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Grandmother's Secrets: The Ancient Rituals and Healing Power of Belly Dancing
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Grandmother's Secrets: The Ancient Rituals and Healing Power of Belly Dancing

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  190 ratings  ·  32 reviews

"Come, sit by me," says Grandmother. "Take this chalk in your hand. Now draw a dot and concentrate all your energy into this one dot. It is the beginning and the end, the navel of the world."
So Fawzia Al-Rawi describes her grandmother's first lesson about the ancient craft of Oriental dance. Grandmother's Secrets always circles back to this grandmother and this young girl
ebook, 255 pages
Published November 1st 2012 by Interlink Books (first published 1999)
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I really, amazingly wanted to like this book. The first section is a little unbelievable, but a pleasant read, and who I am to say these weren't the author's experiences? I slogged through the so-called history section out of pure determination. Her 'history' was a self-serving collection of meaningless generalizations and unsubstantiated "facts".

I figured the section of exercises had to be worthwhile. Even if your history stinks, if you dance, how far wrong can you go in creating exercises for
Rose Martindale
Great book! Love feeling like I'm getting in on some secrets of a grandmother.
The interesting perspective of this book is that it is from the perspective of a middle eastern woman describing her experiences as a child. Often we have a tendency to assess the quality of a culture, particularly in areas concerning gender equality, from our perspective. I did appreciate the author's justification of separation of the sexes and roles of the different sexes. The history and anatomy and physiology of body functions related to belly dancing were a little questionable. The descrip ...more
This book is truly amazing. Weaves a rich and vivid tapestry of the true nature of belly dance. To read the wisdom passed from Grandmother, Mother to Author and to us is a gift. Dance! And enjoy the miracles of womanhood! Well written. Well DONE!
I like the book especialy the chapter in wich she was talking about the ideea of dancing in difrent culture and difrent eras . The last chapter was so . maybe more pictures to visuale better the last cheppter would have been better
The first section about Fawzia's childhood and the fourth section about different types of dances were interesting but the third section about different parts of the body and exercises/moves for each one was a bit lost on me. Even though I have a basic knowledge of bellydancing moves I found the written descriptions very difficult to understand. (I also found some of the reasoning "X is so therefore Y is a fact" a little dubious.) The section I enjoyed the most was the second, about the history ...more
Recently, I began learning about belly dancing, and trying to learn a few very basic steps from televised instruction programming. I quickly became hooked, and am planning to sign up for classes in this delightful art form this Spring. In trying to find out more about belly dancing, I found this book by Al-Rawi in my local library system. This book, which is partly a memoir and partly a history and instruction manual on the dancing itself, is a thing of beauty.

For my full review, visit http://
Powerful and engaging. A must read for anyone interested in the history and traditions of belly dance!
I bought this book about three months into the obsession that came about because of the tribal bellydance classes I started taking "for fun..and exercise". I never knew that this "art form" has ancient roots in fertility dances or that it was cheapened/exploited into the the sequined/shimmying/I-Dream-of-Jeanie fantasy woman that is typically conjure dup.
Jul 30, 2007 Marjanne rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: belly dance enthusiasts
This was a quick read about the history of belly dance, as well as some of the basic movements and traditional types of dances. I enjoyed learning a little more about the ethnic origins of the dance, though felt some of the movement descriptions difficult to follow. Overall the book felt like the author's personal take on the dance, with some history thrown in.
I loved learning more about the cultural roots, folklore and beliefs surrounding belly dancing. However, there is a large section dedicated to specific body parts and movements which were not very easy to understand. I feel like the book should have had step by step pictures, in the way ASL dictionaries are written. But all in all it was a good read.
Jai Khatri
I found this book to be a bit slow and mundane in parts. But if you are serious about belly dancing, I think it is good to learn about the history of this style of dance from this woman's perspective. I would only recommend it if you *love* bellydance. Otherwise, I think you will be bored to tears.
This book was okay. Not the best thing I've ever read on belly dance, but still, not the worst either. Mostly her work seemed very disjointed. I was having a had time finding the cohesion between the different chapters. But I thoroughly enjoyed the section on ritual dance. Overall, an okay read.
There is a paragraph in the foreword that I want to commit to memory. Basically this book talks about things that are significant to me because they structure my life in one way or another: gender, well-being of mind body and soul, and dance.
The first half was fascinating, and really brought to life this little girls childhood. however the rest of the book was hard going for me and a little unbelievable. Still glad I read it.
Stephanie Bolton
This is one of the books that first made me fall in love with bellydancing- the end gets a little strange... but the first few chapters are so eye-opening and empowering.
Brynna Schiller
Sep 01, 2008 Brynna Schiller rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in traditions and culture of hte middle east
Shelves: bellydance
This was entertaining as an insight into the middle eastern culture for women but it did not give me any insight into the dance as a performer.
This book was pretty interesting but as someone else mentioned in a review, not what your expecting because you're expecting a little bit more.
This book is a trip! It's all about how bellydancing came to be and how to write the arabic alphabet with your body. So entertaining!
Good overview of a background of bellydance, from a personal & cultural perspective. How one grandmother passed it down to her daughter.
This book gave me cultural references and interesting stories for the history of belly dance. I do wish there were more pictures.
I am enjoying this book it is a very interesting introduction to the history, theory, and culture of belly dancing.
There were some really great (verbal) images here and personal history but as a whole it did not hold my interest.
Wonderful stories and then deep meaning behind the moves, from the perspective of an Iraqi woman.
A definite must have book! Inspiring and magickal.. I cannot leave it on the shelf for long. LoVe!
Ahmetia Campbell
A must have for those who like belly dancing, and a like to have for those in Anthropology.
Very nice to get such an integrated, holistic, & ordinary perspective of bellydance.
Odessa Dora
Oh yeah... this is why I dance! This is why I must find movement within.
Highly recommend this book to any and all serious bellydancers!
Every belly dancer must read this book.
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