The Middle East and North Africa

Books are often available in public libraries, and are listed at unless otherwise noted. Arabesque magazine is no longer in publication, but back issues are available at
"The Arab danse du ventre" by Morroe Berger, Dances Perspectives 1961, which he reworked and expanded for Horizon Magazine, Spring 1966. An intelligent and interesting article on belly dance that provides many historical information sources that were not commonly known at the time.

"Dancing with the Muse of Aisha Ali" by Eliza Buck, Habibi, Vol. 13, No. 2, Spring, 1994.

PDF logo "Danse du ventre—A Fresh Appraisal" Part I and Part II by Leona Wood, published in Arabesque Vol. Nos 5 and 6 (January–February, March–1980). An article on the history of belly dance under its many names, which covers almost everything a student of Middle Eastern dance needs to know.

"From Raqs Shaabi to Raqs Sharqi: Traditional Forms and Modern Technology" by Aisha Ali, Habibi, Vol. 16, No.1, Winter, 1997.

Harem: The World Behind the Veil by Alev Lyle Croutier. Croutier describes life in the harems of the Ottoman Sultans, and includes recollections by members of her family. The book includes a beautiful collection of painting and photo reproductions.

"Higher Education for Dancers" by Aisha Ali, Arabesque, Vol. VIII, No. III September–October, 1982. Observations on the realities of Middle Eastern dance workshops in America.

"Looking Back: The California Middle Eastern Dance Scene": Part I (Hollywood Beginnings), Arabesque, Vol. IX, No. II, July–August 1983; Part II (The West Coast), Vol. IX, No. III September–October, 1983.

Looking for Little Egypt by Donna Carlton. An engrossing book that sheds light on the legend of Little Egypt and describes the development of the 1893 World's Colombian Exposition, while focusing on the many musicians and dancers from the Middle East and North Africa who were brought to this country for the first time to entertain on the Midway Plaisance (excerpt at International Dance Discovery).

Excerpt from Muruj al-dhahab (Golden Meadows) by Al-Mas'udi (c. 957). Description of kinds of oriental dance and the desirable qualities of the dancer. A section of this is covered in Morroe Berger's Horizon article, but it is also available to download from International Dance Discovery.

The Orientalists: European Painters of Eastern Scenes by Philippe Julian. Originally published in 1977, this was one of the first books to make these paintings available in high quality reproductions.

"Safe Journey: Latcho Drom Revisited" by Aisha Ali, Habibi, Vol. 14, No. 2, Spring, 1995.

Serpent of the Nile by Wendy Bonaventura published by Interlink Books, 1989. A well organized book on women and dance in the Arab world with an excellent collection of painting and photo reproductions.

The Source: A Handbook for Oriental Dancers by Omar Batiste, 1983. One of the first to present an outline of the diversity of Arab dances. This paperback book includes lots of somewhat low resolution photos and information on dancers from various regions of the Arab world including Egyptian Ghawazee and the Ouled Naïl; it even touches on Arab dancers from the Chicago World's fair, etc. It is a good starting point for dancers who wish to learn something about the cultures related to Oriental dance (not on amazon; finding a copy may be difficult).

The Veil and the Male Elite—A Feminist Interpretation of Women's Rights in Islam by Fatima Mernissi. The book actually has a broader scope than the subtitle suggests: it presents interesting sections of the written history of Islam while explaining many customs pertaining to women.