Why bellydancers, anyway? (part 2)

Gregory Hancock Dance and il Troubadore after an impromptu collaboration at Precious Mettles (Indianapolis 2006)

here’s part 2 (continued from part one here: http://people.tribe.net/il-troubadore/blog/dd4e9ada-3ae8-4598-8399-0f9d45be6b03 )
photo above: il Troubadore with the Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre ( http://www.gregoryhancockdancetheatre.org ) by Loudermilk Studios (August 4, 2006) inside Precious Mettles ( http://www.preciousmettlesart.com/ ) after an impromptu street performance.

So my personal interest in working with belly dancers, as I said in the previous post, began in 1999. But going back to the third section of that post–I won’t go into any great detail of some of my experiences since I can’t even count the number of recitals and full scale productions I’ve either been to or participated in (the latter being something more appropriate for my CV–which is woefully incomplete: http://www.silpayamanant.com/cv/ ). But here are some highlights (with spare details since I’m still in the process of archiving some of these experiences):

* “Giselle” (January 1995) French Ballet by Adolphe Adam. This was the first full scale ballet production I got to see. It was during an off day in London while I was on tour in the UK. Basically I was walking the streets and someone offered his tickets to me for a dress rehearsal of the production at Covent Gardens. Who was I to turn down free tickets to a professional Ballet, eh? It was a spectacular experience, to say the least.

* “African Dance” workshop and performance (ca. 1995). So yeah, this was probably my first public dance performance. Prince Julius Adeniyi ( http://www.indyarts.org/artist_detail.aspx?id=3024&ty=&lr= ), the artistic director of “Drums of West Africa” came to DePauw fairly regularly to do performances and workshops. This year I decided to do the African dance workshop. After the workshop was a performance with the “Drums of West Africa”–and I am eternally grateful that there is no video of this (well, I hope there isn’t, anyway). :P

* “Performance Art, Culture, and Pedagogy” Symposium ( http://www.sova.psu.edu/arted/program/conferences/1996perf.htm ) at Penn State (November 1996) Workshops. This was a four day Symposium I attended in ’96. Four days of lectures, presentations, performances, and workshops–it was quite intense. Ironically, despite having taken both Jeff McMahon ( http://www.jeffmcmahonprojects.net/performance.html ) and Tim Miller’s ( http://hometown.aol.com/millertale/timmillerbio.html ) workshops–both of whom are dancers–it was in the workshops with Rachel Rosenthal ( http://www.rachelrosenthal.org/r2career.html ) that I got to do anything closely relating to dance (I also attended the William Pope L and Robbie McCauley workshops). This was probably my first real formal introduction to modern and experimental dance in any form from a performer’s standpoint.

* “Einstein at the Hub” (ca. 1997) a production with music composed by my friend, Jeff Radcliffe ( http://www.tinctoris.com ); and “lyrics” by Jeff and Colin Leary. Basically a parody of Philip Glass’ multi-media staged production “Einstein on the Beach” that I had the pleasure of performing in for the DePauw student playwright’s festival. Eric Lamb, a classically trained dancer, was the “hub fairy” for the first two performances of the production until an “accident” left him unable to finish the last two. I cannot, for the life of me, remember the name of the young lady that filled in for him for the last two shows. I was one of the three “speakers” in the piece. The speakers read from a text that was just a collection of quotes recorded at the Hub–the campus food court–and “prices” (e.g. “$3.49″, “$1.20″, etc.).

* “Future Imperfect” (March 1999) This was a multi-media production that I had a hand in organizing while I was the Performance-Artist-in-Residence at the (now defunct) “Art Loft” in Indianapolis. My friend, Lynda Arnold ( http://www.divasonic.com/ ), was the featured dancer (and also the gallery director/owner of the Art Loft) and did interpretive dance to the live music of Brian Paulson while I was otherwise engaged in “activities” that didn’t include stepping on fortune cookies and eating the fortunes like the premiere production we did at the opening of the gallery. It’s a looong story for another time, so I’ll leave you with that imagery for now.

* “Performative Sites: Intersecting Art, Technology and the Body” Symposium (October 2000) at Penn State ( http://www.outreach.psu.edu/news/magazine/Vol_3.3/performative.html ) Workshops and impromptu performances. This was the second of what was going to be a continual series of Symposiums at Penn State, but it ended up being the last. I participated in the workshops by Sarah East Johnson of the acrobatic/dance/theatre group LAVA ( http://www.lavalove.org/about.html ) and by Goat Island ( http://www.goatislandperformance.org/goatisland.htm ). I also participated in a couple of performances with Tomas Mulready (the director of the now defunct Cleveland Performance Art Festival) and with performance artists Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Roberto Sifuentes, Juan Ybarra during their “Aztechnology” ( http://www.pochanostra.com/antes/jazz_pocha2/mainpages/page2.htm ) performance (check out some of the photos I took from that show here: http://troubadore.com/gallery/28-October-2000?page=1 especially the after performance photo of us: http://troubadore.com/gallery/28-October-2000/img01 ). Other than hanging out with Guillermo, Roberto, and Juan for those four days I think the biggest highlight was seeing Osseus Labyrint’s ( http://www.osseuslabyrint.net ) performance. Osseus Labyrint is an experimental movement based duo (and Hannah and Mark are probably two of the nicest and least pretentious people I know) that took their queue from Japanese Butoh when it was the rage on the West Coast back in the 80′s. They do things with their bodies that are even more inhuman than anything Rachel Brice does… ;)

* “Capoeira Workshop” (ca. spring 2001) I cannot, for the life of me, even remember the name of the group that did this workshop–or if this is even the correct year (it was probably much earlier), but after this I knew I was hooked. It was a workshop in Capoeira Angola, which is incredibly difficult to do as it requires tons of leg endurance–this isn’t the fast flashy stuff most people associate with the Brazilian martial arts form–but the very slow, almost meditative for that spends alot of time low to the ground style. The warm up alone took nearly 45 minutes and wore me out. I still occasionally practice when I feel motivated–and more than anything I want to play the instruments (especially the berimbau) and learn more songs–and not just because that means il Troubadore will be performing any–really not… :P!! Once I get settled in N’Albany–I will be looking for a Roda to “play” in…

This is hardly exhaustive–and I may never completely remember all my dance related experiences/performances. For example, during the period between ’96-’98 I likely did well over a hundred performance art type performances in various settings. A number of them included either pieces that I wrote and choreographed (some of which may forever be lost) and some of which I performed from others’ “scores” (the Fluxus art “movement”, for example, produced hundreds of “event scores” which were sets of directions of actions an artist is to perform).

There are also some odd experiences that il Troubadore has had, like the time a very tipsy modern dancer came up to Robert while we were performing “Abraham” at Deano’s Vino to ask him if she could dance. We were afraid that she was going to fall on her ass several times as she did half-cartwheels and other odd movement choreography that’s sometimes typical of modern dance.

I guess I’ve now outlined enough of the “pre-belly dance period” for you all, and can get on with the “now” part, eh?

Well, you’ll just have to wait for “part 3″! ;)

originally posted here:
http://people.tribe.net/il-troubadore/blog/e921106f-5fb2-458f-ae1c-de33a183def8

(part 1) may be found here: http://silpayamanant.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/don_helms.jpg2007/05/18/why-bellydancers-anyway-part-1/

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4 thoughts on “Why bellydancers, anyway? (part 2)

    • Thanks, Nicole!

      I think it’s important for musicians and dancers to understand each other a bit more than is usually the case. We shouldn’t take each oher for granted and that’s one of the issues I hope to explore in future posts!

      -Jon

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