Belly dance as mainstream?

Eshta

New member
Hi ladies,

Was watching a dance talent show on the tv tonight and 90% of it was 'street dance'. Saw some belly dancer floating around in the background but never saw anything more than a glimpse.

Got me thinking about belly dance. Will it ever be mainstream? Why do you think so? Would you like to see belly dance more mainstream or do you prefer it as a niche dance form?
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Mmm, don't think belly dance will ever be mainstream though a derivative form of it might catch on, sort of like shabbi (sorry about the spelling) in the middle east.

Or are we talking mainstream like ballet or modern dance are mainstream? I'm thinking of something people would do in groups at non-hafla parties.
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
We walk a very delicate line with bellydance because we have the most stigma to fight. We could dance in bhurkas and they would still call us lascivious. So, if all bellydancers came on and danced the way it should really be done, it may take off, but it would be on a very thin line. And then we would also have to worry about the belly bunnies who aren't interested in preserving integrity but who are only interested in promoting their own careers and sex it way up, thus putting us back again in the "dark ages."

But I would sure be happy if we could still be recognized as mainstream anyway.
 

Yame

New member
I don't want it to be mainstream. If everyone did it, it wouldn't be so special anymore. I'd rather be unique :D
 

Crow

New member
Greek Bonfire has put it very well. Human beings are a very predictable bunch, so there will always be those who will take advantage of any air time to promote themselves. What a few bad elements do usually contaminate the well behaved majority. Think "hoodies" in the UK. :rolleyes:

It would be good to have it mainstream in the same sense as ballet is mainstream though... but for that to happen we need what ballet had: 400 years of evolution in music. Arabic music, in my opinion, never really advanced much further than the folkloric. There are very few composers, like Hossam Ramzy, who make an effort but still there's a long way to go.

There's no getting away from it: music and dance go hand in hand. If you want Belly Dance to be respected and admired as an art form, we need more world class composers (Think Elgar, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Mozart).
 

Amulya

Moderator
Hmmm, I wouldn't say Arabic music 'never advanced any further'. Arabic music is very complex. Maybe in the past there were more composers (the golden era was good for belly dance), but that's something that can change.

Mainstream? Yes in the way of ballet I would agree with that. Of course it would be different, but I like to see it as a dance that everybody respects, just like ballet.
 

seona

New member
Actually the most likely way bd will go mainstream is through fusion, especially with streetdance and such.

And then I don't call it bellydance


That's the only way I could imagine it going 'mainstream' - tribal/fusion styles.

As for belly dance I just don't think the g/p will get or appreciate the music, I can't see it happening. I don't think I see a place for b/dance in the mainstream. Other than hafla's/show's the only place I've seen b/dancing is at an alternative circus- a tribal fusion dancer with sword's, and year's ago I saw a b/dancer at a festival dancing with a soundsystem playing Arabic fusion. But again those aren't mainstream environment's.

I went to a bdss show once, quite a while ago now, and to be honest the theatre was empty apart from a gathering of women at the front. It was obvious the audience were probably all dancers! At the time I had no idea who the superstarts were lol I was just excited to see belly dancer's performing in a venue close to me, maybe it was when they first started, not sure, but reflecting on that I just don't think the g/p would buy ticket's and go watch b/dancing. I just can't see it. And I like it just the way it is.
Chances are if it did go into the mainstream it would probably end up going cheesy - that's what allway's happens!

Interesting topic though!
 

Amulya

Moderator
Yes I'm afraid Seona is right about the music, lot of western people have difficulties listening to Arabic/Turkish music. They often say it 'sounds strange to their ears'. I never had that, it sounded normal to me even when I was a kid. I think it helped that my parents didn't play only regular music.
 

Safran

New member
I'm not sure about the "mainstream" aspect in dance... I think in the Western society most dancing is generally a niche thing. For example, in the context of Estonia, I can only think of two contexts from the top of my head, where people who haven't studied/are not studying a specific dance form, actually dance. One of them being night clubs, the second being the very very simplified ballroom dancing of a generation around 20 years older me. All the other dance styles, even if you can see them on stage or in TV is still quite distant from most of the people.

Or did you mean mainstream in a different way, Eshta?
 

Aziyade

New member
I'm not sure about the "mainstream" aspect in dance... I think in the Western society most dancing is generally a niche thing.

I agree.

Dance in general isn't really mainstream. BALLET is mainstream because yes, it has had 400 years of history and royal approval and promotion for all of its history. MODERN is tolerated because it's considered the step child of ballet.


Crow, I think I understand what you're getting at, but I'm not sure I agree that it's because of the more obvious folkloric roots in bellydance music -- or the music altogether -- that is what's keeping bellydance from becoming mainstream.

The "golden age" bellydance music might be more attractive to Western ears than say a Saidi Mizmar band, but that golden age music is a dead genre. Just like big band music is largely a dead genre in the US.

Do we look to Egypt for "world class composers" ? If the current trend of fundamentalism keeps up, will Egypt be producing much in the way of music AT ALL, that's not religious?

If Arabs don't place much value on bellydancing in general, why would any Arab composer want to make music for dancers? Where will he sell the music? They aren't making the kind of movies they used to, with those wonderful sweeping orchestral dance scores. I don't know what the current CD market is in Cairo, but it seems like all that's being produced is pop and religious music.


Personally I don't want bellydance to go any more "mainstream" than it is. I saw what happened to Yoga when it went "mainstream." Many of you may not know this, but Yoga used to be some REALLY WEIRD thing that only hippies did. What was once a beautiful spiritual practice has been "dumbed down" to the American public as "Xtreme YOGA FAT BURNING!" classes. Seriously? What's next? EXTREME MEDITATION CARDIO!!!! :rolleyes:

Anyway, mainstream means conforming to a general common denominator, and it's usually low. The bar is already ridiculously low for bellydance. I would really hate to see it go "mainstream" and get any lower.
 

Safran

New member
Personally I don't want bellydance to go any more "mainstream" than it is. I saw what happened to Yoga when it went "mainstream." Many of you may not know this, but Yoga used to be some REALLY WEIRD thing that only hippies did. What was once a beautiful spiritual practice has been "dumbed down" to the American public as "Xtreme YOGA FAT BURNING!" classes. Seriously? What's next? EXTREME MEDITATION CARDIO!!!! :rolleyes:
A somewhat off topic link, but Shems posted this article on yoga on Bhuz today Salt Lake City News - Cover Story: Yoganomics Page 1 saying that parallels can be drawn to bellydance
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
What I really want more than mainstream is to see bellydance become respectable.

As it should be, of course. :yay:
 

Farasha Hanem

New member
Do we look to Egypt for "world class composers" ? If the current trend of fundamentalism keeps up, will Egypt be producing much in the way of music AT ALL, that's not religious?

If Arabs don't place much value on bellydancing in general, why would any Arab composer want to make music for dancers? Where will he sell the music? They aren't making the kind of movies they used to, with those wonderful sweeping orchestral dance scores. I don't know what the current CD market is in Cairo, but it seems like all that's being produced is pop and religious music.
Is this in reference to the current "Clean Cinema" movement in Egypt?

A somewhat off topic link, but Shems posted this article on yoga on Bhuz today Salt Lake City News - Cover Story: Yoganomics Page 1 saying that parallels can be drawn to bellydance
How much would you say Miles Copeland is responsible for the "watering down" of bellydance's cultural meaning? Just wondering.

I think it was Mr. Copeland's goal to bring bellydance to the mainstream audience, but it was rather obvious from the documentary, "American Bellydancer," that the underlying motive was about $$$. Throughout the movie, he talked about selling coin belts, DVD's, CD's, perfume, hand bags, etc., and how the first BDSS tour would bring marketable value to these items.

Don't get me wrong, I do like some of the Bellydance Superstars, and I think some of them have (or started out with, at least) an honest desire to promote bellydance as an art form. However, it seems with each new BDSS CD anthology, the music is moving more and more away from it's Arabic roots. In the end, I wonder how well they have done to promote bellydance. :confused:
 
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Crow

New member
Well said Farasha!

I've been to many BDSS performances and it always makes me cringe when Miles' voice come booming from the speakers at the beginning of the show: "HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO!" :doh:

+++ for the dancers, --- for Mr. Copeland. He wants to create a brand but is going the wrong way about it: instead of making something distinguishable, strong and with its own personality, he ended up adapting to "popular" tastes in order to make a quick buck.

Make no mistake, creating something lasting is not going to happen in this generation; these things take time, a looong time. We can all make our contribution though and be remembered in the future as one of those who were on the side of originality and class. :dance:
 

Aniseteph

New member
...selling coin belts, DVD's, CD's, perfume, hand bags, etc., ...
PERFUME! What's that about - smell like your favourite BDSS dancer? LMAO.

Riverdance started with a huge television exposure on Eurovision - straight away you have a large number of people across Europe who saw it, liked it and might come to the live touring version. It had catchy music, spectacle, an Irish/Celtic ethnic vibe people like, an unusual dance form that was new to a lot of people... and a huge initial exposure.

Belly dance: difficult music for Western ears, often better on a more intimate than spectacular scale, an ethnic vibe with a lot of baggage, and a dance form that people have strange off-putting preconceptions about. Without that big TV boost it has to be an uphill struggle to make it popular, probably with lots of compromises along the way. Like the yoga thing, turns it into something else by the time you've done.

I'd rather stay niche.
 

seona

New member
A somewhat off topic link, but Shems posted this article on yoga on Bhuz today Salt Lake City News - Cover Story: Yoganomics Page 1 saying that parallels can be drawn to bellydance


Not too off topic, though! Interesting article. I laughed at the description ''the starbuck's of yoga''. Seem's yoga in the US has gone corporate - shame. Like you say there are parallels to b/dance in this article.
I just wish thing's could be left as they are. That's how the corprate world work's, they search current trend's within society, meddle with it then re-brand, trademark, and sell it back to the masses.

Recently I searched online to see what zumba was all about, and had a brief b/dance police moment when I saw ''zumba bellydance'' on utube. That's the actual title - zumba belly dance, not just zumba. They were also sporting coin belt's/scarf's. I just don't see why they need to! The guy who 'invented' zumba has trademarked it, I beleive it to be a mix of Latin styles, why not just leave it at that? Or even better forget a manufactured form of activity, just join a salsa class! But then again the mainstream love a latest new craze lol!

I think it would be a shame if ''b/dance zumba'' become's popular, that's a way I could see b/dance in the mainstream. sadly.
 
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Rue

New member
I was under the impression that belly dance was mainstream at this point - even with the risque label still intact. I've seen classess offered at many gyms and community centers.

Those might not be the best classes to take. I'm taking my lessons with trained instructors - but they're still available everywhere.

And I'd imagine most people will try it once...and then not stick with it...like we do with most things. The women that try it at the community center and love it will eventually find and sign up with more qualified teachers.
 
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