I got tagged in a couple of places regarding a blog post…

So… What a conundrum. The blog post in question is entitled, “why I hate white belly dancers”. Notably it has a stock photo in it as opposed to an original shot.
I am one of those dancers who has studied for over 15 years, do my best to respect the dance’s origins by learning and relating the information I glean.
I find myself correcting people who equate the dance form with less family friendly forms of dance.
I try to make sure the non Arabic people who organize multi-cultural events I perform at clearly understand that “Bellydance” Baladi, Raks Sharky etc is not from India, but from Arabian countries.
Yes, I also have a stage name, and it helps me connect with my dancing in a professional capacity.
And I can see her points. But I live in a multicultural area that is continuing to become more multicultural all the time.
I just performed at an international women’s day event where I was joined on the dance floor by Muslim women, French Canadian women, Asian women, Aboriginal women and more. I was greeted with smiles and questions about my background and the type of dance I would be doing ( I chose to wear an Egyptian Baladi dress and danced with my zills and a tiny bit of veil work).
The Lebanese woman who joined me with grace and style, she was not offended by my being non Arabic. The Sudanese dancers who performed before me, stuck around and joined me as well, with glowing compliments.
So should I feel guilt and shame for the years I have spent learning, perfecting and sharing a dance form that I was not born into?
I don’t think I will take that on.
I do understand that there are a LOT of dancers out there who do just toss on a bra and hip belt and shake their thing.
And if the writer was targeting those dancers who are not taking at least some time to understand the basics, and are just going on their cuteness and sex appeal, well ok then.
Appropriation of other cultures is a serious matter. Disrespecting others is a serious matter. Ignorance is not an excuse.
The world is getting smaller every day. Learning another’s language is not wrong. Learning about other peoples cultures is not wrong.
Finding a balance is a constant journey, and there will always be juggling and shifting as we learn to enjoy our cultural differences with respect and joy.
But I have no interest in studying irish dance, which my cultural background should make me feel obliged to stick with, if I follow the writer’s advice.
So thanks Natasha for tagging me and making me think for a few minutes.
I am going to go back to my dog, my sewing, my family visiting, and generally being the best creative force I can be.


12 thoughts on “I got tagged in a couple of places regarding a blog post…

  1. This is very well said. The road to understanding is paved with sharing the beauty of our many differing cultures. I have a strong Scottish background and zero desire to learn how to do the Highland Fling. I do however, love bellydancing and what I’ve learned of it’s background. Share, teach, grow, love; seems a no-brainer to me 🙂

  2. I had to laugh, too, about the Irish dancing. I am of Irish and English descent and would quite poorly at Irish dancing.

  3. to white belly dancers…. i was visualizing white bellies  a laugh on me…..should be up for the next session  been sick and very, very tired..one day at a time   cheers   gaye louise — a student a sandy hill

  4. I spent the day discussing this same issue on my own Facebook page. I still can’t get my head around it. I don’t agree with this woman’s sentiment. But I don’t know if that is because it is wrong and divisive and racist, or if it’s because I was raised in a mish-mash cultural attitude of entitlement to anything I see that appeals to me. I .question my whole history of bellydancing, and cannot make myself see it as wrong. But is that because I’m not wrong, or because I’m too arrogant to be sensitive to the culture I’m appropriating? I honestly don’t know – I cannot get my head around this. All I can say is, it’s making me examine the issue and think about it.

    1. It is important to have the conversation for sure and her points are valid to seeing both sides. I also am not 100 % sure on any of this, but I don’t intend to stop dancing and sharing.

  5. I found and read the original article. Wow. It’s kind of like saying that I shouldn’t make pottery because I’m not a direct descendant of African, Japanese, Chinese, Slavic or South America peoples.
    From Wikipedia:
    “Pottery originates during the Neolithic period. Ceramic objects like the Gravettian culture Venus of Dolní Věstonice figurine discovered in the Czech Republic date back to 29,000–25,000 BC,[6] and pottery vessels discovered in Jiangxi, China date back to 20,000 BP.[7] Early Neolithic pottery has also been found in Jomon Japan (10,500 BC),[8] the Russian Far East (14,000 BC),[9] Sub-Saharan Africa and South America.”
    No one owns a form of artistic expression. It’s simply ridiculous of this woman to ask everyone who is “white” to refrain from belly dancing…erm I mean Raqs Sharqi-ing.
    How completely ungenerous of her to say: “This dance form is originally ours, and does not exist so that white women can have a better sense of community…” How sad is that? And who is she to say why this dance exists? To me belly dancing is the Mother of ALL dance if we are to believe that it is the first form of dance that developed on this planet. However, it probably isn’t the first form of dance. Makes me wonder how cave people danced. If anyone out there is not a direct descendant of cave people maybe they shouldn’t dance either. But wait!! We are all descendant of cave people, are we not? Put some music on and let’s dance!

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