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Belly Dancing in Dubai

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Belly Dancing in Dubai


Dancing with veils has alternately invoked images of genuine modesty as well as erotic images that accentuate the nudity. Ancient deities were said to ascend, descend, and sometimes fly.

There are several potential sources for the introduction of veil dancing into contemporary Oriental dance. After the Greek and Roman period, there seems to be no documentation of veil dancing in the Middle East or North Africa in literature or in art. At the end of the 1800’s and the beginning of the 1900’s, there were numerous photographs taken of women dancing with what looked like shawls and kerchiefs.

There was a form of veil dancing during this time period in North Africa. It was, however, not the type of veil dancing that was seen later in the Oriental dance theaters. They did not use two or three yards of sheer diaphanous fabric, elegantly carving shapes in space and draping and undraping themselves.

These North African dances may fall into two general categories. One group is the “handkerchief dances” and the other group should more accurately be described as “shawl dances”. The dances were similar in nature but some movements differed because of the prop. A handkerchief or a larger scarf allowed for different types of movements. The “handkerchief dance” usually employs two or occasionally one handkerchief. One handkerchief is held in each hand, or one handkerchief is held in both hands. The handkerchief or scarf was flipped around, twirled, rolled, bunched up, or twisted. these dances were quick, “footy”, and alternated flipping and swirling of the cloth (Morocco). There are pictures of these dances being performed in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.

here were dances performed that used sheer diaphanous veils or handkerchiefs in other parts of the Middle Eastern world. In Azerbaijan, the people are a Turkic-speaking group from the Caucasus area. In the women’s dances they use handkerchiefs, scarves, and veils to accentuate their feminine beauty. During the dances, they delicately reveal the eyes, the nose, the face and the richly costumed breasts. This is different from the veil as it is manipulated in Oriental dance because in the Azeri women’s dances, the veil is attached to a hat or a headdress. The freedom of movement is limited because of this, but the variety of gestures is still rich and varied, and there are some gestures that the Azeri women can do because of the attached veil that are different from the Oriental dancer’s veil which is not anchored (Gray, p. 9). In this culture there was a bridal dance. A bride-to-be was expected to dance for her husband-to-be or the overlord.

In some contemporary Uzbek dances, the veil or headscarf is employed and it is attached to a headdress or to the dancer’s hair. She may pull the edge of it across her face for her entrance or during some part of the dance.

The Oriental dancers in Turkey were mostly Gypsies and they were known as “šengis.” They sometimes danced with the edge of their headscarves in their mouths. They also employed one or two small scarves in some of their dances. Metin And described a wedding party where one of these dances was performed. “They held a handkerchief in one hand, and when a woman wanted to join the dance she took hold of the handkerchief of another, so in this way they did not actually touch each other.” (And, p. 279-281). Another “šengi” dance employs the use of scarves in a pantomime of amorous relations. “Holding the two ends of the silken scarf in their fingers they would either play the shy maiden or the flirting courtesan; or they would twist a coloured scarf into a rope and wind it round the head or neck; or else they would hold the scarf in front of their face like a veil, hence the names of the dance which have survived are ‘kaytan oyunu’ or ‘tura oyunu’ (’kaytan’ and ‘tura’ meaning silk cord, braid, knotted handkerchief).” (And, p. 143).

There were parts of Europe where women performed a type of shawl dance. Russian Gypsies perform a dance where they manipulate their shawls much the same way as Oriental dancers (Gray). Gypsy flamenco dancers in Spain sometimes dance with their very large shawls called “mantons.”

People from North Africa and the Middle East do not understand veil dancing today. They cannot transcend their first impression of it: that it is a strip-tease. That is why their Oriental dancers dance very briefly with their veils (if at all) and then abandon them. They do not spend time unveiling in their dance because they and their audiences find this distasteful.

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