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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

The Unveiling


By Shira




The Veiled One.
Who is the woman before us?
What secrets lie beneath her veil?

She personifies the Maid:
Fresh, appealing, yet unattainable.

She protects against the chill
Until her dance kindles her fire within.

She remains aloof from us,
Challenging us to prove ourselves worthy.

She chafes under the bondage
Of her patriarchal culture's demands.

She conceals her true spirit
Behind the veil of her smiling façade.

She fills us all with suspense,
Wondering about what lies underneath.

She contains her awesome pow'r
Lest its brilliance overcome us.

She is the virgin, the bride, the elder:
She is Goddess.

She is:

She is Woman.

She draws away the veil.
She invites us into her world.

The Unveiling:
It removes a barrier.
It brings us together.

The Maiden emerges from her concealment.
She warms our hearts with her dance.
She invites us to draw nearer to her.
She casts off the bondage of her society.
She offers a glimpse of her spirit.
She reveals that which was hidden.
She shares her power with us.

The Unveiling:
Feel the Power.
Feel the Communion.
Share the Dance.




About this Poem

This poem was inspired by the beautiful art of Oriental dance (often called belly dance), particularly the style that has grown up in the United States that fuses Egyptian, Lebanese, Turkish, and other Middle Eastern styles of Oriental dance into a distinct art form of its own.

The "Unveiling" is the second piece of a dancer's multi-part routine.* In the American style, the dancer enters with a 3-yard veil tucked around her, hiding much of her costume, and proceeds to dance to fast music. About 3-5 minutes after the dance has begun, the music slows to a dreamy rhumba/bolero rhythm, and the dancer removes her veil and dances with it.

If you would like to read the other six poems in the series celebrating the Vintage American style of Oriental dance, they include:

  1. Dance of Greeting
  2. The Unveiling
  3. Feel The Power, Feel The Beat!
  4. The Descent
  5. The Awakening
  6. A Drummer and a Dancer
  7. The Finale

The inspiration to write these seven poems came from attending a belly dance retreat organized by Delilah that was structured around the theme of the 7-part dance routine. Delilah encouraged all retreat participants to do journaling as part of the experience, and the journaling process brought these poems into the world.

*NOTE: The seven parts listed are in the order that typically dancers in my community in California did them, though sometimes individual dancers might mix up the order to suit what they wanted to do for a given show. Also, dancers rarely performed all 7 parts in a single show. Most people would perform just 3 or 5 of the parts, depending on the length of show the client wanted. Also, dancers in other communities have reported that they arranged these components in a different order from that shown above. The order of the poems reflects my personal experience, but there are certainly other equally valid ways to arrange the contents of a dance set.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Randolph Lynch, Redwood City, California.




About the Poet

Shira has been writing poetry ever since she was about 12 years old. Her poems have been published in several "small press" poetry journals. At age 21, she wrote her first French-language poem, "Le Voile De La Nuit".

Shira first started learning Middle Eastern dance in 1981. Dance has been her inspiration, her creative outlet, her avenue to making friends in a new community after relocating, and her escape from her "day job" of being a professional Silicon Valley computer nerd.

Shira is your hostess, the webmistress of this award-winning web site, "All About Belly Dancing".

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Pixie Vision, Glendale, California.





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