Reformist Muslim

Exploring possibilities for the future of Islam and other thoughts

Location: London, United Kingdom

Friday, January 20, 2006

Dance? Of Ballet And Britney Spears

It seems to me that attitudes towards dancing (or to be more specific, men dancing with women (come to think of it women dancing with men)) represents one of the major splits in moderate Islam on the place of culture within religion.

Film seeks to be ok, music just about squeaks through, but dance is one of those things which in my view can provide an indication as to whether a person is liberal or conservative (not used in a derogatory way), wants to take religion forward and develop it or bring it back to a stricter interpretation.

As regards my own view, I think modesty is probably fundamental to the issue. For people who regard dancing as being immodest, I'm happy for them to have that view provided it is applied consistently towards men as well as women. However even then I think its important to keep an open mind and not draw lines in the sand.

For instance I think that one can draw a difference between ballet and Britney Spears. One tries to appeal to our aesthetic senses while the other attempts to titillate. In a subcontinent setting, one can apply a similar distinction between Khattak dancing and Lollywood/Bollywood. I would suggest that it is perfectly consistent to both be a classical Indian dancer and an observant Muslim, just like I would suggest that one can be an Actress and a Muslim, or an Athlete and a Muslim (you know who I'm talking about). As always I'll be interested in hearing comments.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Miyan, Kathak is no holy-virtue dance. Its about sex, and as for the courts of Awadh (the the mujra-ghars thereof) its equivalent to pole dancing.

3:14 pm, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous subheer said...

i am not an expert on the fine art of dance anon.
but you are being a tad harsh, if you compare rekha in umrao jan [a bollywood movie] to a pole dancer.

4:11 pm, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reformist Muslim is wrong, subheer, in making this neat distinction between aesthetic appreciation and titillation.

Umrao jaan may be art in the hallo-ing nostalgic perspective, but awadhi court-dances were meant for titillation.

Compare this to Geisha's. Its art and it is for titillation.

Compare this to how we view fin-de-siecle Parisian boheme - Toulouse-Lautrec today belongs in the best museums in NewYork-Paris-London but Le Bal du Moulin Rouge was essentially a night-club and its dancers prostitutes. It was meant for sex. Now its art.

Modesty standards are subjective. Reformist's attempts to create universal guidelines using this principle are pretty inadequate.

11:30 am, January 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Reformist, what is the difference between ballet and Britney Spears? Kathak and Bollywood?

Other than achronism, its populism. One is an élite art-form, the other is consumed by the masses. The Opéra was a rave with European renaissance courts, but actual-normal-people were not into that.

You reek of élitism.

11:35 am, January 21, 2006  
Blogger reformist_muslim said...

Anonymous you are justified in criticising my examples. It wasn't deliberate though and the point I was trying to convey was related to aesthetic sensibilites irrespective of class.

For instance a lot of what I find crass in Pakistan is the popular culture of the upper middle class and the elites. Your point about sujectiveness is a good one though and I'm inclined to agree with it.

8:01 pm, January 22, 2006  

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