Camels and snake arms, jewels and choo-choo shimmies – English speakers have invoked a wealth of imagery to describe Oriental dance or “bellydance” movement. A performance art that evolved from a type of Middle Eastern social dance, Oriental dance has no classical tradition, meaning that it has neither recognized authorities who dictate norms nor a named set of standardized movements. As dancers outside the Middle East have adapted the dance to Western pedagogical strategies, they have labelled and taxonomized movements that, in their native contexts, are subject to little codification.
This project examines the vocabulary used for teaching Middle Eastern movement in North America using data compiled from online surveys. The first phase of the project was based on a survey of Canadian dancers that garnered 154 responses. The second phase of the project will be based on a survey of American dancers, and I am seeking an expert in surveying methodologies to review the questions for bias and other concerns before the survey goes live.