Fatima, belly dance

Fatima, belly dancing ( Fatima Muscle dance or Fatima’s Coochee-Coochee Dance ) is a film American directed by James H. White , released in 1896 .


Fatima, a specialist in belly dance ( belly dance and also hootchy-kootchy dance or coochee-coochee dance and other variants), demonstrates its flexibility and seduction art.

Technical sheet

  • Original title: Fatima Muscle Dance
  • French title: Fatima, belly dance
  • Director: James H. White
  • Production: Edison Studios
  • Duration: 1 min
  • Format: 35 mm , black and white , mute
  • Country: United States
  • Release date: 1896


  • The oriental dancer: Fatima


“If the early cinema feeds on the graphic arts, it is very late, for the representation of bodies, on painting, drawing, photography, which for a long time use tight framing, still lifes, portraits, and n do not hesitate to show nudes. Even religious art, in Catholic churches, exposes Jesus on the cross, in painting as in sculpture, wearing only a small cloth to hide his nature. » 1

But cinema is an animated graphic art, its subjects are moving, arms stretch, mouths and hands open, hips swing and undulate, legs are thrown forward and show sometimes bare feet. Yet the bodybuilder Eugen Sandow , before Fatima, had accepted the same year ( 1894 ) to perform in the film Sandow , also known under the subtitle Souvenir Strip of the Edison Kinetoscope , and also Sandow, the modern Hercules , where, dressed only in a rather sexy brief, he proudly displayed his body in all its faces in front of the first camera directed by the first director of the history of cinema ,William Kennedy Laurie Dickson . “Dancers sometimes offered to look in undress. Although most of these films targeted male voyeurism, they also attracted the curiosity of women who thus discovered a hidden side of desire within the male world. By presenting these erotic films, the bosses of Kinetoscope Parlors were confronted with the lightning of the censors. ” 2

On the stage of the first film studio that Thomas Edison had built in 1893 , “the dancer Fatima, who had been placed in front of an exotic setting to perform a” dance of muscle “, ie a belly dance , had frightened the puritanical censors who had demanded that it be partly concealed by the overprint of black photographic caches, positioned one at the level of the lower abdomen, the second at the level of the breasts, two parts of his person that Fatima knew so stir. Fortunately, the original uncensored was kept ” 3 at MoMA (Museum of Modern Art in New York) which received in donation all retained films of the Edison Manufacturing Company.


  1. ↑ Marie-France Briselance and Jean-Claude Morin , film grammar , Paris, New World ,, 588  p. ( ISBN  978-2-84736-458-3 ) , p.  72
  2. ↑ ( in ) Charles Musser , History of the American Cinema, Volume 1, The Emergence of Cinema, The American Screen to 1907 ,, 613  p. ( ISBN  0-684-18413-3 ) , p.  78
  3. ↑ Briselance and Morin 2010 , p.  72

Leave a Comment