Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Celebrating the body in dance 7 August 2011- Present and future

After an eventful last few days in the Northern Vikinglands, and a rather worrying onset of post-bliss/holiday blues, I have decided the only thing to cheer me up at this point is to recall the wonderful event Junonia Bellydancemble organised recently. More info about the Ensemble at

Two weekends ago, on 7 August 2011, Junonia Fusion Bellydancemble hosted their first dance event. The aim was to unite local dancers and musicians in the joy and passion for the arts. The dance event took place in The Church Cellar Bar and hosted performers from many different dance styles, ranging from modern and traditional bellydance, Tribal Fusion to American Tribal Style (ATS), Modern Contemporary Dance and Tango.

Importantly, this event was designed as a platform for dancers and dance enthusiasts to share their love of dance (and music). However, another explicit goal of the night was to foster awareness of the work of Bodywhys, the National Eating disorders association of Ireland. As a voluntary association, the organisation currently works hard to provide support services for around 200,000 individuals affected by eating disorders across the Republic.The incentive to raise awareness (and funds) for Bodywhys was dear to me, and the intersection between dance (and the creation of a positive body image through dance) and the work of Bodywhys.

In addition to offering support services, such as online and phone support for people affected by eating disorders, their families and friends, Bodywhys also organise physical group therapy sessions in Dublin, Carlow and Cavan amongst others. Another crucial campaign, personally, is the Bodywhys "Be body positive" campaign which supports and invites youth across Ireland to help creating a more positive understanding and perception of the body in general. To find out more about the campaign please refer to Bodywhys will profit from any type of support, be it volunteering efforts and your efforts to raise awareness on eating disorders and the importance of being positive about your body, nation-wide.

I really do hope that the event helped to further the cause and promote awareness firstly around the crucial work Bodywhys do, and secondly, crucially, about the central role of dance in the creation of a positive body image. My motto to "dance yourself body positive" certainly correspond to the "be body positive" campaign of Bodywhys, in my mind. I would certainly hope that many more individuals will consider dance as an outlet, a way of catharsis in the future, to chanel emotions constructively via dance rather than destructively via resorting to eating disorders and body dismorphia.

In today's capitalist society, where (artifical consumerist) needs and (flawed) perceptions and standards of how we are meant to behave and look are created on a daily basis, it becomes all the more pivotal to go back to the source. And to listen deeply to the voice within yourself, and trust your instincts and your body, and work with it rather than against it. In my humble opinion, dance is one of the ways to do exactly that. Alongside with painting, it is certainly one of the most powerful means of expression I have ever encountered. Even better, you are not required to purchases tool and gadgets, the "tool", your friend, your body, is right there! Without music and dance, there is no life. Sound and movement is like breathing, and dum spiro, spero.

I am hopeful that Celebrating the body in dance, the first edition of a sequence of events to follow, gave the audience and artists alike a grasp of how powerful (and beautiful) movement really is and how deeply you can tune into (and feel) your body when moving consciously and with respect for your body.

We had some wonderful performers on the night. Junonia Bellydancemble dancers did a wonderful job of presenting three great (and rather different, refreshing) numbers. I am very grateful to have devoted dancers to work with. Also, Laura M.Dunne did a beautiful job at representing the wonderful art of ATS, and The Zoryanna (Tribal Fusion) stunned everyone with their sword number. Then there was Stephanie representing the very origins of Modern Bellydance, presenting a traditional Egyptian piece. to  "Ala Warag Il Foull" by Fatme Serhan. In the song, the singer is asking her lover to bed her on Jasmine-blossoms and pamper her. She tells him "I have nothing, but this bangle on my arm. Let's sell it and you can stay with me." Stephanie did a great job of story-telling, and "selling" of her jewellery to allow her lover to stay with her! In keeping with the belldancers, my friend Nadia Gativa amazed the audience with her solo to a song by Dead can Dance.

Then there was Laurie Schneider, representing Expandance. She involved the audience in inviting them to pick a random number from 1-10 (and therefore a specific song associated) with it, which she would improvise to. Her rendition of the song was heartwarming, and a wonderful example of how touching improvisation (which comes from the heart) can be.

And Kristian and Julian from Tangofiesta took everyone's breath away with their two Tango numbers. Such amazing chemistry, such amazing performers! We were very honoured to have them!

Last but certainly not least, the live drumming enriched the night so much, and I want to thank Andy and Dave Mooney and Thom for playing for us, as well as DJ Yabe Chan for sorting the music on the night and the after-show Balkan beats.

Finally, this event won't be the last. It was a wonderful kick off to a sequence of events and collaborations planned for Junonia Bellydancemble in the future so stay tuned for more info at

Yours in dance,

Here a sample of photos depicting Junonia Bellydancemble. For more photos of the other performers please see

Junonia Bellydancemble performing to "Heartbeats" by The Knife.
Photo courtesy by James O'Farrell at

Junonia Bellydancemble performing to "Heartbeats" by The Knife.
Photo courtesy by James O'Farrell at

Junonia Bellydancemble performing to "Dope Crunk" by Beats Antique.
Photo courtesy by James O'Farrell at

Junonia Bellydancemble performing to Amoon live drumming.
Photo courtesy by James O'Farrell at

Junonia Bellydancemble performing to Amoon live drumming.
Photo courtesy by James O'Farrell at

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