Monday, April 11, 2011

Bellydance By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

Warning: Out of character long babbling post ahead.

As a self proclaimed Bellydance Philosopher I have had a few ideas about the dance stirring around in my head for some time. I am also a self proclaimed Lazy Pants so I have never taken the time to write them out. Last September I read Foxy's post Turkish vs Egyptian Belly Dance: Where do you stand? and scoffed at the quote, “Turkish belly dancers strut while Egyptian belly dancers glide.” Whoever originally said that obviously hasn't seen the Egyptian dancers I have seen. Not only can they strut but they do, usually over the course of a really long entrance piece.

I rolled Foxy's post around in my head for a week or so reflecting on how I feel about all of the different BD styles completely intent on writing a response. Then a few weeks went by. Then a few months. Lazy Pants, or should I say Philosopher Lazy Pants, never took the time to respond. I know there are forums aplenty out there about BD styles, which styles sprang from others, which have more credibility than others, etc. (I recently learned that there is Improv Tribal Style now.) Honestly, I could give a crap about petty bickering over which style has a deeper connection to the music. I stay far away from opinion polls and forum rants and just about any discussion on the matter. I think the arguments are dumb.

“But Philosopher Lazy Pants, isn't it hypocritical of you to post your opinions here, expecting they be read, while not bothering to read the opinions of others?!”

Yes. Yes it is.

Actually, I do read good, well educated opinion posts, like Foxy's, and other BD articles but I intentionally weed out the whining, ranting, “my dance is better than yours,” posts.

Right, so back to my point. A few weeks back I was trolling around trying to catch up on some podcasts and one of the ladies (Mary I think,) was talking about my blog posts. She mentioned how my posts are short funny snippets about my BD life that do not delve much into the deeper topics that others write about. And I thought to myself, “Exactly, right! She knows a Philosopher Lazy Pants when she sees one!” A day or two went by.

“Heeeyy! I have ideas...deep ones. No really!" *Whiny voice*

“Stop having conversions with yourself, get off your Lazy Pants, and write something already!” *Reprimanding voice*


Not really. But Foxy's post with a push from YIP has inspired me to give my real opinion on BD styles. Brought to you in the form of an analogy.

The Bellydance Alphabet Analogy

It is difficult for most dancers to describe the different styles of BD to a lay person. BD practitioners often speak of all styles of BD having a common set of movements wherein it is the execution and presentation of these moves that produce the different styles, blah, blah. This is also usually underscored with x-style being the original or correct style. I agree with this in a scratching-the-surface kind of way.

I think of BD movements like the letters of the alphabet. These letters (muscles,) are put together to make words (circles, figure 8's,) words into sentences (combinations,) and sentences into paragraphs (choreography.) With this dancers tell stories. They can tell old stories, (what is handed down to them by their teachers,) or make new ones of their own. Sometimes, lines change in the retelling and the story begins to have a different slant to it. Maybe even a completely different ending.

What gives these stories a particular style is the way they are written. Some stories are written in cursive. Some in big bold letters. Large fonts. Small fonts. Some dancers dot their i's with a smiley face while others may scribble and leave it to the audience to figure out. I'm pretty sure I've even seen some “Wingdings” out there. All dancers use the alphabet, make words, tell stories, but each one is written in his or her own hand.

Just like with real words, not everyone relates to or even interprets another person's style in the same way. If you really wanna run with it you can go as far as thinking how different cultures can change the meaning of words and how that would relate to the Bellydance Alphabet Analogy. If you ask for a fag in the UK you get a cigarette. If you ask for a fag in the US you get sued for harassment. In either situation it is spelled the same way. Does that make it a bad word? No, of course not. Just as one style is no less credible than another. All styles are credible in the appropriate setting. Just because it may be something you do not want to hear does not make it less valuable or viable if presented with respect and with an artist's heart.

I believe the meaning in the movement is much more important than the font you write it with.


Now feeling: a little existential
Mood: I think I used my word quota all on one post. I won't be able to write again for months...jk.


Kis said...

I love the alphabet analogy. And also figure we've all seen a 'story' told in Wingdings at some point in time.

You could even take this one step further you know... Using your established alphabet - different styles (cab/tribal/fusion) are sometimes like you're speaking an entirely different language. Although that would be possibly taking the whole idea just a little bit too far. :)


PS. The card rocks like a rocky thing...

Naima said...

@Kis Yeah, I was going to touch on the idea of speaking different languages and then my head started to explode. Different cultures, different languages, different sexes, different times of day! Luckily it is just an analogy and not a thesis. (I think I need a Wingdings choreography now.)

RetroKali said...

Good shit, girly.

Kis said...

For that you'll need an off the wall piece of music... Something to match your font. :)

harleygypsy2003 said...

love the post, totally agree about silly arguments, waste of valuable time, best spent practicing zills and sword. love your new slide pics. you have the prettiest blog. could u post the mario dance again, wanna show it to my neice. the alphabet analogy is cool!

Naima said...

@harley Thanks. The Mario post is on You can find older posts by clicking "older post" at the bottom of the page or by using the archive drop down box located in the footer.

AllyseFrancis said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this analogy.. It speaks to me (oh puns...)

DrumnDance said...

You have hit it on the head. I agree with you. Only some tell the story better than others. Just like authors all write different types of stories and ewe have our preferences but all good authors have learned the technical aspect of story telling the correct way. My aim in life is so dancers can tell their story with the correct use of the alphabet no matter what it is.

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