Maybe it's because I'm getting old. Maybe it's because I have the responsibility of a child. Maybe it's just that people are annoying. Maybe time just marches on and the world changes. Whatever it is, I find myself clinging to and grasping for the Way Belly Dance Used to Be.
Now, I'm not talking about when I first started - though, I can tell you, I've had more than one crotchety old bellydancer conversation with other dancers my age about how kids these days don't know how good they have it and what we had to go through to create local gigs. I'm talking about what is WAS. Before westerners got ahold of it. Before sequins were added to costumes. Before navels had jewels shoved in them to get around censorship. Or, at the very least, the Golden Age of Belly Dance when dancers still knew the origins of the styles they were dancing, and what was authentic and what wasn't.
See, I love all styles. Yet, I find that certain styles grow without any understanding or even respect for the cultures from which belly dance derived. Dancers choose western music, do hip hop, and toss in a hip drop or two and call it belly dance. That is legitimately dance. It is probably legitimately art. But is it legitimately belly dance? I'm a-ok with rules being broken, but an artist must KNOW the rules before breaking them. Otherwise, it's just ignorance.
I am by no means professing to know All. In fact, the more I study Middle Eastern dance, the more I find it is a bottomless chasm of culture and art and history and misinformation and wonder. That shouldn't let us off the hook, though. It should inspire us! The more we understand, the better we can portray and preserve this beautiful and ancient art.
What do you think?