Sex and Sensuality

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance

I agree with several people on here; I should clarify that to me sex and sensuality are frequently the same or connected things. I don't have a problem with it but I definitely draw the line at strip bellydance (or whatever similar thing).

I have to ask again, though: what do you tell kids if they're your students? Not just little kids but teenagers? I have only had one ten year old student and I wasn't sure what to say. Since I am starting to teach again (finally!) I just want to have a good answer ready.


Dear Brea,
Since I am one of those who think that little children should absolutely NOT belly dance professionally, I do not have to tell them anything. As far as teen agers go, they should be told the same thing that we tell adults; that the dance is a dance that taps into sexuality on some levels, but that does not mean that their bodies are for sale, or that they should in any way intimate that they are. Our sexuality is not a toy, but something WE own, and no one else. Should we choose to share part of that aspect of ourselves with the audience, that does not mean we intend to have sex with anyone.
By the way, I have a 11 year old girl in my classes and she has been with me since she was 8. Her grandmother and all of the other adults who have been in class with her forever, protect her and teach her to have respect for herself as a sexual being, just as she would in any other area of life. We also do not let her belly dance on the public stage yet, except for at students nights, where we are all friends and family. She does do folkloric dances with us on occasion. She will be performing Saudi with us in our May show at a local college.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
I agree with several people on here; I should clarify that to me sex and sensuality are frequently the same or connected things. I don't have a problem with it but I definitely draw the line at strip bellydance (or whatever similar thing).

I have to ask again, though: what do you tell kids if they're your students? Not just little kids but teenagers? I have only had one ten year old student and I wasn't sure what to say. Since I am starting to teach again (finally!) I just want to have a good answer ready.
I really dont know. I think it is a hard one. I remember a famous dancer once saying that 'children move but they have nothing to dance yet'. I think this was a definate reference to experience and sexuality.
Its nice for everyone to agree on things but it does not allow the exploration of issues to develop in these threads.
I was wanting to know about boundries so thanks for answering this.
I dont like people simulating sex acts as part of a dance or anything that leaves nothing to the imagination.
 

da Sage

New member
Where sensuality has been denied and we are unable to differentiate, we get perverted sexuality, anything from bimbos with breast implants to paedophiles.
Is it OK to have breast implants if you're not a bimbo?;)
 

adiemus

New member
Do you think younger kids (pre-pubescent) divide their sensuality/sexuality the way that older people do? I get the feeling that kids just dance completely, while older kids get all shy and awkward or alternatively overtly sexual as they explore the new feelings of sexual maturity.

I don't know that you have to refer to the sexuality of the dance, it just happens anyway, and isn't something that in the classes I go to that has ever been discussed...
 

da Sage

New member
A bit off topic, but to da Sage- did you see the girl who died while she got implants? On the news it showed the rate of people under 18 getting them; in 2003 it was something like 3,500 and in 2004 it was 11,000. It really makes me wonder.
Was it the anesthesia, or surgery complications that killed her?

I usually see nothing wrong with plastic surgery if it makes you feel better about yourself. I have a list of work I'd like to have done, but I am squeamish about medical procedures in general. Every time I go to the doctor, I have to get my nerve up.:shok:

EDIT: and to be on-topic, I perceive some people's dancing as very sensual, some as very sexual, some both, and a few as not really either. It depends on the dancer and the dance.
 
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Farasha Hanem

New member
Well said, Shanazel!

:clap:Well, Salome, you put my own feelings into words so beautifully that I will just say "ditto."
Ditto the ditto; Shanazel expressed herself quite eloquently. I agree with her opinions. :clap:

As a newbie, I want to develop my own expression of sensuality. Since my stage name, which you here were so wonderful in helping me with (i can't thank you all enough), means "Butterfly Lady," I hope in time to develop a delicate, flowing style. I'll be SO glad when I stop dancing like a hiccupping centipede wearing all-left combat boots; that's not very sensual...:(
 

Farasha Hanem

New member
I agree 100% with Salome.

I prefer to use "sensuality" instead of "sexuality" when talking to the Western GP because most Western GP will think of a sexual dance as trying to seduce men, looking "hot", showing as much skin as possible. Things that would automatically make less atractive, too skinny, too chubby, too old or male dancer a bad bellydancer because it's not "sexy" according to the general ignorant male audience who expects to be seduced by the bellydancer.
While sensuality also means expressing your emotions, being comfortable with your emotions and your body, feeling beautiful and attractive etc.
Western culture does seem to have a difficult time with the sensual/sexual issue. What angers me is that bellydance takes a beating for being "dirty" or "raunchy" (and granted, there are dancers who don't help the situation), yet I've seen some pretty "raunchy" Western dances, and many times the dancers are more scantily clad than most bellydancers.:confused:
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
We tend to run all over the place with this.
We want to be sensual and sexual yet dont want the kind of attention that brings and we want to control it.
We want cosmetic surgery to make ourselves feel better but why are we under so much pressure anyway?

We want it all, we just dont know how it will work.

I have said before that this is a hugely complex issue and there is no single answer.
All over Egypt now there are adverts for slimming clinics and cosmetic surgery. Most dancers have had some form of surgery over there now and it shows.

Where is this all going?
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance

We tend to run all over the place with this.
We want to be sensual and sexual yet dont want the kind of attention that brings and we want to control it.



Dear Caroline and Gang,
We all have the right to be in charge of ourselves on a sexual/sensual level, just as we have the right to control ourselves in any other area of our lives. But, along with that control should come responsibility and the maturity to understand that though we can control ourselves, we can 't really control anyone else's sexuality. We can not control who will be in our audiences, so along with the people who have a mature, intelligent understanding of sexuality, there will be the ridiculous lech, the icky guy in the front row, the woman who feels angry or threatened, the man who thinks that everyone, including the belly dancer, wants him, the nice guy who drinks too much and get carried away in his enthusiasm, etc. We can not control what they decide to think of us. We can only control what WE think of ourselves and our own sexual vibe.
I usually find that since I respect myself and what I do, I seem to have a lot less problems than many dancers when it comes to the sexuality in dance issue. I live in a pretty culturally repressed area, but because I have no fear or shame in this area, I think that the audience responds to my own positive feelings about what I do. I have only very occasionally had any trouble, and I have danced everywhere from nightclubs to senior citizen birthdays to Arab weddings to universities.
I think when WE feel negativity about the sexual aspects of the dance, or have unsure feelings, that comes across in the dance, and the audience does not get a clear message about the dance.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
When I’m talking to the GP: there is a more animalistic connotation connected to the word sex versus sensuality, for most people. So I tend to talk about it in terms of sensuality. The sex word kind of conjures up the actual act and getting to the act whereas sensuality evokes the more subtle layers of passion and other related feelings in its many expressions and motivations. I've never had this converstation with GP after a performance but rather if the subject comes up that I dance etc. etc.

Sensuality is a part of us, the human race, it is a part of us when we dance. Much of the movement is sensual and often times so is the music. A song about being in the throes of new love... How are you going to express that message and feeling in the song without sensuality? To say the movement is sensual is not to say that I believe the movements were designed, or are about, making the penis erect. That's definitely not what I'm talking about. There are many things in life where we experience sensuality that have nothing to do with literally becoming sexually excited.

Some folks have a big beef about cutting/cleaning out the sensuality in order to make it a more legitimate and accepted dance form. So people can give themselves permission to participate in it. It can’t just be accepted on its own merit. I relish the sensuality. I don’t relish superficial, base behavior on stage – it turns me off. It says to me that the dancer is uncomfortable with herself, she doesn’t now who she is or what she is doing, or how to relate real feeling and the experience with her audience.

How exactly that sensuality comes through has everything to do with the individual, their personality, how they relate to themselves and their world. From a teaching perspective I don’t really address it directly in conversation. I teach my students to try and understand the music, the feeling of it and how to bring the sound and feeling into the physical. In that respect I teach by example (what sensuality means in terms of Oriental dance expression - that it's not shaking your girls on a bald man's head or throwing porno faces) how to be real with it. And when you are coming from that place you can’t really go wrong, whether your personality leads you to do it in a sophisticated way, or refined, or simply, or gently, or subdued, or with abandon… I hope that doesn't seem braggy. What I mean to say is that is my intention and goal in working with dance students.

I think for the MOST part when the GP see's a performance and the dancer isn't raunchy it really doesn't need a 'this is not about turning you on' explanation as it's clear.
Salome Raks! Get it? Raks!:lol:
I ditto the dittos. You explain this so perfectly!
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
We tend to run all over the place with this.
We want to be sensual and sexual yet dont want the kind of attention that brings and we want to control it.



Dear Caroline and Gang,
We all have the right to be in charge of ourselves on a sexual/sensual level, just as we have the right to control ourselves in any other area of our lives. But, along with that control should come responsibility and the maturity to understand that though we can control ourselves, we can 't really control anyone else's sexuality. We can not control who will be in our audiences, so along with the people who have a mature, intelligent understanding of sexuality, there will be the ridiculous lech, the icky guy in the front row, the woman who feels angry or threatened, the man who thinks that everyone, including the belly dancer, wants him, the nice guy who drinks too much and get carried away in his enthusiasm, etc. We can not control what they decide to think of us. We can only control what WE think of ourselves and our own sexual vibe.
I usually find that since I respect myself and what I do, I seem to have a lot less problems than many dancers when it comes to the sexuality in dance issue. I live in a pretty culturally repressed area, but because I have no fear or shame in this area, I think that the audience responds to my own positive feelings about what I do. I have only very occasionally had any trouble, and I have danced everywhere from nightclubs to senior citizen birthdays to Arab weddings to universities.
I think when WE feel negativity about the sexual aspects of the dance, or have unsure feelings, that comes across in the dance, and the audience does not get a clear message about the dance.
Regards,
A'isha
Hi again,
I get all the theory no problem. I just have questions to do with practical issues and references to 'cleaning up' the dance.
For instance, a student comes to your class and later she performs at one of your haflahs. She dances great and is wildly rauchy and having fun.
She wears a belt and bra with a G-string and everyone else complains. They think it wasnt suitable for the kids, they think it is sleazy. She doesnt think there was anything wrong and she was respectful of herself using her own judgements. If we cannot 'control' other peoples sexuality and they consider it as OK and mature, What do you do?
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
Dear Gang,
The Arabs that I know refer to the dance as "sexy and flirty". I have no problem at all with people seeing the dance as sexual. I do not usually have to express how I THINK about this to my audience. I see nothing wrong with good, healthy sexuality.I am considered to be a fairly sexual dancer, and I have heard people refer to me as "sexy", but never "sleazy". I think westerners try too hard to "clean up" the image of belly dance. In many cases, our puritanical roots are showing when we feel the need to justify the dance, because even Muslims in general seem to think its pretty fun and they do not distinguish between sensual and sexual in the dance. ( They usually think that if you are out there flaunting it in such revealing clothing and those moves, you can't have THAT high a moral standing, anyway.) I think part of its appeal is its somewhat naughty reputation, and I have to say I like it that way. It adds a bit of spice to the mix, if you ask me. And, I think the way to clean up the reputation of belly dance is not to talk about it, but to put quality belly dance out there for people to see. Let them make up their own minds about its sexuality or sensuality, because yes, these two words mean different things to different people, but then, so does the dance itself.
Regards,
A'isha
Hey sweetie:

Once again you sum up exactly what I feel, but our terminology differs. Everything you described sums up sensuality for me. In see sex as being the act. It can be wonderful and pleasurable or if can be passionless and pathetic. Sensuality is what gives sex the va,va, va voom. In other words, sex is just one of the sensual pleasures of life. There is that vine ripened tomato, the feeling of a warm breeze,etc. Right now I'm in Trinidad surrounded by lush green hills, looking at two trees, one a riot of yellow the other an explosion of violet and the sweet smell of wood burning. That's sensual. Going for a swim on a beautiful beach is sensual. So as I said, sex...when it's good...is just one of the many sensual pleasures that life has to offer.

Humans are a pleasure seeing animal. We like things that make us feel good, whether its eating delicious food, listening to music, wearing aromatic scents, ingesting substances that make us feel a certain way, or engaging in behaviors that makes us feel a certain way, or looking good and or receiving the acknowledgment that we do. Healthy sex is only one of those things.

As for the sexuality in the dance, its a matter of degrees. Mona Said and Dina are far more daring than Sohair Zaki ever was or cared to be. I look at it like hot pepper sauce, the strength depends on the individual. Some people want just a tingle, some people want a zing, some people want a sweat and some people want to bite the bullet and go straight for the burney asshole experience, you know, the kind that burns you twice;)
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance etc

Hi again,
I get all the theory no problem. I just have questions to do with practical issues and references to 'cleaning up' the dance.
For instance, a student comes to your class and later she performs at one of your haflahs. She dances great and is wildly rauchy and having fun.
She wears a belt and bra with a G-string and everyone else complains. They think it wasnt suitable for the kids, they think it is sleazy. She doesnt think there was anything wrong and she was respectful of herself using her own judgements. If we cannot 'control' other peoples sexuality and they consider it as OK and mature, What do you do?


Dear Caroline,
Again, this situation has rarely happened to me. My students just seem to "get" that this would not be appropriate. I would probably not let her go out on stage in such a costume in the first place. I would offer her the chance to get a little more covered up and if she gets pissed off and leaves, then too bad. After that, I would do a written dress code and send it to everyone performing. (Fortunately, this has never happened so far.)
One issue here seems to be that westerners are far more protective with their kids about sexuality than many Arabs seem to be. I have sat with Arab women discussing the most intimate sexual details in front of their kids. ( I am not saying EVERY Arab woman is like this, but many are.... it's just a different sexual cultural attitude.) Raunchy can be darn fun,as we can see by Fifi's very well accepted behavior, and that's the way it is.
Regards,
A'isha
 

charity

New member
i agree with salome and then in addition to moon, it makes for my complete stance on this subject i think.

but the whole sexuality is a part of everything thing i dont quite understand. if i eat watermelon in the sun with a breeze in my face and water melon juice rolling down my chin etc etc, i dont relate that to any sexual sort of experience at all. i dont find it to be a part of my sexual being at all. it doesnt stir up longing and desire.

but as far as sexuality and sensuality, you can have sexuality minus sex appeal. it can be porn faces, strategic choreographies, gawdy attire, etc. and you can totally miss the beat on it because you lack any sort of sex appeal/sensuality.

BUT you cannot have sensuality without stirring some sense of sexuality simply because when you express yourself emotionally and connectedly to the world through physical/visual mediums it comes across in a more visceral sense to the audience (irregardless of your delivery i think). for example which is why when you see a teenage girl/boy dance so sensously and so movingly, i get the creeps because i wonder how the crowd may be responding to his/her sexuality vulnerability.

maybe in one sense sensuality is an expression of sexual desire and vulnerability and other times it is void of anything sexual at all and simply exudes confidence and fun and like salome said a connection to the senses. of course what we exude is not always received in the same manner by the audience. we may do a dance completely void of sexual intention or sexuality, whatever, and someone in the crowd will have a reaction to the dance as if it were completely and totally overtly sexual.

so all and all, i havent answered any part of the question have i?
 

Aisha Azar

New member
SExuality, etc.

Dear Charity,


but the whole sexuality is a part of everything thing i dont quite understand. if i eat watermelon in the sun with a breeze in my face and water melon juice rolling down my chin etc etc, i dont relate that to any sexual sort of experience at all. i dont find it to be a part of my sexual being at all. it doesnt stir up longing and desire.
A'isha writes- Well.... all I can say is that I think that can be VERY sexy under the right circumstances!

but as far as sexuality and sensuality, you can have sexuality minus sex appeal. it can be porn faces, strategic choreographies, gawdy attire, etc. and you can totally miss the beat on it because you lack any sort of sex appeal/sensuality.
A'isha writes- I don't think you can have sexuality minus sex appeal at all. Lewdness and porn faces, and raunchy attire, etc, are not sexuality. They are in fact often a mockery of sexuality more than anything else. They often appeal to people who are afraid of the intimacy of true sexuality. I think this is the very key to what makes sexuality a no-no for many people in belly dance. Sexuality is a thing that runs to the very soul, and it is SO much easier to expose one's body than one's soul. I think this is at the heart of the appeal of belly dance and also the fear that some people feel about it.

BUT you cannot have sensuality without stirring some sense of sexuality simply because when you express yourself emotionally and connectedly to the world through physical/visual mediums it comes across in a more visceral sense to the audience (irregardless of your delivery i think). for example which is why when you see a teenage girl/boy dance so sensously and so movingly, i get the creeps because i wonder how the crowd may be responding to his/her sexuality vulnerability.
A'oisha writes- Exactly! True sexuality exposed is a kind of vulnerability, but we learn to see the strength in it as well.

maybe in one sense sensuality is an expression of sexual desire and vulnerability and other times it is void of anything sexual at all and simply exudes confidence and fun and like salome said a connection to the senses. of course what we exude is not always received in the same manner by the audience. we may do a dance completely void of sexual intention or sexuality, whatever, and someone in the crowd will have a reaction to the dance as if it were completely and totally overtly sexual.

A'isha writes- From the costuming, to the music, to the movements, to the feelings, I don't believe true, good belly dance is EVER devoid of sexuality.


all and all, I havent answered any part of the question have i?

A'isha writes- But you have definitely contributed to the conversation in a very valid way!
Regards,
A'isha
 
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