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.