Saturday, March 15, 2008

Belly Dancing & The Hoochie Coochie Dance

These are some of my drawings about belly dancing and harem girls. Besides the mystery and historic "color" of this subject, I love the art of belly dancing because I think it shows off the female body in it's fullness and roundness. We Americans aren't comfortable with full, round female bodies - even though that is what we are becoming surrounded by more and more - let alone sexually powerful females!
There was a time when a full figure meant wealth and so full-figured gals were prized. Since food became so plentiful in our country in the mid-twentieth century, thinness and even skinniness became valued more than curves.
There is a movement now to change this attitude, propelled by the pride that African-American women and Latina-Americans have in their curves. And more and more men are coming out to speak their minds on the subject too - they like those curves.

When you see a real belly dancer, she will not be thin! And once you see her dance, you will have a new respect for it as an art form with an athlete's use of muscle and movement.

In America belly dancing has unfortunately become thought of as a form of stripping. This kind of dance was seen for the first time here at the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, which was celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus' "discovery" of the New World.
Animals and human acts were brought from around the world for the entertainment of the fair-goers. Women from the Middle East in pantaloons and loose blouses dancing to odd never-before-heard music and undulating their abdominal muscles were a scandalous sensation. This was a time when American women didn't dare show an ankle or leave the house without wearing rib-crushing corsets.
Belly dancing became known as "hoochy-coochy" dancing and was incorporated into vaudeville shows and spread across the country, usually as bawdy stripping rather than artistic entertainment.
One of the most historic tales of belly dancing is the story of Salome and John the Baptist in the Bible. The story goes like this: A woman named Herodias had an affair with her uncle, Herod Antipas. They eventually divorced their spouses to marry each other. John the Baptist spoke out against this not only because of the divorce but also because it was an incestuous affair. Herod Antipas put John the Baptist in jail but didn't have him killed because he feared reprisals by the masses who considered him a prophet.
Herodias had a daughter from her first marriage named Salome. At a birthday celebration for Herod, Salome danced for him, his lords and commanders. He was so pleased with her dance that he promised to give her whatever she asked for. She said "bring me the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter". He did so and the rest is history.
Here is a great website to find out more about belly dancing and to hear music, see videos etc.

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