The Term Belly Dancer

onela

New member
This is an interesting topic. Dance has always been a part of my life (in the sense that I've been a student of dance of one style/genre or another at most points in my life), so I've almost always indentified as a dancer, though I've always been careful to make it clear in conversation that I consider myself a student, a recreational dancer, a dance hobbyist, something like that. Not a professional. It isn't how I earn my living, I'm not contributing to dance as a working artist. I wouldn't want somebody to think that I was a pro.
 

jenc

New member
No one is likely to think i'm a pro!! I usually say I do bellydance - the only time I have ever said I'm a bellydancer is at an exercise or other dance class when asked how I can do X move so easily.
 

Yame

New member
I think that to call yourself a belly dancer, you need at least a reasonable level of competence in the dance.

As a beginner I never called myself a belly dancer, when the topic came up I would just say I take belly dance classes.

It was other people who began bestowing the title on me long before I started feeling comfortable with calling myself that. Nowadays I do feel I am competent enough to call myself a belly dancer.

I am in agreement with the person who said we don't call ourselves mechanics just because we can change our oil and we don't call ourselves mathematicians just because we are good at math. I also agree with whoever said that the standard for the arts is a bit lower, you don't need to be a world-class painter and have majored in art to be able to call yourself a painter. Someone who paints somewhat regularly and is at least somewhat decent at it is a painter, even if that isn't their main source of income. However, someone who paints a couple of times a year for a few minutes and is very mediocre, I would not consider a painter.

I would apply similar standards to belly dance. I don't think you have to be a pro to call yourself a belly dancer, but you need to be better than beginner level.

Those things being said, none of this bothers me much. When it comes right down to it, everyone will call themselves whatever they want to call themselves and there is nothing I can do about it, so I am not losing any sleep over it.
 

Yame

New member
Anything wrong with referring to oneself as "a beginning belly dancer?"
Nothing wrong with that and I even sometimes refer to beginners that way.

But when I was starting out, I felt weird about even calling myself that. Personally, I felt like I had to earn that title. Right now I take ballet lessons, but I don't call myself a ballerina. I don't even call myself a "beginner ballerina," or even a "beginner ballet dancer." If the topic comes up, I might say I take ballet lessons.

Of course, it doesn't just depend on the person's ability, competence, and length of time in the activity. It also depends on how often they do it, how much of their free time they dedicate to it, how much they identify with it, etc. So there is no clear-cut answer.

I do think that people who are just starting out, and people who have been doing it for a while but only attend their once a week class and never go out to watch it, never read about it, never or hardly ever perform, never watch videos, etc, are not belly dancers. This is where, for me, there is a clear line, and beyond that it's all a blur.

And again, the semantics are not a huge deal as long as we are being honest with ourselves and our students about where we/they stand, whether we choose to use this term more liberally or more conservatively.
 

Rue

New member
I agree with most of the other comments...

What you do has different levels to it...but it's still what you do.

So a beginner, intermediate, advanced and professional all do the same things...just at different levels...

You're all belly dancers.
 

Belly Love

New member
I agree with the general sentiment: usually pro's say their pro's, hobbyists & teachers say their belly dancers, beginners say their learning bd... etc.
 

LunaXJJ

New member
I agree with most of the other comments...

What you do has different levels to it...but it's still what you do.

So a beginner, intermediate, advanced and professional all do the same things...just at different levels...

You're all belly dancers.
Well said.

To my view in another way, I'm not great at art, but I still consider myself an artist. I'm not a pro at belly dancing, but I still consider myself a belly dancer.

Side story: The other day I was looking at hip scarves, and the saleslady asked if I was a belly dancer, and I said yes. I admit I felt a little cocky at the moment, especially because of the tone of admiration on her face. Even though I mentioned I only BD in private, she still seemed intrigued to meet someone who belly dances. I hope I don't sound lame saying that.

I only perform for myself, but I love the dance, the music, and have even taken an interest in the middle eastern culture because of it. I may not be great, but I do my best, and have a lot of fun. It can be the worse day ever, and just a little bit of BDing will brighten up my whole day. Also, it makes me feel good about myself. With the way my self-esteem is, anything that makes me feel confident like BD does is a miracle.
 

RahimaMJR

New member
Of course, it doesn't just depend on the person's ability, competence, and length of time in the activity. It also depends on how often they do it, how much of their free time they dedicate to it, how much they identify with it, etc. So there is no clear-cut answer.
I agree with this too; once it becomes part of your daily life how can you deny it? I am a Coke drinker; I drink one every morning. While I agree that there should be some type of disclosure (time frame, level, whatever), I don't see a problem with a dedicated student or addict proclaiming she (or he) is a bellydancer. I think it is pretty apparent which are the pretentious know nothings and which are the honestly enthralled and hard working.

People make the argument that "I am not what I do" in regards to their job...in Zorba's "Gender Rant," he argues that one should confess their passions before stating their job. Much more interesting and in most cases, I'd guess, a more accurate portrayal of the human in question.
(Sorry, Zorba, I tried to ink to the Gender Rant directly but I could only get the URL for the index page?)

I also agree with Kashmir, though, that someone who has never studied the dance but has a "belly dancer soul," should not claim her/himself a belly dancer.

And oh yeah, does that mean you have to be "good" in order to call yourself something? This actually goes into another line of questioning I guess...I used to have a ballroom student who was so bad, and I don't mean to be awful. He had been doing it for about 10 years. He memorized steps, but the technique was not there in the slightest. Unless you were really used to his dancing, you wouldn't be able to follow anything he lead and you would often get stepped on or your wrist twisted. This man was a very intelligent doctor, but dancing was just not his thing. I don't know if he called himself a ballroom dancer or a hobbyist or anything, but like I said, 10 years at least. Thousands of dollars a year. Anyway! Little off topic, sorry.
 
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