat in Egypt either and dancers will not make it to the stage over a certain size (except for low class clubs and weddings).

Fat is also connected to class and it is the working classes who are percived as uneducated in food and eating sh***. Again the opposite of what it used to be. Even suntans are associated with being low class these days.

I think a good dancer is a good dancer but I will say this, I think sometimes one's shape may affect the overall look of the movement, but this is not just about carrying fat.
 

lizaj

New member
The real shame is that there are fewer big names who do not fit in a slim toned stereotype. The revered Randa etc.gorgeous and I have even heard her discribed as packing a bit of weight! WOT! There seemed to be more variety in body shape a few decades back Nagwa, Soheir and Fifi: all very different body types. Now we are getting Ms Slim with implants even "over there"...not just the BDSS ( no I don't know if they have real ones or not but that's the method others will use to look like them!)
Well at least organisers of festivals for belly dancers realise that we will applaud older less shapely and still very sexy dancers like Aida and Fifi as well as fantastic specimens such as Asmahan and Ava. And we'll enjoy male figures in all their variety.
Big dancers would be given such a boost if a more ample dancer were centre of an important stage as Fifi was at some stages in her career: sassy and fearless and Shareen in the USA. I have only seen her on film but she is womanly and graceful as a dancer should be.
 
Having read the original question and the various replies..I'm still not sure the answers reveal the reality of what goes on in belly dance classes around the world.

I've had numerous beginners ask if bellydance will trim their tummy. "I want a good exercise program"....." I need to lose weight" etc. From the outset, it appears women join BD classes primarily for exercise. Why? because it is marketed in this manner, so from the very beginning..women are already conditioned to think their body shape needs to and will change as a result of bellydancing.
As a result, we have created the mantra that it is for every body size and shape. Who created this concept? Western teachers, Middle Eastern teachers? Regardless, it's something we bought into and continue to pay into with each new student that walk into a class.Considering that classes are filled primarily with women, I'm not surprised that cliques do occur along the most superficial lines.

The other level of reality is that once students venture into the amateur performance arena..they will find very few costumes that will fit a larger woman. Anyone who has tried to outfit a troupe of varying sizes realizes this to be true. It's not fair..but it does create a hurdle and sends a subtle message that if one can't find a costume to fit...then one should not dance.

Finally, as we look toward the Middle East and North Africa for inspiration and guidance..one can only find young, thin dancers on the boats of the Nile and in the hotels. Again, it's not fair..but can anyone dispute this?

What we think belly dance is and who it's for, is far different from what is happening in the reality.
Personally, I believe anyone with the desire can learn to belly dance.
Yasmine
 

Phoebedances

New member
A'isha - I have your site bookmarked now. I already know Egyptian style, but as soon as I get back to purchasing DVD's I have yours on my list now. I know I could always use a refresher, and you may teach moves differently than I learned them.
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
Having read the original question and the various replies..I'm still not sure the answers reveal the reality of what goes on in belly dance classes around the world.

I think the answer is ..
99% of the time fat poeples money is the same as thin peoples so therefore 99% are welcome in class around the world.

There are always the exception to the rule, so I have allowed 1%.

Those 1% may not feel they need the money but need to be surrounded by their image of beautiful people instead. Who knows and who cares?
Blast them into outer space where they belong.
 

da Sage

New member
Now we are getting Ms Slim with implants even "over there"...not just the BDSS ( no I don't know if they have real ones or not but that's the method others will use to look like them!)
Why must some people always be on about the implants? Dancers have been padding their tops for thousands of years, I'm sure. I am sick of speculation on this subject.
 

da Sage

New member
extra classes for the fatties how nice of them to help us.

Does this mean I can call the stick thin dancers 'Annies'? i.e (Anorexics)
I know a local teacher gave a class for heavy women and those with physical issues. It wasn't one of her usual offerings; I think it was by special request of an already existing group. I heard nothing but rave reviews about her teaching, and the tenor of the class.:)

And I've signed up for a "Fat Woman" class before, just not in belly dance. Frankly, I appreciated the option.

I doubt calling skinny dancers names will help anything.:rolleyes:
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance ec.

A'isha - I have your site bookmarked now. I already know Egyptian style, but as soon as I get back to purchasing DVD's I have yours on my list now. I know I could always use a refresher, and you may teach moves differently than I learned them.

Dear Phoebe,
I have been studying Egyptian style for 34 years now. There is always, always more to know!! Even the root movements need to be practiced, practiced, practiced in order to keep your building blocks strong. That is why I made my first video a basic movement class rather than a more advanced class, which would have been a wiser financial move!! Someone told me once that in ballet, the dancers practice basic movement vocabulary every time they go to class. I thought that was interesting.
I have occasionally thought that I might want to not teach so many beginning classes, but I realize that keeping in touch with a firm foundation is a good thing!!
Regards,
A'isha
 
Last edited:

lizaj

New member
Why must some people always be on about the implants? Dancers have been padding their tops for thousands of years, I'm sure. I am sick of speculation on this subject.

Oh for heaven's sake..what have I done to you! :) rueful?????

I did say not necess. BDSS and in Cairo which is from where much of our inspiration comes, talk to anyone who visits and knows the dancers...they have taken to inplants with a vengence. And many of the latest bras are designed with that in mind.So it is a source of interest to dancers. And dancers without fulsome chests have choices.
Yes and for your info I pass no judgement . For centuries women have sought to enhance their looks and this is only the latest chance for that.
 
Top