Monday, March 05, 2007

A Blog history of bellydance…….Part 4

Part 4- Linking India and Bellydance

Even the names we give bellydance hint as some of its roots. 'Oriental' dance is also known as 'Raqs Sharqi' the dance of the east!

Egypt's direct link with India was of course via the great spice trade of the 18th century. NB; Christophe Columbus was so determined in his attempt to avoid Egypt and reach the spices from the Far East directly without having to go through the middle men in the souk of Khan el Khalili in Cairo, that he went the other way around the world and discovered America!!!

Being the true heart of the spices world- no wonder Egypt's music and dance among other things was influenced so much by all the different peoples who passed through. Even today many of the beautiful rich fabrics used even today for dance costumes would be direct from India. The main drum in both India and Egypt is called the Tabla (granted the drum is different in structure but the name is the same!) Many of the 'oriental style' movements and story telling aspects found in Bellydance have their routes in Indian dance, although in Indian dance often the story is religious based and in Arabic dance it is often about love!

The Classical Indian dance, Bharatnatyam. was originally a temple dance, a religious dance, from the south of India. The verses carry the story- the chorus is 'pure dance'! I guess this idea could link in with the temple of Isis too! Maybe even to the bible too, eg when the isralites were dancing and making music in the desert to worshop god and give thanks for crossing the red sea safely!

Bellydance has inspired people to link it with the styles which formed it and others…. Linking folk and tribal and performance all together- from many cultures. ATS (American Tribal Style) and its offshoot, Tribal Fusion came into being. ATS is an evolution of bellydance, incorporating moves from traditional Egyptian and Turkish bellydance with posture and arm movements from Flamenco, and movements from a diverse range of ethnic dances, including Indian Kathak. ATS is traditionally performed as a group and is almost always improvised, with each dancer taking a turn of leading the group, using physical (body and arm position) cues and verbal cues to signal a change in movement.
Tribal Fusion is an offshoot from ATS. Tribal Fusion incorporates a wide range of influences - Egyptian and Turkish bellydance, Flamenco, Indian Kathak, yoga, as well as contemporary dance forms such as hip-hop and break-dance. (Thanks to Laura Monteith for the info on ATS and tribal fusion!)

So Bellydance is growing and inspiring new dance forms… just as bellydance grow from many things, including Indian dance- it is now linking with many things now to create new moves, new style and new art forms…..

nb- if people have info they feel should be added to any of these histories....... please do comment or email- as I said before I don;t know it all- and would love to learn more from anyone readying this!!!!

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