Monday, 29 March 2010

Simplicity itself

Yes, you can get Simplicity sewing patterns for tribal costumes.  This rather takes the fun out of searching for hours for the perfect bits and pieces though, doesn't it? (Of course Simplicity's patterns look like basic circle skirts and crop tops - if you want the fancy stuff you have to go to a company called 'Really Complicated and Time Consuming'.)

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Edible camel?

Finally, one of my favourite blogs has come through with a belly dance cake wreck!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Dupiwu: the art of 'belly skin dancing'

You don't have to be an Occidental dancer to be dancing outside the borders, as this article from Al Jazeera proves. The reporter seems to have a rough idea what he's looking at, but doesn't delve into what the popularity of belly dance might mean in a country where female children are 'undesirable'.

I love that 'dupiwu' sounds like the noise your hips would make during a really smooth, horizontal figure of eight. All together now: Dupiwu! Dupiwu!

I gotta say, the women in my classes tend to be a little more, um, zaftig than this lot. Perhaps the photographer specially selected the women in this pic. So pretty, such lovely posture ...
(Image from China Daily.)

Monday, 8 March 2010

Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women

"Lazreg's fascinating book, Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women (Princeton University Press), tells us that the veil comes and goes, according to the rise and fall of ideologies and the change in male perceptions of women and women's beliefs about themselves. Algeria illustrates the point. After women helped achieve independence from France in 1962, many ceased to wear the veil. It lost its political force as a form of rebellion and became an archaic custom of an older generation. Lazreg remembers her mother discarding it.

The revival of the veil among Algerians in recent years coincides with economic failure, a regional cultural identity movement and the war between Islamists and the Algerian government."

Thursday, 4 March 2010

How cheap are women's lives?

Back in December, as a postscript to a post on Haifa Wehbe, I wondered how Egyptian billionaire Hisham Talaat Mustafa's appeal was going against his death sentence for the murder of his former partner, Lebanese pop star Suzanne Tamim (pictured). Well, now I guess I have my answer.

This news comes on the back of a Guardian/Observer campaign to bring to justice Farouk Abdulhak. Abdulhak, the son of one of Yemen's wealthiest and most powerful men, is the chief suspect in the rape and murder of Norwegian student Martine Vik Magnussen back in 2008. Her body was found in the basement of a flat Abdulhak had been living in in London. He is believed to have fled to Yemen, which has no extradition treaty with the United Kingdom, where he is now being sheltered by his father.

Call me cynical, but the level of justice these women [haven't] received seems to be directly linked to the bank balances of the men accused of killing them. That's not only true in the Middle East either; just ask OJ Simpson.*

*Oh yes, I did.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Occidental dancers in Cairo

McClatchy's has a 'tell us something we don't know' article on the economic and cultural importance of western belly dancers to dancers in Cairo. It's pretty interesting though, and paints a fairly depressing picture of what the locals are up against.

The case against heading to Egypt with your hard-earned dosh: I was once unfortunate/fortunate enough to do a three-day workshop with a world-famous dancer and teacher in Cairo. She did very little indeed, but her choreographer worked like a piston. Here's hoping he got a decent cut of her hefty fee.

Admittedly, (a) I did not move to Egypt to live and completely immerse myself and (b) I'm not a professional dancer.

The case for supporting the dance industry in Egypt, on the other hand, is rather more compelling ...

"Egyptians have had to suffer a lot to keep this dance alive. Many are disowned by their families; they suffer from the shame. It's a struggle," Mendez said. "We, a little link in the chain, need to respect it and learn it correctly so we can help keep it alive."

As a bonus, here's a pic of arguably the first occidental belly dancer, Little Egypt. At least, there's a good case to be made for saying it's her: