Tuesday, September 9, 2008

You are your own style.

Following up to "You got Style" - I was thinking about dancers who feel pulled in multiple directions and who have many influences... and we feel pressured to choose one particular style or integrate all our style influences in a way that might be forced or artificial. There is no reason why you and your personal style of movement can't evolve or change as you grow and learn.

I thought that I wanted to be an Ultra Gypsy/Rachel Brice-inspired tribal fusion dancer back in 2004 when I first really started to explore the new tribal-style belly dance that was finally hitting the East Coast. I tried on those styles, and much of it didn't work well with my body or personality. Rachel's early dancing (2004 - 2005) was very liquidy, smooth, gooey, and long... my body is fiery, sharp, and, well, short! So, I took what I liked from the UG/RB stylization, and started playing around with adding my own elements from other dance styles that I appreciate and enjoy.

I studied Turkish oryantal and Romany for a while with Artemis Mourat. The fiesty, fiery Turkish-style dances worked well with my personality and my body type, but I quickly became bored with the lack of music selection and the limited dance vocabulary... so I added some of that fire and punch into my fusion performances.

I love the elegance and grace of classical Egyptian oriental dance, but the 10-minute long orchestrated pieces weren't moving my soul... but I try to put some of that languid ease and extension into my own dance.

The posture and dignity of American Tribal Style has always attracted me, but I would rather dance as a soloist than in an ATS troupe... So I integrate a lot of ATS movements into my own performances as an homage to the style that has influenced myself and so many other tribally-inspired dancers.

There is no reason to pigeon-hole yourself into a style. It took me a long time to be comfortable with performing a dark, gritty fusion piece one day, and an elegant qanun taqsim the next. Many people label me as a gothic-style dancer, but then I turn around and perform to "YYZ" by Rush (which is so far from goth!). Some people label me as a "tribal" style dancer, but I performed an oriental piece at a recent show here in DC.

Whatever you do, and whatever you dance to, as long as you stay true to your inspirations and your own heart, then that is the style you are meant to do. Trusting your instinct in this regard is probably one of the most difficult things you can do as a dancer. When you dance as yourself, you are out on your own, you are a pioneer. It's scary to take a chance and perform in a way that hasn't been done before... but it's so rewarding.

You are your own style.