Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Tribal AND Oriental? Never!

Ugh, the internets have been particularly ...internetty recently. I am so sick of the tribal vs oriental, bellydance vs oriental dance, real dance vs fusion bullshit, and even sicker of those who seem to spend their entire days hunched over the keyboard just looking for an opportunity to start another wankfest.

As regular readers will know, I have my size 5s firmly plunked either side of the fence, but with regular cabaret classes on hold for the holidays, it has been all about the tribal fusion for the last month or two.

I ventured out a couple of weeks ago for a punishing Drills and Thrills workshop with guest teacher Bex. I then spent the next four days practically crippled. Even holding a pen hurt. I don't know quite what the queen of spooky did to my pectoral muscles (hell, until I started these workshops I didn't even know I had pecs!) but suffice to say it was effective!

As ever, our usual teacher Dawn filmed us practising what we'd been taught, so there are loads of videos of us on Facebook drilling travelling undulations, oblique undulations and grapevine step. And as ever, I am the one at the back with the bright red face, half a beat behind and going the wrong way :D

Yes, that would be me. Artwork by the incredibly awesome Rozey
This weekend sees the afore-mentioned Bex hosting Carpe Somnium in Wolverhampton. I wasn't initially able to go, but it now looks like I may be able to squeak in for the evening performance. Particularly exciting as the compère is none other than my troupe mate and partner in crime Charlotte. Looking forward to it!

Then on Sunday Charlotte and I are off to a Shaabi workshop with Shafeek. We've been interested in trying Shaabi for a while, so when this one came up we were on it right away. I'm pretty sure that the purists out there will need a few years to readjust their worldview to allow for the horror of fusion dancers actually studying and enjoying oriental dance, but fuck 'em. We'll be having fun!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Gothla 2012

This is a well over-due review of the weekend, but then, I think one needs a week (or three) to recover before any real insight can be achieved! 

I had a relatively quiet Gothla this year as I was too skint to book any workshops, but everything I have heard suggests that they were well worth the money, and I missed out on any number of terpsichorean treats.
Black Veil Tribe - photo* by Jan Clark

Gothla as a whole is a fabulous, crazy weekend, but the Showcase on a Friday night is the place to see the absolute crème de la crème of gothic and fusion dance, and also identify the up and coming trends for the next year or two. This year was no exception, and we had a real mixed bag.

Insomnia: an insanely talented duo from Spain - photo by Jan Clark

Probably the most obvious trend was for shamanic themes, which mainly manifested themselves through lots of skulls and feathers. Dud Muurmand was by far the most successful performer- her piece was literally invocative, and there were a lot of prickling necks in the auditorium as we got the sense that what was on stage was by no means all human.

Dud Muurmand - photo by Jan Clark
Legendary Gothla regular Morgana of Excalibur Dance gave what was probably the final word on doll-themed performances. This is a horse that has pretty much been beaten to death by fusion dancers, so I was a bit disappointed when it was announced. I should have known better, as Morgana's athletic skills made for a believably loose-limbed ragdoll. 

Other star names for this year were the charming Mavi, and Belladonna, who rocked a light-up bedlah that had many of the more cyber goths drooling into their New Rocks with envy. And, of course, the fabulous Ozgen, who is frankly about as Goth as a packet of Smarties, but had us all speechless with envy as he showed off his flawless body undulations and shimmies.

Belladonna lights up the stage - photo by Jan Clark
Home-grown talent included West Midlands favourites Alexis Southall, Bex, Dawn O'Brien (whose self-cannibalising zombie was both clever and quease-making), Fulya's gorgeous take on Mata Hari and Gwen Booth as an adorable abinsthe fairy, but probably the most exciting piece for me was the opening act, which was by Tribe of the Honeybadgers, and featured not only Dawn, Alexis and the marvellously mental Gothla co-organiser Akasha, but also my troupemate Ruth.

They performed a cool, cheeky piece inspired by the Moto GP, and clearly had a lot of fun doing it (they also had a lot of fun making the costumes the previous Thursday, although Dawn almost glued herself to Ruth's bum at one point). Clearly, I am very biased, but don't they look awesome?
Honeybadgers heading into the first corner - photo by Dark Soul Photography
*photos by kind permission of fellow dancer and infinitely superior photographer Jan Clark, and one from the talented James at Dark Soul Photography