Focusing on Egypt during the period 1760 to 1870, this book fills in the historical blanks for a dance form known today in the Middle East as raqs sharki or raqs baladi, and in Western countries as belly dance. Eyewitness accounts written by European travelers, the major primary source for modern scholars, provide most of the research material. The author shapes these numerous accounts into a coherent whole, providing a meaningful picture of Egyptian female entertainers of the period as professionals in the arts, rather than as a group of unnamed ethnic dancers and singers including one or two identified women of dubious reputation. Analysis is given of the contexts of this dance--which was a legitimate performing art form in Egyptian society appreciated by a wide variety of audiences--with a focus on actual performances--and a re-creation their choreography.
Before They Were Belly Dancers
McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
European Accounts of Female Entertainers in Egypt, 1760-1870