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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

This Is Not a Love Song

Filmed May 17, 2013, for Andy Troy's "Red Carpet Video Release, Birthday Bash, and Alternative Bellydance Show," at the Empire Room at 230 Fifth, NYC.  Special thanks to dance event coordinator Tanna Valentine.  The music is Amerika by Rammstein.   English lyrics translation here.  Spanish, Arabic, and some other languages here.

As a dance teacher, one of the key lessons I try to impart is the importance of putting one's work in front of the correct audience.

And yet, probably because I have failed to promote myself to the right people, possibly because such people do not exist, my own track record as a performer is marked by one failure of context after another. I'm not even talking about traditional commercial jobs where I know better than to try to deviate from the formula. I'm talking about concerts and showcases where I am sure it's appropriate to present the finely-wrought work I've meticulously prepared, but that plan ends up getting chucked out by an an audience (and, often, presenter) who isn't in the mood for anything other than seeing me mince around like some sort of hypersexualized monkey clown. Belly dance community: I'm talking to you too. In your eagerness to show that you "understand" how an audience is "supposed" to "encourage" a belly dancer, you've been some of the worst offenders, obliterating the best of what I have to offer with inconsonant whooping and ululating, uninvited audience-participating, and music-drowning off-tempo clapping. Dance, monkey, dance! Show us more tricks!!! Scrabble for our approval! Never mind that we can't catch the beat, let's all clap along! Whooooooooo!!!!! It's a party! More alcohol! Pulsing  lights!!! What's wrong, honey? Come on, honey!  Don't be shy, honey! Honey, you need to get the audience into it, honey. TURN IT UP!

I know... It's my own fault. I should just give up and be "tribal," even though that vocabulary doesn't match up with how I instinctively want to move and flatly going through the motions makes me feel artistically dishonest.  Or I should just shut up and mount a theatrical show, even though my lack of an outgoing personality guarantees it will be poorly attended and I will lose money that would be better spent on something practical, like food and shelter. Or maybe I should just give painting a try. Or archery. Maybe needlepoint?

But, wait....  Rammstein to the rescue!  Finally, everyone wins! While the cryptocomedy may be lost to many, everyone can go crazy for an EXTREME DANCE BLAST, and I get to gleefully express my true feelings of despair, futility, and alienation. Success without compromise! Honestly, I think I am more satisfied with this than with anything else I have ever done. I have a few outstanding professional obligations and half-finished projects, but I would love to end my career here and just have this be the sweet, sour, high note I go out on. If this is my last post, or if my entire online presence suddenly disappears and all your "Autumn Ward" searches just point to this video, you'll know what happened.

Photo by Brian Lin.


  1. Dear Autumn,

    you are an inspiration for me and I love every last one of your pieces.

    I use your DVD constantly and it has been a major part of my journey to learn to love myself and my body.

    I actually have recorded myself dancing your choreography to Azure and sent it to my mentor in Japan (I'm Buddhist). I don't look nowhere near as good as you, but I aspire to one day.

    Please don't stop doing what you do. I'm sure many people like me, who appreciate and admire your artistic integrity, would really miss you.


  2. Thank you for writing, Ewa. I really appreciate it.

  3. Hi Autumn - I've admired you as a dancer for many years. You are an artist and have great spirit. Although I've preferred some of your dance performances over others, each one shows that you're a creative individual. I agree with Ewa that it would be a shame if you retreated and no longer shared your talent with your fans. I hope to see you perform live again soon. Yours in Dance, Claudia

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  5. Totally understand you. Sometimes people in our belly dance community are the worst critics... but we must keep on!

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