Belly Dance with Nisaa
There is a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth going on in the (ahem WESTERN) belly dance world right now over the new phenomenon of what I would call "go-go bar" style dancing in certain high-end Egyptian nightclubs. The collective freakout that is happening over these clips (Gasp! They are moving so sexually! Gasp! Their costumes are so skimpy! Gasp! Proper belly dance is deeeeead...) ignores several important facts:
1. IMO, they're not really traditional belly dancing per se...what they're doing is really a new and distinct style. Yes, it's done to Arabic music, and yes, it borrows a lot of belly dance movement vocabulary. But it also borrows a lot from mahraganat sha'abi vocabulary. Egyptians are allowed to like more than one kind of dancing, y'all.
2. Even if you categorize what they're doing as belly dance, this represents a FRACTION of the lived reality of belly dance in Egypt. I think it speaks more to the mentality of Western dancers and aficionados of the dance that the only "visible" Egyptian dance for most is what occurs at high-end nightclubs, 5-star hotels, tourist boats, and dance festivals/workshops. This ignores the LEGIONS of sha'abi belly dancers performing at the innumerable weddings of ordinary people, the places where, other than movies/TV, regular people are most likely to see/consume professional dance entertainment. It's also important to note that the Egyptian teachers who dominate the workshop circuit also have a low opinion of sha'abi dancers (and awalim and ghawazi), even when they do teach some version of those styles, which reinforces the "filter" through which foreigners interpret what is "correct" Egyptian belly dance.
3. Sexuality has always been part of belly dance. REPEAT, sexuality has always been part of belly dance. It just manifests in different ways and to different degrees in different dance contexts. Sexual innuendo has ALWAYS been a part of professional belly dance performance at Egyptian weddings. Do dancers sometimes push it beyond what is considered appropriate WITHIN their own culture? Sure! But it's not really up to us to police that.
4. ALL belly dancers are marginal in Egyptian society, so these dancers are no more "scandalous" than Dina or any other famous dance performer in Egypt.
Yeesh. Folks need to chill out and let the culture follow its own course. It's not up to people outside Egypt to dictate what direction they take their own music and dance.