Serpent of the Nile

Serpent of the Nile

Women and Dance in the Arab World


9780863566288 June 2010 Paperback 224pp 190 colour and 60 black & white illustrations

About the Book

Serpent of the Nile traces the origins of Arabic dance, which survived religious disapproval and growing commercialism to evolve into a popular dance form across the globe.

Focusing on the nineteenth century onwards, Wendy Buonaventura reveals how this ancient art was influenced by Western ideas about entertainment, and in turn exerted a powerful hold on the Western imagination. In the heyday of Orientalism, it inspired writers and artists such as Flaubert, Jean-Léon Gérôme and Mata Hari. Buonaventura documents the impact the genre had on fashion, theatre and film at the turn of the century, and explores present and future trends in Arabic dance.

This beautifully illustrated classic is a celebration of the female dancers of the Arab world, and their impact on the West.

About the Author

Wendy Buonaventura is author of the bestselling Serpent of the Nile. An established dancer and choreographer, her performance work was recently the subject of the television documentary Making Mimi. She has written and presented programmes for BBC Radio 4, and has performed and lectured extensively throughout Europe and the USA. Her website is


‘Lively and lavishly illustrated’
New York Times Book Review

Serpent of the Nile features a perceptive discussion of the history of female solo dancing in the Middle East. The sumptuous illustrations communicate the color and sensuality, poetry and passion, sophistication and subtlety of her subject.’
Dance Magazine

‘An articulate book that speaks with many voices of the glory as well as the shadows surrounding the oriental dance of yesteryear and today. Buonaventura’s amalgamation of materials – textual and visual – evoke a work by someone whose respect for the subject is both tasteful and thoughtful.’
Arabesque Magazine

‘Treat a friend to this sumptuous tome about oriental dancers and their impact on the West.’

‘A delight to browse and just as interesting to read.’
Time Out