Women pride through belly dance. Feminist empowerment and cultural debates in western oriental dance


The professional and amateur practice of oriental dance and Fusion Belly dance has known a significant boom in the West during the last decades. More than just a choreographic practice, these dance disciplines are the focus of important debates in cultural studies, related to feminism and postcolonialism. The historical evolution of oriental dance is closely related to colonial influence and cultural Orientalism, as aesthetics have evolved during the 20th century mixing traditional Egyptian folklore and western dance influences, which resulted in a growing popularity among Western audiences. However, nowadays, an awareness among oriental dance professionals regarding cultural debates has emerged. For practitioners, oriental dance and Fusion Belly dance offer the possibility of creating bonds between women, promoting self-confidence, pride and acceptance of all non-normative bodies, and even spreading oriental culture. In this article we propose to study, through the methodology of danced interviews, how dance teachers in France (Toulouse), Spain (Valencia and Barcelona) and the United States (Portland) communicate these debates and values through an aesthetic expressing the pride of the female body and the respect for oriental cultures.