Newly updated and lavishly illustrated, this classic celebration of female dancers of the Arab world is available in an appealing new format. "Serpent of the Nile" traces the origins of this ancient art, which survived in the face of commercialism, religious disapproval and changing times.
Wendy Buonaventura demonstrates how Arabic dance came to be influenced by Western ideas about art and entertainment.
But the influence was two-way. In the heyday of Orientalism, Arabic dance captured the imagination of writers and artists such as Flaubert, David Roberts and Jean-Leon Gerome, and imitators Colette and Mata Hari.
Often based on common fantasies about Middle-Eastern women, this obsession produced evocative images and inspired fashion, theatre and popular entertainment.