|Posted by Tessa Thompson on June 2, 2013 at 1:25 PM|
I studied ballet as a child. During college, I studied modern and jazz. After that, my only dancing was at the gym for the most part. Thankfully, I began my lifelong journey into the ancient art of “belly dance” as it is known in the USA, at a workshop taught by Sonya Alarcon in 2002. A friend from my work as an RN for Dr. Margaret Beeson danced regularly with The Troupe. Thank you for the rest of my days, Cheri Smith, for inspiring me to enter the dance! I took classes and workshops with Sonja regularly. Professional performers would sometimes come to our area to teach and perform. When Suhaila Salimpour came to teach a two day workshop in Bozeman in 2005, I was absolutely mesmerized by her Egyptian costumes and stylization. It just seemed so pure to me. I immediately signed up to take a five day workshop with her at her studio in California. Over the years, I studied on retreat with other professional dancers, namely Delilah Flynn and Princess Farhana. I always attended The Yellowstone Valley Bellydance Festival and others large festivals for professional exposure. I have a massive DVD collection. I have learned so much that I can’t remember but a fraction at times and work to apply what I know on the stage, which is the greatest challenge really. I went to Egypt with Delilah in 2008 and hope to return someday…...
I like the endless opportunity for artistic expression in the movements themselves, the costuming, the raw potential of THE DANCE. I love the audience interaction the most really because at heart, I am a huge flirt! I flirt with babies, old people, cats and dogs, certain trees. I study Qi Gong with Chris Fernie and am convinced that someday I will be Jedi Belly Dancer!
My favorite movement is the one that matches the music, the mood, the moment I am in. That said, my “go to” movement is almost always a maya or a goosh (either direction vertical eight’s with the hips). My favorite traveling movement is a double maya, just for consistency.
I strive for the music to inspire the moves and the costume to complement the whole performance and help to create mood/emotional atmosphere. Music is usually my most difficult decision and I often agonize for hours (keeping our playlist manager waiting and changing my choices). I choose to dance to the most “Eastern” music that I can usually. I rarely choose a song that most people wouldn’t automatically label as belly dance music. Sometimes, I just want a certain costume or prop and that can be a fun way to find inspiration too. I know a lot of people watch you tube and stuff for inspiration. I just don’t do that much but I love to see live shows.
Anymore, I love the task of collaborative costuming for larger groups, bigger stages, more massive projects. I recently helped a friend do several photo shoots with local dancers for a calendar, a Sirens of the Zodiac project. The headpieces were incredible. The energy of the ladies involved in the project fed off of each other as we grew more and more excited. I find similar pleasure in putting glitter and/or rhinestones, sequins, fringe or feather onto almost any given object that one could place on a dancer or a stage. I have always loved to sew and am now immersed in thobes and Steam Punk street cross-over stuff, oh and leather. I have lots of new fire dance props and need lots of leather!
My one and only goal is to have Princess Farhana confer upon me the royal status of Lady Valeria. OK, I also have the goal of maintaining myself so that I can keep dancing with my cane instead of leaning on it to walk. Some days I wonder. I always try to warm up well before rehearsals and performances. Besides, Princess Farhana says warming up is, “The Law” and who am I but some peasant to argue.
Categories: Featured Dancer