Belly dancing and embodied answerability in mobile cultures

Posted by Dr. Rodanthi Tzanelli on 2015/02/01

Profession or social practice?
It is probably common knowledge amongst sociologists of art that belly dancing as a social practice is based on more than meets the eye and the ear in terms of historical development. By discussing it as ‘social practice’ I refuse to consider it solely as a monetised activity (to dance and be remunerated for it by clients), thus allowing some space to reflect on the ways its performance in public enabled human interaction. Once the profession of migrant working-class women in Eastern urban cultures and in the emerging economic centres of the West alike (raqs sharqi and hootchie-cootchie as the sensation of the first nineteenth-century Expos and the nomadic groups of circus caravans; danse du vetre as the past time of French colonisers in Algeria and Tunisia), this hybrid form of embodied art or craft allowed its performers to acquire some sort of social presence.


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