glides on the edge of power.
It is not an
expression of sexuality. It is an expression of sensuality… it
calls on a higher power.
is from the realm of the magical, the psyche, rather than the
to mind symbols and archetypes; it imbues the dancer with a shamanistic
role. It is a demonstration of the higher realms in the physical
being. Something which is ‘sexually explicit’ leaves ‘nothing
to the imagination.’ When taken literally, as in the case of a
sexually explicit performance, dance leads to the lower realms
of physicality. Conversely, sensuality should be the pre-cursor
or catalyst for awakening the Higher Mind through the imagination…the
gateway of inspiration.
understanding, perhaps we might find the seed of the historical
controversy of the Oriental dance form. Demand for sexually explicit
performances is an almost militant attempt to marginalize and/
or categorically bar this dance from appreciation or acceptance
as ‘Art’. This dynamic takes place even though the dancer herself
may be unaware of the power struggle. This is especially true
in the land of its origins.
who intentionally or unintentionally gives in to the societal
(male) pressure for sexual explicitness renders herself victim.
She surrenders her role as shaman, princess of the night, and
In the West,
within the Middle Eastern Dance community, controversy and dialogue
concerning the position of Belly Dance (with respect to the re-emerging
popularity of what have been considered sexually explicit dance
forms) are heated and ongoing. The argument of what defines ‘Art’
is at the core.
argument has no end. To define what Art ‘is’ almost negates its
very nature as an expression of the creative imagination. A more
empowering quest might be to ask what is the ‘function’ or ‘purpose’
of ‘Art’ in general and Oriental Dance in particular.
maligning and relegation of Oriental Dance to the socially
low stature of close association with prostitution and
striptease, as a dance of the Cabaret (in the European sense
of ‘The Gentleman’s Club’) serves the purpose of keeping it—and
women—‘stripped’ of mystical powers.
As with most
things considered feminine, the sexually explicit performance
keeps Oriental dance ‘in its place,’ that place being in service
to men or masculine power through the degradation of the feminine.
said, I would also like to clarify that the
ultimate ‘losers’ in this game of power are not necessarily
the women. It is the men who ‘strip’ themselves of their own
which is their
connection to their own receptive, feminine aspects. These are
the very aspects or qualities that nurture their ability to truly
love in the higher and whole sense….to feel Joy, Rapture and all
the veil conceals.
Lift the veil,
See the shadow;
then, you are free!
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Weird Rituals and Beyond:
Exploring Current Controversies in Middle Eastern Dance by
you are like me, (I know that many are not) you first responded
viscerally and negatively to both situations. Then, as the shock
wore off, perhaps you tried to make sense of it all.
The Summer School of Khaleegy Dance,
Dance Style from the Saudi Arabian Penninsula, by Yasmina
“moral police” and hotel security watched every move
I made. All my phone calls were monitored. I was not allowed to
talk to or get into an elevator with an Arab man.
Part Two of Antique Textiles:
Costuming Before the Reign of Egyptian Costumers by Najia
view today’s dance values as interlopers—meant to
mitigate Belly dance’s checkered past by exchanging its
innate free emotional expression for speed and difficulty of execution
and an over-the-top outpouring of energy that is neither sensual
Dancer of the Year Pageant 2007 Sunday Photos, Photos by Michael
Baxter, Photo Prep by Michelle Joyce, May 27, 2007 Danville, California,
produced by Leea. The competition for the Finalists.
Tribute to Reema by Taaj
said, “The day of the contest, backstage we could all just
feel her. We were like, ‘This is for Reema! She’s