Thursday, November 15, 2007

according to Naima

pic: Naima @ Visioncon 2005, by Sa'dia

Now playing: Rasputina – Cabin Fever
Mood: coffee and cigarettes, and pie! Like those people at the Waffle House who sit in the corner and chain smoke, drink coffee and have pie. I feel like that, (kinda weird ‘cause I don’t smoke).

I was part of a political/philosophical discussion about bellydance with a fellow dancer and a non-dance friend of ours last night. The non-dance friend asked why, if our personal opinions where so different, why we don’t start our own dance groups... and I laughed at him.

We tried to explain to him that at its base form, its truest form, well, bellydance is just folk dance. By the people for the people, so to speak. But once it becomes business, a commodity, suddenly there are rules, suddenly there are rights and wrongs, there are cultural interpretations. It is my way vs. her way. It now has to fit into a pretty box in order to be bought and sold. It is no longer by the people for the people and strife and bickering ensue. Throw women into the equation, who are naturally catty and paranoid, (yes we are, even if we don’t mean to be), along with the ideas people have that bellydancers are also strippers/prostitutes and the whole thing goes to hell in a hand basket.

There was actually much more depth to the conversation than that. I talked enough to make my throat hurt about why bellydance is such a complex animal. You know, why on earth bellydancing would have its own politics. And finally he asks why we bother. And without skipping a beat I say, “Because it makes me happy.”

Even though it makes me happy and I hold it with highest respect I am more than positive that my dance makes others unhappy. Whether I dance the wrong style, or in the wrong costume, to the wrong music, or am not of the right culture, or I’m too American, or too sloppy, or short, or fat, or thin, or ugly, or proud, or grumpy, or cocky, or goofy, or uneducated, or I spell it with one word instead of two, or whatever.

But see, that’s just it.

It’s my dance.

Just as much as it’s your dance, and her dance, and yes, even his dance.

Bellydance is the only thing I can think of that when you strip it down to its barest form anyone can use it to express themselves. There really is no limit to gender, age, body type, or culture. The only varying factor is the dancer’s emotional state. As in, how she feels about herself and how she interprets that into her dance.

(ah, the bellydance gospel according to Naima, LOL! I am beginning to ramble).

I really spend a lot of time thinking about it.


It’s kind of scary. I don’t really want to say how much I think about it out loud, or on a blog, ha ha.




Scarlett said...

Naima, I agree completely. As much as we may not like one dancers style or this or that or the other. It is still the same dance form we are using and expressing in another way. I hope more dancers come to realize and stop being so critical and hurtful of those whose styles and interpretations are different.

Naima said...

It is always hard to for someone to respect another's interpretation of something when it (the dance) means so much them personally.
If the dance means beauty and integrity to a dancer and she dances in a "classical" style, to see someone else crawling around on the floor in chains and fishnets most often will leave a bad impression with her, and vice versa. A fusion dancer, who loves experimentation and pushing boundaries, will not take kindly to the dancer who is more conventional and unmoving in her practice.
Respect, like patients, is a virtue.