Sneak peak! “Dancing the Other: Belly Dance in 1920s Paris” talk at the Theatrical Belly Dance Conference

Princess Ben Madhia, c. 1920s in a Parisian jazz magazine

Princess Ben Madhia, c. 1920s in a Parisian jazz magazine

Here’s a sneak peak of my talk on the wild world of belly dance in 1920s Paris, from the world’s fairs to the ballets to the bawdy music halls. This Saturday 7/9 at the Theatrical Bellydance Conference, 1:30-2:30 pm, Room 16T, Ripley-Grier Studios (520 Eighth Avenue 16th Floor, NYC). Free for conference-goers, $5 for general public.

Paris in the 1920s was a city electrified by dance, a city that moved to the sights and sounds of the latest trends at a seemingly unstoppable pace, where belly dancers tantalized audiences at the music halls and Oriental ballets played to packed houses in the city’s opera houses. The dance scene was colored by visions of otherness, stereotypes and simplifications of movement and culture that were shaped by the French colonial mindset and the wildly successful universal expositions whose presentations of “authentic” foreign dances served as one of the primary influences on the Oriental dances that came into vogue during the height of the colonial period…This talk seeks to analyze and interpret the presentations of Middle Eastern dance at expositions, music halls and concert halls in 1920s Paris and the preceding decades as both a historical study and as a lens through which we can view our present day conflicts and considerations in Middle Eastern dance, many of which center around the intersection of authenticity, fusion and theatricality.

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