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Archive for November 1st, 2012

Arab Spring Limits Job Opportunities, Income, for Middle East Belly Dancers


Outi performing in Cairo; photo courtesy The Atlantic

Many belly dancers from America and Europe who came to the Middle East in search of better job opportunities have found that their careers have become unexpected casualties of the Arab Spring, reports The Atlantic.

With the ongoing violence, as well as political and economic instability, the biggest struggle is a lack of work due to fewer tourists visiting the region. Cruise ships in Egypt used to sail four times a day, but now sail only once, Outi, a dancer from Finland, says. These days, she only works two to three days a week, and has fewer teaching and private party gigs. For the work she does get, she is paid half of what she got before the revolution, and is currently struggling to pay her rent.

Standard pay on the ships in Cairo is 200 EGP a night, which is about $33, says Luna, a belly dancer who moved to Egypt from the U.S. in 2008. The dancers can earn 300 EGP if the second deck of the boat has customers and they perform twice. Dancers can make up to 900 EGP a night if they dance on both decks and sail three times. But since tourism stopped, Luna reports, the decks have been empty.

The lack of tourism is compounded by the wave of conservatism that has swept Egypt in the wake of the Muslim Brotherhood’s takeover of the government. Some businesses owners, bowing to pressure from Islamists, have eliminated the dancers. During the revolution, religious radicals burned down venues that showcased dancers. Some owners were hassled to the point that they just closed their businesses entirely.

But some dancers are defiant, unwilling to bend to pressure from Islamists. Aleya, who moved to Egypt from the U.S. in 2008 and dances at a five-star hotel on an on-call basis, dismisses the threat of violence, and is surviving the tourism slump by selling costumes on the side. “We’ve made our life here,” she says. “Revolution or not, this is where we live.”

To see the full story, visit



Museum Exhibit Traces Cunningham’s Connection to American Postwar Artists



Bride, 1912, by Marcel Duchamp; image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art

Dance lovers pining for the defunct Merce Cunningham Dance Company can catch some former dancers performing Cunningham’s work as part of an exhibit running now through January 21 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“Dancing around the Bride” is the first exhibition to explore the interwoven lives, works, and experimental spirit of Marcel Duchamp (American, born France, 1887–1968) and four of the most important American postwar artists: composer John Cage (1912–1992), choreographer Merce Cunningham (1919–2009), and visual artists Jasper Johns (born 1930) and Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008).

Creating both individually and together, these artists profoundly affected the direction of postwar avant-garde art and American culture as a whole. The exhibition tells of their multiple levels of engagement, focusing on the ways in which Cage, Cunningham, Johns, and Rauschenberg produced work inextricably linked to key aspects of Duchamp’s practice, such as the use of chance, the incorporation of everyday materials into their art, and the probing of the boundaries between art and life.

With more than 80 objects, stage sets, musical compositions, videos of dance, and live dance and music performances, the exhibition is organized as an environment in which visitors can explore the creative world of these artists and experience diverse aspects of their work firsthand. (The name of the exhibit is a reference to Duchamp’s celebrated painting Bride, which served as a critical point of reference for the four artists.)

Former members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company will present 25- to 40-minute Cunningham Events, as well as solos, duets, trios, quartets, and quintets, that draw from several of Cunningham’s collaborations with Duchamp, Johns, Cage, and Rauschenberg, such as Suite for Five, Aeon, Interscape, XOVER, Story, and RainForest. Dance performances are free with admission.

For more information, visit For a full schedule of dance performances, visit



Competition and Conventions Coast-to-Coast Showcased in DSL December Issue


Now that the hectic registration rush is done and kids are settled in their classes, many teachers turn their attention to competition season—and Dance Studio Life is here to help.

Our annual Competitions and Conventions listing is a comprehensive guide to what’s happening on the team scene, from friendly old favorites to cutting-edge newcomers. We’ve done the work of collecting contact information and descriptions of more than 150 competitions and conventions, and presented them in an easy-to-read format illustrated with energetic photos. Whether it’s a multi-day intensive workshop or a top-notch competition, you’ll find it here.

Look for the DSL Competitions and Conventions listing in our jam-packed December issue. To subscribe, visit

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