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  • Lisa Lumina

Level One: Circle Unit, Class 1

Updated: Feb 21

Articles

I promised short articles each week to give the dance some context. This week: a little about the cultural context of dance. Before it was on stage, bellydance was done to celebrate and pass time together with friends and families. While the specifics of the dance vary from region to region and household to household, men and women dance socially. Back in the day, this might have been with men in one room and women in another. Today, whether or not that segregation is observed really depends on how conservative the family is. Dancing would happen at weddings, birthday parties, saint's days, or just because it was afternoon and TV didn't exist yet. A future link will talk about the origins of the dance as a performance art, but for now, know that Holywood fantasies about harem girls, or hippie tales of goddess cults, are unsubstantiated. Instead, of an article with further reading on this, enjoy some wholesome instagram posts from Nurjan Boulden.

 

Regional Highlights This unit, we're focusing on Egypt. These regional highlights are meant to give a general orientation, and really only scratch the surface of the diversity of arts in the MENAHT/SWANA area (Middle East, North Africa, Helene, & Turkey/SouthWest Asia & North Africa).

Nubia

In the southern most part of Upper Egypt, there are several Nubian communities, relocated when the high dam on the Nile flooded their homelands.


Siwa

The desert quarter includes the Siwa Oasis, famous for an oracle used in ancient Egyptian times and presently a home to some resorts. There are also Libyan style dances that were done by groups to the west, but since the border closed many years ago. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list.

 

Videos


You can see the type of party the opening blurb is talking about here, one of the girls is especially dressed up and really quite good.





Folk dance is dance done by normal people at home and parties. Folkloric dance is when those dances are modified for the stage. Depending on the people and the dance, the stage version may be very similar or very different from what people do at home, but it is their right to decide how to publicly or privately present themselves.


During the 1960s and 70s the Reda Troupe created different folkloric stage tableaus for all the regions of Egypt. After a couple thousand years of colonizers dividing and conquering (Ptolemys, Romans, Ottomans, then French and British) Egyptians were able to reintroduce themselves to each other though these dances.

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