The bellydance world has been having a long overdue conversation about minorities, appropriation, and how to create a nurturing and inclusive dance community. I am heartened to see this discussion taking place, but I have to say that I feel erased in this dialog and excluded by some of the comments that bellydance artists have said about my “right” to bellydance. I decided it was time to educate the community through my personal experience.
The month of June is also Juneteenth, LGBTQ Pride month, and father’s day, so it feels like a good time to talk about inclusivity, roots, and taking pride in diversity. We’re calling this month Yemenite Heritage Month at SharQui, because we will be exploring my roots, and the dance and culture unique to the Yemenite people.
Watch Oreet discuss Yemenite Heritage here and here.
I want to have a constructive conversation this month about my roots to help open the bellydance community’s eyes to the fact that the Arab world is more complex and nuanced than Americans assume. I’m hoping to demonstrate how – sometimes even well-intended – words and actions can disenfranchise people from the MENA and SWANA region (Southwest Asia & North Africa) who want to be contribute to the dance community. I do hope the conversation will enlighten you and show that we are more alike than we are different and we ALL share similar experiences.
Will you join me? I will be holding free webinars about Yemenite Cultural Roots and Current Relevance for Dancers in our Shoot the Shimmy Series so we can start including SWANA minorities in the community discussion. Expect interesting conversations on SharQui’s Facebook page Wednesdays at 11am in June, starting June 9. These events will be online, free and no registration required!
If you’re interested in getting a head start on Yemenite dance and culture, check out these resources to give you head start:
What is the state of our world today? https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/
What is the state of MENA/SWANA? https://www.prb.org/resources/population-trends-and-challenges-in-the-middle-east-and-north-africa/
Learn about Yemen https://minorityrights.org/country/yemen/
Who are the Yemenite People? https://minorityrights.org/minorities/jews-7/
I’m also extremely excited to present a brand new Yemenite fusion choreography workshop on Thursday, June 24th at 7:45pm.
Plus, the Yemenite Dance eBook has a history of Yemenite dance, culture, and videos of two workshops – and it’s on sale this month!
SharQui is your community and we want you to get in on the conversation. send me your questions, comments, and suggestions.
With love and respect to all,