I came across a letter to the Augusta Chronicle, a newspaper in Georgia, from Jezibell Anat, director of the Eastern Star Dance Theatre belly dance troupe, and I find it more than a little troubling.
Her troupe was invited to participate in a Jan. 9 fundraising show to help a local theater and symphony orchestra. Very nice. But one day before the event (one day!), they were informed that belly dancing was not allowed by the Baptist church where the event was to take place.
Now that's very unfortunate.
The reason for the ban isn't included in the letter, and it sounds like Anat wasn't even told what the church found objectionable. Was it the usual, tired misconception (too similar to stripping?) , or something new? We don't know.
I'm trying to contact Anat to find out more, and I'll update this post when (or if) I can reach her.
Either way, this kind of thing only perpetuates the kind of discrimination and dim view that uninformed people have about belly dancing and I applaud Anat for raising the issue.
You can read the letter for yourself here: http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/2010/01/14/let_563121.shtml
* Update: Another belly dancer who was scheduled to perform at the event says the revealing costumes were the reason the church gave for disinviting the belly dancers. Also, she said a high school dance troupe wore costumes that were more revealing. So... seems to me like it might be a case of people who don't know much about belly dancing making the wrong assumptions about what belly dancing is. People, it isn't stripping. In fact, it can be downright modest.