Welcome to the world of Belly Dance. If you are already a dancer, you were drawn to the dance by something, exercise, costuming, a desire to perform or just something you did on a whim. For whatever reason you started dancing, there is something deeper that keeps you dancing. This is ‘the soul of belly dance.’ It’s this deeper aspect of the dance, the history, the culture the feeling inside of us, that seems to get into our blood like a sacred calling that we’ve answered and continue to honor. It’s an unseen force of women dancing throughout the ages and throughout the world, the knowing that we are connected in a time and space continuum to our sister dancers. It’s about a dance that has traveled through time from the ancient to the present, changing and morphing, never limited or bound by societal constraints. In this book, some of the top names in the field of belly dance, as it’s called in the United States, share their research and their experiences, making this manuscript a rich and unique resource for anyone who wants to know more about this beautiful art form.
Traditional, urban Egyptian women - baladi women - extol themselves with the proverb, "A baladi woman can play with an egg and a stone without breaking the egg". Evelyn Early illustrates this and other expressions of baladi women's self-identity by observing and recording their everyday discourse and how these women - who consider themselves destitute yet savvy - handle such matters as housing, work, marriage, religion, health and life in general.
Based on more than three years of research in Bulaq Abu'Ala - a jammed popular quarter north of the fashionable Nile-side hotel district of Cairo - Early's work reveals important cultural themes by minimizing the reflective gaze of the researcher and allowing spontaneous discourse and narrative recountings to "catch" culture in action.
About the Author
As a trained ethnomusicologist (M.A., SDSU), Richard has been a drum accompanist for belly dancers since 1988. He is an independent scholar, composer, writer, teacher, multi-percussionist, recording artist/engineer, visual artist, and illustrator. His next book (a 15+ year project), The Complete Dumbek: A Comprehensive Resource on Origins, Acoustics, and Playing Techniques, is due to be published in 2015. Richard teaches dumbek and drumset privately by appointment.
Staging Popular Dances Around the World
People all over the world dance traditional and popular dances that have been staged for purposes of representing specific national and ethnic groups. Anthony Shay suggests these staged dance productions be called “ethno identity dances”, especially to replace the term “folk dance,” which Shay suggests should refer to the traditional dances found in village settings as an organic part of village and tribal life. Shay investigates the many motives that impel people to dance in these staged productions: dancing for sex or dancing sexy dances, dancing for fun and recreation, dancing for profit - such as dancing for tourists - dancing for the nation or to demonstrate ethnic pride. In this study Shay also examines belly dance, Zorba Dancing in Greek nightclubs and restaurants, Tango, Hula, Irish step dancing, and Ukrainian dancing.
About the Author
Anthony Shay is Associate Professor of Dance and Cultural Studies at Pomona College, USA. He is a former dancer and choreographer, having founded and directed the AMAN Folk Ensemble and the AVAZ International Dance Theatre. He is the author and editor of ten books, including the Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity (2016) and Dangerous Lives of Public Performers: Dancing, Sex, and Entertainment in the Islamic World (2014).
For whatever reason women come to this art form, when it gets into their blood, they can’t help but be transformed. In this book you will read dozens of personal stories about how belly dance has transformed, changed and empowered lives - stories about people overcoming shyness, addiction, low self-esteem and lack of confidence and turning into self-assured and powerful women and men. These stories are touching, encouraging and compelling. “Though many are first drawn to this dance for a wide variety of reasons – some of them having to do with Oriental or Hollywood fantasies - most want truth, even those who first came for the fluff and found it was far better and much more complex than they ever imagined. Truth gives us the wings that brought us to where we are today.” Morocco “In looking back over the journey (which I know is far from over), I think that it is less that belly dance has changed me, than it has allowed me to actually realize who I was supposed to be. It has been the catalyst that allowed me to become the beautiful creature I am, and I don’t believe I would have gotten to this place of self acceptance and appreciation without it. There really aren’t any words that can express my gratitude for this gift.” Jiniri “As soon as I was done with my first belly dance class, I knew I had a real calling; I didn’t know why, but I was swept up by the “Ancient Goddesses of Dance” and there was no turning back for me. I couldn’t explain the feeling at the time, of this calling. It was bigger than myself; it was just a pull of my heart and soul, and I knew I would never be the same again.” Dalia Carella May you be inspired!
About the Author
Mezdulene is passionate about Middle Eastern Dance; she has been performing and instructing for over 30 years. She teaches from the heart and soul going beyond technique to the core of the dance, helping students express their own individual essence. She believes that belly dance is the most creative and meaningful dance form, giving a unique outlet for personal expression. Mezdulene has published several books telling women’s stories about their experiences with belly dance including her own book, ‘Dances with Veils, a Journey to the Divine Feminine.’ She also sponsors Belly Dancer USA and several women’s retreats. For more information, please visit www.bellydancerusa.com and www.mezdulene.com.
Is teaching belly dance the right move for you? If you are like I was when I started out, you have no trusted mentor to guide you. Are You Ready to Teach Belly Dance? will let you know what the job is really like, help you determine if you have the needed skills, and assist you in creating a plans that will lead to success.
Becoming a Belly Dancer is a stagecraft handbook that provides valuable information, learned-in-the-trenches tips, and guidance for belly dancers who are ready to take the step from student to performer. Sara Shrapnell, author of “Teaching Belly Dance” and Dawn Devine, author of “Cloth of Egypt” and 13 other belly dance and costuming books, including the bestselling “Embellished Bras” and the now classic “Costuming from the Hip”, have collaborated to produce "Becoming a Belly Dancer". Between them, they have more than 50 years of combined experience as performers, teachers, dancers and costume designers. Alisha Westerfeld explored the established and upcoming talent of the Bay Area to bring her beautiful photography to the project. International belly dance celebrity and costume designer Poppy Maya adds her own special brand of “Additional Awesomeness” to the book, and the input of a young dancer, currently making her living through belly dance.
The authors hope to bring the warmth, support, and humor of a teacher in absence, a true friend and a trusted advisor who has only one main goal: you. They want to focus on helping you be the best prepared physically and mentally for the challenges of performing for friends, family, the dance community, and the greater society, both in person at public venues, and via media available on the internet. The book covers improving your dance skills, good practice habits, preparing physically and emotionally, critiquing, picking your music and venues and dancer etiquette. In addition the book includes extensive sections on costume design and selection, sewing and no sewing costumes, accessorizing, hair and makeup and presenting to the world the very best belly dancer that you can be. "Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage" is a useful and inspiring tool that will help belly dancers to be ready for the big day, so they can dazzle, impress and wow with talent and style.
About the Author
Sara Shrapnell is a belly dance writer, teacher and performer. Over the years she has taught more than four thousand lessons and performed as a soloist in a huge variety of settings. She has organized workshops, dance days and theater shows in addition to managing three troupes. Students who have studied with Sara have gone on to teach and perform in all styles of belly dance and many have made their living through performance or teaching. Her first book "Teaching Belly Dance" is available on Amazon. Dawn Devine - Davina is a writer, costumer, dancer and historian. Dawn is the internationally acclaimed author of Costuming from the Hip, a guide to designing and making belly dance costumes.
Her titles include From Turban to Toe Ring (2000), Bedlah, Baubles and Beads (2001), The Cloth of Egypt: All About Assuit (2014) and Style File (2002). Alisha Westerfeld is an avid photographer who enjoys take photos of flowers, belly dancers and anything else that catches her eye. Her images have been featured in numerous belly dance magazines and appear on belly dance blogs all around the Bay Area. Poppy Maya is an international belly dancer, instructor and costume designer. As a third-generation belly dancer, she grew up surrounded by Middle Eastern music and dance. She specializes in improvisation to live bands and Indian style belly dance performances. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, performing at private events and restaurants.
This book examines the globalization of belly dance and the distinct dancing communities that have evolved from it. The history of belly dance has taken place within the global flow of sojourners, immigrants, entrepreneurs, and tourists from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. In some cases, the dance is transferred to new communities within the gender normative structure of its original location in North Africa and the Middle East. Belly dance also has become part of popular culture’s Orientalist infused discourse. The consequence of this discourse has been a global revision of the solo dances of North Africa and the Middle East into new genres that are still part of the larger belly dance community but are distinct in form and meaning from the dance as practiced within communities in North Africa and the Middle East.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Sellers-Young is a Professor Emerita in the Department of Dance, York University, Toronto. Prior to this she was Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University 2008-2013. From 1990 to 2008, she was a Professor at the University of California, Davis where she served as Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance and as Executive Director of the Robert and Margit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. She has also taught at universities in England, China and Australia and served on working groups for the arts in the United States and Canada.
Dr. Sellers-Young's research has been supported by fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, Social Science Research Council (Canada), and the Centre for Cultural Research into Risk at the Charles Sturt University (Australia) as well as a Davis Humanities Fellowship. Other research awards include a Pacific Rim Planning Grant and a Video Development Grant from the Teaching Resources Center and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership. She is the recipient of the 2011 Dixie Durr Award for Outstanding Service to Dance Research and the 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Music and Dance at the University of Oregon.