A celebration of the female dancers of the Arab world and their impact on the West, this book explains the origins of this ancient art, which has survived in the face of commercialism, religious disapproval and changing times. Focusing on the 19th- and early-20th centuries, the book shows how Arabic dance came to be influenced by Western ideas about art and entertainment. But the influence was two-way. In the heyday of Orientalism, Arabic dance exerted a powerful influence on the Western imagination - on such writers and artists as Flaubert, David Robers and Jean-Leon Gerome, and imitators Colette and Mata Hari. Their fascination was often based on common fantasies about the women of the Middle East. Yet, as the book's illustrations show, this obsession also produced evocative images. At the turn of the century, the genre also had an impact on fashion, theatre and popular entertainment.