Belly Dance History – Bellydance History

Belly Dance History ~ An American Odessey
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1. Arabesque articles on the dancers Volume IV issues 1 & 4

2. Marliza Pons memory of learning in Chicago

3. Jamila Salimpour’s memories of the late 40’s early 50’s

4. Leona Wood: “La Dance du ventre, A fresh appraisal” Arabesque Jan 80
Paul Monty also references this in his unpublished History of Bellydance 1876-1976.

bellydancer Aziza
Aziza in “The 6th Awards of Belly Dance”

5. Aisha Ali’s history of 50’s Californian dance Arabesque IX:2

6. Adam Lahm’s history of 50’s & 60’s New York Arabesque IX:4

7. Michelle Forner “Transmission of Belly Dancing in US” MA thesis

8. Morocco : private correspondence with author

9. Aziza article about not being unionized

10. : Looking back

11. General address for north beach memoirs

12. Michelle Forner. Habibi article Vol 17 : 1

13. Aisha Ali : Arabesque Vol IX:3

14. Jamila Salimpour : Habibi Vol 17:3

15. The origins of Bal Anat

16. The origins of Bal Anat

17. Although of Lebanese descent, Farrah had been heavily influenced from the late 60s by the dancer, Nadia Gamal, whom he’d met and trained with during an extended visit to Lebanon.

She was of Sicilian/Grecian parentage, but had been born in Alexandria. Through her parents connections she had been encouraged from an early age by the legendary Badia Massabni (Arabesque Vol I) as well as by Samia Gamal and Tahia Cariocca.

Before the civil war, Beirut had been the playground of the Middle Eastern aristocracy and so this was where the most prestigious venues and lucrative contracts were available. Nadia began her career in the Lebanon at the age of 16, allegedly as a fill-in for a dancer who failed to turn up, and remained there despite not being a Lebanese national.

Therefore, Farrah’s aspirations were towards promoting Arabic dance in honor of Gamal.

18. Paul Monty : Arabesque vol X!!:2

19. Morocco; Habibi Vol 14:2

20. Farrah : Arabesque vol 2:4

21. Editorial comment: Arabesque Vol III:1

22. Michelle Forner “Transmission of Belly Dancing in US” MA thesis P15

23. Editorial comment; Arabesque XII:

24. Editorial Comment; Arabesque Vol IX:2A

25. As most of us know, the term “belly dance” was coined by the huckster Sol Bloom to boost the attractions of the Middle Eastern dancers hired by him for the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893. Although obviously salacious, it is in fact a reasonable translation of the French Colonial term for one dance of the Ouled Nail of Algeria, wherein they rolled a silver belt (or gold) up & down their abdomens with their muscle control… (The French referred to other ME dances as Danse Orientale).

However the name has been seen as problematic due to its alleged associations with burlesque dancing and many dancers remain uncomfortable with the unwelcome baggage it carries. Many prefer to use other terms such as the original Arabic term Raqs Sharki; others include Raqs Orientale, Oriental Dance and Middle Eastern Dance.

It is worth reminding the reader that no term in any of the languages of the countries from which this dance comes calls it “belly-” anything.
Raks Sharki = Oriental (or Eastern) dance (Arabic)
Oryantal Tansi = Oriental dance (Turkish)
Raks-i-Shahane = Oriental (Eastern) dance
(Turkish) Raks-e-Arabi = Arabic dance (Farsi/Persian)
Raks Turkos = Turkish dance (Egyptian Arabic)
Raks Farrah = Happiness dance (Lebanese Arabic!)
Or, simply Raks = Dance!!!

However, throughout this essay the name belly dance will be used, not just because it is the only one that most people actually recognize, but, appropriately for an essay on American History, it is a term genuinely “Made in the USA”

bellydancer Dalia Carella
Dalia Carella in
“Belly Dance Spectacular”

26. Habibi; Vol 19:4

27. Morocco : Private correspondence

28. Morocco : Direct quote with permission

29. Morocco Habibi vol 19:4

30. Morocco : private correspondence

31. Morocco : Private correspondence

32. This is explored at length in Habibi Vol 19:4

33. Morocco’s essay “If jobs are up, why are dancers getting less?”

34. Habibi vol 16: 1

35. Donna Carlton: Looking for Little Egypt

36. Note that this is the Turkish word rather than the Egyptian “sagat”

Helen Waldie
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