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What is Belly Dance Power Point

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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 Mediterranean. Or: it
is consciously based on
dances from those areas.
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 solo-improvised
•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, “non-narrative
and non-programmatic.”
•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
for as long as is desired. . .”
•The dance is “a series of mini-climaxes . . . which give 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
emotional level (whether it is just
celebration or deeper emotion) is
a key element
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 in
the East are women, including
all of the dance “stars.”
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)
•They do not see belly dance
as “feminine” by nature
Turkish Kochek
Marginalization
•They may be associated with
In the East, professional
prostitution
performers of this dance are •Even if they are sexually
often marginalized:
conventional, they may be
considered shameful and counter
•They may be members of
to the values of mainstream
an ethnic minority (often
culture.
Gypsies)
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 some
dancers?)
“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 meant to
imply that it is a uniform place
“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.
In the East, belly dance is an
integral aspect of culture,
whereas in the West, it is
“exotic.”
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 colonial domination
of the Middle East, the 19t
hand 20th centuries
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 deemphasized.
•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 Self’s experience.
•“The Other” is often not seen (or portrayed) as a whole
person, someone who experiences and feels and has a
full existence.
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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