What is Belly Dance? - UNCW Faculty and Staff Web Pages
What is Belly Dance? Prehistoric Middle East to Modern America What is Belly Dance? 1. Solo-improvised dance (or choreographed dance based on a solo-improvised form) 2. Based on torso articulation, with arms used in countermovement
to frame the body, often with delicate hand movements 3. It occurs in the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, northern India, and the southern Suhair Zeki Geographical Location The Middle East
Solo-Improvised Each person improvises within a standard technique (which varies across the SIDTA area) Group dynamics are possible A lot of social dance of other sorts is soloimprovised Improvisation fits in with Middle Eastern privileging of improvisation as artistic creation
A Lebanese social gathering Hip and Torso Articulation Many forms of dance involve hip articulation: Polynesian, African, Balinese and Indian dances, etc. Middle Eastern hip articulation tends to be very precise, on a straight-aligned torso Shimmies Other aesthetic factors
Suhaila Salimpour Social Dance Court dance: Develops to meet the needs (or pleasures) of an elite Codified, intellectualized Set techniques, often rigorous training Social dance: Dance as done by individuals within the culture Techniques accessible to everyone Techniques learned through observation and participation, not instruction
Aesthetics An abstract art, nonnarrative and nonprogrammatic. It consists of small, intricate movement, with attention to minute detail and intricacy of pattern. It has a serial structure, in that the dancer displays his or her skill with one type of movement The dance for is a asseries long as of is
mini-climaxes . . . which give desired. an intuition . . of transcendent infinity. The dance is circular and built on an ebb and flow of energy. Flow and the involvement in that flow are key experiences in the dance. Aesthetics It is intimately related to music The mode of performance is not so much the dancer
projecting herself out toward the audience but rather drawing the audience into a more intimate relationship. In dance, as in music, Arabic tradition emphasizes emotional effect above structure Audience involvement on an Gender As a performance art, belly dance is usually performed by women, boys or non-traditional men. At
times, this dance may be perceived as particularly feminine or suited to women. Most dancers in the West are women. In the West, all dance is gendered as feminine. Most professional dancers Gender Historically, men have often been leading performers of belly dance (cengi, khawaal).
Men in the Middle East today often teach and choreograph; some Middle Eastern men perform in the West. Often male belly dancers are young (boys) or unconventional (not adult married conventional men) Turkish Kochek Marginalization In the East, professional performers of this dance
are often marginalized: They may be members of an ethnic minority (often Gypsies) They may be associated with prostitution Even if they are sexually conventional, they may be considered shameful and counter to the values of mainstream culture. Ghawazee dancers
Social Rituals The performance of belly dance may be an element in social rituals, in particular at weddings and other celebrations. For some (mainly Western or elite) dancers, it may have a spiritual dimension. It especially is thought of as fostering joy or celebration. (Is there a conflict between this role as a social ritual, and the outcast status of
East and West The Middle East is a large and diverse area: Countries have traditions and attitudes that may vary widely Individuals within countries have different perspectives There has been change over time, especially in the 20th century The East is a shorthand for this diverse area, not
East and West Likewise, The West is a diverse area, with many different opinions and attitudes. A major difference for this topic is that in the East, belly dance tends to be learned as a social dance, while in the West, it is learned in classes as a foreign art and as a performance art, not a social dance.
Orientalism A term defined by Edward Said in 1976: The use of the East as a mirror through which Westerners can both define their own selves and culture, and justify their political domination of the East. A form of orientalism was present in the Roman Empire, but Said focuses on the period of modern
Edward Said Orientalism Orientalism relies on supposed oppositions of Western and Eastern worlds: West
Rational Stable Progress Justice/Democracy Moderate Ordered Thinking East
Irrational Unstable Unchanging Despotism Extreme Chaotic Sensual The view of the East is often contradictory and this reinforces its supposed chaos and unpredictability Subject and
Object Is the dancer a Subject or an Object? Subjects experience, interpret, feel, act, matter. Film, photography, art, or literature can emphasize the subjectivity of some characters, not others. Objects are seen or portrayed only in the light of others experience, and their position as feeling and acting is de-emphasized. Often, in orientalizing literature, dancers (or the East in general) are portrayed as objects, having significance only in the light of the experiences of those who encounter them. Self and Other
A related concept is the idea of the Other (for example, the Oriental Other). In literature and in life, the Other is someone whose very different nature helps you define yours. In narratives that range from ancient myths to modern film, encounter with the Other is a trigger for human passages and key experiences. But the Other may be slighted in the process, as an object defined only in terms of the Selfs experience. The Other is often not seen (or portrayed) as a whole person, someone who experiences and Performance
Segments Delilah (Delilah Flynn) American Style belly dance Live at the Yao Entrance and veil section Live music Performance Segments Lucy (Lucy Said) Egyptian mega-star Performance to Lessa
Faker Live music Performance Segments Rachel Brice Tribal Fusion style belly dance Belly Dance Superstars Recorded music Performance Segments Dina
Egyptian mega-star Soiree Performance to traditional music Recorded Music
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