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Amy Sigil video from Gilded Serpent

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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:

My thoughts:
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!)

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Shay Moore is the director and primary instructor at Deep Roots Dance in Seattle, WA. She loves writing, movies, costuming, knitting, cooking, and bellydance to the moon and back again; and loves her amazing husband and doggies even more than that.

5 Responses

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    Here’s the issue (and this is where me knowing those dancers she’s talking to, or at least their students, comes in handy): they are getting the message — or really the confirmation of their prior idea — from this conversation that TRIBAL bellydance is not bellydance. They are seeing/ equating Unmata as THE typical Tribal bellydance group.

    That was the general consensus in Toronto, when I was there: Tribal is not bellydance and they didn’t want us (ok, me) to call it that!

    Toronto’s Tribal scene is WAY more happening now than when I left, but I’m sad to see that myth being perpetuated, even if Amy didn’t quite mean it that way…


    PS: Nice new journal! I added it to my google reader, so look for me here often ­čśÇ I’ve missed our dance conversations!!!

  2. Avatar
    Shay Moore
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    Ooooh…. Alexis, this is a really key point I actually had not thought about. Oh no! Oh my…Oh yuck.

    Good to see you here Lexi. Are you dancing these days, m’dear? How’s the little one?

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    I love seeing where people are taking, and fusing, their belly dance influences (tribal or not). What confuses me is that some groups/people who will admit they are no longer (and don’t see themselves as) belly dance continue to immerse themselves in the belly dance world. Is it because that’s is from where they sprung, so it’s their community? Is it because they don’t know where else to go or don’t “fit” into other dance/movement communities? Is it because it can be lucrative to stay in the belly dance community because they can still get performing and teaching opportunities?

    Not that I think non-belly dance teachers have no place at belly dance events (that cross over can be good, whether it’s in dance styles, music or fitness). I think that a lot of fusion dancers can still offer a lot from what they know about or can distill about belly dance, and that’s what I’d like to learn from them. I’m not so interested in learning their style, but to see how they approach what led them to their style, whether it’s belly dance or other movement styles.

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    Shay Moore
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    Amy I think it is all of what you said, but the money and community balancing to different degrees for different people.

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    Not really dancing much… We get a workshop or a hafla once in a blue moon. I’m feeling extremely isolated from this area (not just in terms of dance, but that, too). I’m thinking of starting up teaching again, but don’t really know where to start… my own dance journey has taken me away from where I was when I was teaching 4 years ago.

    (Also, I don’t really want to teach here. I don’t like the people who live here, although most of the dancers I’ve met are “nice” they’re just not my peeps, ya know? Except the ones who don’t live close enough to actually dance with me on a regular basis! LOL)

    Remy’s three!!! Can you believe it? I can’t, quite.

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