Sunday, November 16, 2008

Belly Dance Books for Belly Dancers, Part 1

This initial list of belly dance books comes after the request of several students anticipating upcoming holiday reading time. These books are specifically belly dance oriented. I'll post a second listing for books with a related but wider scope:

Wendy Buonaventura's dramatically illustrated Serpent of the Nile:Women and Dance in the Arab World documents the history of belly dance from the time of Napoleon and Flaubert up to the book's publication in the early 1990s. Though the text is now dated, there is still no better collection of pictures and prints. Grandmother's Secrets: The Ancient Rituals and Healing Power of Belly Dance is part memoir and instruction by Rosina-Fawzia B. Al-Rawi. The writer, raised in Iraq and Lebanon, presents dance as a soothing and grounding practice, an act of grace, tradition, and female transmission rather than a learned and studied performance art.

Dunya's memoir, Skin of Glass: Finding Spirit in the Flesh follows one dancer's soul search through dance including childhood classical training and Juilliard, vivid reflections on New York City's experimental dance scene in the seventies, and years of intensely focused Sufi meditation and personal redefinition along with traditional her belly dance experiences. Dunya's poetic sensibilities draw directly from the Sufi texts she has integrated so deeply into her life. Read for both her dance and for her poetry. (Dunya is one of teachers and proudly helped edit this book and heard it in its nascent stage!)

Donna Carlton's historical text, Looking for Little Egypt , considers the formally documented entrance into the United States via the Columbia Exposition in 1893 in Chicago.
Finally, Gilded Serpent constantly updates reviews on books, video, and music and articles. I'll post another booklist soon with fiction and non-fiction. Happy reading!

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