American Belly Dance: Authentic or Appropriated?

This paper examines the history and practice of American belly dance with the aim of determining how true the dance stays to its Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) origins. It discusses the origins of belly dance in traditional Egyptian dance and how it evolved from conception to cater toward Western culture and tastes. Though the dance’s creators and first practitioners were Middle Eastern, its arrival to the United States and to Europe opened it up to further manipulation and invention by Western artists who favored fusion styles. These developments resulted in the dance deviating quite heavily from original MENA culture, and in it becoming yet another example of American and broader Western culture’s tendency toward Orientalist appropriation and cultural insensitivity