Sunday, May 15, 2011

Korean Belly Dance Comes of Age...

So, eight hours ago saw me prying myself off of Belynda and convincing myself that I HAD to go back to Shanghai. I went back to Korea for her world belly dance day event, RAK 2011...in this instance, RAK stands for Raising Awareness in Korea, and NOT Ras Al Khaimah (just in case you were confused). See, World Belly Dance day is meant to be a charitable event, and this year and last Belynda donated the money to organizations that benefit women in Korea (for more info, check out her website).


Anywho. The opportunity to attend a dance event in the most wonderful of all cities was not to be missed (plus I needed some art supplies that I haven't been able to find in Shanghai), AND she even let me dance in her student show...win, win, win, wins all around! My performance went all right (with the exception of the bit at the end where I'm supposed to scoop down and pick up my veil...I slipped on my pants, oops), and I suppose the rest of my show was okay, but I didn't get to watch it. I can tell you that Koreans are STILL nuts enough to dress their little girls up in full makeup (complete with fake eyelashes) and padded bedlahs to dance - and from what little I saw between the curtains of the 10-year old soloist who performed before me, she was pretty good, but...well, let's just say that there's no WAY I'd let my ECA baby bellies dress up like that.
I got to watch the professional show, though, and I found some things very interesting.
Koreans have figured out that there are more than two styles. When I left Korea, it seemed like most of the dancers were doing cabaret or what might best be described as "sexy-dance fusion." This is not to dis the Korean dance community; it was highly entertaining, and I really don't care what style you're dancing, as long as you're dancing. But on the other hand, I was pleased to see a healthy mix of raqs assaya, tribal fusion, and even some khaleegi influence thrown in for good measure.


Costumes! Used to be that everyone wore bedlah or lycra cossies (or an assortment of other weird things). I'm happy to report that we've branched out. We've still got the sparklies, never fear, but now they come with shrugs, belly covers, and pants. Belynda tells me that this is, at least in part, due to the rise of South American belly dance. Whatever the reason for the additional modesty, I appreciated it...one of my fellow sisters-in-Zion may have expressed some doubts about the propriety of belly dance as an ECA at school, as her daughter - who wanted to join - wanted to know if it would be modest.


Never fear, though...it ain't all class. We had this lovely number, which I like to call "Xena the S&M princess" (yes, apparently it is a Suhaila Salimpour design - she's very famous, if you didn't know - but that didn't stop us from wondering whether or not you went commando with a cossie like that or whether the lovely Suhaila had thoughtfully built some panties into her creation).
This one treated the audience to a performance of raqs beaver before the strap started to come off the bra 2/3 of the way through.


Finally - be still, my beating heart - there were Korean girls dancing that didn't look like chopsticks! Good on them! I need to see something like that when I've been REPEATEDLY told by Asian kids this semester (and one fellow Mormon whitey who shall remained unnamed, the little turd) that I am fat.