Level One:Undulations Unit, Class 3
Updated: Feb 23
During the history of gaining respect for raqs sharki/dans oryantale as a family friendly dance there have been efforts to distance it from sensuality and sexuality. In the context of entertaining at weddings, things can actually get quite bawdy! One of the harder things for Euro-Americans to get used to is the idea that the dance itself is family friendly, but there is a stigma against those who perform it. In fighting that stigma, it is important to avoid slut shamming. Reclaiming sexuality can be one of the therapeutic effects of the dance, and it never helps to step on others when trying to lift yourself up. Mark Balahadia has more to say on this.
Regional Highlights This unit, we're focusing on Anatolia and Iran. 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).
Roma folks still face heavy persecution in Turkey, Europe, and elsewhere, including being subjected to mob violence and being denied schooling and employment because of their heritage. They may go by many names, and may choose to call themselves "g*psies", but this is not a word I will use, as many find it offensive. This is on par with "the n word" and the choice of some black folks to use it with each other.
Roma made up a large portion of the dancers in Turkey, and beside the fantasy styles inspired by romantic (and outdated) notions about them, authentic folklore of their dance style is often found in bellydance shows.
Here, a dancer performs folkloric Rom style on stage.
Didem, who is a Roma woman herself, includes a 9/8 song in her spot on Turkish TV (back when Turkey had dancers on TV.....).
Bellydance gives us a chance to explore being vulnerable and strong at the same time.