So Disappointed :( [+Let's talk about males in belly dance]

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
Yep. Someone who GETS it.

"If it ain't biology, it ain't real."
Biology plays the biggest part. For instance, when a woman dances, all of the moves look feminine. However, when men dance, it looks masculine, all because men and women are made up of different anatomies and this is especially obvious when they are both dancing.

So, I guess what I am saying is that bellydance is both feminine and masculine, it just depends on who's dancing at the moment.
 

khanjar

New member
Biology plays the biggest part. For instance, when a woman dances, all of the moves look feminine. However, when men dance, it looks masculine, all because men and women are made up of different anatomies and this is especially obvious when they are both dancing.


So, I guess what I am saying is that bellydance is both feminine and masculine, it just depends on who's dancing at the moment.

I will go with that, both male and female physique complent each other, so why should one or the other be isolated, to isolate to me, is to create imbalance and where there is imbalance other unwanted things come to light.

But, I am wondering here, if the perception that belly dance is a female pursuit only is because of the originating country, with it's patriarcal society, which is a construct of man. So if it is the wish for an equal society, then patriarchy has to go and when that goes there is no way anything can be kept as the preserve for one gender and denied to the other.

The other thing is we were a patriarcal society, but that is dying now, many of us believe in equality, but I suppose old mentalities still linger, but as the older people move on, perhaps those mentalities will move on too.
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
But, I am wondering here, if the perception that belly dance is a female pursuit only is because of the originating country, with it's patriarcal society, which is a construct of man.
Except one of the key figures in the actual development of staged Egyptian dance was a woman and it is women who developed it at this time and became famous for it.

That is not to say that men did not dance or serve as entertainers, it just took longer for people to deveop Oriental dance into a unisex dance.

I am not making associations between the two, but stripping and lap dancing is still a predominantly female occupation in the West so it is not just the ME who struggles with men displaying the sexual/sensual side of humanity for enertainment.
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
Dear Yame:

Yes it is dissapointing, but you can't let it get you down. She is one voice, but not the only voice there is. Why did she say what she did? Why didn't she give the full perspective? Simple answer, there's no economic incentive for her to do so, plain and simple. She's created a niche for herself and its profitable. The reality of male dancing, in any capacity or context, does not generate what she wants, customers.

Dancing maybe centuries old, but 'belly dancing' is not.

It sounds like a pedantic argument, but 'belly dancing/Oriental dance in the ME was a female performance art/entertainment created by the early 20th century nightclub scene. And legally still is (as Shira) pointed out.

Belly dancing is something which occured more recently in BD history both here and in the ME.

Raks Sharki is a relatively recent development of something that is much older and extencive. It is only one aspect of Egyptian dance expersion. It did develop in a certain social and historical context, but it really wan't so new. Accirding to her bio, Badia stated that the way the dancers of her era, the new style, was meant to reflect the dignified way that upper class Egyptian women danced at home. Now, like anything else, it evolved. The manner in which dancers today like Randa dance, is a worl of difference compared to the way Taheya danced.

We all know that the performers at this time were exclucively female. The image that they were expected to express was elegance and feminine beauty, and since the audience was perdominantly male, having male dancers in that context made no sense. The question is whether or not the dance can and has began to evolve beyond that context. The answer is yes it has, regardles of the fact that it is not permited in Cairo at the present time is irrelevant. It does exist and within the context of primarily Arabic speking audiences at that.





It is hard to pin point exactly when men in Egypt started to even belly dance socially, and I am not aware of anyone having wrote about or evidenced this?

What we see in Egypt is just a regional variation of an African movement expression. The articulation of the hips and torso is an African expression. You can see variations of it all across africa, particularly Central and East Africa all the way across to Morocco. And in all these various African cultures where the dance focuses on this part of the body, it is unisex. Given the fact then that movement of the body in this manner is not unique to Egypt, but spread across different regions and cultures, it is in fact quite old. As I said, it is simply a regional variation on a larger continental theme.

Just because a European wasn't there to document the way Egyptians danced socially before the 20th century doesn't mean that it didn't exist. Nevertheless, there are written accounts from 19th century travelers that do speak of Egyptian men dancing. Of course its written from their perspective and so they always describe it as so and so dancing in the "female manner". The accounts of Lady Duff Gordon and Flaubert, (no I'm not referring to the account of the male performer Hassan Belbessi, but to the ordinary people in his employ celebrating amongst themselves). They were not dancing in a feminine style, but in the style that is natural to their culture.

I personally read a news paper aricle in the Lincoln Ctr research library dated 1924 by an american Modern Dance choreographer in which he describes the movement vocabulary of the Egyptian men he saw articulating their hips. I also saw an old news real from either the late 20's or early 30's of a man dancing on top of one of the pyramids in Giza. The movements were very similar to the way the Banat Mazin danced.


From what I gather from talking to the older generation, it was probably 70's when men started to dance socially in a way that resembled 'belly dance' as we know it. We may have seen some men dance like this in the older films in comedy sketches, but it was not really part of every day life at this point.

Given the prior evidence I would have to say that this is not a recent occurance, but something that has always existed within the culture. The statement to the contrary on the part of certain Egyptians therefore, must be weighed against this fact. I too have heard many times that men in Egypt don't dance with their hips, that if I ever did in Upper Egypt I would be killed, that this is a recent thing. In fact a few years ago Morocco presented Atef and Magda Farag in a seminar. On his last day we met a friend of his who use to dance with him in the Redda Troup. This guy started going on about how men in Egypt never danced with their hips until recently and they never do that in Upper Egypt, (surprising since he was a Nubian from Upper Egypt. When pressed though he admitted he left when he was very young and never been back since.). He turns to Atef and asked, "Did you ever see anything like that when you were growing up"? And Atef says to him, "yes, at weddings all the time". So here we have 2 Egyptians, yet there is an aspect of the culture that one experienced and was a part of and the other was totally unaware of. According to Magda Salah, who was the prima Ballerina of the Egyptian Ballet, her father was a very good dancer and had excellent abdominal control

Before that, for many it was the hands in the air stepping from side to side (and this is still very much present), or it was folk dance based steps.

For some people in some circles, this was the case and still is. However, for many people, this is not the case. I had to go all the way to Egypt to see it myself because none of the egyptian guys I knew here in the States knew how to dance.

What has happend beyond the ME in male belly dance is a different story, and again, we can only really trace it back to the 60's US.

What has happened in the arena of professional dance in Egypt is relatively recent, but as I said many years ago, given the fact that it is at its core, based on the native expression of the people, there is no reason why it can't expand to include men as well. Then along came Tito and now there's Miro and Ali and Niro and Waled and god knows how many more. However, I have seen 2 film clips, both from the 1940's of Ibrahim Akef dancing in 2 different films. I posted one of them some time back

It is like splitting straws getting our heads around this, but I think there is alot of mis-information and over generalising about this subject.

Whenever we fail to look at the dance holistically and only focus on one aspect in one context, we will always be mis-informed, confused, what have you

The moving of hips is now ever present in shaabi style!

Speaking of misunderstandings, there is no such think as "Shabbi Dance". There is only Egyptian social Dance, or what we here would refer to as Baladi. Egyptians will dance the way they dance regardless of what music is played. Put on an Um Kalthoum song, they will dance, put on a Nancy Agram song, they will dance, put on a contemporary Shabbi song, they will dance. They will dance the same way, in the same style, the style that is natural to them. The complexity of the music will determine how extencive a movement vocabulary they can draw on. How good a dancer will depend on the level of their experience and how frequently they dance. In short, what we are calling Shabbi Dance is nothing more that the social dance that has always existed in Egypt, only to a new style of music. An example. Most people would call this Shabbi Style:

But the truth is that this is an expression with roots that are far older. Therefore, its not something new, but something that has always existed there. Only the music has changed:


here is one of my favourite clips..

YouTube - egyptian old man dancing
And here's one of my favorite clips:
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
Except one of the key figures in the actual development of staged Egyptian dance was a woman and it is women who developed it at this time and became famous for it.

That is not to say that men did not dance or serve as entertainers, it just took longer for people to deveop Oriental dance into a unisex dance.

I am not making associations between the two, but stripping and lap dancing is still a predominantly female occupation in the West so it is not just the ME who struggles with men displaying the sexual/sensual side of humanity for enertainment.
True. However, the evolution of Raks Sharki to include men is not the first instance of an art expanding to include the opposit sex. The Hula was originally a sacred dance done exclucively by men. The Opera was originally a male artform because because women were excluded from participation. Even the female roles were played by men. The people themselves will determine for themselves what they consider pleasing and entertaining. The fact that the government restricts the participation of male performers does not negate this fact. When all is said and done, the fact is that people want to have a good time, they want to be entertained. They will patronize and support those entertainers whose performances they find aesthetically pleasing and not patronize those they find displeasing.

As i've said many times before in the past, you can't please all of the people all of the time. That's just not human nature. I like chocolate, someone else may like vanilla. Which of us is right? Neither, we are both right, we like what we like. There are Egyptians who will never accept male dancers, that's just the way it is and its pointless to try to convince them otherwise or tell them that they are wrong. But what is wrong is if they try to dictate to others which flavor ice cream they ought to find pleasing. Yes, there are many in our own society who are uncomfortable or feel threatened by male sensuality, but by the same token, there are others who are not and that is why it exists and that is why even though men are not allowed to perform in Cairo, their numbers are increasing regardless in those areas where they are allowed to exist.
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
OMG Tarik! how on earth do I respond to that essay?? lol

I will have a go.. I dont largely disagree with most of what you say, and you are not really disagreeing with most of mine either.. so I will just pull out certain points.

Dance was percieved as 'low class' and Badia had a business plan to make it more 'upper class'.

Ok, but she did say (and I have read it too) that it was to refelct the way women danced at home. We all know the politics here as we have discussed them a million times. That was the point really. there were reasons it was made for women and stayed like that for decades.. like i said, that is not to say that men did not dance.

I have said very clearly that men danced and that some moved their hips. I talked about how people struggled with the concept of men and Oriental dance. We know how it evolved etc.

Just because a European wasn't there to document the way Egyptians danced socially before the 20th century doesn't mean that it didn't exist.
Why European? why not American? Sol Bloom was American!

I was talking about how common or not these these things were and documentation can be any sort by anyone. I mentioned a few films clips but it does not indicate the wide spread popularity.

In the way that you get fed up of hearing Egyptian men dont dance with their hips, Egyptian men get fed up with hearing that they all dance with their hips... they really do!
Some men do and some dont and thats a fact.

That was my point. but you are missing what I said because I said men danced.. but the energy was 'baladi sha'abi' with fun and humour central to it's vibe not 'Oriental refined elegance' which was/is perceived as what 'ladies do'.. this point is eternally missed when lumping mens dance together as being one and the same thing.

The lure of international money is a big draw. Last April when in Cairo I was at an Egyptian night club when some people I know came to join us. They brought some young men who got up and danced for us. Later I was asked to give critique, to teach them Oriental and then turn them out onto the international circuit.

Yes, Tito has been a mega role model.

Speaking of misunderstandings, there is no such think as "Shabbi Dance".
Have you not attended a Sha'abi workshop?? did you not attend when Caroline Evanhoff was teaching this in New York?

Sorry Tarik but I have never heard an Egyptian say to me 'this is just Egyptian social dance'... they will call it dance and if it is to Sha'abi music then they call it sha'abi.

I have heard a few people say there is no such thing as Sha'abi dance but in the same breath refer to the dance as Sha'abi??

Sha'abi is a social dance but it is also a style that is identified as being performed by belly dancers all over Egypt.

Most people who say this are just repeating what they have heard. Believe me I have looked into this one with vigour and came to the conclusion that if there is sha'abi music there is Sha'abi dance... and ask someone what it is and they will say sha'abi not oriental.

I have heard the same being said about Beledi dance and music for years now... the same argument goes around in circles and will do for decades. There is no right and wrong with this one as far as I am concerned.

So back to the crux of the discussion we are not talking about mens social dance but the development of the Oriental staged dance.

Men socially may have moved their hips when dancing but they did not do 'camels' around the room.. I think we are confusing issues here. I am talking specfically about what we class as belly dance and the same sort of dance which men are denied licenses for in Egypt.

Nothing has changed since we last discussed it on this forum. I think we all agree that mens Oriental dance is a modern development but men have been dancing for a long time... unless something changed?
 
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Belly Love

New member
I believe in the concept that both male and female hold both male and female tendancies, the so called getting in touch with one's femininity or masculinity,

one is not superior nor inferior to the other, each can do whatever it is they wish to do in life aside from the obvious function, but I like to think the sexual function is not what defines either gender, for there is more to people than that.

what each gender comes to do in later life is less to do with that gender and more to do with nurture ;
Yes, everyone has masculine/fem traits/tendencies and is in part due to social influence. I agree that one is not superior to the other.

Where I disagree is that I do think "sexual function" is part of a defining factor in each gender and I don't think there is anything wrong with it.

I just don't like the idea that it's a negative thing to call something feminine if it's something common in females- as if it's not okay. It's not a matter of being okay, it's a matter of it being a fact, whether it's biological or not.

Long hair isn't biological, but it's far more common for females to have long hair than males (in my culture anyway and in most others- we could go on and on about every culture in detail, but I don't have the next 2 years to spend on this paragraph and you get what I mean ;) ). Thus, having long hair would be considered by most to be feminine (btw, I love long hair on men). Just because it's generally considered feminine doesn't mean men shouldn't have long hair. But on the other hand, it shouldn't be considered negative or wrong to consider it a generally feminine thing either, but that's what I gather from your ideas- that in our world there should be no defining differences between men and women other than what's biological...

From your view, these defining differences make you uncomfortable, but just because something makes someone uncomfortable, doesn't mean it's wrong.
 

Belly Love

New member
But of course. The voice is biologically determined - no argument here!
Long hair isn't biological, but it's far more common for females to have long hair than males (in my culture anyway and in most others- we could go on and on about every culture in detail, but I don't have the next 2 years to spend on this paragraph and you get what I mean ;) ). Thus, having long hair would be considered by most to be feminine (btw, I love long hair on men). Just because it's generally considered feminine doesn't mean men shouldn't have long hair. But on the other hand, it shouldn't be considered negative or wrong to consider it a generally feminine thing either.
 

Belly Love

New member
I will go with that, both male and female physique complent each other, so why should one or the other be isolated, to isolate to me, is to create imbalance and where there is imbalance other unwanted things come to light.
I think this is where you may be viewing it in black and white. Just because something is considered generally feminine or something common for females to do, you seem to have this idea that society thinks that men can't do it and that is not always the case. I have always viewed belly dance as something just women do and now that I'm more informed, I know men do it as well. I still see it as a feminine activity, but that's because it's more common for women to do it in my culture, not because it's innapropriate for a man to do. Depending on the mans' dancing style, it comes off as either masculine or feminine to me. But generally, I think of it as a female activity. I get the idea that when you hear that statement, you hear, "Only females should be belly dancers" and that's not what I'm saying and that's probably not what a lot of people are saying when they think of belly dancing as feminine.
 

Aniseteph

New member
It's wrong when "masculine" and "feminine" become boxes people try to put us into to tell us what we should and shouldn't do. But IMO this is different to using them as descriptions of particular traits, and mixing up the two usages makes for confusion.

There are men who dance or even just move in a feminine way, and women who move in a more masculine way. Maybe it would be less gender-politically complicated to use other words, but the difference is half of what makes drag funny.

Rep for your posts Belly Love.
 

khanjar

New member
I think this is where you may be viewing it in black and white. Just because something is considered generally feminine or something common for females to do, you seem to have this idea that society thinks that men can't do it and that is not always the case. I have always viewed belly dance as something just women do and now that I'm more informed, I know men do it as well. I still see it as a feminine activity, but that's because it's more common for women to do it in my culture, not because it's innapropriate for a man to do. Depending on the mans' dancing style, it comes off as either masculine or feminine to me. But generally, I think of it as a female activity. I get the idea that when you hear that statement, you hear, "Only females should be belly dancers" and that's not what I'm saying and that's probably not what a lot of people are saying when they think of belly dancing as feminine.

Yeah admittedly I do tend to think in black and white, not that that is intentional, it is not, it is just something I do.

But regards long hair, up until the twentieth century many men in my country had long hair, but it was the advent of two great wars that instilled a militaristic mentality in males and with that, the conformity to authority, the short cropped hair and shaven face. I have done my military bit, now I be me, so long hair and beard, which started as rebellion, ended up in the cheapest option, then now, I just love it, the being different to the norm an individual, a lion amongst sheep.

But I do hope you see where I am coming from, I seek the unification and acceptance of people as people and that drives a lot of my sensibilities. But with that unification I also believe one cannot accept unification then demand something seperate as well, as that tips the balance again between superiority and inferiority, those who fit in and those that do not.
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
Times are always changing. Just think, 25 years from now, this subject will be unheard of, as the current male dancers are turning the tables and revolutionizing bellydance as being a dance for both sexes. Also, I hope, the subject of bellydance will not be compared to stripping either!
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
#1


OMG Tarik! how on earth do I respond to that essay?? lol

Hey, I use to be a history teacher. Most of my students couldn't read on grade level so I had to write a text book chapter at their level every night, I've never been the same since!
I will have a go.. I dont largely disagree with most of what you say, and you are not really disagreeing with most of mine either.. so I will just pull out certain points.

Dance was percieved as 'low class' and Badia had a business plan to make it more 'upper class'.

Ok, but she did say (and I have read it too) that it was to refelct the way women danced at home. We all know the politics here as we have discussed them a million times. That was the point really. there were reasons it was made for women and stayed like that for decades.. like i said, that is not to say that men did not dance.

Yes, of course, but I don't see that as a problem at all. At the heart of it, it was basically founded on the social dance. Now the fact is that both men and women do the same social dance. What is different is the energy that they project through it. The only thing is that a stage dance was not developed to reflect the men's social dance at that time for reasons we already know. Before the current Sharem craze I stated that there was no valid cultural or historical reason why the same could not be done for the men, now it has happened.

I have said very clearly that men danced and that some moved their hips. I talked about how people struggled with the concept of men and Oriental dance. We know how it evolved etc.

Yes they do struggle with it because of the fear factor. And I'd also like to point out that this too is a historically recent phenomenon. Prior to the 20th century they had no problem watching male performers, not even if they were in total drag. The pressures of colonialism changed that. Therefore, the male dancers of today have to operate against fears of showing the wrong image to the outside world, where as in the past they were secure in who they were and didn't care what anyone else thought and that was at a time when Shari'a law ruled the land.

Why European? why not American? Sol Bloom was American!

I lump Americans in there because those American travelers were of European descent. I haven't come across any accounts written by Native Americans or Americans of African descent yet:lol:

I was talking about how common or not these these things were and documentation can be any sort by anyone. I mentioned a few films clips but it does not indicate the wide spread popularity.

It does reflect a certain reality.

In the way that you get fed up of hearing Egyptian men dont dance with their hips, Egyptian men get fed up with hearing that they all dance with their hips... they really do!
Some men do and some dont and thats a fact.

I know that there is that element in Egyptian society. However, they do not reflect the society as a whole but only that segment. Not all Egyptian women dance with their hips either, not all Jamaicans listen to Reggae Music, not all Asians eat with chop sticks. There is no such thing as "Every", (fill in your ethnic group of choice), "does, (fill in your activity of choice). Whether these individuals do or not does not change the fact that it is a legitimate expression that is deeply imbedded in the culture. They may be embarrassed by it because it doesn't reflect the way they wish to be perceived by the outside world. There are many Egyptians who are conflicted about aspects of their society. There are many Egyptians who have a hard time grappling with the fact that they are Africans and part of the African world. If you look at their media, particularly from the 30s, 40s and 50s, (even to the present),you would think that Egypt was part of South East Europe, not north East Africa. Honestly, in a country where half the population is the color of a Hershey Bar only Ahmed Zaki managed to break the color bar. There are Egyptians who will get very offended about hearing that all Egyptian women veil, (especially Copts), and insist that we not wear hegab when we are in Egypt. Okay, I think you get my point, which is, Egypt is not a monolith. It’s a complex society just like our own with its own rules and contradictions at every level.

That was my point. but you are missing what I said because I said men danced.. but the energy was 'baladi sha'abi' with fun and humour central to it's vibe not 'Oriental refined elegance' which was/is perceived as what 'ladies do'.. this point is eternally missed when lumping mens dance together as being one and the same thing.

With regards to the dance, what the Upper class women were doing was Baladi. Baladi is simply anything that is "of the people". It's just that the way they expressed it reflected the attitudes of their class, which was restrained dignity. Today, we have associated Baladi with the lower classes, but that was not necessarily the case in the past. It’s interesting to note that in her memoir, Badia always refers to the dance as Baladi. She only distinguished between time periods, but to her, it was all Baladi. It mirrors Mahmoud Reddas attitude as well. It should also be noted that upper class men, if they know how to dance, will do so with the same air of dignity and reserve.

The lure of international money is a big draw. Last April when in Cairo I was at an Egyptian nightclub when some people I know came to join us. They brought some young men who got up and danced for us. Later I was asked to give critique, to teach them Oriental and then turn them out onto the international circuit.

Yes, Tito has been a mega role model.

Yes indeed. This was a point that I also made pre Sharem. If someone had the courage to hire male dancers, and they were good, and people saw that it could draw a crowd and make money, in time others would follow suit. I also said that if Egyptian guys saw that they could make money at it, then you would see more and more of them trying to get into it.

We have to remember that even female dancers in Egypt get into the profession primarily for the money, not love of the art. Neither can we forget that the development of Raks Sharki itself was due in large part to the lure on international money. Otherwise Egyptian dance today would still look pretty much like what we see in Morocco, no costume, only traditional dress and a movement vocabulary without any theatrical influences. In other words, nothing to distinguish them from the guests other than the fact that they are being paid to dance.
 
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Tarik Sultan

New member
#2

Response to my statement that there really isn't any such thing as Shabbi Dance

Have you not attended a Sha'abi workshop??

I teach "Shabbi workshops all the time"

did you not attend when Caroline Evanhoff was teaching this in New York?

Yes... I did...

Sorry Tarik but I have never heard an Egyptian say to me 'this is just Egyptian social dance'... they will call it dance and if it is to Sha'abi music then they call it sha'abi.

All dance activity that is not specifically done as performance, or religious ritual is social dance. Its dance that is done by ordinary people in social situations. Therefore, Baladi is social dance. So-called Shabbi dance is not a distinct dance form. It does not have a distinct movement vocabulary. For example, Baladi has a very definite movement vocabulary; Dabkha has a very definite and distinct movement vocabulary. These are two different dance styles. We don't find this with Shabbi. Shabbi does not have a movement vocabulary that is different from Baladi. It’s the same movement vocabulary. They will use the same movement vocabulary whether they are dancing to Baladi music, Shabbi music, or classical music; therefore, it is not a different dance at all. Lebanese on the other had will dance Dabkha to a song, or they may choose to dance Baladi. These are two very distinct dances.

I have heard a few people say there is no such thing as Sha'abi dance but in the same breath refer to the dance as Sha'abi??

Shabbi, Baladi, they both mean the same thing, of the people. It’s like saying a person is happy and someone else saying the person is jolly. If the music is Shabbi, then they'll call it Shabbi. Egyptians don't always split hairs and find the need to put things in neat little boxes the way we in the West, particularly the Western Dance community feel the need to do. They have an organic understanding of what is what and they understand the context because its part of their lives and environments.

Sha'abi is a social dance but it is also a style that is identified as being performed by belly dancers all over Egypt.

Its a character dance created to reflect the modern urban environment that's all. Just like Baladi, they are setting that segment in a theme. In the past that baladi theme was a rural one. The costuming reflected that, as did the music. Today the theme may be urban and the costuming and music reflect the context they are setting that segment of their performance, but as stated before, it’s not a different dance, not like Sharki and Debkha. All the elements that we call Shabbi, dancing with knives, the hand gestures, the informality and earthiness are all elements of Egyptian social dance that has always existed there. Its just that today, these elements tend to be preserved in the working class environments where these traditions still survive.

Most people who say this are just repeating what they have heard. Believe me I have looked into this one with vigour and came to the conclusion that if there is sha'abi music there is Sha'abi dance... and ask someone what it is and they will say sha'abi not oriental.

Exactly, if the music is Shabbi. Shabbi does not have a distinct movement vocabulary. That's one example of what I mean by context.

I have heard the same being said about Beledi dance and music for years now... the same argument goes around in circles and will do for decades. There is no right and wrong with this one as far as I am concerned.

Exactly. That's because the same rule applies. They do not split hairs the way we feel the need to. It’s understood within the context. They may use the term Sharki or Baladi interchangeably, however, they understand the difference between social and professional, as well as a rural theme in a dance program

So back to the crux of the discussion we are not talking about mens social dance but the development of the Oriental staged dance.

Men socially may have moved their hips when dancing but they did not do 'camels' around the room.. I think we are confusing issues here.

Of course they do, if they know how. The basic movement vocabulary is the same. How extensive a person's tool kit is depends on how experienced, talented they are and what the music allows. You won't see them doing twirls and Arabesques, but the core movements, hips, torso, shoulders etc, they do it all.

I am talking specfically about what we class as belly dance and the same sort of dance which men are denied licenses for in Egypt.

Yes of course, the theatricalised version of the dance

Nothing has changed since we last discussed it on this forum. I think we all agree that mens Oriental dance is a modern development but men have been dancing for a long time... unless something changed?[/QUOTE]

Or we could say that it’s just recently that the guys have followed the footsteps of their sisters and done it on stage with the added razamataz. The female dance was the egg that hatched first, but both came from the same goose. In this, the women were the pioneers because they were the first ones to create that blend of the traditional social dance with the elements of theater performance. The biggest issue is whether or not the men will project an air through it that is recognizably male, or whether they will imitate the women to the point where they project an air that is effeminate. From my experience, it is the fear that they will do the latter that is the biggest obstacle at this point.
 
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Belly Love

New member
It's wrong when "masculine" and "feminine" become boxes people try to put us into to tell us what we should and shouldn't do. But IMO this is different to using them as descriptions of particular traits, and mixing up the two usages makes for confusion.

There are men who dance or even just move in a feminine way, and women who move in a more masculine way. Maybe it would be less gender-politically complicated to use other words, but the difference is half of what makes drag funny.

Rep for your posts Belly Love.

Cool, thanks :)

You just summed up what I was trying to say very easily!
 

Belly Love

New member
Yeah admittedly I do tend to think in black and white, not that that is intentional, it is not, it is just something I do.

But regards long hair, up until the twentieth century many men in my country had long hair, but it was the advent of two great wars that instilled a militaristic mentality in males and with that, the conformity to authority, the short cropped hair and shaven face. I have done my military bit, now I be me, so long hair and beard, which started as rebellion, ended up in the cheapest option, then now, I just love it, the being different to the norm an individual, a lion amongst sheep.
Yes, and 200 years from now it could be considered feminine to have a shaved head! I'm all about embracing being different, but I also embrace being the same. I think both are ok. If we didn't having those who are the same, we wouldn't have those who are different- because if everyone was different... well, they would eventually become the same!

But I do hope you see where I am coming from, I seek the unification and acceptance of people as people and that drives a lot of my sensibilities. But with that unification I also believe one cannot accept unification then demand something seperate as well, as that tips the balance again between superiority and inferiority, those who fit in and those that do not.
I do have a better understanding of where you're coming from and hope you do of me as well. I suppose I'm not so sensitive to this issue (in regards to gender) because of my culture and experiences, which could be vastly different from yours, but I do feel that our world is moving towards unification (on some levels anyway) and is with the acceptance of separation. This goes for more than just the differences in genders but in religion, races, social classes, etc. as well.
 

Pirika Repun

New member
Pirika - all I can wonder is that if Dina is turning everything upside down, then why not the males? If Dina wears outrageous costumes then I can see how Tito is now wearing tight costumes as well. It seems that in Egypt, the entire dance itself is being turned upside down - sort of their own cultural revolution.
Hi GB

I'm not sure if Dina started costuming thing to male dancers. When Tito came to NY in 2008, he was still wearing gallabeya for all his performances on stage. - I think twice and maybe Tito was wearing black street costume in NYC, but my memory is not clear.

I don't remember exactly when I see him start wearing street type of costume that was black T-shirt and black pants with some sequence in T-shirts and line stone & chain belt. It was maybe late 2008 or early 2009. - Again, I think again, and I think he wears street costume in 2008, because I saw video Tito and Virginia in Miami dance together in black & white street type costume on YouTube. So, I think he started 2008 for sure.

Then he start wearing all white street type cloth costume, then early 2010 he start wearing black mesh hood top with black pants. Then saw him in October he wears tight costumes.

I assume that when he did interview with these videos, he was still in Egypt and work at Sharm/ Nama Bay, so he had to keep wearing gallabeya to accepted by society. However, last several years, he teaches WS and performs in all over the world. I'm pretty sure he saw many male dancers all over the world wear more fancy costumes but still not look like women or accepted as male dancer wearing fancy costumes. I'm not sure how Tito and Kharid are close each other, but Kharid wearing tight costume way before Tito did, and Tito saw them at Nile Group festival. So, maybe that also influenced him as well.

I really don't know if this is Dina's direct influence, to all dancers in Egypt. Maybe, Dina is one of influences, but also many dancers in Egypt go outside of Egypt to see what is going on the world, and festivals in Egypt bring world into Egypt. So both Egyptian, and non Egyptian dancers influenced each other to create new movement or "cultural evolution"? I really can't say anything for sure. It's all speculations about change, and why it now??? :think:
 
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Caroline_afifi

New member
Tarik Sultan;172669[I said:
You won't see them doing twirls and Arabesques, but the core movements, hips, torso, shoulders etc, they do it all.[/I]
This is the exact point I am making, and these movements make the physical difference between Oriental and Sha'abi/beledi.

And again, many men do but many dont when it comes to hip movement.

I know you understand these contexts Tarik but for some others newer to the dance it is worth explaining the complexities within the culture as it aviods stereotypes/generalisations down the line.

So who are the men in Egypt who may not dance with their hips?

1) some in middle and upper class circles 2) those who are very religious 3) those who generally see it as not for them 3) those who see it as a womans dance.

those who do dance? those of all classes but more so in the local Beledi/sha'abi areas, less so in middle class circles and those who love to party and enjoy music and care less about image.

Talk to either category about 'professional male belly dancers' and watch how the tone changes.


I am talking specfically about what we class as belly dance and the same sort of dance which men are denied licenses for in Egypt.

Yes of course, the theatricalised version of the dance

Nothing has changed since we last discussed it on this forum. I think we all agree that mens Oriental dance is a modern development but men have been dancing for a long time... unless something changed?
Or we could say that it’s just recently that the guys have followed the footsteps of their sisters and done it on stage with the added razamataz. The female dance was the egg that hatched first, but both came from the same goose. In this, the women were the pioneers because they were the first ones to create that blend of the traditional social dance with the elements of theater performance. The biggest issue is whether or not the men will project an air through it that is recognizably male, or whether they will imitate the women to the point where they project an air that is effeminate. From my experience, it is the fear that they will do the latter that is the biggest obstacle at this point.
[/QUOTE]

YES Tarik!! this is what I was seeking to clarify and there is nothing wrong with this.

Sometimes it seems that if you try to clarify the development as oriental dance as being something women did first we get shot down.

Thanks for the clarity here.

PS understanding cultural and historical developments is very different from personal opinions.
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
Originally Posted by Tarik Sultan;172669[I
You won't see them doing twirls and Arabesques, but the core movements, hips, torso, shoulders etc, they do it all.[/I]
This is the exact point I am making, and these movements make the physical difference between Oriental and Sha'abi/beledi.

And again, many men do but many dont when it comes to hip movement.

I know you understand these contexts Tarik but for some others newer to the dance it is worth explaining the complexities within the culture as it aviods stereotypes/generalisations down the line.

So who are the men in Egypt who may not dance with their hips?

1) some in middle and upper class circles 2) those who are very religious 3) those who generally see it as not for them 3) those who see it as a womans dance.

those who do dance? those of all classes but more so in the local Beledi/sha'abi areas, less so in middle class circles and those who love to party and enjoy music and care less about image.

Exactly. Basically it comes down to an issue of choice and ability. I know many guys who don't dance with their hips not because they have a problem with it or anything like that, but because they just don't know how and are generally inhibited publicly. Then there are the ones trying so hard to be American/modern/"with it", they've turned their backs on their culture, even though they live in it. They wouldn't know Oum Kalthoum if she bit them on the ass. Then you have the ones who are too serious for such displays, ultra religious, or ultra political. The kind of people so glum they've never heard of sunshine, and even if they did, they'd think it was a waste of energy that could be better used on something else.

The point that I've always tried to get across is that there are no cut and dry circumstances in life, neither in our society or any other. What I took issue with in the past were definitive declarations that there was only one point of view or perspective on an issue and nothing more. My contribution has always been that there was more to the story than was being told.

Talk to either category about 'professional male belly dancers' and watch how the tone changes.

And this is another point that I've been misunderstood about in the past. The time when professional male performers were normal is a bygone age which is not in the memory of most people living today. The image that most people have experienced and grown up with is what has been shown in the media etc. Female performers. Add to that the fact that being a dancer is considered a low profession that only poor people get into as a last resort and you have another issue. Why would a man in his right mind choose to get into a low status, low paying profession when he has so many other options available to him? Women on the other hand have traditionally had far fewer options and therefore it was the only one open to them.

Now take into account the element of sensuality/sexuality of the professional dance and you can see why it would be hard for people to initially wrap their heads around male dancers. It’s the fear of negative expectation. Is he going to try to be the object of sexual attention, compete with the women? What's his agenda? That is why as much as I advocate male dancers, I also stipulate that these issues have to be understood and compensated for. The display of skin in the context of a predominantly male audience is understood. For a guy to go out there with skintight clothes and showing lots of skin..... Okay, who is this aimed at and what are your trying to do? They have to be shown a male dancer in a context that compensates or contradicts their fears and negative expectations and even then, there will be resistance in certain circles.

Tito and dancers like Miro have found success because they do compensate. They are not overly seductive and they wear clothing that is recognizably male within the culture and they are undeniably talented. They present themselves as males, not men looking to compete with or be women. I know that there are some guys out there who don't want to hear this, but it’s the truth, whether you are talking about Arabic speaking audiences or Western audiences. A male dancer who presents himself as a guy that everyone can recognize and relate to will have a far better chance at acceptance than a guy who presents himself in an effeminate or ambiguous manner. It makes people uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the world hasn't evolved to the point where such things are just seen and understood as being part of the spectrum of the human experience and so there are issues of fear, guilt and shame associated with men who cross the line of what is expected.


I am talking specifically about what we class as belly dance and the same sort of dance which men are denied licenses for in Egypt.

Exactly, see the points above just made. It has taken hold in Egypt and for the reasons stated above. I think one of the reasons is because the venues where most of the guys perform in Egypt are open family friendly venues. It’s not predominantly male and there is a contingent of independent foreign women in the audience. The sexual tone one often finds in nightclub dancers is toned down or non-existent. The focus is strictly on performance and personality. In Cairo, the venues tend to be more male dominated with all the vises that tend to go with such crowds everywhere in the world, alcohol, drugs, and prostitution. Therefore, in Cairo, what would be the message having a guy at the center of attention? I think eventually it will happen, but it will most likely be within a slightly different context. Perhaps in the kind of family friendly venues like in Sharem or the wedding circuit.

Yes of course, the theatricalised version of the dance

Nothing has changed since we last discussed it on this forum. I think we all agree that men’s Oriental dance is a modern development but men have been dancing for a long time... unless something changed?
Quote:
Or we could say that it’s just recently that the guys have followed the footsteps of their sisters and done it on stage with the added razamataz. The female dance was the egg that hatched first, but both came from the same goose. In this, the women were the pioneers because they were the first ones to create that blend of the traditional social dance with the elements of theater performance. The biggest issue is whether or not the men will project an air through it that is recognizably male, or whether they will imitate the women to the point where they project an air that is effeminate. From my experience, it is the fear that they will do the latter that is the biggest obstacle at this point.
[/QUOTE]

YES Tarik!! this is what I was seeking to clarify and there is nothing wrong with this.

No, there's nothing wrong with it at all. I never saw why I should feel intimidated or diminished just because a woman opened the way for something to happen. So what? The women raised the bar on the standards of entertainment in dance. There's no way that guys coming on the scene later could stay at the level of bogging at their friends party in the living room. We also had to kick it up a notch in terms of costuming, complexity of musical interpretation etc. The challenge for guys has been how to be true to a masculine image that will be accepted without looking artificial of effeminate, especially in costuming. We've been shown a certain standard, now we are tinkering around with how do we tailor it to fit who we are comfortably.

Sometimes it seems that if you try to clarify the development as oriental dance as being something women did first we get shot down.

I think because for so long there has been a contingent that was exclusionary to men. Therefore, people who do not agree feel a bit defensive and quickly shut down what they perceive as potentially discriminatory. The history of the dance in the 20th century is what it is. There's no reason to feel threatened by it at all. In my case it has always been about showing how and why a space could be created for male participation as well based on historical precedence, (male baladi dancers 19th century are prior) and current cultural practices, such as social dance. But beyond that, dance in general is a female dominated activity, whether we be in the West, Asia, Africa or the generic Middle East. Even as more and more men are coming into the field, their customer bases are still and will always be predominantly female. Anyone who has a problem with this fact or women in general would do best to stick strictly to competitive sports.

Thanks for the clarity here.

You're welcome. I'm just glad that in this incarnation of the subject I could be heard and understood. Thanks for that.

PS understanding cultural and historical developments is very different from personal opinions.

Yes, and that is why both circumstances have to be looked at. My gripe is that in discussions like the one that started this thread, the complexity of those realities is often either ignored or denied.
 
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