A number of knowledgeable researchers and teachers are happy to share their information on the Internet. The MED-List was particularly rich with these types but has not been available since 2007. There is also Bhuz which can provide some gems and is searchable but as it is a lightly moderated bulletin board some of the chat is just that.

If you are new to MED - here are some people that I tend to think know what they are talking about.


The two most usful magazines were Habibi (1974-) and Arabesque (1975-1997).Most biographical information has been sourced from one or other of these magazines.


The internet is fast but not always accurate. At least with books there is a chance that someone checked some of the facts. However, there are still pitfalls. Shira made some very good points on what makes a source credible in the Bhuz thread 5238 on 1/9/04 - reprinted here. A key point is a credible source identifies where the information came from and clearly identifies thought processes. Referencing in itself is no foolproof as dubious sources (such as "Serpent of the Nile") can be used. Please engage brain.

Here are some books and magazine articles that I have found of use. (In her posting Shira also identifies those she finds credible and doubtful - there is some overlap).

Belly Dance History

Carlton, Donna (1994) Looking For Little Egypt, Bloomington, IN: IDD Books (review)
Fraser, Kathleen W. (2015) Before they were Belly Dancers, Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co
Lexova, Irena (2000) Ancient Egyptian Dances, NY: Dover Publications
Morocco (2011) You Asked Aunt Rocky: Answers & Advice About Raqs Sharqi & Raqs Shaabi, Virginia Beach, VA: RDI Publications
Shay, Anthony (2002) Choreographic Politics, Middletown: Wesleyan University Press (review)
Shay, Anthony & Sellers-Young, Barbara (2005) Belly Dance - Orientalism, Transnationalism & Harem Fantasy, Costa Mesa, Ca: Mazda Publishers
van Nieuwkerk, Karin (1997) A Trade like Any Other - Female Singers and Dancers in Egypt, Austin, TX: University of Texas Press (review)

(Belly) Dance Background

Buonaventura, Wendy, (2004) Something in the Way She Moves, Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press
(Take care with this book. Not entirely accurate with respect to MED - she quotes her own earlier work "Serpent of the Nile" which has some problems with historical accuracy.)


Benjamin, Roger, (1997) Orientalism - Delacroix to Klee, Sydney: The Art Gallery of New South Wales
Deagon, Andrea, (2002) "The Image of the Eastern Dancer: Flaubert's Salome", Habibi, vol.19, no 1 pp10-16
Gray, Victoria, (2002) "Envisioning the East: Russian Orientalism and the Ballet Russe", Habibi, vol.19, no 1 pp44-47
Said, Edward, (1995) Orientalism - Western Conceptions of the Orient, London: Penguin

General Middle Eastern History and Culture

Goldschmidt, Arthur, (1991) A Concise History of the Middle East, 4th edition, Boulder: Westview Press
Shay, Anthony, (2002) "Dance and Jurisprudence in the Islamic Middle East", Habibi, vol.19, no 2 pp26-39
Touma,Habib, (1999) The Music of the Arabs, Portland: Amadeus Press
Young, William Charles, The Rashaayda Bedouin: Arab Pastoralists of Eastern Sudan

Videos and DVDs

There is a wide range of performance and instructional videos and DVDs available. Some include some useful (and accurate) background information along with dance instruction. Most of Shareen el Safy's would fall into this category. However, again, there are other instructors whose material is pure fantasy and/or marketing.

There is also collections of old (1930s-1960s) Egyptian film clips. Hossam Ramzy puts out "Stars of Egypt" and there is also a series put out by Mito.

Bobby Farrah put out "Rare Glimpses" which has some 1950s Guerda, and a family of Bedouins in Lebanon in 1971.

Recently Phaedra reissued the award winning documentary on Bobby's creation of Zar as theatre ("American Arabesque") as "The Zar Dance" (review)

More recently, Natasha Senkovich put out "The Bellydancers of Cairo" which is a great documentary with interviews and the extras include live performance clips.

Yasmina of Cairo has put out "Journey of Desire" which is the Egyptain scene from her perspective as an Englishwoman in Cairo. Also includes a number of clips or her dancing in a number of styles and information (from Caroline) of the hoops you need to jump through to become a dancer in Egypt.

For Egyptian background there is also "Umm Kulthum - A Voice Like Egypt" which has been recently released on DVD by Arab Film Distribution.

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