Panel Discussion: Race and Bellydance in America

Tue, July 10, 2012 6:30 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Join performance studies scholars Meiver De la Cruz and Leila Tayeb for a presentation and discussion of race and bellydance in the United States. The panel will explore how America’s history of minstrelsy comes to inform both processes of creation and reception of “Othered” dances, specifically in relationship to the presence of people of the Middle East and North Africa region on US soil.

Leila Tayeb will present an adaptation of her recent Master’s thesis, “AnOther Dance: Minstrelsy in the Collaborative Work of Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn.” St. Denis and Shawn are central figures in the early history of American modern dance. The presentation will examine their work in order to illuminate a genealogy of embodied Orientalisms in the American dance imaginary, asking how the traces of these early works continue to affect dance imagery and practice.

Meiver De La Cruz will present a brief overview of how the subject of race in American bellydance performance has been either taken up or wholly neglected by scholarship on bellydance. The presentation will explore contentious terms like “authenticity,” “tradition,” “innovation,” and the “ethnic,” in relationship to race, and the myriad national and geographic associations of bellydance, along with the set of avowals and disavowals that frequently meets these associations.

Tickets: $5 At Door | Free for members

About the Panelists
Leila Tayeb is an incoming PhD student in Performance Studies at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL). Her current work examines music, gender and politics in Libya. She holds MA degrees in Performance Studies (NYU, 2011) and International Affairs (The New School, 2006) and a BA in Politics (UC Santa Cruz, 2004). She began dancing in 2001 and drumming in 2010.

Meiver De la Cruz is a dancer, and a doctoral student in the Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL). She creates performances that address the intersections of globalization, racism, and sexual violence. She holds a Masters Degree in Gender and Cultural Studies from Simmons College, and a Bachelors Degree in International Business and Economics from the University of Massachusetts – Boston. She has been involved in feminist activism and social justice work for many years, and recently contributed a chapter along with fellow activist Carol Gómez to “The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities” (South End Press, Cambridge, MA. 2011).

Last updated: 2012-06-27 17:49:18

"Colonial Harem" from Alloula, Malek, Univ Of Minnesota Press, 1986.
Image from 1914 Choreography,
Image from 1914 Choreography, "Arabic Suite" or "Ourieda, A Romance of the Desert". From New York Public Library Digital Gallery
Image of 1924 Choreography
Image of 1924 Choreography "The Vision of the Aissoua". From New York Public Library Digital Gallery

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