Zombie Belly Dance Project
I live in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle Washington. We have Zombie walks a few time a year. It’s a bit weird. They just mop around in alleys back yards, on street corners, in front of businesses, and in parks. The folks around here are are way into zombies and it doesn’t even need to be Halloween. In Fremont we call it “Trolloween” after our famous giant troll statue who lives under the Aurora bridge and every once in a while eats Volts Wagon bugs for breakfast. On Trolloween there will be some sort of happening we will take part in with our Zombie Belly Dance.
A couple weekends a go a hand full of members of our studio were sitting around a table brain storming projects for VDP Dance Studio to take on and all of a sudden I exclaimed Eureka. “Lets be Zombies and create a new fusion belly dance vocabulary for it, and thus a performance group. We can do all sorts of events; Zombie Walks, Trolloween and ZomBcon coming to Seattle at the end of October.! “ OMG! We all started laughing and getting charges up!
THOUGHTS ABOUT STARTING THE
ZOMBIE BELLY DANCE PERFORMANCE CLASS
I thought about it that evening, I realized this maybe a perfect class to relive the tension of the days we are currently living in. It may well be the answer for many of our dancers working on performance issues right now. For the past few months we have been emphasizing more performance classes, shows and opportunities for dancers to grow as performers. We have been coaching students lately on character development and stage presence. I’ve been carefully observing and pondering all dancers efforts, successes and failures. If I could bottle what I know I would give it to them. It struck me that one thing that may be getting in the way for some dancers is the issue women face deep inside, is in regard to their personal beauty image. This is different from a performance stage image.
A zombie is a character that does not care about pretty.
When I watch a dancer who needs help with stage presence this is what I often see; a smile, then a hesitation, then another smile, and then the shopping list of steps in the back of their mind, then a smile, followed by blinking, another hesitation and smile. This scenario lacks a feeling of self confidence. It also lacks any character dimension or dynamics. Dance performance is both physical movement and drama. As a member of the audience all I want to do is get on board with them and ride the wave of their dance. I don’t care if their nose is crooked. I probably don’t even notice. The dancers job is to be a living bridge between me the audience and the music. Can you see if the baggage isn’t there taking up space, how much freer and clearer the bridge is. leave your personal stuff in the dressing room and devote full attention to the music and being the bridge.
I thought about the best comment I ever had from a dance I did, “Not pretty Delilah”. The dance I did was called “Calling up the Oracle for Peace” and it involved a zahr ritual. It was theater style dance. When I heard the comment I knew what he meant. The beauty issue was not in the way. I also knew that it never was even if I was doing a cheese cake sort of dance. “ I” was not the object. It was my dance character that I have crafted and developed that took responsibility.
So my thinking is this Zombie Belly Dance idea as a dance and character exercise could be not only a kick in the carcass, but also a great lesson in practicing and developing a dance persona (that is as long as it’s a temporary dance character). No one has to think about being pretty. Wow, thats kind of liberating, isn’t it?
And I bet all the twitching and tension will be great cross training for Power Belly!
On Sunday right after the wonderful celebration of life at Veronika’s baby shower I spent some time coming up with the new fusion dance vocabulary for the living dead.
(talk about juxtaposition).
I put on some slow repetitive rhythms and drone music. I figure zombie musicians probably can’t play anything lively or happy. The music needs to come from the void. They are going to have to be in character as well. Erik and I frequent Zombie walks. We are both amazed at how people can get all dressed up that way and not be in character. “What’s the deal with that” he scoffs? I
Most people are timid unless they have been given absolute permission. You would think the mire attendance at a Zombie walk would give them permission, but . . . Then it’s just not easy . It does take energy and some people don’t grok how much effort is involved in acting. They think when they see someone do it well then it’s effortless and comes with the territory. It doesn’t. It’s a skill and a craft.
Erik is a very scary Zombie, so watch out.
We need dead beat drummers and musicians and we need them to be in serious character as much as the dancers. So if any drummers are reading this, get your dead ass carcass over to Erik on Monday nights at 6:40. He will direct, teach the rhythms and you all will practice the character while playing the rhythms as well. Cost? He is doing it on a sliding scale please pay what you can, the studio needs support and Erik is the director. We want your participation and we want to hold on to our studio.
More the deadlier!
ZOMBIE BELLY DANCE MOVES
Thorax Shimmy Walk
Dead Pan Turn
Death Spiral Turn with Bob and Twitch
Dead Zombie Stuffed with Fire Crackers
Regurgitating Body Locks
My heart, my heart
Cobra of the Living Dead
Decapitation Head Slides
Zombie Cha Cha
Hip Twitch with Dead Arms
Zombie Pyramid Step
Three Twitch Turn
Eat Your Heart Step
Belly Dance Intesta-vine Step
Rib Cage Zombie Box
ZOMBIE DEAD BEAT DANCE RYTHMS
Eat You Ayub
Tasty Turk 9/8
First nights class;
To get in the mood, I brought black grease paint for our faces.
I introduced the original living belly dance moves and then introduced the adapted dead versions. It was hard to keep from laughing. Lots of wise cracks. (It’s interesting but in this sort of backward way, I bet that dancers learn the original moves better as a side effect of this project.”
“How you doing there Diana?”, “ Stiff” “That a girl!”
“Elizabeth, you look horrific! “, “Thank You!”
“ I think I’ll pass on the make up tonight Delilah.”, “Ok , but that means we will have to eat you!”
“ Oh I get it, so this is the class for dancers who have no rhythm and and are stiff?”
“ Come on now, NO JUICINESS!”
“Hey what do you know? Dead Can Dance!”
Join us next week.
In reality the dead moves were hard to maintain and really made us appreciate the living belly dance. We just did 1 hour of twitching and jerking around and we are going to be sore tomorrow I can tell. Regular belly dance celebrates life and in reverse we are definitely hating being dead. Yeowie!