PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.
Hares in the Harem
& Fantasies of Seduction
|Have you ever wondered why stereotypes about Middle Eastern dance have persisted over 100 years to haunt today's dancers? Have you wondered why the North American public still insists on believing these damaging misconceptions?
The answer lies in mass media: motion pictures, television, and even children's cartoons! Join Shira in examining the mass media that have kept these notions alive for over a century.
Most members of the North American public believe they "know" what Middle Eastern dance looks like, whether they have ever actually seen a performance or not, and yet many of these assumptions are entirely at odds with how today's Oriental dance community views its art form. Much of this "knowledge" was learned at a young age, watching motion pictures, television, or vintage cartoons. As early as the 1920's, animations featured scenes of "Middle Eastern dance". Over the decades that followed, children grew up seeing the entertainment media showing dance scenes that involved Daisy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Woody Woodpecker, Mighty Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Heckle & Jeckle, and more.
More than 100 years after the scandals erupted around the dancers at the Columbia Exposition in Chicago in 1893, Oriental dance still suffers from an image problem in North America. It is often perceived as a dance of seduction, a freak show, or a source of cheap laughs. Why have these misconceptions about this dance form managed to endure for so many years? The answer lies in the mass media.
When dealing with the masses, it can be useful for dancers to understand these pervasive media images that members of our society have been exposed to throughout their lives, images that have helped to shape stereotypes that linger and affect perceptions of this dance form even today.
In this lecture, Shira will take you on a tour of children's cartoons with dance scenes, and offer eye-opening insights into why the negative stereotypes of Middle Eastern dance linger even today.