Despite the stereotypes with their focus on look, I have to say that overall Goths are a very introspective, intellectual group of individuals. Besides the numerous various subgenres of music, there is a great deal of art, literature, and design that is all intrinsic to the Gothic culture. It’s pretty amazing (and I’m sure a bit daunting to someone just on the outside, looking in) and I think what I love most about it—the grave goes deep, and there’s a lot to uncover.
Which is why there’s really so much to say, explore, and discuss about Gothic Belly Dance. We’re truly looking at a multi-faceted concept that involves an experience beyond the physical body. There’s a lot to consider that can only be processed in a combination of body and mind, because it’s not just about getting the look down. In order to grasp *the feel*, you need to understand *why*, and get the to the root of it, inside. Without that search, the rest is an empty shell.
To someone who collects styles like they collect costumes, the concept can be lost—or even worse, disregarded as unimportant details in favor of the physical. This is probably the biggest danger to the artform, because it breeds insincerity, and puts out false examples.
I came to bellydance because it visually appealed to me, and I wanted to learn a new way to move (besides hauling art and supplies up and down the hills and stairs of RISD—which I guarantee you is quite a workout in itself—RISD pretty much defies the “freshman 15″ because of it’s location alone–and if you gain anything, it’s muscle tone). While understanding the movements awakened my body to new ways of motion, my brain was focused on “so what do we do with this? What can it express?” And I began to perform with my imagination in high gear, creating situations and ideas to express, rather than a show of movement execution–rather, the moves in turn expressed the ideas.
Years later, when I began to teach, that element of imagination became a crucial point in expanding the concept of belly dance and merging it with Goth. And it’s still my main focus, perhaps even more so today in my workshops. I expect that my students take/teach regular classes in some form of bellydance, which is the best place for basics, movement growth, drilling, and structure—the same things I would focus on in a weekly class, so my focus is not to “feel the burn” in your body—I’m certainly not Jane Fonda nor do I wish to be. Rather, my intention is to ignite your mind and your heart, and allow that to take your body in a new direction. A group of movements won’t capture the essence of Gothic Bellydance if your soul isn’t engaged. It may be an unusual approach, but if you’re willing—it’s quite effective.