Belly Dance and Free Software

Professional performers need tools for managing photos and creating attention-getting promotional materials for print and on-line. Manage the photo collection with gthumb, and lay out posters with ease using Scribus.
Belly Dance and Free Software

We have only started an adventure in belly dance, using free software primarily for photography and image-oriented marketing projects. But more is clearly possible. Recalling Reuven M. Lerner's Linux Journal articles on Web syndication and content management systems (CMS), it would appear that free software exists to support solutions for Paloma and Tempest's comments about the complexity involved in a belly dancer trying to create and expand her Web presence. The free software tools for Linux and audio described in Dave Phillips' informative articles offer exemplary tools for the job of arranging belly dance music. The article by Olexiy Tykhomyrov and Denys Tonkonog on the Kino movie-making application (see December 2004's Linux Journal) points toward free software for editing digital video. Hence, it too is a potential tool for dancers to have for live belly dance events.

And still more is possible. At the time of this writing, we are preparing to do photography at a large annual belly dance event called Rakkasah West, which “is the largest Middle Eastern Folk Festival and Fantasy Bazaar in the world”. We expect to create 10,000–12,000 high-resolution digital photos covering this event over three days. We plan to assemble photo collections automatically using GNU/Linux tools such as gPhoto2 and the open-source language Python. These tools certainly will be used for actual photo file management. However, we also expect to use the Python scripting capability of Scribus to support automatic generation of CD-ROM disk labels and nearly full custom-photo books, indexed by belly dancer and/or troupe. Stay connected with Linux Journal for more details about this in the future.

Finally, Linux as a community-developed project has definite resonance with the belly dance community. Linux is a gift culture, where numerous programmers and maintainers contribute code for all to have. Belly dancers communicate and network with one another and with clients using the Internet, which is a large community substantially woven together with an infrastructure of free software and open standards. Advocacy for freedom and social consciousness wring no less true in belly dance. As Luna explains, her troupe Shuvani “donates several performances a year to the Voice of Roma, an advocacy group providing support for the Gypsies in war-torn Kosovo. For example, through their program 'The Threads That Connect Us' they provide material support for Romani women in the UN camps to embroider products that are then sold here in the US.”

Resources for this article: /article/8133.

Dawn Devine aka Davina is a freelance writer and author of more than nine titles on Middle Eastern belly dance costume design and construction. She currently is the president of SF/BA MECDA, the San Francisco/Bay Area Middle Eastern Dance Association, an organization that promotes dancers, creates performance opportunities and strives to educate the public. Davina teaches belly dance in the greater San Jose area and in workshops nationwide.

Michael Baxter is technical editor at Linux Journal and has been working in computer technology since he was nine, imprinted by a July 4, 1969, viewing of 2001: A Space Odyssey. He is also an experienced photographer. Michael was more recently imprinted by the Belly Dance Vortex, apparently also on July 4, this time in 2004.