Sunday, 27 November 2011

Hair be dragons

This week my friend had a horrifying/hilarious trip to an over-sharing manicurist that got us talking about - of all things - dancers who don't whip off all their body hair.

I must confess that, given the rather limited exposure I give my armpits on a daily basis, I'm kind of relaxed about letting the undergrowth just do what it will when I know I'll be wearing sleeves 99.9% of the time. Only ever once has someone commented on this in class (when I was wearing a tank top and had to lift my arms over my head), and even then I know I wasn't supposed to overhear the horrified gasp of "Ohhhh kaay!". Puh-lease. I shower daily and wear deodorant - it's not like I was about to grab her by the back of the neck and push her nose in there.

Anywho, it seems there is at least one professional belly dancer in the world who doesn't shave or wax her legs either. She's fair and blonde, so I guess she can get away with it. All of which is a rather long-winded of way of finding an excuse to share with you the wonderful world of Maria Smedstad's Em cartoons.
Click to embiggen!
Is a full-body waxing session a compulsory part of performance prep or not? One of my former teachers insisted it was, arguing that no matter what your socio-political views on the subject of body hair, a luxuriant crop of sub-scalp follicles was simply distracting to an audience. If you wanted the crowd to walk away talking about your dancing rather than the perms in your pits, went her reasoning, then you'd best make friends with a razor. (I'm paraphrasing, but you get the gist.)


  1. It's the part of cultural conditioning (conditioning, boom tish!) I find it hardest to break away from. I do find it a bit off-putting when I see body hair, but there is no sensible reason why!

    One of the reasons I like ATS is my costumes cover both legs and pits completely.

  2. This is indeed a hairy (ZING!) subject to get tangled (DOUBLE ZING!) in. I have to agree with Foodycat, ATS costuming does cover almost everything and when I'm dancing ATS, I won't need to worry about shaving les pits.

    However, when I'm dancing fusion (and my fusion costumes are sleeveless), I shave. It just feels sleeker. But then again, I'm a guy, and I can get away with not shaving in class.

    I know a Tribal Fusion fair, blonde Amazonian who doesn't shave her pits both when she teaches and performs, and it doesn't bother me because I get too fixated with her dance.

  3. This topic always gets me fired up. I'm allergic to razors myself but when it came to recent student performances, I sugarwaxed my underarms. I know it would have been too much for everyone to handle. Personally I like hair. I'm not a fan of Unmata's work but yay for their confidence.

  4. Removing body hair is very normal in the Middle East, so if performing for a largely Arab audience I'd definitely want to be non-furry. And personally, I'd always want to be non-furry for performing anyway - there's just something incongruous about a hairy leg poking out of a sleek lycra skirt. I also do a fair bit of swimming, so since I don't feel strongly either way and get seen in minimal clothing quite often, I suppose it's the path of least resistance.

  5. Foodycat and FamousFeline, as someone who has never been able to resist a lame pun I hail you both as fellow travellers.

    Thanks Vane - I had never heard of Unmata but
    Googled them and see exactly what you mean!

    Rachael, that's a really good point, especially when in a lot of of Arab cultures many women remove all of their body hair (all of it - legs, armpits, groin, forearms, toes, the lot). I would also say from bitter experience that leg stubble and synthetic fibres do not play nicely together. Let's leave it at that...

  6. Yeah, the Unmata pits are notorious.