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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Interview: a Conceptual Influence from Beyond the Bellysphere

What is an example of a conceptual influence from outside belly dance? Any concept inspiration from any other area of arts or life...

[My segment begins at 5:23]

[A transcript of my segment follows below.]
There is a book I want to mention, a work of popular psychology, called the Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine Aron, and her name is spelled A-R-O-N. In this book, Dr. Aron describes High Sensitivity as a relatively common personality trait—it's about 15-20% of people—and she discusses ways that people who have this trait can identify it in themselves and learn to use it constructively and regard it as an asset. When I first found out about this idea about this highly sensitive population, right away for me I made a connection to belly dance. [I suspect that a disproportionate number of people involved in belly dance have this kind of high sensitivity. ] Our dance is very emotional, very expressive, but subtle—very nuanced. Over and over again we use and we hear this phrase “poetry in motion”... We are not living in poetic times, so to have this poetic impulse, this interest in poetic movement, I think reveals a lot about the kinds of people who are drawn to this dance form.

Or maybe it just reveals a lot about me, but cultivating an appreciation for my sensitivity has been very valuable to me, and it definitely affects the way that I construct dances. As I said, we are not living in poetic times. If you look at the way we interact with technology, the way our TV and our movies have this fast short-attenion-span camera work and quick editing, the way our food and our medicine are industrialized, I think it's very easy to become accustomed to this superficial way of just passively skating along. You know, people say that this is why there's so much interest right now in zombies in popular culture, because we intuitively have this sense that there's a dark side to this quick-fix gratification, that it can degrade us. But belly dance, I think, can be an antidote to that. It has this amazing capacity to be a vehicle for poetic expression, poetic experience. It can be a doorway into the extraordinary, into this beautiful, tender, transcendent, other realm of experience. Or it doesn't have to be profound, it can also just be simple and happy and fun and joyful, but it always has, or, always has the potential to have, this extraordinary romantic quality. Working with this in mind—understanding and engaging with this poetic aspect of belly dance, I think is.. has [made] a big contribution to why my dances look the way that they do, why they have this unique look. It sounds trite to talk about heart and soul, but I don't know how else to describe it. I am dancing from my heart, through the whole thing. From the dreaming up of the ideas to the sequencing together of the choreography to the actual dancing, the actual performance. Even in the way that I kinesthetically click in, in the way that I align my body... I dance from my heart.

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