The Gothic Bellydance Resource
Collections from Livejournal Discussions, 2007
From C.P. Odd
I think it's a bit of a tough thing to define. It's like defining "art" or "beauty" or "love". It means different things to different people. I think Voltaire sums it up well in his satirical book "What Is Goth?" where in he shows that there are subcultures within the subculture. What he defines as "Romanti-Goth" and "Cyber-Goth" ect ect.
To make this a little shorter, I'll try to paraphase it thusly:
TO ME gothic bellydancing portrays elements from the "goth" subculture, weather they be anachronistic, futuristic, or from current fads. It is in the music, the costuming, the attitude, and to an extent, the movement and technique. It includes elements from other styles, but is not necessarily "interchangeable" with them.
In other words, not all that's darkness is black ;) You can't just take a "goth" song and call it gothic bd. You can't just take a black costume, or a gloomy/macabre/vampy attitude and call it gothic bd. It's a proper combination of elements and style.
When I dance to Lissa Fakir in a sparkly bedleh, I am in fact a goth doing belly dance, though you might not necessarily be able to tell that I am a goth. When I dance to Black Tape for a Blue Girl in gothic costuming, I am doing gothic belly dance. The common factor between those two performances is that in each case I am trying to embody the music to the fullest extent possible, but that's exactly what makes the two performances different as well. Gothic belly dance, for me, consists of illustrating gothic music with my body and my stage presence/personality/attitude. Yes, it's largely belly dance movement vocabulary, but the way in which it is expressed is in keeping with a gothic aesthetic and artistic vision.
It also follows from the above that somebody who is not a goth but who is sensitive to gothic culture and familiar with gothic music can do gothic belly dance, just like somebody who is not an Egyptian but is familiar with the culture and music can do Egyptian belly dance.
I also think that using the phrase "gothic belly dance" implies that one has had proper belly dance training (and values that training) and is using it to perform to gothic music, whereas to me, "goths doing belly dance" doesn't hold the same implication, it sounds more casual and less dedicated.
My understanding of gothic belly dancing with emphasis on “My understanding”
From Vicky Clarke:
"What makes gothic belly dance gothic belly dance rather than goths doing belly dance?"
Is there a difference? Goths, AIUI, are people who make public the fact that they're conversant and comfortable with the darker side of life and of their own selves. Bellydance that expresses that sentiment is therefore goth(ic) in the sense that it is or can easily fit in as a part of goth culture.
Secondly, expressing that kind of feeling tends to involve passion and drama. The dark side of life, in our repressed post-Christian culture, is often the same thing as the passionate side, and passion is what creates drama in our lives: so bellydance that reflects our darker sides will often be passionate and dramatic. And what's passionate and dramatic is also gothic in the sense of "gothic novel".
So now and then you'll find someone doing passionate, intense, dramatic bellydance who doesn't self-identify as a goth, but the goths will likely accept the dancer anyway; and for the most part you'll find that the people who produce intense and dramatic bellydance will be the goths, because they're already at home with their own darker sides and keen to express them.
From the Med-Dance List Discussion
The following was collected from the "infamous" med-dance discussion on gothic belly dance and other forms of fusion:
From Morocco (Aunt Rocky):
"While there have been performances - in ALL areas - that made me cringe, there have also been those that moved me to tears. The worst thing for any Art is an Arts Police ...There is NO such thing as "ONE way" ... besides, it would be sooooooo boring!"
"I enjoy many different types of fusion dances ~ Goth, Industrial, Gypsy and Tribal, as well as Cabaret and Traditional Middle Eastern Dancing. I always enjoy learning something new. Most people are very conscious and responsible regarding what they call the type of dance they do. Only through education, and by sharing information, can we clearly understand and teach the next generation of dancers.
Everything evolves and takes on new forms, including belly dance. Evolution does not take away from the traditional, it compliments it. Art is an expression of the human condition, therefore a true artist will put part of themselves into their performance. So, Gothic Belly Dance is a fusion of dance forms, which is an expression of the person performing the dance. Besides, art is not something that can be regulated or controlled, it is always changing. Any attempt at control is always in vain and against the nature of what art is."
From Zi'ah Ali of Awalim:
"YOUR art form is an expression of yourself, her art form is an expression of herself and my art form is an expression of myself. If you are only recreating a dance you were taught and not showing who you are on stage then that is a craft, not art..."
From Sharon Moore of Mandala Tribal:
"And I for one love to see all the diversity that came from
innovators before our time, as well as the innovators around us today. And I enjoy debating the fine points, learning from one another and sharing. But the key is being open to other's ideas, even when they differ from ours, and realize that each new branch of our belly dance tree keeps the trunk alive. Why do you feel the need to strike someone else (or someone else's interpretation) down to try and lift yourself (or your interpretation) up?"
All dance evolves. To say that the dance should be "pure" while idealistic is not realistic. Dance, art, music and other forms of expression including language change and incorporates some changes. Some of the changes become permanent, other fall by the way side.
"So, it lives, it breathes, it flows and grows....and it's here, whether you're for it, against it, or don't care either way. Life is like that. All you can do is do what YOU believe in, and try to respect differences. I've been on the other side of the fence (traditional versus "emerging"), and I've long discovered it's simply much more healthy to focus on your own path and promote it as best you can, than to worry about what someone else is doing. Because that's the only thing you yourself can be responsible for."
From Amara of EEMED:
"I too have seen bad fusion and experimental dances, but not nearly as much bad traditional Middle Eastern dance. But one has to remember what context they are performed in: are they amateur or professional? Professional Experimental Middle Eastern dance is like any other dance form. It is a training and creative practice. It takes time to cultivate. One has to
know what traditional dance is, its history, its culture, and its political and social issues, in order to push its boundaries and dance at its edges. One has to have good technique and be trained in choreographic processes. One also has to ready to understand the implication of taking such action. But these are all a must for any professional dancer, regardless of style."
"Dancing Darkly" (Gilded Serpent)
Raks Gothique with Tempest (Morbid OutlooK)
The Coveilance Dance Project (Morbid Outlook)
What is Gothic Belly Dance? by Devi Mamak
What is Goth? by Kajira for Zaghareet Magazine
#21 Shimmies and Sprockets: Analyzing the Use of Belly Dance in Steampunk (Beyond Victoria)
SHRINE OF SKADI (dark fusion ritual dancer's journey)