I was linked up to this via Facebook–a video clip that was taken of Amy Sigil chatting up some more traditional bellydancers and folk dancers at a show in Toronto. The video and my thoughts after the jump:
I love Amy’s fearlessness and raw energy. It’s inspiring, and I adore that girl. And I gotta say, I am glad to hear her talking frankly about not being bellydance, because as much as I love her and admire Unmata’s style of entertainment, it can be frustrating to see non-bellydance performers dominating the bellydance stages and workshops. A lot of bellydancers work really hard at their craft, specifically the delicate and sometimes frustrating task of trying to make one’s style unique and different while maintaining a strong balance with and connection to bellydance. And honestly, it’s hard to see so much OMG!-Bellydance Glory being devoted to performers who are not actually *performing bellydance* or doing the difficult work of striking that balance.
And believe me, I am well aware of the seeming irony that this is a similar argument that more traditional bellydancers had to say about ATS when it came on the scene, but I would argue that tribal (as I define it and primarily perform it) is still bellydance, even if it treats music, staging, and costuming dramatically differently from what had come before. Not so with so many modern fusions which no longer maintain any significant thread of bellydance in their work. It is these latter fusions that leave me scratching my head and feeling disheartened with regard to my own struggles to keep the art of bellydance alive and thriving–recognizably an expression of bellydance, and not whatever new thing came down the pike.
I just keep plugging away at what I believe in, and the “boundaries” I understand to exist which define the art in time and space, and try to keep it fresh without loosing that connective tissue that is so important, I think, to the true evolution of bellydance in the new millennium. I don’t mean to sound like some kind of downtrodden martyr–on the contrary, I feel it is an honor and a privilege to get to perform this dance as I do! But sometimes, some days, it does get a little exhausting and frustrating…like a two steps forward, one step back kind of struggle to keep bellydance…ya know…bellydance!
(BTW, some more interview with Amy and some more video clips as well at http://www.gildedserpent.com/art44/amyinterview.htm Check ’em out!)