Kathleen Fraser

The Gilded Serpent presents...

Kathleen Fraser

Kathleen Wittick Fraser was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, and has lived and worked in France, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Kenya.

She studied at the University of Toronto for a BA in Fine Arts—and later a MA in Sociology. Her careers have included the fields of magazine publishing, foreign aid, writing instruction within a university setting, and multicultural education and policy.

The world of belly dance caught up with her in the early ‘70s when she began to study, strictly as an amateur. Increasingly she became interested in pursuing this dance form in a more serious manner, and in 1988 enrolled at York University (Toronto) in the masters program in dance history, Her thesis, “The Aesthetics of Belly Dance: Egyptian Canadians Discuss the Baladi,” appeared in 1991.

Since that time Kathleen has pursued her interests by researching the history of belly dance, particularly of Egypt. She has traveled in the Middle East to Egypt, Turkey and Lebanon. She has presented her work at scholarly dance conferences since 1991, and her work appears in several North American publications, including Habibi. She has recently completed a ten-year project to analyze travel materials on Egypt from 1780 to 1870, with an eye to understanding earlier forms and practices of the dance.

Kathleen is a member of the Congress on Research in Dance, the Society of Dance History Scholars, the Society for Canadian Dance Studies, and Dance Ontario [Canada].

Her awards include three scholarships from the University of Toronto, a ten-month travel award from the Government of France, and the Dance Scholar’s Award from York University.

Selected Publications:

“ Learning Belly Dance in Toronto: Pyramids, Goddesses and other Weird Stuff.” in Canadian Dance: visions and stories. eds. Selma Landen Odom and Mary Jane Warner. Dance Collection Danse. Toronto. 2004. 423-434.

“Public and private entertainments at a royal Egyptian wedding: 1845” Habibi 19:1 (2002) 36-38.

Book review of Looking Out: Perspectives on Dance and Criticism in a Multicultural World. In Dance Research Journal 29:1 (spring 1997) 75-78.

“Teaching World Dance to the General Student Body.” Impulse 4:2 1996

Articles on Gilded Serpent by or about Kathleen Fraser

  • Shahrazad at Large, hen, Now and…Forever?
    I didn’t want belly dance to change. I used to be stuck on issues of authenticity and historical integrity but I think I’m not now. There are so many possible modern re-readings of belly dance, and there are no reasons why there shouldn’t be. But in any case, there’s no stopping things when they go viral.
  • Excerpts From Aesthetic Explorations of the Egyptian Oriental Dance Among Egyptian Canadians
    One respondent attempted a description of Egyptianness in the dance. "Egyptians are plumper, more attractive. What makes the Egyptian style is the costume, soft movements, gentleness (no jumping or jerking), subtlety, dala, the drum, soft music." Charm and liveliness of face contributed to perceived quality of "Egyptianness.
  • A Trade Like Any Other: Female Singers and Dancers in Egypt,
    Van Nieuwkerk had as her main objective an examination of the professions of musician and belly dancer in contemporary Egypt and an identification of the influence of these professions on the status of their practitioners, the underlying question being "Are dancers and singers considered disreputable, and if so, for what reasons?"