+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 21 of 21



  1. #1
    Advanced BHUZzer LiesaB.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    1,701

    Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    Can a Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? | Belly Dance News & Events - Gilded Serpent
    Some of you may have already read this article.
    I put this link in another thread about "Bellydance & American Identity" and am making a spinoff now. I think the article has a lot of food for thought; read the comments after it too.


  2. #2
    Ultimate BHUZzer steffib's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Somewhere
    Posts
    6,757

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    I just scanned the beginning, and stopped in frustration: Turkey is undeniably a part of the world where belly dance is native, but Turks are not Arabs. I know it's a fault to get so easily upset, but this makes me question the author's competence. Somebody who is a bellydancer, and even more so somebody who writes about culture, should know that.


  3. #3
    Advanced BHUZzer LiesaB.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    1,701

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    Quote Originally Posted by steffib View Post
    I just scanned the beginning, and stopped in frustration: Turkey is undeniably a part of the world where belly dance is native, but Turks are not Arabs. I know it's a fault to get so easily upset, but this makes me question the author's competence. Somebody who is a bellydancer, and even more so somebody who writes about culture, should know that.
    I agree; that's why I put read the comments/responses...someone mentions your point right away. There are points well taken in the article that makes it worth reading however.
    Last edited by LiesaB.; 04-21-2010 at 04:03 PM.


  4. #4
    Ultimate BHUZzer steffib's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Somewhere
    Posts
    6,757

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    Oh, my bad. I guess now I will need to read the whole article and keep my bad temper in check ;-)


  5. #5
    Just Starting! TeejeiAlmeh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    3

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    Nothing is "pure". Anyone who looks at what bellydance is and was can see that all dance, as all CULTURE, stems from people traveling, settiling, and intermingling.

    It is all about a certain degree of respect and integrity we give to something that is never truly stagnant.


  6. #6
    Master BHUZzer norma's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    4,710

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    Okay, I just skimmed the article as I 'm off to bed. But...Just in general, IMO, it very difficult to dance like a professional Arabic belly dancer, unless you have been exposed to the music and the culture. My roots were American Caberet. I then went on to study with a professional Syrian belly dancer, and the insights I learned as applied to the music were invaluable. No matter how good you are technically, as a dancer, until you understand Arabic music, the way an Arab understands it, you are at a disadvantage. On the other hand, there are many "Arabic Born" dancers, who understand the music, but can't master technique.


  7. #7
    Mega BHUZzer Lara L's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
    Posts
    2,913

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    Quote Originally Posted by norma View Post
    Okay, I just skimmed the article as I 'm off to bed. But...Just in general, IMO, it very difficult to dance like a professional Arabic belly dancer, unless you have been exposed to the music and the culture. My roots were American Caberet. I then went on to study with a professional Syrian belly dancer, and the insights I learned as applied to the music were invaluable. No matter how good you are technically, as a dancer, until you understand Arabic music, the way an Arab understands it, you are at a disadvantage. On the other hand, there are many "Arabic Born" dancers, who understand the music, but can't master technique.
    yes, exposure to the culture & being able to really understand the music are super important if you want to do a specific style of belly dance, but I think that falls under training- I think the author's intent was more to debunk the idea that you have to have the genes for it, or actually grow up 'over there' (wherever 'over there' happens to be!) It IS something that can be learned- & maybe I'll always dance with an accent, but it doesn't make it less valid. I think the client just needs to decide- do they want to see good dancing, or do they want to see a (X regional) person dance- sometimes that coincides & you don't have to choose. Strangely enough, it's parts of the very white American audience who seems put off by not having a 'native dancer' when it has ever come up as an issue here- the folks from 'over there' tend to be excited that someone from all the way in Alaska cares enough to learn their dance. It is kind of funny to watch the one guy who comes to most of our troupe performances, but only claps for the Egyptian songs- fusion, Turkish, whatever- absolute stone face, but the first bar of an Egyptian piece & he's all animated & happy. I guess I know what to put in a set if he ever sponsors a performance!

    When I go listen to Celtic music, I've gotten the impression that the musicians are somewhat relieved to talk to someone who just wants to enjoy the music for what it is without having to try to become some neo-celtic keeper of the ancient ways. I guess they get a lot of that? I try to take that same attitude to belly dance- I recognize & appreciate & want to learn more about the root cultures that birthed this dance form, but I bring my own self to it without trying to become something I am not.


  8. #8
    Official BHUZzer kateryna's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    472

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    Here is what I think, although some may not agree. I think it's pointless to argue this point with anyone from Middle East and I don't even feel like waisting my time with that. To my point, yesterday I was talking to a moroccan guy about this dancer who used to be considered the best by the local ME community. She is sort of a legend here and I think her mother was from Iraq. So he says that being the best, she still doesn't compare to belly dancers from Morocco. Really? I didn't even know there were belly dancers in Morocco? My point is that it doesn't matter how much you understand the culture, or even if you have ME roots.

    People are still going to say this type of stuff. It's the same way a tomato in the US will never taste like tomato in Ukraine, I don't care how naturally grown it is.


  9. #9
    Advanced BHUZzer Nouria's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,248

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    I enjoy watching many bellydancers that aren't of Arab/M.E. origin.


  10. #10
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. anala's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    10,866

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    Must you be Italian to sing opera? Do you need to be French to excel at ballet (ask a Russian)? Must you be African American to sing the blues? Should you be Korean to truly earn a black belt? Can a non German really bake a good strudel? People...please! Asking these questions is juvenile naval gazing and borders on racism.
    Last edited by anala; 04-22-2010 at 04:26 PM.


  11. #11
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    7,217

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    Quote Originally Posted by anala View Post
    Must you be Italian to sing opera? Do you need to be French to excel at ballet (ask a Russian)? Must you be African American to sing the blues? Should you be Korean to truly earn a black belt? Can a non German really bake a good strudel? People...please! Asking these questions is juvenile naval gazing and borders on racism.
    Seriously.

    And while we're at it, it's kind of silly to market yourself using catchphrases like "The One and Only Authentic Egyptian-Born Middle Eastern Dancer in [insert state or region.]" Only the most superficial client will ignore personality, skill and looks, and hire a dancer strictly because of her lineage.

    I'm seeing a lot of this lately and it hurts my little brain.
    Last edited by SatinWorship19; 04-22-2010 at 04:46 PM.


  12. #12
    Mega BHUZzer indigostars's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    2,178

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    I think it may work for restaurants... They're always advertising being the most authentic or something similar.


  13. #13
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    7,217

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    Quote Originally Posted by indigostars View Post
    I think it may work for restaurants... They're always advertising being the most authentic or something similar.
    It probably all depends on the client and what they perceive to be "added value" ,r:;

    But I've just seen some strange advertising out there lately.


  14. #14
    Advanced BHUZzer LiesaB.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    1,701

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    Quote Originally Posted by anala View Post
    Must you be Italian to sing opera? Do you need to be French to excel at ballet (ask a Russian)? Must you be African American to sing the blues? Should you be Korean to truly earn a black belt? Can a non German really bake a good strudel? People...please! Asking these questions is juvenile naval gazing and borders on racism.
    Exactly, I think the article counters this racism with just those very points. Lots of people do ask this and one of my personal goals is to dispel that myth.


  15. #15
    Ultimate BHUZzer meissoun's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Posts
    5,028

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    I recently took a yodeling workshop, out of curiousity.
    Because yes, even though I am Swiss, that doesn't automatically make me a pro yodler.
    And I think the African American woman sitting right next to me (who thought since she's living here she might just as well yodel!) did no worse than many of the Swiss people in the workshop.
    The are also loads of people doing Swiss yodeling in Japan!

    Most people here are NOT exposed to much professionnal yodeling, just as many Middle Easterners don't have much exposure to "good" Oriental dance. After all I had to take my Egyptian friend who is a licenced tourist guide to her fist ever dance show on a Nile boat! (She was quite shocked about Randa's costumes...)

    I have seen enough bad dancers from the Middle East who didn't have any feeling for the rhythms or even continued dancing after a song was over (when she should have known it?). Don't give me the "blood" routine. ,s::

    MEISSOUN


  16. #16
    Master BHUZzer emma-bessa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Near penguins and polar bears,way up north.
    Posts
    3,393

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    Naaah...the dancers here in Sweden advertise that they "were bellydancing when in their mothers belly"...being born and raised here by afghani,iranian or kurdish parents appearantly does wonders.

    I have a muslim family name and is often asked if I learned to "dance from my mother" or if I have an "arabic husband".

    So I decided to put the facts on the table(my website)quote:
    "I have no ethnic competence what so ever,started to take bellydance classes with <insert teachers names> in 1998."

    Of course I considered writing that my harem slave mom was married off to Uday Hussein,and that my name is an anagram of "BAD RAKI DETH" first:P


  17. #17
    I could get used to this! akewa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Greeneville, Tn
    Posts
    55

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    I have read the article a few weeks back. Thing is not everyone can dance no matter what country or land they are from. Dancing like singing is a gift just like cooking or painting or being great at something.

    Having the desire to learn something is not resrticted to location. Otherwise we would not have people learning to cook other cuzines(sp) from other countries that never lived in them.

    The fact is the general public and this goes for the arab public as well are clueless when it comes to correct dancing. If a song is loved and the dancer dancing too it is ok, to the GP she will be wonderful, because they love the song so much. Not because they know she is a great dancer, which someone would say she was not if they knew great dancing.

    I think too many put to much into what GP arabs say about non native dancers. After all what dance lessons have they taken? Remember in thier country public paid dancing is truly looked down on. To the point it is being shut out of many public places.

    Personally I would not over worry about what the GP arabs think of non dancers. We are the ones that are saving the art in it's many forms.


  18. #18
    Official BHUZzer halftruths's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    202

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    Quote Originally Posted by anala View Post
    Must you be Italian to sing opera? Do you need to be French to excel at ballet (ask a Russian)? Must you be African American to sing the blues? Should you be Korean to truly earn a black belt? Can a non German really bake a good strudel? People...please! Asking these questions is juvenile naval gazing and borders on racism.
    That is very true. They get asked, however, because of the frequency with which dancers are made to feel as though their ethnicity SHOULD be a component in their dancing. How often do we have teachers posting here about potential students wanting to be placed in advanced classes because of their genetic claim to an ME heritage? How often do we read comments on YouTube deriding a beautiful dancer because "only dancers from country XYZ know how to dance"? Even in my extremely limited hobbyist dance life I've managed to encounter this kind of crap. During a volunteer performance at a nursing home, a fellow dancer and I had our music mysteriously stop mid-song when a trio of ME women (who were visitors, not residents in the home) wanted a faster song; after our performance, they asked how long we had been dancing for, scoffed at our years of training, and replied that ME women learn to dance in three months. When I very sarcastically replied that everyone knows white girls can't dance and that North Americans have terrible music, she replied with absolute seriousness "yes, that is true."

    As others have pointed out, this sort of rot comes from non-ME folk too. I have often heard girls whinge that they wish they were ME, complain about how boring and dull non-ME culture is, say that they could never REALLY dance like Egyptian Dancer XYZ because they aren't Egyptian themselves. What is so wrong with our view of our own varied cultural roots that when we become interested in artistic expressions from other cultures we need to deride our own origins? When questions regarding ethnicity and appropriation pop up constantly even among the casual hobbyists, why should it be surprising or wrong that we ask these questions?

    Do we know logically that the question of whether or not a non-ME person can/should dance is utterly absurd? Of course. But when that implication is thrown at you time and again, logical reasoning tends to get replaced by more emotional reactions. That's when you see the dancer ethnicity question begin to rear its ugly head.


  19. #19
    Ultimate BHUZzer tahiradancer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    9,650

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    But how many times do you get asked what your ethnic back ground is because people - many times ME - don't believe that anyone who is {FILL IN THE BLANK} can "dance like we do." I have so many people sigh with relief when I tell them that my mother is Czech and Russian. As opposed to my (perceived) stodgy English / German father.

    Funnily enough, it's the English / German side which had the professional performers on it. Pianists, violinists, opera singers and composers to name a few.

    Still a little mind bending.

    {{{HUGS}}}


  20. #20
    Advanced BHUZzer caroline_afifi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    1,849

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    [quote]
    Quote Originally Posted by halftruths View Post
    That is very true. They get asked, however, because of the frequency with which dancers are made to feel as though their ethnicity SHOULD be a component in their dancing. How often do we have teachers posting here about potential students wanting to be placed in advanced classes because of their genetic claim to an ME heritage?
    This has never happened to me, does this happen?
    I can imagine a situation were Arab women have danced socially, know much of the music, language and styles.. execute a good hip drop and figure 8 but have no experinece whatsoever in other aspects of technique and structuring..but not wanting to be at the very beginners class next to people who REALLY dont have a clue. This I imgaine would be a tricky one to manage.


    How often do we read comments on YouTube deriding a beautiful dancer because "only dancers from country XYZ know how to dance"? Even in my extremely limited hobbyist dance life I've managed to encounter this kind of crap.
    I hate to say this but in the 'Western eye' everyone who does a hip drop is a belly dancer but not in the ME. I dont think they mean are not allowed to dance or should not dance but generally just look different and not the same.
    This is actually true, much of the belly dance practised around the globe does not look like what people experience in their native countries.

    I have never come across anything other than this attitude in the UK but I accept it is perhaps different elsewhere? can you explain ?


    During a volunteer performance at a nursing home, a fellow dancer and I had our music mysteriously stop mid-song when a trio of ME women (who were visitors, not residents in the home) wanted a faster song; after our performance, they asked how long we had been dancing for, scoffed at our years of training, and replied that ME women learn to dance in three months. When I very sarcastically replied that everyone knows white girls can't dance and that North Americans have terrible music, she replied with absolute seriousness "yes, that is true."
    Ok, this is bad manners and unacceptable behaviour and you should have pointed that out right away. Having said that, it is clear they did not like what was being represented. I absolutely know that NOT all ME people can dance and there are plenty who cannot keep a beat and have two left feet.


  21. #21
    Advanced BHUZzer caroline_afifi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    1,849

    Re: Can A Non-Arab Dancer Really Belly Dance? article from gilded serpent

    PART TWO

    As others have pointed out, this sort of rot comes from non-ME folk too.
    I dont think it is rot...just the way it is. We all have our prejudices unfortunately. I admit to wanting to see native Indian Bollywood dancers and feel disapointed when I see a group of locals doing it badly....if they did it well then I would of course applaud them (and perhaps they would challenge my perception) but I am sure many Indians would know the difference but have strong praise for the few who got it exactly right.


    I have often heard girls whinge that they wish they were ME, complain about how boring and dull non-ME culture is,
    My goodness. The life of your average Egyptian would be totally boring for me..most women in my family stay at home all day and go to the sports club (2 times per week) or to a shopping mall. There is very little to do.


    What is so wrong with our view of our own varied cultural roots that when we become interested in artistic expressions from other cultures we need to deride our own origins? When questions regarding ethnicity and appropriation pop up constantly even among the casual hobbyists, why should it be surprising or wrong that we ask these questions?
    It is not surprising or wrong, I think we just need to accept some things and let go or it becomes an uncomfortable situation of US and THEM. I am seeing this alot on forums in latter years.


    Do we know logically that the question of whether or not a non-ME person can/should dance is utterly absurd? Of course. But when that implication is thrown at you time and again, logical reasoning tends to get replaced by more emotional reactions. That's when you see the dancer ethnicity question begin to rear its ugly head.
    [/QUOTE]

    I think this goes back to some of my examples.. anyone can dance but we have to accpet that Guiness brewed in Ireland is different from that brewed elsewhere.

    Let it go and carry on dancing. ..g.:


Similar Threads

  1. Very nice article on gilded serpent
    By LILI GAMAL in forum Business of Belly Dance
    Replies: 37
    Last Post: 06-12-2007, 07:57 PM
  2. Gilded Serpent scores again!
    By SamiraShuruk in forum Business of Belly Dance
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 05-09-2007, 10:56 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Statistics
  • Threads 40,887
  • Posts 592,717
  • Members 38,087
  • Welcome to our newest member, mathewshona


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53