New article on! Imagining Movement: Orientalist Paintings and Photographs of Middle Eastern Dancers

Last fall I was invited by Shira of the venerable Middle Eastern dance website to write an article for her website. After several months of research, writing and revisions, the article went live last night!! Through the lens of art history and colonial history, I explore whether or not Orientalist painters like Jean-Léon Gérôme realistically depicted Middle Eastern dancers, and how photography played a crucial role in the creation of their works.

Jean-Leon Gerome, Dance of the Almeh via Dayton Art Institute








Jean-Léon Gérôme, Dance of the Almeh, 1863

Here’s an image discussed in the piece…to read the article, visit the main article page on Shira’s site.

While you’re there, check out the rest of the great content she has posted, from translations to dance history.

Are you insured? Protect your bellydance livelihood (and support the Ken Stein burglary fundraiser)

Belly dancers, from hobbyists to professionals, invest an incredible amount of time and money pursuing the art they love. From buying CDs to makeup to costumes and props, belly dance is an incredible investment, often involved one-of-a-kind materials that cannot be easily replaced. We’ve all heard the horror stories on of dancers having their cars broken into and their multi-hundred dollar custom Hanan costume ending up for sale at the Buffalo Exchange thrift store for $35. Like dancers, the musicians, photographers and other professionals who are part of are community invest tons into their art, and can be equally devastated by a theft or loss, such as what recently occurred to photographer Ken Stein, a public school teacher and friend of the NYC belly dance community. Ken’s photo equipment was recently stolen; the dance community has now banded together to help raise money to replace his equipment, but not every dancer or photographer may have this available to them.

What’s a dancer to do? While it is a yearly investment, I absolutely urge you to BUY INSURANCE! 

(UPDATED, thanks to the sage advice of some knowledgeable dancers)

Some renter’s, home owner’s or property insurance policies cover items while they are in your home, or while they are outside of your home (ie, in your car at a gig, backstage, etc), but this is more likely if you’re a hobbyist.  Call your insurer and ask how to cover your dance related equipment. To get an idea of how much coverage you should request, take a good look at all of your dance gear and add up how much you’ve spent. While you’re at it, gather those receipts and photograph your costumes, props, stereo equipment, etc in case you ever need to provide evidence of what you own to file a claim (or if you need to post pics on Bhuz to have it tracked down if stolen!!) . When it comes down to it, a $125 yearly policy is well worth it to protect the thousands of dollars of gear it takes to make you the dancer or other professional that you are. Every insurance company and policy is different, so make sure you know the specifics of your plan, deductible and claim process.

Lauren of St. Louis notes if you’re running a business based on dance, you’ll need a more specific policy or rider. Home owner’s or renter’s policies generally do not cover equipment meant for a business, which commenter Pen, a photographer, also noted.

While I hope no one ever experiences a theft, fire or similar tragedy, unexpected events can and do happen. Be prepared!