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A fusion of ballet and Middle Eastern dance


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#1 macropis

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 08:31 AM

I wasn't sure whether to place this in this forum or the "modern and other dance" forum, so my apologies if it seems out of place.

This youtube link is of a dancer performing a fusion of ballet and Middle Eastern dance. What makes this rather unusual is she is dancing on pointe, a technique I generally would think does not lend itself to successful fusion, particularly with Middle Eastern dance.

Personally, I like many dance genres, but as a general rule do not care much for fusion, especially when traditional ethnic dances are involved. However, this one really works for me. While the dance features a lot of pointe technique, the essential aesthetics of the dance are primarily Middle Eastern. The piece of music (Lissa Fakir) is an instrumental version of a profound Egyptian love song made famous by the reknowned Arab vocalist Oum Kalthoum. It is a very complicated piece of music and I like how the dancer uses pointe to interpret various parts of it.

This has been discussed at length by Middle Eastern dancers, but I am interested in how it would be perceived by ballet enthusiasts. Beautiful? Confusing? Harmonious? Disharmonious?

Belly Dancer Sabah

#2 SanderO

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 05:18 AM

Interesting. My first reaction is that what is going on here is that bellydance which I have no experience with or understand (but associate with a kind of seduction) id using some of the lines of ballet for some value added.

In the most general abstract sense, I perceive ballet as a high art of exalting the human form through movement, with movement, with line and form to push the limit of the aesthetic appeal of the human form. Ballet movement and dancers are, in my opinion the ultimate aesthetic for humans. We mortals simply inhabit human bodies and move rather awkwardly about, ballet dancers performing ballet move in a perfect idealized manner. I don't except that a perfect world would be inhabited only by ballet capable people moving through life in balletic movements. Dance and especially ballet are the view to human potential and are inspirational.

Anyway, I do appreciate when I see a person who has the kind of grace which ballet movement informs their presence. I think this adds to the belly dance aesthetic, but it diminishes ballet. That is, I consider ballet a purest form and set of rules which can borrow ethnic dance for story ballet, but I don't see the fusion as adding to ballet. I can envision a bit of Sabah's work incorporated to a story ballet where a belly dance scene was called for. Ballet is more of a universal movement language and belly dance is a localism.

I found the video interesting to see how she borrowed from ballet. I am not sure how the bellydance people would interpret this. I suppose some would find it refreshing and new and others would find it jarring and destructive of their beloved genre.

I am simply thrilled that such movement geniuses are exploring such things for us.

#3 macropis

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 07:44 AM

Interesting. My first reaction is that what is going on here is that bellydance which I have no experience with or understand (but associate with a kind of seduction) id using some of the lines of ballet for some value added.


THank you for your thoughts, SanderO. They are very interesting and insightful to me. And that's okay; most people don't understand belly dance. I wrote an article a while back that explains some of the characteristics and aesthetics, mostly via a comparison to western dance forms such as ballet. comparison of belly dance and western dance. If it seems biased towards belly dance it is only because its purpose is to explain what belly dance is, not to exhault ballet as high art (most people already know the latter).

Also, just for comparative purposes, a different dancer dancing very purely in the Egyptian style to the same piece of music: Egyptian dance to lissa fakir

In the most general abstract sense, I perceive ballet as a high art of exalting the human form through movement, with movement, with line and form to push the limit of the aesthetic appeal of the human form. Ballet movement and dancers are, in my opinion the ultimate aesthetic for humans. We mortals simply inhabit human bodies and move rather awkwardly about, ballet dancers performing ballet move in a perfect idealized manner. I don't except that a perfect world would be inhabited only by ballet capable people moving through life in balletic movements. Dance and especially ballet are the view to human potential and are inspirational.


I mostly agree with this. As much as I admire ballet, I wouldn't call it *the* ultimate aesthetic but it is amazing and beautiful. I just think there are other dances and ways of moving just as amazing, but in other ways and for different reasons. I do completely agree that most people merely inhabit their bodies and lumber around, a fact I find very sad. It is sad because just about anyone could be more than that if they valued the function and potential of their bodies more.

I found the video interesting to see how she borrowed from ballet. I am not sure how the bellydance people would interpret this. I suppose some would find it refreshing and new and others would find it jarring and destructive of their beloved genre.


Yes, pretty much. There is a lot of bad fusion out there. Some of us are purists who are offended by the concept that the dance needs to be westernized or "made better" by adding ballet to it, but at the same time fusion can be great art when well done, and Sabah does a very nice job with this. Very few dancers are so proficient in ballet and belly dance as to be able to pull this off. I would hate to see it catch on as a trendy thing in which every ballet dancer who's had a belly dance class (or vice versa) butchers both forms by trying to combine them.

I am simply thrilled that such movement geniuses are exploring such things for us.


Me too!!


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