Bellydance by Keti Sharif

October 3, 2008 at 1:49 pm | Posted in Books, Non-Fiction, Reviews, Suggestions, Website | Leave a comment

This information-rich and equally attractive book is from Keti Sharif of the well-known A-to-Z-themed mini-choreography’s.

I felt that its treatment of histories and cultures was much more balanced, acknowledging some of the limitations of our knowledge and some of the different interpretations which can arise from people’s observations of others.

After the introductory history, there is a substantial chapter devoted to Middle Eastern music – instruments, rhythms, sounds and dancers’ interpretations of them – which impressed me. Photographs or diagrams of instruments would have been a useful accompaniment to the wonderful descriptions.

Advice on warm up and introductory stretches seemed sound and gentle, but no diagrams were included here. Photographs of most other movements were included in the book, but I felt some could have been clearer – perhaps with movement markers added. The health benefits of the dance are described, but there is only a brief allusion to the cautions required during pregnancy.

Sections on various dance styles include (for example) the use of stick and zills, Alexandrian milaya il’laff dance, Persian, Khaleegy and others. Photographs throughout the book provide a variety of views of men and women enjoying the dance in various countries and time periods.

The costume advice is brief, with few diagrams or photographs, but practical.

Sensitive translations of Arabic words abound throughout the text. I appreciated the final glossary, but an index would also have been valuable.

I found this book informative, interesting and encouraging. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to know not only how we dance, but why!

Reviewed by Melissa

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