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    Argentine tango party in San Francisco. All photos by Marcy Mendelson.

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The Rehearsal

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    Diamano Coura West African Dance Company rehearses in Oakland, California for the 2006 performance. All photos by Marcy Mendelson

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    Dress rehearsal for the Diamano Coura West African Dance Company in Oakland, California. All photos by Marcy Mendelson

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Comments

Amma

Very nice article!

I would postulate that fusion forms are a doorway into the artform. From there, a taste for the "purer" forms can be developed. This is true for both the dance and the music that accompanies it.

I have certainly noted, in myself, an increased appreciation of musical instruments of the middle east. But, only after I heard the songs "tuned" for the American ear first.

Amma

Alexis Yael

I think we're in the Post-Post-Modern era of bellydance... the mish-mash of dance that started with FCBD has now been mish-mashed even further with Rachel Brice and Urban Tribal et al. And I personally *love* it. But, I'm a Post-Post-Modernist at heart.

And I also think that it is good that we have erudite scholars and thinkers such as yourself (and others) among us, because you bridge the gap between dancing and theory. And as a sometime academic (and dancer) myself, I appreciate that very much.

Woodrow Jarvis "asim" Hill

"I would postulate that fusion forms are a doorway into the artform. From there, a taste for the "purer" forms can be developed."

I think that's very true -- yours is not the only case where a newbie dancer develops a taste for "authentic" music from Over There, over time. In a side note, it's ironic that some of the more beledi/"rural" music, like Musicians of the Nile, are mostly played by Tribal-influenced troupes...an accident of the form's development, to be certain, but an interesting note given the current vogue in some areas towards "protecting the native culture."

And that's really the problem. Raqs-influenced dancers of all stripes are interested in the culture, yet fusion dancers rarely go on to do raqs shaquri of any stripe, much less extant folk styles like Khaleegi or Ghawazi. It's true that Darshan/Cammie Vance, who started with Gypsy Caravan, comes to mind as one who's transitioned to raqs shaquri, but she's a rare fish, plus I understand she still does Tribal work.

That lack of transition/evolution, lack of apparent interest in learning anything that's not tinged with strong elements of Western culture, is the spark behind the frustration of many of the conservative elements in raqs shaquri, these days. It's like the horses are licking the water, instead of drinking it...

Woodrow Jarvis "asim" Hill

"I think we're in the Post-Post-Modern era of bellydance..."

That's sort of what I was hinting at in the article, save that I have an "itchy spot" about the term "Post-Modern". The article tilts at the windmill that the "Tribal" movement is more homage than dishonor, and that evolution doesn't mean destruction. I don't know if there's a good term for describing that specific process, but maybe just pointing it out's a good start.

"you bridge the gap between dancing and theory."

Thanks! Really, though, I'm just Easily Bored, and think the whole of raqs/"bellydance" works better together than separate. If there's anything I want this to do, it's to make people re-think their "dance silos" of safety and conformity. And that's on _all_ sides of the equation.

Roya, Spirit-Dancer

I like to think of it New Bellydance as Artistic Interpretation, and it has evolved ahead of, instead of with the music it relies upon, unlike other dance forms.

That said, it's more interesting to me that the "New" Bellydance forms are building back on a foundation of Old School American Bellydance. For goodness sakes, floorwork! Back bends to the ground.. many a dancer from the 70s has had rounds of chiro care from trying to be the one with the deepest backbend. All that was abandoned in Cairo with the advent of Modesty Police and laws against floorwork, and many American teachers continue to be sadly mistaken when they declare that "they don't do that over there".

The serpent has captured her tail at last. All that costume conglomeration, heavy accented hipwork and slinky sinous undulations of Rachel Brice are back to the old drawing room for bellydance. I like it, since I found ATS too simplistic for solo interpretation and had grown tired of watching too many new dancers trying to make solos out of ATS moves.
On the other hand, I love also that there are dancers out there staying and teaching Old School Raqs Sharqi, from whatever era they find "authentic" and "traditional".

Great article, Asim. I can almost build another one with my thoughts you've stimulated.

Roya,
Spirit-Dancer

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