on Sun, 04 Jan, 2015
In the last post I gave examples of cabaret and fusion dancers who are men. Though male belly dancers are rarer in this country than female belly dancers, belly dance is an art form practiced more commonly in other countries. One detail about belly dance is that it isn’t called belly dance in other countries. It is called Middle Eastern Dance or folkloric dance or African dance. The moves from many cultures make up belly dance. Back in the 1800’s when Middle Eastern dance came to America, it was labeled as a “dance of the belly” and became a sexy form of entertainment by women for men.
Check out some of these folkloric dances from around the world and see which moves you recognize as being “belly dance.” Some of them aren't belly dance but can definately be combined into fusion belly dance.
Although the quality of this video is not the best, I like how it shows the movements of classical and traditional Middle Eastern dance on a man’s body. Because the costume emphasizes different places on his body with fringe than it would on a woman’s costume, it is still impressive but not as feminine. There is such a fine line between “belly dance” and “Middle Eastern dance” it is sometimes hard to define which a dancer is doing and this dancer falls in that gray area.
This video is poor quality but a great example of Middle Eastern dance as a folkloric dance as opposed to only a female belly dance. Also, the little kids makes this adorable! When watching traditional Middle Eastern dance, it becomes clearer how much American belly dance is actually a fusion of many dances put together, but often in a way that sexualizes the female body.
Greek arm posture and even Greek folkloric dance moves are often implemented into belly dance. If a male dancer is looking for something more masculine to combine with belly dance this would be a great example. There is lots of slapping of boots, stomping and moving the hands and arms in a less sensual, fluid manner.
Notice how percussive the arm movements are in this. I have seen both male and female dancers use these movements in African tribal fusion. Sometimes dancers slow it down, sometimes they do it this fast to similar or the same dance moves combined with more traditional Middle Eastern moves.
Really, I selected this video because of the examples of wrist circles and arm movements—not because the performer is eye candy. I have taken flamenco and have found the arm movements and wrist circles to be fluid and feminine. We also use wrist circles and similar arm movements in belly dance. When a man uses the same movements in flamenco they change into a more masculine style and one might do the same when using wrist circles in belly dance.
There are some similarities in this style of dance and the Greek dance in the arms movements. There are slaps and snaps and the arms move more freely. The arm posture is higher and arms open. Like flamenco, the feet are used as percussion to stomp in time to the percussive music. The body is used like an instrument.
Here is one of the interesting things about breakdance: it is pretty gender neutral but certain styles might emphasize the body in different ways. Both dancers in this video are performing breakdance but the woman is using street jazz in a way that emphasizes her hair, breasts, hips and waist. She dances in a way that expresses sensuality and sexuality. The male dancer uses gender neutral moves that emphasize his skill in percussive movements. Even combined with slow, fluid movements, he doesn’t do it in a way that emphasizes the body in the same way the woman’s dance does. Break dance is often fused with belly dance in tribal fusion by both men and women.
If we are going to talk about moves that emphasize the masculine, we have to include Spandy Andy and his pelvic thrusts and arm movements into the mix. His moves are anything but gender neutral. His theatrical style is humorous and masculine, and in some cases a parody of the masculine.
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