Showing skin hurts credibility?

Ludmilla

New member
So I was going along -- break for holidays, checking into forum after weeks.......was going to read a little and BAM a thread I can't resist!!

A'isha and other experts: here is my question (and sorry if this is not exactly in line w/ what y'all are pointing out) but could some one t4ell me why in this modern age some belly dancers who "want to be respected" don't cover up a little? Do jiggling boobs gain you credibility? Ballet dancers don't let all hang out, most times.

Loo,k I don't want to be a stick in the mud or fuddy duddy and I am not extremely church-y etc though spirituality is very important -- I am mostly secular but just find that some dancers (esp some "well endowed") could do themselves better or would for me come across as better dancers if they had just a tad less flesh showing. Bellys I understnad can be part of the dance (although I love some of those Egyptian style costumes that are ful length evening dress w/ maybe a slit to knee or so) -- That for me is so much more elegant than "sexy"-supposedly skimpy (esp tops), and for me gives the dancer much more credibility. As they say for a "family friendly" presentation. Of course if one is performing in a club or somewhere where they wer hired for their overt more immodest costume, so be it, but I question in this discusion why I have not seen (have not read all 10 pages) but isn't it so extreemely obvious that for those who want to be "accepted" and not looked down on (as with normal street or work clothes), you can't have your private parts showing?

To me it does not take away from artistry of the dance at all, not to have flesh showing.

But so interesting to me that someone who is such an honest to goodness class act (Suhaila - whether you like her style or not, I find her a non-endingly elegant woman and dancer) could wear almost anythiung and it would not affect the incredible artistry or elegance of their dance that shows, but for a less expert dancer it seems to me even more important not to have the audience thinking the person was hired, or is dancing to show off their body, and the way to do that is cover up a bit, at least cleavage, so that the audience focusses on your dancing and not on your skin.

Does this strike a chord wi/ anyone? I aspire to start performing soon but as I never ever, even in evening dress (I am just someone who could never feel comfortable with cleavage showing whether on the street in public or evening dress even) will show other tha n a modest amount -- such as w/ a typical but not very revealing bikini top for instance....

What does that have to do w/ religion? I don't feel you have to be a prude or nun just to want to keep your image a more general audience rated and thereby in our modern world gain credibility rather than insist on following those dancers who make it a standard costume to really emphasize cleavage, etc slit up to there, etc. Somehow I also feel if those of us who want to be "accepted" agreed to follow this might just have an easier time 'selling" this dance form to a general audience (as w/ ballet for instance as an example) as selling dance and art rather than skin and "sexiness", we'd have an easier time of it --

Pls forgive me if this sounds harsh, but I have a hard time understanding some who may moan about not being "accepted", or being looked down on, and go on stage w/ so much skin showing, no wonder people would equate BD w/ strippers, etc -- I'm not saying any of on forum are that I am just saying that if we came across as more serious about this dance, public might take dancers more seriously, too. And BD might have better credibility as a dance form, instead of being seen more as a type of vaudeville.... Of course to each their own -- and where they are performing...........(I like to watch any of it, anywhere, as long as good dance technique, taste, etc)

Sorry so long but what do you others think and what is your practice -- ? Does anyone else feel this way, that we are responsible for how we are perceived by public? (this seems so obvious yet nearly all BD seem to insist on showing lots of skin -- again in nightclub and for a very gutsy, excellent dancer no problem -- but for those of us who need all the cr4edibility we can get, I wish (es[p as a woman) there could be less skin showing in BD, not more -- (I am a slender body-type but still, being more modest to me is more elegant and artistic than the other way...) --


Happy New Year, all!!! Ludmilla :)
 

firshania

New member
Hi ludmilla

You know, I think that we can ask to be accept and wear costume that show a lot of skin. Modern belly dance is that, and showing skin, doesn't mean "sexy and easy girl". If you don't want to show a lot of your body, it's your right, but can we asked to be accepted as a woman ( and this mean our brain and our body) and as a dancer? Can people accept your body and your skin, and your hips and your breasts even if there is not a lot of clothe on it? Why should we be afraid of a bit of flesh? Why should we be turned on when we see belly and shoulders? People should learn that we all have a body and skin, and the modern costume, even if there are sexy, are a part of the show and the dance and it's a form of art too.

There is nothing more beautiful (and I'm a woman, not a pervert guy^^) than a woman that accept herself and her body enough not to be afraid of showing it, no matters her weight, her age or the color of her skin ;)

Just another thing, religions are generally denigrate the body, saying that the soul is the most important. Just think of it. You can believe in any god you want, but remember that religions are most controlled by humans, and humans are not perfect ^^ Just think of it . (and i'm not asking you to become a sexy woman, half nude wherever you go lol. It's just my reply to your question ;) )
 
Whew Ludmilla ,That must have been a brainstorm 'cause I had to read it twice to understand it.;)
In Oriental Dance, there are many ways to costume the dancer. IMO it would depend on the dance style and music i.e. folkloric styles vs.cabaret styles vs tribal styles.
Cabaret styles depend on the glittering bedlah to show off the moves and flow with the music. Again IMO the costume should flatter the dancer, but can you expect one to dress with style if they are a slob in real life? Frankly, I think people select costumes based on their everyday clothing choices. You know how women always ask "Do I look fat in this?' maybe dancers need to ask "Do I look sleazy in this?':lol:
Yasmine
 

Zumarrad

Member
Ballet dancers and members of elite contemporary dance groups frequently show a great deal more skin than I do. In fact, I've seen many a performance where the dancers are nude or nearly nude. (eg http://www.smh.com.au/ffximage/2006/07/19/sarahjaynehoward_wideweb__470x311,0.jpg, link is worksafe) So I fail to see why me showing my belly and some cleavage makes me less respectable than they are.

The reasons belly dancers get less respect are:

1) We are entertainers, not fine artists.
2) We are associated with "foreign", "exotic" concepts and all the associated orientalist hoo ha that goes with them.
3) We are mostly female.
4) There is a historical connection in the West (at least in the US) between belly dance and burlesque or vaudeville, making it part of a populist tradition not a "fine art" tradition.
 
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Aisha Azar

New member
Showing skin

Dear Ludy,
I believe that if a person has a lovely body and dances well in it, then there is nothing wrong with a revealing costume. There is a dancer named Rishi in who lives in the Seattle area that I costumed for several years and I definately played up her body because it was really beautiful! She was a wonderful dancer and still is!
What I hate is when people who do not have great bodies costume themselves as if they did. The idea of the costume is to enhance the character (and in dance, also the movement), and to hide flaws and play up assets, all reflecting the concept, in this case, of belly dance. Belly dance is supposed to be a flirtatious, sensuous, sexy dance... there is no way around that. The costume reflects that.
However, when a person who is too skinny, too fat, built up with huge breasts on a teeny, tiny frame, has stretch marks hanging out all over the place, etc, does not costume to hide flaws and enhance the positive, then it can look just gross. This is especizlly true if the dancer is not relying on her natural sexiness, but getting into porn star mode. ( Of course, i would feel the same way about a dancer with a perfect body who did the "sex kitten" thing!!)
When I was younger, I used to be able to wear pretty skimpy little costumes and I sometimes did with no apologies. Now I am older and MUCH fatter. I have changed my costuming to fit the body that I have now. I HOPE that it enhances my dance, as opposed to me just ignoring all my extra wieght, and costuming as I did in my 20s, 30s and even into my 40s.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
If ballet dancers have much to hang out in the first place, they probably get fired, given that dance's insistence on adolescent bodies and adult legs.

Exposed flesh only distracts me from the dance when I find myself wondering how long it is going to be before the dancer's assets pop out of her or his costume. Prior to the worldwide controversy over Kaia's sexually explicit performance, I saw her dance in Cheyenne, of all places. I took a very good workshop from her, enjoyed it and her very much, but almost lost my teeth when I saw her perform that night. If I had a butt that looked that good bare, perhaps I wouldn't mind flashing my audience, but trying to figure out how in the hell that skirt was staying on her body at all overwhelmed any attention I might have otherwise paid to her dance.

A truly good dancer may be able to mesmerize an audience even if she's wearing a burlap bag (sequined, of course), but I prefer to see a costume enhance the dance and the dancer, not distract from them. Of course, then we get into the argument about how what distracts me may not distract anyone else in the world... at the same show Kaia performed in, an uneven hem on a skirt of unbecoming length on a different dancer dismayed me almost as much as Kaia's exposed bottom.
 

Kharmine

New member
I agree, Shanazel.

There is a hilarious old song by Tom Lehrer called "Smut," that says "When correctly viewed, everything is lewd!"

The focus for a belly dancer should be on how well she dances, titillation being a side effect, depending on how it's viewed. (After all, there will always be someone who finds that sequined burlap sack sexier than the bra 'n' belt look, go figure.)

But for a burlesque entertainer it's all about deliberate titillation, sexy moves in a fancy costume being the vehicle.

When one has trouble telling a belly dancer apart from a burlesque performer, something is getting lost. Wear "dental floss" and that shimmy is gonna convey a whole different message than a filmy skirt.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Skin, etc.

Dear Group,
Many of the mechanics of belly dance are not conducive to showing huge chunks of haunch. Usually I am not distracted by too much skin, but it does depend on what area of the body we are discussing. I see that in recent years, the Egyptian dancers are starting to show a LOT of cleavage. It looks really good to me most of the time. On the other hand, the massive thighs of Suheir Zaki sticking out of her full circle skirts was not an appealing look to me, and she is my favorite dancer along with Mouna and Randa. I also have never liked Hayertum's doughy looking body. (However, these things might be really attractive to some other people....) To me, lewd often has less to do with sexual content than it does with the over all look. Mouna is sexy just standing there, for example, but Sahar Hamdi is lewd when she is standing there wearing twice as much as Mouna. Different person, different aura, different mode of psychic expression, because often lewd is about who one is, not what one is wearing.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Salome

Administrator
but could some one t4ell me why in this modern age some belly dancers who "want to be respected" don't cover up a little? Do jiggling boobs gain you credibility? Ballet dancers don't let all hang out, most times.

Sorry so long but what do you others think and what is your practice -- ? Does anyone else feel this way, that we are responsible for how we are perceived by public? (this seems so obvious yet nearly all BD seem to insist on showing lots of skin -- again in nightclub and for a very gutsy, excellent dancer no problem -- but for those of us who need all the cr4edibility we can get, I wish (es[p as a woman) there could be less skin showing in BD, not more -- (I am a slender body-type but still, being more modest to me is more elegant and artistic than the other way...) --
Perception of a dance style, I think, has very little to do with the costumes but everything to do with attitude toward that dance style in a given culture.
Take for instance ballet, ballroom, modern... I've seen plenty of anatomy - semi-nude, costumes that outline EVERYTHING, or highly provocative costuming in these genres. Yet these dance styles are now viewed by our culture as respected art - so nudity or costuming that leaves nothing or very little to the imagination doesn't lower its status.

I don't think modest costuming is what is going to impact and change society's attitude toward Oriental dance. It has to go deeper than what one is wearing.
 

Moon

New member
A'isha Azar said:
I believe that if a person has a lovely body and dances well in it, then there is nothing wrong with a revealing costume. ... What I hate is when people who do not have great bodies costume themselves as if they did.
Excuse me?????????
I really hope I understood you wrong, cause what I understood is: "beautiful" women may wear whatever they want as long as they don't go as far as looking as porn stars, but women that are "too fat" or lack other beauty ideals should hide themselves within their clothes...

Beauty is a matter of taste!!! In my opinion, if a less "beautiful" woman wants to wear a very revealing costume, she has as many right to do so as a woman who has more of todays beauty ideals. And I personally don't like extremely revealing costumes no matter what the dancer's body looks like.
Personally, I don't have problems with a little cleavage or a lot of bare belly showing, but I don't like a lot of bare leg showing because I think the dance looks nicer and the movement are more mysterious when the legs are less visible. I don't really like extremely revealing costumes because then a lot of less experienced oudience only see the bare skin and not the beautiful dance. It leads to more girls who know nothing about the dance thinking bellydance is all about being sexy, and I think sexy and sensual is not the same. Women can be beautiful and sensual in less revealing clothes too.
In my opinion it's also not "the more nude, the sexier". I have some nude pictures on my wall which I think are beautiful and sensual, but not sexy.
I think it's just a matter of taste. I like the costumes in the picture showing on the top of the forum, but not the short "normal" dresses combined with heals some dancers are wearing nowadays.
 

megra

New member
What I hate is when people who do not have great bodies costume themselves as if they did. The idea of the costume is to enhance the character (and in dance, also the movement), and to hide flaws and play up assets, all reflecting the concept, in this case, of belly dance. Belly dance is supposed to be a flirtatious, sensuous, sexy dance... there is no way around that. The costume reflects that......

When I was younger, I used to be able to wear pretty skimpy little costumes and I sometimes did with no apologies. Now I am older and MUCH fatter. I have changed my costuming to fit the body that I have now. I HOPE that it enhances my dance, as opposed to me just ignoring all my extra wieght, and costuming as I did in my 20s, 30s and even into my 40s.
Regards,
A'isha

I couldn't agree with you more A'isha.....I have unfortunately seen some very heavy girls, for instance, who can dance absolutely beautifully, kind of take away from their own performance by feeling the need to dress in a very skimpy bedlah set that was designed to only look good on a perfect figure (and lets face it, some of those ready-wear egyptian number don't look good off the rack on anyone!). When watching their performance it has really saddened me...because the unflattering costume distracts the viewer from the beauty of their dance.....when a couple of artfully draped veils to break up space or a costume carefully designed to highlight their beauty would have made all the difference in the world!

I am in my mid-40's also and have found that careful costuming can really make or break the 'look'...I have ruthlessly taken digital pics of myself when making a costume and you quickly learn what 'works'....looking at those pics can really teach you a lot about veil and bead placement. It was a bit of a painful process at first, as I wasn't a person who liked getting my picture taken at ALL, but the upside was that I really got used to it and actually now my picture turn out better as I don't always look like I am desperately trying to hide from the camera:D .....AND I learned to accept any figure flaws (was quite easy when I realized I could just make the flaws 'disappear' by changing up my costume a bit!)
 

Salome

Administrator
Excuse me?????????
I really hope I understood you wrong, cause what I understood is: "beautiful" women may wear whatever they want as long as they don't go as far as looking as porn stars, but women that are "too fat" or lack other beauty ideals should hide themselves within their clothes...
Dear Moon,

I don't want to speak for Aisha, just thought I'd add my two cents to this. Costuming should absolutely enhance your individual figure. I think understanding what you look your best in and costuming thusly is a positive. One woman is tall with no waist, one is short with short torso, one is heavy with a small chest, one is slim with no hips etc. etc. The same style of costume is not going to look great on all of those different figures. The short person with short torso might show quite a bit of both legs and use no hanging fringe on her bra to lengthen the body. While the tall person with no waist might have a long V shape fringe to her bra and a waist chain showing only a little leg to give her the illusion of more curves. If we costume to our figure it's natural to figure in weight too when it comes to our costuming choices.
 

Gabi

New member
Excuse me?????????
I really hope I understood you wrong, cause what I understood is: "beautiful" women may wear whatever they want as long as they don't go as far as looking as porn stars, but women that are "too fat" or lack other beauty ideals should hide themselves within their clothes...

Beauty is a matter of taste!!! .
Moon, think of it this way. Your body is like your face - you probably want to wear makeup and hair in a manner that is flattering even though you can certainly have a wide range that suits and personal taste is always your choice.

I think it's really hard for a dancer with integrity to go too far wrong in costuming from the point of view of credibility. Showing skin doesn't bother me as much as showing the wrong skin :lol: - I don't mind if my fat/flat shows but my cellulite is personal *snork*.
 

Moon

New member
Ok but choosing to hide certain parts yourself is different I guess. I almost never wear make-up in real life, even though I know it can make me look slightly better, I just don't want to.
What I mean is, what if a woman likes her own chubby body and loves revealing costumes, but others say she's disgusting and she should wear something else because she doesn't have the "perfect" figure (whatever that may be)?
What if I like my own pale belly and decide to wear a belly showing costume and others are disgusted because they prefer tanned skins?
Tastes differ, and some persons may like to see heavier women in revealing costumes. But ofcourse if you choose to hide something yourself you're free to do so, but let it be one's own decision.
 
Well beauty is a matter of taste and real beauty comes from the inside. However the dance costume appeals to the visual senses. From the audience perspective, a dancer's whose boobs are squashed in a small bra will distract from the dance. We all have to make adjustments in choosing costuming. As Gabi points out, a dancer with intergrity will choose an appropriate costume for the venue. I cringe when I see a dancer who hasn't put much thought in how her costume will look to the audience.

But on a different note, how many Oriental dance websites/vendors show models of different sizes? And how difficult is to find a costume that will not just fit your upper body but lower body as well?
 

Moon

New member
I agree it will look better when a dancer wears a costume that enhances the strong parts and hides the weaker parts, but even when a dancer has beautiful legs, I would still like it better when she wears a costume that isn't extremely leg-revealing. And I'm sure some audience members would like to see muscular abs revealed, while some others may not like it at all. It's difficult to know what the audience likes as they are always a mixed crowd. And besides that I think it's also important to wear something you like yourself, cause feeling comfortable is important.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Skin, etc.

Dear Moon,
I stand by what I wrote and I do not apologize for it. I DID actually mean it. I think that one must dress for one's flaws as well as one's good points. Stretch marks are NEVER attractive in a belly dance costume. Neither is 20 pounds of belly fat hanging over a belt. Neither is an emaciated person in a massive amount of beads.
Of course anyone has the right to wear whatever they want... but why in heck would they want to wear anything that makes them look awful??? I AM one of those overweight old bags now, so I am not saying this out of any kind of smug nastiness. I am saying it out of looking reality in the face. I have had to change my own costume direction drastically in the last few years. I do it because I want to present the dance in the best light that I can, and costuming should help me do that. It is not just about me, but about the dance as well. We need to keep that in mind.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Sharif

New member
I agree with A'isha, it's not just about you but about the dance, and I'd like to add that it's about the audience too. People paying or at least taking the time to watch you dance should be treated with a bit of respect. Adjusting your costume to your body shape, dancing style and ability is part of a professional show.

Just like a previous poster I think that showing some skin is fine as long as it is not distracting. Defying the laws of gravity and elasticity only works for a while, and the end result is embarrassing for the audience and the performer. But covering too much hides the capabilities of the dancer. At some point you might as well do a basic weight change instead of that intricate shimmy because it looks just the same. Just imagine dancing in a burqa... you'd look like a top criscrossing the stage!
 

Aniseteph

New member
IMO if you wear an unflattering costume for a performance you are setting up a hurdle for the audience - first impressions count, and if the first thing they think is "woah that's a big belly", or "that bra's too small" they won't be watching the dancing. OK you can get past these things with a good performance (though not sure about imminent costume catastrophe :think:), but why make your job more difficult?

I don't think that only those with "ideal" figures should wear revealing costumes, or that anyone larger has to hide in a sequinned tent (black with vertical stripes of course!;)). One of the refreshing things about this dance is that it can help women feel happier with their bodies and I'm as happy as the next girl to think "hmmm, does my bum look big covered in gold coins - YES! Anyone got a problem with that? :dance: ".

But for a performance you ought to think about the effect you want to convey, and make sure the costume is working for that and not against it. Wear whatever you like to dancing for yourself, or in class or at a hafla, but for a performance it's about trying to give something to the audience, not about ones goddess-y right to wear whatever and indulge in some sort of personal dance therapy. IMHO.

And anyone who thinks pale skin is disgusting should just get over it! :shok: :protest:
 

megra

New member
Its a really interesting topic, to hear how everyone thinks about it....I DO know that learning to costume myself creatively has actually HELPED my self image.....its always heartening to realize that no matter what size and shape we all are, we ALL have areas we consider to be flaws or areas we learn to like about ourselves and wish to enhance!

One of the things that I always long for is a nice long torso *sigh*....I'm shortwaisted and I'm just SURE i could look a lot slinkier if only I had been graced in that department *hahaha*

No matter what anyone's size, tho, I think the thing we are likely all REALLY talking about is not so much covering up anything, but presenting ourselves in the best and most flattering and tasteful way possible......for instance, a girl with a smaller bust can sometimes get away with a teeny tiny bedlah set with tassles hanging from obvious locations, when on any of the rest of us, it might just look obscene - - and some larger dancers can get away with things that tiny girls would just drown in....I think that's one of the things I love best about this dance form...there are MANY costuming choices and variations so that everyone has an opportunity to wear something that they love and that is flattering to them!
 
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