I don’t often make public statements about specific players in this business of dance, but this time I felt compelled to put it on the record. Before I do, let me say that I don’t have any problem with the Bellydance Superstars or their approach to business or dance. What I have a problem with is something a bit more subtle.
Circulated to their promotional email list and also found on this page [if you jump over the registration hurdles] you will find the following set of quotes from the media, posted by Stipko, “website admin” for the Bellydance Superstars:
* “The most important dance troupe in the world.” – Sunday Times / London
* “Gorgeous, spiffily dressed, skilled dancers…sheer genius.” – Village Voice – New York – 3/12/04
* “Bellydancing is the next riverdance.” – Daily Telegraph / London
* “An exotic, mysterious land of rhythm.” – Metroland – Albany, NY – 3/18/04
Quoting the media is perfectly ok. In fact, it’s pretty much necessary. Promoting the act includes courting and dancing with the media. Where I draw the line is when you start feeding on your own tail in the pursuit of attention, and with this, I think we’ve crossed that line.
These quotes are presented as media commentary on the tour, but that first one isn’t. The Sunday Times article (with some typos), is available from Bellyqueen, so to put the quote in context…
And more. So much more. “Bellydance Superstars is the most important dance company in the world today,” states Copeland, sitting in the garden of his pink Hollywood mansion. “We are the only ones doing something that has a social import. Given that the most important thing in the world today is the conflict between Muslim world and the United States, anything that creates bridges between those two cultures is incredibly important.”
Basically, Copeland’s website is using his own quote (almost – they’ve changed “company” to “troupe” for the quote), attributed to the Sunday Times, to give credibility to his show.
Copeland thinks the Superstars are “the most important dance troupe in the world” – and he should. But he shouldn’t be giving the appearance that the Sunday Times thinks the Superstars are the most important dance troupe in the world just because they printed his quote.
I tried, unsuccessfully, to dig up the Village Voice article, so we’ll skip that one with the benefit of the doubt.
The article from the Telegraph is headlined “Bellydancing – it’s the new Riverdance.” (so the quote is not quite right here either), but Miles Copeland is the one making that case, not the Telegraph:
“With Sting,” he says “I was earning millions of dollars, so in comparison it isn’t anywhere near now. But I believe this is the next Riverdance, so it could absolutely feed the dancers all very well and feed my company, too.”
And finally, from metroland, in context:
Valentine’s Music Hall will be transformed into an exotic, mysterious land of rhythm this evening by the Bellydance Superstars and the Desert Roses.
This quote comes from before the show – so again, it’s not about the show, it’s about what the promoters are saying about the show.
So, now that you have some context, I’m interested in your thoughts on all this….