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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Interview: What Prompts the Evolution of your Dance Style?

Filmed January 2013I know many of the readers of this blog are outside of the US.  My international fans continue to dazzle and humble me with their foreign language skills—most of you speak English better than I do—but for those who do better reading than listening or who just want to plug the whole thing into the google translator, I've also included a transcript.

What prompts the evolution of your dance style?
[My segment begins at 1:20].

Well, over the past few years I've been very fortunate in that I've had several opportunities to do nontraditional work in video and theatrical settings, so on the one hand I have been trying new things like crazy, but at the core of how I'm dancing, I'm not actually sure that my style has evolved that much. In terms of pure aesthetic, I think there's a distinct signature to the way that I move that really has stayed quite consistent across everything that I've done. I've always been very invested in training for precision, and taking care to articulate through as full of a range of motion as possible. So in all my dances no matter what the conceptual idea is, the technical qualities I think are always very consistent—there's a basic clean supple look that's always there.

If anything has changed, though, beyond style and technique, I think it is probably that the presence of my personality in my dances is more apparent now than maybe it was... What I have always loved about belly dance is its softness and subtlety, but I used to really struggle with the fact that for many audiences, at least Western audiences, in nightclub and restaurant settings, a lot of that subtlety is totally lost. So, as a result I started focusing more on prop work, fast finger cymbals, adding high-energy and acrobatic elements into my dancing... Which was a good development, to a point, because it really increased my technical range, but it was maybe not the most artistically honest direction to take my career.   I'm not a party person.  I don't have an uproarious personality.  So it was not a good choice for me to focus on these loud dances. Now I'm very much back to lyrical work, still using some of the flashier moves, but for texture, where it's contextually called for, not with the same kind of shock-and-awe, attention-demanding, approval-seeking motivation that maybe was there once.

I think we all have a tendency to devalue our natural gifts, and it was incredibly useful for me to realize, and to remind myself, that anyone can do splits and backbends and... Not anyone. Other dancers, athletically elite dancers—can do these tricks and these gimmicks—but there's really no one else who can create work that is like mine in terms of lyricism, intricacy, details, delicacy.  These [qualities] are... That's where my passion is. That's what I take pride in, that's what I want to be known for, and that is the creative imprint that I want on my work. So again it's not really an evolution because I feel like my career sort of went in a big loop and left me back doing the same things that I always wanted to do when I started out, except hopefully now with a little more polish. But, what is behind that I guess is just the desire to be honest, and perhaps having greater courage to be honest. I don't... I won't spend time on projects unless they genuinely appeal to my artistic sensibilities. Which sometimes are a little different from maybe what's in the mainstream.

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