Here’s a secret. Well, not so much a secret but a little-known fact. I am a bellydancer. At this point you might do a take. Experience shows two questions immediately require answers. 1. Yes, there are such things as male bellydancers. And 2. No, my costume is nothing at all like what Barbara Eden wore on I Dream of Jeannie.
Bellydance (a misnomer, since “belly work” is a specialty, like “cape” or “sword”) has been going through an incredible renaissance in the last decade or so. Large festivals and events happen virtually every weekend, while new styles and variations of this ancient folk dance continue to evolve. Which brings us to Gothic Bellydance. This arises out of a sense of the gothic–affinity for shadows, for themes of mystery and darkness, a willingness to ride the nightmare instead of flee from the beast. It shows some Steampunk influences as often as not, or at least a semi-Victorian style. A preference for silver rather than gold.
One can easily see how this might bring things vampiric into the mix. And it does! Behold this solo. Dancing with a wing-like cape is hardly new, but in this case these are clearly the wings of a bat!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wULlcqejGqsNor is this anything like a lone example! In the UK four years ago there was a full-length dance show based on Dracula, and excerpts can still be viewed on YouTube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdrVUKoJ74sAt this moment there is a troupe in England calling itself the Brides of Dracula. Likewise hardly a large bellydance event goes by in this country without at least several different dancers or troupes performing in the gothic style, with many a vampire-themed costume or show. It actually makes more than a little bit of aesthetic sense when you think on it. Vampire legend first arose with the Lilitu and Lamia of the middle east. Dracula himself was raised in what is today Turkey. And did he not have a harem? Bellydance is languid style, designed to hypnotize and entrance, to tease and entice. Sometimes the dancers seem to flirt with danger, balancing swords upon their heads or wrapping a living serpent around themselves. Some dancers don veils to hide all but their eyes. For those eager to find new and entertaining ways to explore the undead, consider the art of bellydance as an area yet to be explored:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eltc-VsxLdohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlzK9SzEak0http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMy0k90yU-gI’ll admit–just as there has been more than one ballet based on Dracula, is it so much to hope for a few more bellydances? Or other works? Carmilla for instance?
I have seen male bellydancers perform and I am myself a bellydancer…..bellydancing has evolved over the past several years and more….bellydancers are incorporating not only the Goth, but, hiphop, cancan, Bollywood, flamenco….
Nice article and subject. Reading about the two things together, vampires and bellydance, brings the name of Aset Ka to mind. Their vampire order has been connected with the use of bellydance in ritual and some forms of energy work, which seems to have become increasingly popular lately. I agree that bellydance is constantly evolving and see nothing wrong with its goth side and use in the vampire culture.