“The dance is a poem of which each movement is a word.” - Mata Hari
I'm always excited to work with my lovely and talented friend Maja Topčagić / Angelica Photography.
Here are the photos from our 1st photoshoot we've done:
This time I was inspired by the exotic dancers from the past times. My favorite one is, of course, Mata Hari.
While a burlesque dancer more than a bellydancer, (In fact, the exotic dance she claimed to import was from Java, and not the Middle East) Mata Hari has been photographed wearing ornate costumes that look very similar to modern bedlah. While her act did involve flaunting her body and stripping, the cultural implications of her dance elevated it to a more ‘respectable’ status. Her dancing does appear motivated more by a love the art than the salacious - she was the contemporary of artists such as Ruth St. Denis, dancers that began looking to the East for inspiration.
Quotes of her:
”My dance is a sacred poem in which each movement is a word and whose every word is underlined by music.”
“I am a woman who enjoys herself very much; sometimes I lose, sometimes I win.”
Look at the costumes!
There’s the jeweled bra, often paired either with a belt, or with a scarf tight tightly around the hips. There are the ornate headpieces, all rhinestones (some may in fact be real jewels) and shiny. Margaretha Zelle created a complete character in Mata Hari through her costumes, and costume habits. For example, in her performances, she stripped down to a flesh-toned bodysuit, and never actually removed her jeweled bra (a way to hide her breasts; big breasts were not fashionable in this decade - anybody with bigger breasts tried to squash them down to look smaller). Though motivated in part for practical purposes, this helped create the character. The characterization she did through her costumes is one of the reasons her image has been used by dancers.
I was just going through a forum about Mata Hari and some people were discussing about the photo below. It makes me very sad that anyone could look at this photo and comment that she is overweight and ugly because of her small breast. Sometimes I really get tired of the fashion world nowadays. I’m tired of their standards, labels and brainwashing.
She’s incredibly interesting, and I can’t help but be intrigued by her life. I’ve always developed easy obsessions for daring, dangerous women. Mata Hari is a perfect example. An accused spy, famous exotic dancer, and unconventional beauty, she was executed by a firing squad at the age of 41.
Okay...but enough of Mata Hari! I'm going to show you pics during the shoot and the results after:
Before and after the shoot.
Big thanks to my friend Aida Tolja for the costumes and jewellery!
Here are the final photos:
The idea with the broken gramophone record and pose - inspired by one of my favorite world burlesque dancer Dolly Lamour from Italy. Thank you Dolly for being such an inspiration!
What do you think about Mata Hari and the exotic dancers from the past times?
Let me know.
Idda van Munster