What is bellydance?

TinaL

New member
Earlier in this thread (or maybe it was somewhere else, I'm so tired right now I can't remember), it was mentioned that Westerners especially have a problem with bellydance in the aspect of "sexual vs sensual", and the rationale being, perhaps, that we don't celebrate the joy in our lives by dancing it, the way some other cultures do. I personally believe it's due to the strictures of certain Christian groups which teach that dancing is somehow inherently evil ... Some sects say "no dancing, no singing", etc. because it's somehow not "right", that dancers (here, read "bellydancers") are sinning with every shimmy, every maya, every undulation. Of course, these same sects teach the Bible as being the absolute truth in every word, neither adding nor subtracting, which is a complete contradion since the Bible DOES speak of dancing, (though not "bellydancing" in those very words) as has been established here. How does this apply to modern bellydance? Or even the history of bellydance? Maybe it does, and maybe it doesn't. It depends on your personal understanding of the history and evolution of this dance form, and everyone may have a different view on this, which is wonderful. But whether you subscribe to Christianity as a personal path or not, as this topic applies to bellydance, think for a moment of where on the face of this world Christianity originated -- what we know today as (broadly) the Middle East! I don't think it's such a far stretch to encompass the possibility that the dance as we love it today may have its roots in the very "dancing" as described in the Bible.

Some people have difficulty correlating their love of this very sensual, wonderful dance form with any kind of spirituality, as if the two should not mix. And some dance with the joy in their souls, and this, for them, can be an extremely spiritual moment.:think:
 

Kharmine

New member
I don't know that we can blame certain Christian groups for this attitude in the Western world. There have always been ascetic types throughout civilization, history and various religions who have railed against "wanton dancing," and especially the public performances of women because it invited the lustful gaze of men who did not "own" them.

I blame patriarchal societies in general -- the more control and censorship of women the harsher the attitude towards anything that expresses their freedom, autonomy and individuality.

And there's also a strain of philosophy that regards the material world as inherently evil because it is a distraction from unity with the supreme spiritual being. In some Gnostic teachings, for instance, there is a dual-divinity: The "evil" god was the one who created the material world, and thus the human body was inherently evil, too.

Oddly enough, these gnostic teachings influenced some of the early founders of Christianity as an organized system. But you can see this influence elsewhere, too.
 

Sara

New member
I think in terms virgin dancers who are dancing to 'lighten' the hearts of depressed men is a bit of a contradiction. Why is it a virgin dance? Thats what I don't get. It could have been an ancient Egyptian worship dance to the gods or something for all I know, lol.

I'm not sure about dance and spirituality together though. Jut the term virgin dance is strange.
 

Kharmine

New member
It may be that "virgin dance" is not the literal translation. Depending on which language it was written in (ancient Hebrew in the Old Testament, Greek from Aramaic in the New), it could mean something like "dance of the maidens."

In some societies, you have maidens and young unmarried boys who do things separate from the old marrieds.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
And for a long time, "virgin" referred to an unmarried woman, but not necessarily a woman who was sexually uninitiated.
 

Aniseteph

New member
So dance is OK by the bible, but I agree with Sara - nothing to say what kind of dance it refers to. And call me unspiritual but IMHO the moves involved in belly dance do not suggest it's roots are amongst the virgins/unmarried maidens.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance, etc.

So dance is OK by the bible, but I agree with Sara - nothing to say what kind of dance it refers to. And call me unspiritual but IMHO the moves involved in belly dance do not suggest it's roots are amongst the virgins/unmarried maidens.
Dear Aniseteph,
I would agree with this very common sense approach to looking at the nature of the dance!!

I have to say that I also feel that in countries like the USA, where Puritans set down the rules, we will find a lot of reticence about accepting the sexual nature of the dance. It is something that we have never quite got a handle on despite the best efforts of people like Thomas Aquinas to show that humans and life here on earth are a part of the bigger spiritual picture and not so sinful just by nature after all. ( We perhaps should all dance in Scarlet As!! Famous belly dancer "Hester Prynncess".... oh gawd.... where oh where is my coffee cup???) At the same time, I agree with Hindis that sex IS spiritual. But then, I guess I also have to confess that I think everything else is, too.
Regards,
A'isha
 

belly_dancer

New member
And call me unspiritual but IMHO the moves involved in belly dance do not suggest it's roots are amongst the virgins/unmarried maidens.
I don't know... have you been to a high school dance lately, & seen our young "maidens" dance????? :rolleyes:eeeeee gawd!!!!..... I with a capital belly dance I! would be banned from the dance floor for being too "G" rated!
 

Aniseteph

New member
I don't know... have you been to a high school dance lately, & seen our young "maidens" dance????? :rolleyes:eeeeee gawd!!!!..... I with a capital belly dance I! would be banned from the dance floor for being too "G" rated!
I know. :shok:.
My point is that I can't see how those moves originate with those "maidens". They didn't invent moving like that, they are copying ladies of more, er, experience (in order to appear less maidenly themselves :rolleyes:). Suggestive dancers on MTV are not trying to move like a bunch of kids in the playground, it's the other way round.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance

I don't know... have you been to a high school dance lately, & seen our young "maidens" dance????? :rolleyes:eeeeee gawd!!!!..... I with a capital belly dance I! would be banned from the dance floor for being too "G" rated!

Dear Belly_dancer,
..... Is there any reason why you think they are virgins????
Regards,
A'isha
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Dear Belly_dancer and A'isha,

Ya'll cut it out! My tummy can only take so much hysterical laughter!

Sincerely,

Shanazel
 

Kharmine

New member
I don't think we're ever gonna know who first got up and said, "Ooh, look, I can make my hips do THIS!"

All I know is that cultures that try to control people's thoughts, from theocracies to Communism, are the most uncomfortable with anything that appeals to the senses, and that which is difficult to control always gets put down.
 

belly_dancer

New member
I don't think we're ever gonna know who first got up and said, "Ooh, look, I can make my hips do THIS!"

All I know is that cultures that try to control people's thoughts, from theocracies to Communism, are the most uncomfortable with anything that appeals to the senses, and that which is difficult to control always gets put down.
:shok::lol::clap::dance: does this mean we are "difficult" to control?:lol::lol:
 

belly_dancer

New member
Dear Belly_dancer,
..... Is there any reason why you think they are virgins????
Regards,
A'isha
hehehehehehe
HELL no!!!! (I prefer the definition of virgin that means "un married young woman" NOT "un sexed" (for lack of a better word I could actually type here:shok:))
of course.... WE NEVER (uh... hmmmmm) danced THAT way when I was young..(at least not in FRONT of the parents!!!!)
but, what I have noticed from my daughters high school friends.... it seemed generally (but of course not ALWAYS!!!) that mostly the true virgins (according to popular definition!) & the true sluts were the sleaziest dancers!!!
 

Kharmine

New member
:shok::lol::clap::dance: does this mean we are "difficult" to control?:lol::lol:
Of course! :cool:

Art has always had a subversive element because, when it's done honestly, it exposes our deepest feelings, and it takes the risk of offending others.

Governments often want to control artists because they want to control the message of who and what a country is, and artists often represent some aspect of the culture that they're not crazy about.
 

cathy

New member
Hester Prynncess

Dear Aniseteph,
( We perhaps should all dance in Scarlet As!! Famous belly dancer "Hester Prynncess".... oh gawd.... where oh where is my coffee cup???)
A'isha--"Hester Prynncess" is one of the funniest puns I've heard in ages. I absolutely loved that novel. I was totally in love with Dimmesdale around my late teens and for whatever reason, this feeling was related to his guilt and suffering.

As long as we are talking Hawthorne, anyone else read the essay "The Scarlet Letter should have been I" for Incest? The writer thought he was in love with his own sister.

This reminds me though. The business of repressing all sexual expression (whether Puritan in origin or otherwise) labels things as sinful, wrong, dirty, etc. I have a theory that in and of itself, the sinful/wrong/dirty makes them more exciting to the imagination. I sometimes wonder whether in a society totally free of such repression, people would still find a way to invent transgressive fantasies just because they seek the thrill. In other words, is there some deep human desire/need to be naughty?

Cathy
 

cathy

New member
Of course! :cool:

Art has always had a subversive element because, when it's done honestly, it exposes our deepest feelings, and it takes the risk of offending others.

Governments often want to control artists because they want to control the message of who and what a country is, and artists often represent some aspect of the culture that they're not crazy about.
Hi Kharmine,

Your comments on this thread are very insightful. Maybe this explains why I like the real stuff best. The kind of ME dance that is most commercially successful holds little appeal for me.

Here are two questions for you. Are there any types of government (or culture) that DON'T try to control the message in your view? And do you think anarchy is possible?

Cathy
 

cathy

New member
artist vs. government

Kharmine,

Not a subject I know a lot about, but in thinking more it seems to me that until about the nineteenth century, all or most art was just produced as part of daily life/folk traditions. There were craftspeople and guilds. The idea of the "professional artist" especially as being at odds with society, came about I would guess more 19th century. Until then weren't artists more like hired hands with patrons? Therefore they had to produce what was pleasing to who hired them? But I would say many of them still found ways to express their deepest feelings within those contexts.

Same as paid professional artists today, except "the patron" has been replaced by "the market."

Yes there are artists whose message is controversial and repressed but now that I think about it, it has not always been the case that artists are at odds with society. Bach for instance, Michaelangelo. Mozart on the other hand was controversial and did not support himself in his lifetime. Weren't the Impressionists the first painters to aim at the bourgeois buying public and be able to support themselves through their art without a patron? This in and of itself was controversial.

Today we have the debate about which artists/what art is suitable for tax funding....

Cathy
 
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cathy

New member
(Sorry for so many posts! Maybe I've had TOO MUCH coffee.)

I wonder--what is subversive about Oriental dance today? (I am not talking about Badia Masabni's time now or the idea that in the Middle East even today it is shameful for a woman to dance, especially for pay, in public. I'm talking about the West.) I am thinking that the received wisdom/the patriarchy pretends that the teasing seductress is subversive or "naughty" but in fact that image is such a cliché and one of the oldest money-spinners. The thing that seems subversive--and this is what strikes me as so bizarre-- is the idea of real people of all kinds enjoying this dance for fun. I mean as opposed to making it about sex, or about entertainment even as in star entertaining audience. I kind of dislike the word "entertainment" because it suggests the business and profit element, and the passive consumption approach, as opposed to the pure and more participatory enjoyment, which gets back to the folk traditions idea.

To take it back into the economic/political context, maybe the idea of people having fun with no appreciable profit to be gained can be subversive. It doesn't have to be the message itself.

Cathy
 
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