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Serpent of the Nile: Women and Dance in the Arab World [Paperback]

Wendy Buonaventura
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
RRP: 15.00
Price: 14.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

21 Jun 2010
Newly updated and lavishly illustrated, this classic celebration of female dancers of the Arab world is available in an appealing new format. "Serpent of the Nile" traces the origins of this ancient art, which survived in the face of commercialism, religious disapproval and changing times. Wendy Buonaventura demonstrates how Arabic dance came to be influenced by Western ideas about art and entertainment. But the influence was two-way. In the heyday of Orientalism, Arabic dance captured the imagination of writers and artists such as Flaubert, David Roberts and Jean-Leon Gerome, and imitators Colette and Mata Hari. Often based on common fantasies about Middle-Eastern women, this obsession produced evocative images and inspired fashion, theatre and popular entertainment.

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Serpent of the Nile: Women and Dance in the Arab World + Belly Dancing: unlock the Secret Power of an Ancient Dance
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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Saqi Books; 2nd Revised edition edition (21 Jun 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0863566286
  • ISBN-13: 978-0863566288
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 22.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 457,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


'A delight to browse through and just as interesting to read...sumptuously illustrated.' Time Out 'A lively and lavishly illustrated excursion into the history of the solo woman's dance.' The New York Times Book Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Wendy Buonaventura is an established dancer and choreographer. Her performance work was the subject of a television documentary, Making Mimi. She has written and presented programmes for BBC Radio 4, and has performed and lectured extensively throughout Europe and the USA. She is the author of I Put a Spell on You and Beauty in the East. Her website is www.buonaventura.com

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
'Serpents of the Nile' seeks to explain how female Arabic dance has evolved from its pagan origins and how it has influenced - and been influenced by - European culture. It also comments on how Arabic dance has been misinterpreted by Western society and, on how present-day dancers are trying to re-educate audiences and repair the dance to its rightful place as a sensual expression of life - not a lascivious cabaret act. The book contains a host of wonderful illustrations mostly drawn from a Western perspective, that convey the fascination Western culture has long held for the 'mystic' East and its seemingly exotic and unhibited dance forms. The illustrations - both paintings and photographs - also serve as good reference material for costuming purposes and, as such, are useful for students of the dance or theatrical costumiers.
Whilst there does seem to be a focus on the inherent sensuality of the dance and its effect on Western viewers, the publication does seek to restore the image of the dance to a respectable artform and, to help readers understand the ancient origins of a dance that never ceases to relinquish its hold on the imagination and psyche of both occidental and oriental audiences.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Expensive, but comprehensive 28 Mar 2001
By A Customer
"Serpent of the Nile" may on first glance seem expensive...but it is in fact a comprehensive history of the origins and meaning of bellydance. It is well illustrated with many photos beautiful photos that are helpful if you are making an authentic costume. A bellydancers bible, this book is well worth the cost.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It is still in print! 2 Jun 2011
By the authors own volition this text is a coffee table book, and is the only concerted effort to bring a large collection of Orientalist paintings of the Arab dance together. It was printed over 20 years ago and it is surprising that it still sells - partly due to the fact that no one else has filled the gap. If you want pretty pictures buy it, some of the print is worth reading mainly for the polemic and opinion offered, but not for any factual reference point on Arabic dance. There has been additional information printed, so as to update some very outdated fictions from the previous 1989 print, but still Buonaventura resists the fact that the representation of the Orient through an Orientalist lens is just that - a fiction and a poor representation of a people, their culture and the dance. There are attempts in the book to address the Westernised version of the dance, granted, but do not go far enough. In a sense this book marks a moment-in-time - it marks the World dance explosion in the West and the ensuing post-colonial debates that raged during and afterwards. These debates and the dancers, academics and researchers afiliated to Arabic Dance in the West and in the East have moved on!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best reference work on belly dancing 20 May 2009
I first read this book many, many years ago, and it lead me to start dancing. I now give talks and demos, and find it invaluable as a reference work, and source of pictures.It has lovely illustrations. It is such an interesting subject, I am surprised there aren't more scholarly books on the subject.
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