MaryBethLiz (we_are_pliable) wrote in debunkingwhite,
MaryBethLiz
we_are_pliable
debunkingwhite

First post.

So what does everyone think about non-Arab/Middle Eastern folks who belly dance? I am wondering specifically about "fusion" forms that incorporate movements from banghra, flamenco, raqs sharqui, hip-hop, etc., etc. and "American tribal" style which borrows stylistic elements from every which way. I know that belly dance came into fashion when some white dude imported an entire African village to Chicago for the World's Fair, and that beginning is just sickening.

Where does one draw the line between appreciation and appropriation in dance? Is stylized or classical dance ok and folkloric dance off-limits? I really enjoy belly dance and I make an effort to learn about the cultures and history of the dance forms we're borrowing from, but I run into other dancers who treat it like most (non-Indian) people treat yoga and turn it into a "personal practice" and leave out all of the cultural issues. I don't want to be one of those white women getting mendhi and wearing saris for no reason, but turbans and bindis are standard performance gear for the style I study.

Sorry if this sounds like HAY PPLS OF COLOR PLEASE TEACH ME HOW NOT TO BE RACIST KTHX, but I have only met a few dancers of color and the dancers who actually come from the culture whose dance they are performing tend to be teachers, and it's hard to talk to them about these issues without feeling like I'm interrogating them.

Thoughts? Resources for reading more about how/ if to approach learning dance and other rituals and art forms from other cultures?
Tags: appropriation, complicity in racism
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  • Thought this was a nice story

    Tradition Counts More Than Beauty at a Pageant ( source) By DAMIEN CAVE Published: December 1, 2008 JAYUYA, P.R. — The seven girls posed, preened…

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