Dancing is defined by movement and passion; however, knowledge is critically important piece of a dancer’s experience and expertise. Learning what dance has been and can be is as important as technique and choreography. The most sought after choreographers and leaders of the dance world know dance from the inside out, and all the nooks and crannies in-between. Additional information to your dance arsenal is critical to the owning your role and space in the dance world. We are all eternal students, soaking up information as we grow, and there are many resources at your disposal to help you along the way. With this in mind, I have created a series of books, lectures, and other information for dancers to enhance practice and enlighten their own dance experience.
We will begin at the beginning, with the history of belly dance. A unique aspect of belly dance is that is one of the most, if not the oldest forms of dance on record. Belly dance has long been entwined with various cultures and religions and has a fascinating record unlike any other dance history I have come across; encompassing male and female, wealthy and poor, sacred and criminal. Belly dance can transcend time and offers dancers a connection to forgotten eras that would be lost if not for dance. I really cannot emphasize how important and exciting belly dance history is, it is always changing, yet exactly the same and each and every one of us has a chance to become a part of it. How exciting is that?!
I’ve taken the top 10 historical books and created a handy little reading list. I have read a good portion of these works myself and would advise readers to take down notes to really commit the information to memory. There is a LOT to take in and process; so I tackling this list and others like you would a class. Don’t just read, absorb, make it your own, research it yourself, work that brain muscle! Also, all lists are composed of recommendations, not only by me, but top professionals, like Rachel Brice, Shira, Donna Mejia, and others. I believe and trust the professionals, but always promote research and due-diligence before taking any fact as an absolute fact. Now, let’s get ready, set, read! (and stay tuned for more)
Reading list and descriptions
1. Serpent of the Nile: Women and Dance in the Arab World~ Wendy Buonaventura
2. The Belly Dance Book-Rediscovering the Oldest Dance~ Tazz Richards
3. Dancing Fear & Desire: Race, Sexuality & Imperial Politics in Middle Eastern Dance~ Stavros Stavrou Karayanni
4. Before They Were Belly Dancers: European Accounts of Female Entertainers in Egypt, 1760-1870~ Kathleen W. Fraser
5. Belly Dance: Orientalism, Transnationalism & Harem Fantasy (Bibliotheca Iranica. Performing Arts Series)~ Anthony Shay, Barbara Sellers-Young
6. A Trade Like Any Other: Female Singers & Dancers in Egypt~ Karin van Nieuwkerk
7. Ancient Egyptian Dance~ Irena Lexova
8. Grandmother’s Secrets: The Ancient Rituals and Healing Power of Belly Dancing~ Rosina- Fawzia Al-Rawi, Monique Arav
9. Looking for Little Egypt~ Donna Carlton
10. Tribal Bible, Exploring the Phenomenon That Is American Tribal Style Bellydance~ Kajira Djoumahna