the image of a belly dancer

cathy

New member
I see where you're shimmying, Cathy!

IMHO, it's leftover male-chauvinism. Women are designed for the pleasure and convenience of heterosexual men, visually or otherwise. When they perform publicly, it's mostly, if not wholly, for the pleasure of heterosexual men. This is so ingrained I think many people don't even question it.

It's more overt in communities where women aren't respected as equals and presumed to be always competing for the favors of heterosexual men who are expected to make more money and be more powerful.

Combine that with the ancient attitude that performing artists aren't quite high-class, because often suspected of looser morals and freer thinking than conventional nonartist folks -- and you got bias.

Doesn't matter what country it is, you can see it everywhere. But at least where women have insisted on presenting belly dance as an art you see pushback on the bias.
Yes!!! :dance:

It seems there is often a political motivation behind that word "purpose," at least when applied to art or culture.
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
Yeah, I once dated Hatshepsut first cousin ..

The reality of that image thing I'm getting more and more convinced that it's a US/Europe thing than Egyptian. The majority of Egyptian who might see a go-go dance will not associated with belly dance at all. I might add, they would be puzzled as what it is for

if you just strip -no pun intended- the go-go image and put only the poll and a girl doing her thing an Egyptian might think it's some sort of gymnastic exercise ...


and will be amazed by how flexible the gril is.
:lol: ha ha... I was meaning the all the foriegn ladies in Luxor with husbands 40 years younger... we know exactly what this is about

However it does nothing to stop them. they all say 'but my Mohammed is different....he loves me...'

Ok, but watch out for your life savings grandma!
 

lizaj

New member
:lol: ha ha... I was meaning the all the foriegn ladies in Luxor with husbands 40 years younger... we know exactly what this is about

However it does nothing to stop them. they all say 'but my Mohammed is different....he loves me...'

Ok, but watch out for your life savings grandma!
They are known as MAIDS...My Achmed is different:rolleyes:

Like the poor old dears on the Dominican republic TV show last night

"He hasn't asked me for a penny"...YET!

"We don't say much but I really mean something to him" YES a big fat tip

This poor old dear ain't letting go of one penny of her pension:D
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
I was thinking about how in the Middle Ages in Europe, virtually all the painting and sculpture was done for Christian religious purposes. Most of the music that was composed also was for Christian purposes. It was all for the glory of God. In those days, presumably the churches hired the best artists because they had the highest ability to glorify God. If people commented they preferred painter X's talents to painter Y's, it was probably still phrased in a religious context (he really showed the tenderness on the Madonna's face, the suffering of Sebastian, etc) There may have been artists or composers who were tempted to create nonreligious works before then, but they would have been a waste of time because no one commissioned these works, and they would not be preserved. In fact the artists of the day may have had any number of inspirations (painter might have really been thinking of his own mother's face, or the girl next door's), but they channeled them through acceptable modes because that's the only way to get work, to make a mark.
where is Sita these days??

From what i have learned, these things changed via the Protestant revolution. The first ever non religious book was 'The Pilgrims Progress' and the first ever non religious portrait was that of a peasant lady making lace.

It was a protest against corruption and was aimed at bringing down the hierarchical structures etc.

Nowadays when we look at these same sculptures, paintings, and listen to these oratorios and symphonies etc., while many people might still find religious inspiration in them, lots also look at them in other ways, as art in its own right. The Christian subject matter is seen as context of the time.
It was art created for God not people.

What I am wondering about is whether we could look at RS as substituting "dance is for seducing men" for "art is for glorifying God" and the patriarchy for Christianity here. Everyone--artists included--are immersed in the values of their time and place and have to operate in a world informed by those values.
mmmm.... :think: It would be a totally radical change for me to think along these lines...

What would be the purpose?


No doubt even in the Middle Ages there was "folk art" and certainly folk music and dance--but it didn't get preserved.
That is because it was not seen as relevant or as 'art'.

You couldn't make nearly the same kind of living at it. It was lower class, a sideline, simple peasant amusements, not anything people would pay money for. Just like there is regular party dancing that is seen as OK for men to do, and OK to be old, fat, ugly, because THEN the purpose isn't enticement. It's only when you get up on stage solo in sequins that you are doing something supposedly as different as night is from day and in a sexual context.

I wonder whether there are any parallels here. Hope I am getting my idea across.

Cathy
I sort of think I get you...

What is the purpose of raising the 'class' of something?

is it to impress people of a 'higher class'?

does that make it better, more acceptable and somehow give it validity?

do you understand what I am saying?
 

cathy

New member
I sort of think I get you...

What is the purpose of raising the 'class' of something?

is it to impress people of a 'higher class'?

does that make it better, more acceptable and somehow give it validity?

do you understand what I am saying?
I know I have been wishing for Sita's input too! Huge inter-related set of topics here!

Anyway, yes art was supposedly all created for God not people but to turn it around, the only artists who got any work were those who did Christian themes. The only themes that were considered appropriate were Christian. Anything else would have been laughable, heresy, or at the very least a waste of time and paint. Right? You couldn't BE an artist unless you did it that way. Quite possibly some artists were less devout than others, but it would have crippled their ability to get work to go outside the accepted framework. Just like I bet some of the top dancers in Cairo who have had boob jobs do not think that big high boobs have anything to do with good RS. They are part of playing the game. You can't GET a job as a RS dancer unless you put it in the allowable context. Oh, you can still dance at halflas. Just like in the middle ages you could have painted a landscape in your house for your own amusement, IF you could have afforded the time and paint to do such a painting for yourself alone. Even then, people would have criticized you for doing it.

The purpose of thinking about artists being immersed in the values of their place and time is to think about what is real art and what is part of playing the game.

Folk art, music, dance were not seen as "real" or legitimate, worthwhile forms then and for the most part nor are they now! Yes, we have lots of folk dance groups and there are staged folk dances but they aren't on a par with Ballet Russe or All that Jazz or even Barnum and Bailey circus, right? Next to no one makes a living at folk art of any kind.

It gets complicated because nationalism also enters in, and it will often use images like "the girl next door" or "bint al belad" and to some degree glorify simple homespun values. I can see it more readily with Egyptian stuff--probably because I am so overexposed to the Western that I don't even notice it! (There again, a sign of immersion leading to unquestioning acceptance.) For example, the bint al belad and the near-obligatory Egyptian musician/singer/dancer bio involving humble roots, a passionate commitment to music discouraged by parents, tireless practice, big success but never forgetting the small village, etc. I watched the documentary Umm Kulthoum A Voice Like Egypt the other day and they talked a fair amount about her humble background and how people commented on her "simple cotton dresses" even when she hit the big time in Cairo.

Anyway the entrenched powers revolve around MONEY, nationalism, religion, class, race. Yes we are told what to like, what is appropriate, what is high class and (though this might be changing somewhat) what the ordinary people do in their homes or on the street is never it. Raising the class of something, putting on that "only acceptable in certain contexts or frameworks" thing, is about power. You will only get paid when you play by the rules.

All dance forms had to start as folk, right? Before there were courts, there were still people and people have always danced. My understanding is that ballet was based on a men's Basque dance, discovered by Russians (I think) and turned into a court dance. As in, snooty. As in, it takes years and only those with a certain body type will ever make it. Then we (France/England/later US) got the passion for ballet as we now know it, and it's definitely seen as a high-class pursuit. Or look at singing. People have done it from the dawn of time. Yet it was transformed into a "only for God" thing in Europe in the middle ages though for sure people still sang lullabies to their babies, ditties in the pubs and on the wharves, etc. They just didn't get paid for it! Yes, opera is not as big as it once was and we have pop music and iTunes so more popularism but who makes a living at it? Not the guy singing "Chocolate Rain" no matter how many hits his youtube clip gets.

I see similar parallels between the hip-articulated dance that ordinary people do for fun (not pay, not onstage) and RS where lots of context and rules about who can do it, what they should look like, and what the "purpose" is. Sorry, rushing here!

The "officially sanctioned" version is not "better." It has more validity but only because "officially sanctioned" = validity.

Cathy
 
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masrawy

New member
I don't know much about art, but I know what I like



Hey Cathy I was wondering about your sudden interest .. of the "only in Arabic" thread!! :think:

.
 

Aniseteph

New member
My understanding is that ballet was based on a men's Basque dance, discovered by Russians (I think) and turned into a court dance.
I thought it was originally an Italian Rennaissance court dance, then developed in the French courts, and brought into Russia by Peter the Great as part of his Europeanisation/modernisation push. Agreed it's had a veneer of classiness for a long time though. Anyhoo, going off topic!

Caroline Afifi said:
What is the purpose of raising the 'class' of something?

is it to impress people of a 'higher class'?

does that make it better, more acceptable and somehow give it validity?
Excellent point. Making a drinking song or folk song high class art makes it into something else. What's wrong with appreciating the skill/tradition/fun (and art) in the real grubby/earthy deal? Even if some people turn their noses up at it. ;)
 

Harry

Member
...
Excellent point. Making a drinking song or folk song high class art makes it into something else. What's wrong with appreciating the skill/tradition/fun (and art) in the real grubby/earthy deal? Even if some people turn their noses up at it. ;)
Point expanded, Aniseteph, and I don't think it is totally off topic to describe examples. The music to one national anthem, of which I am quite familiar (harumph!) was once a tavern song. So was the music to some church hymns. So, it follows that any art may evolve and assume some aura of validity, and (getting back on topic), I think this just could happen with belly dance (or ME dance, if you prefer). Time, along with the efforts of those projecting the positive, will tell. :pray:
 

shiradotnet

New member
On the subject of "folk art"... I grew up in a very rural part of the U.S., in what we sometimes call the "heartland", and I was surrounded by the folk arts of the U.S. - baking apple pies, quilting, embroidery, crocheting doilies, etc.

Somewhere along the line, someone saw an opportunity to make money by packaging fake-folk arts for commercial consumption. Today, it completely bewilders me to see the kind of stuff being marketed as "country".

Let me assure you, my upbringing was thoroughly "country", and not once did any person of my acquaintance in rural Iowa decorate her home with fabric barnyard animals wearing skirts.
 

Kharmine

New member
Well, as someone who studied the history of art and the Renaissance period, got to say that there was actually quite a lot of art produced throughout the medieval/Renaissance periods that didn't have overt religious themes.

Lots of Greek-Roman stuff, Aesop's Fables and that sort of thing from antiquity -- especially good for risque themes otherwise frowned upon ("But it's Classical!").

But the folks who had the most money were the nobility, the rising merchant middle-class and the Church, and those folks were eager to show off their piety and gentitlity, plus Bible lit was the best generally known source for history and imagination.

FYI: Pilgrim's Progress was a religious allegory -- the Pilgrim being the ordinary bloke making his way toward Heaven past all sorts of obstacles.

Nobody reads it, so can't blame ya for not knowing that, Caroline!

Um -- but I digress.

Shira's comment point outs that if there is money to be had from any form of art, it will suddenly get way more attention -- good and bad -- and, inevitably, have a big impact on the art form.

Personally, I can't stand artificial ducks wearing sunbonnets.
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
FYI: Pilgrim's Progress was a religious allegory -- the Pilgrim being the ordinary bloke making his way toward Heaven past all sorts of obstacles.

Nobody reads it, so can't blame ya for not knowing that, Caroline!
What I meant was, it was the first book of fiction and not based on the stories from the Bible.

It was about an ordinary bloke and not Jesus.

It may have been religous but it was about a person. Do you understand what I mean.

This is why the book is so historically significant .
 

lizaj

New member
Well, as someone who studied the history of art and the Renaissance period, got to say that there was actually quite a lot of art produced throughout the medieval/Renaissance periods that didn't have overt religious themes.

Lots of Greek-Roman stuff, Aesop's Fables and that sort of thing from antiquity -- especially good for risque themes otherwise frowned upon ("But it's Classical!").

But the folks who had the most money were the nobility, the rising merchant middle-class and the Church, and those folks were eager to show off their piety and gentitlity, plus Bible lit was the best generally known source for history and imagination.

FYI: Pilgrim's Progress was a religious allegory -- the Pilgrim being the ordinary bloke making his way toward Heaven past all sorts of obstacles.

Nobody reads it, so can't blame ya for not knowing that, Caroline!

Um -- but I digress.

Shira's comment point outs that if there is money to be had from any form of art, it will suddenly get way more attention -- good and bad -- and, inevitably, have a big impact on the art form.

Personally, I can't stand artificial ducks wearing sunbonnets.
Wadda ya mean no one ever reads its? I had to for my A levels. Thren again I think I just prefered Pride and Prejudice...Yup a natty allegory. The book might not be riviting reading (don't ask I cant remember anything now but I remembered enough to pass) but I remember thinking he was quite a feisty guy! No one ever reads it now at Brit schools..that's right!
 

cathy

New member
Fair enough--I know next to nothing about visual art history of the Ren. period or any other :shok: I was just trying to find a Western example of how who gets to be an artist and what the purpose and rightful subject or context of art is stated to be, varies by time and place. It's political!

I agree with the original poster who said something like "Harem fantasy dance really bugs me." I was just trying to widen the scope.

I'm going to create a spinoff thread called "Elevated art" now so as not to get this one off topic.

Cathy
 

Kharmine

New member
You're quite right, Caroline, it was still a religious book, but definitely fiction.

And lizaj, I'm impressed -- I've read it, but when a teen-ager and then I thought it was rather a slog!

Cathy, I don't think we strayed all that far -- how artistic images get formed has a lot to do with the cultures of the times, the art the religious influences, etc.

If we're aware of how it happens, it becomes easier to understand and even deflect when it becomes harem-girl-turned-belly-dancer.
 
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