Beyoncé vs. Oum Kalthoum – a bellydance storm in a teacup?

I am not slut shaming Beyonce, I just worry  about what kind of images she send out to other women, dancers and especially to men  regarding her interpretation of the Oum Koulthoum’s part of the music, which is obviously very middle eastern. I just hope that the belly dancers around the world, especially over these regions where I live (Central and Latin America) don’t get ideas about Beyonce’s and her dance crew’s costume choices and other dance expressions whilst dancing to a respected singer like Oum or any other great Egyptian (or Arabic) singer, as the “Belly Dance” is overly sexualized here already and often painful to watch, when all the while we dancers and dance teachers try so hard to lift the reputation of this dance from “the gutter” where it has been hundreds of years.  I do agree with one thing, Oum’s songs should be played (in the class and performance settings) more as well as any of the old classical pieces from the past. Oriental dancers, belly dancers, Egyptian dancer, Arabic dancers etc. whatever you do, just keep it classy.

Bellydance by Rachael

A bust of Oum Kalthoum at the Cairo opera house. A bust of Oum Kalthoum at the Cairo opera house.

There’s a video that has been doing the rounds in the bellydance community this week from an old Beyoncé​ show, where a short section of music from Oum Kalthoum’s “Enta Omri” is sampled during an exotic-dance inspired dance routine featuring rather a lot of bare bottoms. And lots of bellydancers are acting outraged by this, calling for boycotts of Beyoncé, slut-shaming her, demanding she apologise, etc.

For what it’s worth, I didn’t enjoy the video and found it quite upsetting because it was so far removed from the original meaning of the song, a song which I love and have performed to in the past. However, some of the angry reactions from dancers have been totally over the top and really not OK. Calling someone a slut or similar is never acceptable, and it should go without saying that racist…

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