When I first got into bellydancing I heard a bit about Habibi, a journal about Middle Eastern dance published between 1993 and 2002. I was so curious. I used to check in on the Gilded Serpent regularly, but only a few of its articles are really substantive. (And its reviews quite superficial and congratulatory — which made them useless for me, a budding collector.)
Well, Shareen el Safy just announced that much of Habibi, which she published, is now available online:
I was lucky enough to take a long workshop with Shareen a few years ago in New York. I still haven’t gotten around to working with the videos I bought, and I only remember a few of the moves she taught, but what really stayed in my memory were her reflections on the dance itself. She talked about how dance is not just a way of interpreting music for the audience, but that the dancer’s role is also to communicate the “deliciousness” of the movement to those watching her. What I loved was her focus on the internal, private, and sensuous aspects of a dance that tends to seem showy, entertaining, and “available” — at least when compared to modern dance or ballet.
I’ve only skimmed a bit through the Habibi archive, but a lot of the articles seem to reflect this thoughtful approach to a dance that is often misunderstood, and often approached with technique but not with soul. The one article I read, which I absolutely loved, was Suhaila Salimpour’s recollection of working as a dancer in Lebanon. I can’t wait to discover more of the writing on Habibi.