Saturday, 29 January 2011

The British Ambassador's Belly Dancer

Nadira Alieva survived a hellish upbringing in Uzbekistan, only to see her reputation dragged through the mud by the notorious British tabloids. Her crime? Being the third party in the breakdown of diplomat Craig Murray's marriage.

Murray, who was already a controversial figure in the UK thanks to his fondness for kilts and breaching diplomatic protocol by daring to speak out about Uzbekistan's deplorable human rights record, would have borne the brunt of the prurient media fall out had Alieva been a cleaner or an architect. Unfortunately for Alieva, she was a lap dancer, young and very good looking indeed. Vicious character assassination ensued.

In 2008 she decided to tell her own story on the stage, using a mix of acting and belly dancing. The result is unlikely to be revived, being as it was intensely personal and the recipient of mixed reviews (though apparently there was no question about her dance ability). The title, The British Ambassador's Belly Dancer, also seems a bit retrograde. Although it was meant to be deliberately provocative, to me that possessive apostrophe reduces Alieva's undoubtedly remarkable life to a mere footnote in Murray's story. Then again, The Uzbekistani Belly Dancer's British Ambassador is much harder to fit on a marquee or a flyer ...

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