Charlie Wilson's Bellydancer - What the..?

I know this might be very old news to some of you as the movie Charlie Wilson's War was released in 2007. I'm waaay behind in movies. This movie based on a true story is about congressman Charlie Wilson's covert dealings in Afghanistan. With the help of CIA agent, Gust Avrakotos, Wilson is able to supply Afghan mujahideen with the weapons and support to defeat the Soviet Union. Now, I'm not going to talk about the politics of this movie -- I am NOT about to step on that land-mine.  

I am however, highlighting the bellydancing in this movie. There is a scene in the movie where there is an absolutely beautiful girl in a bellydance costume supposedly bellydancing. Well, she aint.  Now I'm all about artistic interpretation but come on, you gotta draw the line somewhere, no? Call it what it is. Turns out the dancer in the movie is Tracy Phillips an actress/dancer/choreographer with her strong suit in burlesque dancing. Burlesque when done right can be quite a show and I'm sure Ms. Phillips is amazing at it. In fact I can tell she is because there is a lot of burlesque in her so called "bellydance scene". Well I'm just getting up on my soap box to say that it's not bellydance -- in case any of you were wondering. In bellydancing, you don't lie on the floor and in a skirt do leg raises. You just don't. 

If you want to see the dancing I'm talking about for yourself watch the video added on this post.

I suppose I was the silly one for even hoping for real bellydancing in a big hollywood movie.
Remember I said this was a true story? If you're curious like me, here is a link to an interview with the woman who was the real bellydancer in this situation, her name is Carol Shannon. 

I'd love to hear and read your thoughts on this! Let me know what you think.


  1. I'm so glad someone else felt the same about that BD scene in "Charlie Wilson's War" I was initially excited thinking that finally a current Hollywood movie would represent bellydancing accurately. Disappointment set in with the "vag shot" Tacky. I do not know any bellydancer that would represent herself that way. Even more disappointing to find out that that's not what actually happened!

  2. Dear Class,
    There are few things which infuriate me more than Belly dancing being portrayed as a "hoochie coochie" type of "dance". It is sad, although not surprising, that the producers of this otherwise excellent film decided to represent the actual events in this way. I have never once seen a good dancer represented on tv or in a movie, and culturally, I have never once heard belly dancing referred to in any way except as a non-artistic method of seduction. All I can do to help dispel this myth is to tell everyone just how hard I have to work to do even the most fundamental moves!

  3. 99% of men equate skin with burlesque. Obviously the director did.
    Sadly this view of bellydancing as sexual voyeurism is not new.
    We dance for the joy, and choose the appropriate venue. None of
    us would be sane if we thought we could support ourselves by dancing in the limited venues available. But we can teach our daughters and family that it is a form of interpretive dance, of interpreting middle eastern rhythm and music and realize that the men choose the view they do despite all our good intentions and efforts to educate the world. And let the director know he insulted women.

  4. I read a while back that an actual belly dancer was hired for the film, and the dance sequence was filmed, but then the producer or studio or some such thought the real dancer wasn't "right" for the role. So, a modern/burlesque dancer got the costume and a crash course. It shows... Going to watch Orit clips now to purge my brain. Such elegance....

  5. Ah, it was originally Mayte




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