Dancing the Hula for Another Culture

I was recently in the Herndon, VA area and found the area booming with restaurants and retail stores. Besides Reston Towncenter the surrounding shopping centers were extremely sophisticated and were each a “town center” in their own right. I ate at a Vietnamese Pho restaurant. It was delicious and very authentic with all the right spices and quantity of everything.

I was saddened, however, because the same shopping center used to house Turcuisine. Back in 2011, Turcuisine hired Belly Dancers weekly for shows inside the quaint little space with the most delicious Turkish delights in the area. They had a contract with a Belly Dance studio so they could not hire outside contractors who were not affiliated with that dance studio.

They were able to hire me and my company for their Luau and Mardi Gras celebrations because that did not breach their existing contract. During these engagements with my company performing Hawaiian Hula or Caribbean/Carnival style dances, they still served their Turkish meals, but they were taking a step beyond cultural boundaries in the restaurant business. I really appreciated the opportunity to dance and I felt that by hiring specific dancer performance from other cultures, they didn’t feel restrained by the type of ethnic food they serviced. They weren’t compelling themselves to boundaries based on themes. In other words, the fact that they had dance entertainment didn’t mean that they were closing a box on other cultures even though they specified in one cultural dish.

The example above is not the same as appropriation which is another topic of contention. This isn’t even fusion. This is simply sharing.

So many times, we unconsciously enclose cultural sharings as a theme. But cultures are not themes, they are people’s way of life. And it was exciting that the people at Turcuisine were so confident in the appeal of their cultural dishes from Turkey, that expanding happiness in the entertainment factor wasn’t an issue. Showcasing another culture’s dance was exciting to them. I too appreciated their food and their culture. I really respected the owners and associates that worked there. I hope that their next adventure brings them all happiness and success.

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