Sunday, December 2, 2007

Orient deserted by Oriental dancers

Today, Oriental dance is mostly Occidental. In Cairo cabarets and elsewhere is the Arab world, belly dancers are no more local as most of the professionals come from countries of Eastern Europe.

In 2003, Egyptian authorities tried to cope with that situation and prohibited foreigners from practicing in clubs. A ban which was left in September 2004, because of the lack of performers!

Belly dancers are seen from very contradictory perspectives: heirs of an ancestral tradition or exotic puppets in the tradition of Orientalism; venal femmes fatales seduced by the power or free women fighting against conventions…

The great names of the Oriental dance have vanished and the fact that an Arab satellite TV is preparing a soap opera about Tahia Carioca’s life is just another proof of it. Today, who could dare to perform as Tahia? And which Carioca will be depicted? The repented old woman of her last days or the outrageous lady who married 14 times and was sentenced to jail under different governments?

As one feels in the beautiful “Farewell to Tahia” written in 1999 by Edmard Said, “Nanaesque figures” are no more to be found on the stage of the Arab theatre.

To read the original post in french
To read Edward Said's text, and to watch a nice video featuring Tahia Carioca and Samia Gamal, this link.

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