on Sat, 03 Jan, 2015
Contrary to popular belief, there are male belly dancers. Ten years ago when I was studying in Portland, I met a man named Skylar who danced tribal fusion. Here in Eugene we have Alfredo who dances what might be considered cabaret. A few years ago Jim Boz came to town and performed cabaret at a MEDGE show.
There is something incredibly attractive about a man who can dance. Perhaps that is why having a male belly dancer in a crowd of women outweighs the response to any female performer I have seen. Sometimes it is embarrassing how women scream as though these men are Chip’n Dale dancers. Then again, sometimes the general public treat female belly dancers as though they are strippers, too, so maybe we are equal on that account.
When you are looking for examples of a male belly dancer, you will probably find something like this on the internet. It is a man who either looks like a sultan or pirate dancing with a sword. This is really amusing but take note, he isn’t doing belly dance. He is just a fun accessory.
Alfredo is a local dancer. He specializes in Middle Eastern folkloric dance. Some of the movements he does are ethnic but not necessarily belly dance, though that is what we generally call this dance in America. I can’t find any videos of him on the internet but there are photos of him at the links below. If anyone ever finds a video of him, please send me a link and I will post it.
One of the things I enjoy about Jim Boz is his stage presence. He also is very good at keeping the authenticity of moment that is appropriate to the music, style and his body. He manages to be expressive and masculine in many of the moves that I often think of as being feminine.
What a great use of fusing breakdance arm, ballet and folkloric tribal movements with belly dance.
The second video has a great mix of theatrics, vaudeville and breakdance to create tribal fusion. Also it is really interesting listening to the announcer describe his story and how he came to be at Tribal Fest at the end.
My breakdance teacher in Japan used to say that key to making dance interesting was breaking up sharp movements with fluid Movements. Popping becomes more interesting when mixed with the smooth flow of body waves. This dancer chooses a soft song that could be interpreted differently, but his choice of movement and interpretation makes it engaging to watch and give it a true fusion feel.
I will admit, though, it was hard to watch since I was afraid male body parts were going to become exposed during, but women’s costumes can be like that too. Fortunately, the costume remained safe.
The intro and scene breaks in this are done beautifully and I could just want that alone. This dancers arm movements are what really define his moves and creates something that feels African, folkloric and at times tribal. There are even some sections I am seeing breakdance and contemporary dance influence. I think the key to masculine arms is including more percussive gestures and movements instead of just fluid movements.
This guy has more glitter than a sparkly vampire from a Twilight novel, but his many of his moves are very masculine. Even some of the movements he does which I have always considered to be ultra feminine, like the Egyptian cabaret headache gesture, are given a new twist with his style. He has excellent isolations and it is really interesting to see him do chest drops, belly pops and shoulder shimmies in such a masculine way. Also, he can really lip sink.
One of the reasons I included this was to show how some movements depending on their origin and the style being depicted will influence the look. Many of the more cabaret movements use fluid arms that look sensual and feminine while some of the more percussive, African and break dance influenced moves in the other videos feel more masculine.
One of the things I enjoy about tribal fusion belly dance is the diversity and range of styles it offers dancers. Personally I think cabaret dance is harder to be inclusive of movements that both feel true to the dance form and fit a man’s body. Fusion is a style that can be inclusive to both men and women, and a large range of ages and body types. I often think of cabaret dance as being for the sake of entertainment and being sexy, where tribal feels like is a link to folkloric roots, spirituality and connection. Tribal fusion can be that bridge between art those forms—or the creation of something else whether it is meant to be expressive, earthy, spiritual, gothic or something else entirely.
Have a fun video of a male bellydancer to share? Feel free to email me and I will share it.