Recently one of my students asked me if the oriental dance was for women or men. So, I wanted to share the knowledge I obtained through one of the books on this dance form.
Then, as now, orientalist dance was done by women: the very few exceptions confirm the rule. In painting there are not even exceptions – no painter would risk provoking the prudery of his time to such a degree – while in literature the European traveller turns use eyes away with indignation or adds condemning comments to justify his presence at a spectacle of masculine sensual dance, except in cases of a “men’s” dance with swords or some vigorous dance which he hastens to call a war war. It should be noted that in painting women are always shown dancing solo, while written descriptions show that group dances were fairly common.
Ref: Orientalist dance Alkis Raftis