Wednesday, June 29, 2005

...the bad...

Last night before bellydance class, my teacher said that a local schoolteacher had been reprimanded for introducing bellydance to her students. She said she was trying to find more information about exactly what the situation is.

This is another classic example of how, despite its burgeoning popularity, so many people have these unfair stereotypes about bellydance.

In the interest of setting the record straight for whomever may come across this post, here's the straight scoop:

Bellydance is empowering for women, not demeaning (in fact, many bellydancers I know would be classified as feminists).

Bellydance is not designed to entice men. Bellydance is in fact performed (mostly) by women, mostly for women. Go to almost any bellydance performance (one exception may be restaurant shows where the show is clearly secondary to the food), and you'll see that the overwhelming majority of the audience is women.

Bellydance is not simply standing and shimmying in a sparkly costume. Bellydance is a physically challenging dance, and a hell of a good workout (especially for the same core muscles targeted by Pilates), yet is low impact enough to be accessible to women of a wide range of shapes, sizes and fitness levels. And you try maintaining a shimmy for several minutes, or layering a shimmy over a second (and maybe even third) movement. It's damn hard work! And not all bellydance involves sequins. American Tribal Style bellydance, and its many derivatives, are often very colorful and festive, but are far from sparkly.

Bellydance is not stripping. Bellydancers do not remove any clothing when they dance. Sometimes bellydancers who use a veil in their performance choose to have their veil artfully wrapped around them when they begin their performance, then later unwrap it when they wish to actually begin using it. But they are wearing a full costume underneath! This is not to say that a stripper has never worn a bellydance costume on stage. But if a stripper comes onto stage dressed in a cop costume, does that mean that police officers are strippers. Hardly!

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