Saturday, 26 February 2011

Gothic bellydance

Many, in fact almost all, Goths love art in many of its forms, including the art of dance. But other than swirling one's arms in a suitably spooky fashion at club nights and events, how can a darkling indulge this passion? If waltzing isn't your thing and the square dance leaves your black little heart cold, maybe Gothic bellydance is the hobby for you?

Gothic bellydancer Ariellah
Source: Google Images
Wikipedia says, "Exotic to the Western eye and mysterious in its roots, belly dance has always attracted interpretive dance artists who have woven it into many trends of Western culture. The new millennium brought a revival of popular interest in Goth subculture and Gothic art motifs in dance, and a new interpretive style, Gothic belly dance, was propelled to prominence... Gothic belly dance was born in the 1990s in US urban centers as a blend of Goth and world music, the movement vocabulary of belly dance and other dance forms, and Gothic fashion and aesthetics. Performing at Gothic-theme events and Goth clubs, dancers started to explore Goth music and adopt costuming styles incorporating Victorian, vampire, dark cabaret, silent-movie vamp, industrial, and other visual themes related to Goth subculture."

Movement-wise, Gothic bellydance (also known as "Raks Gothique") usually utilises movements from cabaret and tribal fusion bellydance styles, but with added drama and theatricality, using dark costumes and themes. The music that is used can be typical Goth and Industrial music, and music from related genres such as dark cabaret and dark ambient (for example, the Bellydance for Beautiful Freaks DVD features music from Collide, Skinny Puppy, Jill Tracy and Nox Arcana). Bands such as Dead Can Dance, Vas, and Faith and the Muse have suitably Middle-Eastern stylings in their music and are also often popular.

Bands who make music specifically for bellydance, be it traditional, Gothic, or tribal, are also often heard. Those popular amongst Goth bellydance enthusiasts (and some Goths in general, actually) include Beats Antique, Jehan and Solace.

Costuming for Gothic bellydance obviously includes typical Goth elements; usually it's black, heavy on the lace and fishnets, and rich or unusually textured fabrics such as velvet and PVC. It also involves Pagan, Middle Eastern or tribal-inspired elements like chainmaille and bindis.

Gothic bellydance, as I already mentioned, is very dramatic. In addition, the movements may be trance-like, giving a surreal quality to the performance. The movements and facial expressions are often sultry, passionate or otherwise 'intense'. Derivations such as Industrial and cyber performances often make traditional bellydance movements harder and more jagged than the fluid, smooth style in which they would usually be performed. One of the great things about this style of dance is that some of the movements, particularly the upper body and arm movements, are very Goth-club-friendly, so taking up Gothic bellydance as a hobby can certainly help make you into one of the best dancers at the spooky club.

Check out some amazing dancers shaking their thangs in this great vid:

There is a Gothic bellydance festival called Gothla, hosted by famous Gothic bellydancers Tempest and Sashi, held in Southern California; and Gothla UK began in 2007, held in Leicester, England. These three-day fests involve a multitude of teachers, workshops, performances, shopping stalls and cover ever-more-diverse themes including steampunk, vampire and even zombie bellydance.

The popularity of this style of bellydance within the Goth scene has even given rise to an offshoot of Goth fasion, generally known as 'tribal Goth', which of course I will talk more about at a later date, and 'dark dance boutiques' such as Dark Fusion Boutique on Etsy actually sell plenty of items that end up supplementing the everyday wardrobes of Goths worldwide.

I myself am a member of bellydance troupe Sadiq (although recently my archery classes have kept me from rehearsals... oops). I have been dancing for a couple of years and recently began joining the troupe in public performances for charity (always clad in suitably Gothy attire and heavy dark make-up, in stark contrast to the other women). Sadiq is a cabaret bellydance group, although some of our choreography draws on other styles such as American tribal. So far I am the only one in the group to have a strong interest in Gothic bellydance; maybe one day I will end up with a solo routine...? (Fun fact: I can dance with a sword balanced on my head. ;-) )

For those interested in Gothic bellydance, instructional DVDs such as Bellydance For Beautiful Freaks and performance DVDs such as Gothic Bellydance and Bellydance Underworld are available from sites such as Amazon. The first step in learning this style of dance is to begin with basic bellydance moves; find out if your local gym has a bellydance class, check out instructional videos on YouTube, or pick up some DVDs from Amazon. It's great fun and really keeps you fit and flexible too.

Listening to: Godessence - Jehan


MissGracie said...

Awww, I am so jealous. I wish I was a dancer...

Anonymous said...

I second Miss Gracie--I can't dance (my sense of rhythm is almost as bad as my sense of pitch--how did I manage to get involved with music?). But that looks like so much fun--what I could see of it, anyway. But from what I could tell, the dancing and the costumes in the video were absolutely beautiful.

Hayley said...

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Stephanie said...

Hey! I'm also a belly dancer. I'm mostly self-taught [no troups around here]. My idols, that I suggest you check out, are Zoe Jakes, Rachel Bryce and Mardi Love. They all dance together in a group called The Indigo Bellydance. Thanks for the article. You're so informative! =]

ultimategothguide said...

@ Stephanie - thank you! ^^ I love The Indigo, Zoe Jakes is an idol of mine <3

Anonymous said...

I know this is slightly off-topic, but...
I really, really love your blog. There's always something intriguing to read about. Seriously, I don't think I'll ever get bored of this sight.

Anonymous said...

*site* Not sight. Sorry about that error. I'm multi-tasking.

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