Egyptian Belly Dance in Transition

The Raqs Sharqi Revolution, 1890–1930


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About the Book

Raqs sharqi, the Egyptian dance form also known as belly dance, has for generations captured imaginations around the globe. Yet its origins have been obscured by misinformation and conjecture, rooted in Orientalist attitudes about the Middle East—a widely accepted narrative suggests the dance was created in response to Western influences and desires. Drawing on an array of primary sources, the author traces the early development of raqs sharqi in the context of contemporary trends in Egyptian arts and entertainment. The dance is revealed to be a hybrid cultural expression, emerging with the formation of Egyptian national identity at the end of the 19th century, when Egypt was occupied by the British.

About the Author(s)

Heather D. Ward is a Middle Eastern dance instructor, performer, and researcher based in St. Louis, Missouri. She specializes in Egyptian raqs sharqi (belly dance), and she has conducted in-depth examinations of primary textual, photographic, and pictorial evidence as well as on-site investigations in Cairo in order to advance knowledge of the history and development of this fascinating dance form.

Bibliographic Details

Heather D. Ward
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 220
Bibliographic Info: 27 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6674-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2963-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1

Notes on Transcription and Translation 5

Introduction 6

One—Egyptian Arts and Entertainment at the Turn of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries 23

Two—The Rise of Raqṣ Sharqī 47

Three—Reconstructing the Technique of Early Raqṣ Sharqī 71

Four—Reconstructing the Aesthetic of Early Raqṣ Sharqī 96

Five—Raqṣ Sharqī Performance at the Turn of the Century 119

Six—The Raqṣ Sharqī Costume in Historical Context 136

Seven—Raqṣ Sharqī as Part of the Egyptian Cultural Heritage 165

Conclusion 182

Chapter Notes 197

Bibliography 200

Index 211