Andrea Deagon, Ph.D., has written a thought provoking article posted in the July  Gilded Serpent , entitled “Belly Dance in Patriarchy: Escaping the Switzerland of the Soul“. The title derives from a quote by Orson Welles via a character in a 1949 film classic, which distilled, boils down to: that through strife and upheaval art flourishes, and that in relative complacency it stagnates.

In her article, Deagon offers a lens/mirror onto the many common cultural assumptions, archetypes, and myths that our community promotes and has long held dear. I found it an interesting beginning for a much needed discussion.

To quote a bit from Jennifer’s post at the ORIENTALiSH :: 🙂 :: who pointed me towards the piece: “The use of goddess imagery is questioned, the uncomfortable conundrum between being drawn to belly dance for its acceptance of body types and learning quickly that what sells is typical slender good looks that meet a stereotype, the “dumbing down” of belly dance as it becomes more popular, and the belly dance scene’s commodity driven belittling of Arab culture.

Deagon concludes her piece with a bit of a challenge about the direction of the art: “Ultimately, our artistry depends on honesty: honest acknowledgement of the ways in which gender affects and inhibits our modes of expression – honesty about how we value youth, beauty, and erotic display, and honesty about whether what we are doing is really feminine, or something more challenging and complicated” … “Nothing truthful can emerge from self-deception and if there is one thing the best dancers of Middle Eastern patriarchies have shown us, it is that the core of belly dance resides in the lived, felt, courageous truths it can tell.

Read it for yourself, as I’d be very interested in your own thoughts.

« »