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Serpent of the Nile: Women and Dance in the Arab World by Wendy Buonaventura

From Publishers Weekly
- A study of the history of the Middle Eastern solo woman's dance.

Book Description
"I think it is the most eloquent of female dances, with its haunting lyricism, its fire, its endlessly shifting kaleidoscope of sensual movement."

With these words, Wendy Buonaventura explains her own fascination with Arabic dance. Her book is a unique celebration of the female dancers of the Arab world, and their impact on the West. She explains the origins of this ancient art, which has survived in the face of commercialism, religious disapproval and changing times.

Focusing on the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, she shows 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 exerted a powerful influence on the Western imagination-on such writers as Flaubert, such artists as David Roberts and Jean-Leon Gerome, and such imitators as Colette and Mata Hari. Their fascination was often based on common fantasies about the women of the Middle East. Yet, as the book's sumptuous illustrations show, this obsession also produced wonderfully evocative images. At the turn of the century, the genre also had an impact on fashion, theater and popular entertainment.

Wendy Buonaventura is a writer and dancer who has pioneered the development of Arabic Dance as a theater art in the West.  She has taught and performed widely throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East.

DANCE MAGAZINE:  "Serpent of the Nile features a perceptive discussion of the history of female soloe dancing in the Middle East and its effect on dancers and artists throughout the world.  The ninety full-color and fify black-and-white sumptuous illustrations communicate the color and sensuality, poetry and passion sophisticatin and sublety of her subject."

ARABESQUE MAGAZINE:  "An articulate book that speaks with many voices of the glory as well as the shadows surrounding the oriental dance of yesteryear and today.  Buonaventura's amalgamation of materials - textual and visual - evoke a work by someone whose respect for the subject is both tasteful and thoughtful.  Arabesque salutes the authoress. . . "

NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW:    "A lively and lavishly illustrated excursion into the history of the solo woman's dance ... "




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