It’s an exciting time to be a belly dancer.
Boundaries have been pushed, new genres created, and although everyone has their preferences and opinions, there is a place and community for nearly every imaginable style.
International cooperation is more fluid than ever, thanks to modern technology that allows for wide-reaching exposure and ease of communication across oceans. And with the power of an Internet connection one can study with master instructors from Cairo to California. From streaming pre-recorded lessons to receiving live one-on-one coaching, virtual instruction is becoming a viable option for the serious belly dance student.
More and more academic research is being published that views historic, folkloric, and fusion elements of the dance through intriguing socio-anthropological lenses.
Event organizers are continually raising the standards of professionalism with increasingly elaborate and well-executed festivals that allow master instructors to make a living teaching and performing around the world, and provide students with abundant opportunities to develop their dance.
Programs offering teacher training are beginning to emerge, reflecting the increasing value being placed on quality instruction and reminiscent of similar programs among disciplines such as yoga and Pilates.
More and more dancers are embarking on large-scale productions that continue to push the boundaries of bellydance presentation, be they theatrical bellydance “ballets”, entire tv series focusing on bellydance, or documentary films that offer insights into various aspects of the dance.
Yes, times are changing for sure. We can lament a loss of some treasured elements of the dance’s history as we witness an arguable decline of the dance within Egypt and the disappearance of the famed nightclub scene of 1970s and 80s America that supported nearly nightly bellydance shows and an abundance of pan-Arabic live bands.
Yet overall, I believe that the changes and advances occurring within belly dance are cause for great excitement. It is with a spirit of both optimism and reflection that I hope to address many of the current trends and issues relevant to our community. Through both my own writing and specially selected articles authored by fellow dancers, it is my aim to offer a forum for relevant and intriguing discussion about the dynamic and developing world of modern belly dance.