A thought on ballet, bellydance, and public respect.
It’s a late and rainy night here in the Bay Area. I’m visiting my family for the holidays, and my father gave my mother Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet for Christmas. I started reading this huge tome of research, and I had barely read a fraction of the book before starting to have thoughts comparing the origins of ballet with the origins of belly dance.
One thought I keep having is why belly dance will never be as respected in the eye of the general public as ballet. I’ve heard many belly dancers throughout the years say that they want to make belly dance as respected as ballet. While I do believe this is a noble cause, we can’t change how these dances have developed throughout the centuries. The histories of both ballet and bellydance directly affect how each is viewed by the general public.
I’ll give you a little glimpse into my brain, and I’m sure I’ll expand on these ideas later, especially as I read more and more of the book. As I read about the origins of ballet in the 16th century, this comparison flitters around my head:
Ballet (as we know it now) began as a European court dance, codified and performed mostly by men, specifically French kings.
Bellydance began who knows when, began in its more modern forms as a Middle Eastern folkdance, wasn’t codified until the 20th century (and there is still no universal standard codification of steps), and is mostly performed by women.
I assume you start to see the problems inherent in comparing the two?