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“Doing” Belly Dance History – Post-Workshop Update

“‘Doing’ Belly Dance History” was such a fun seminar back in March!  I just want to thank all of the folks who attended. The replay is now available on the BDBA website.  If you missed this workshop, and want to check it out in replay, click here for more details Attendees to the “Doing” seminar got to peer “behind the curtain.” In this workshop, I shared all of my research processes, organization tricks, and digital tools.

Salomania: A Quest for Ephemera

During that workshop, I made an announcement. A portion of the proceeds is going directly towards the production costs of a future book. My current archival research focuses on the period between 1875 and 1925.  I’m looking forward to publishing a future book on the Salomania phenomenon.

Armed with this influx of funds, I’m now officially on the hunt for ephemera related to Salome in the first decade of the 20th century.  My goal is to find images of the Salomé character during the last quarter of the 19th century through the pop culture phenomenon we now call “Salomania.”  

La Bellincioni Dans “Salomé”

This lovely page pulled from an unknown French magazine of Italian opera singer Gemma Bellincioni is my latest acquisition.  In 1911, she performed in the title role of Salomé at the l’Opéra-Comique in Paris. This is an illustration/photo hybrid. Lean in and look closely. Can you identify the classic costuming features associated with the character Salomé?

Maud Allan, the Most Famous Salomé Dancer

Does this image look familiar?  This is due, in large part, to the costume. The top worn by La Bellincioni bears a striking resemblance to dancer Maud Allan’s in the same role. Is it possible the designer of this Salomé opera copied Maud Allan’s look?

If we compare these two tops, we can see the striking resemblance between these two ensembles. From construction details like the mesh base and beaded roundels to the pearl sags and bejeweled medallions, it’s clear that these costumes are iconic to the character Salomé.  For the early 20th century theatrical audience, the uniformity of the looks makes it easy to read who the character is from a distance.

I’m so excited to be digitally shopping from ephemera dealers and image-rights management companies.  I’m looking forward to investing in photos and illustrations to make this future book as lavishly illustrated as “Cloth of Egypt: All About Assiut.”

Now it’s time to head into the studio and get some sewing done!
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
May 22, 2021




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