Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Interview with Sadie Bellydancer

                                                              Interviewed by Jamil

Sadie is an International performing artist, instructor and choreographer who is recognized worldwide as one of today's most exciting Belly Dance artists.  Sadie has  released over a dozen instructional and performance DVDs and has visited over 15 countires teaching and performing Belly Dance. She is also one of the most viewed bellydancer on youtube (over 9 million views).

Firstly we would like to thank you for participating in our interview...

I would like to begin by asking you a fairly obvious question:

1) Sadie, apart from being an international superstar, you are probably the most famous belly dancer viewed on Youtube. How has your clip '' impacted on your international career?

I would have to admit that it has given me a lot of great promotion worldwide. Most people I meet in bellydance know me from my YouTube clip. However most sponsors book me because of my instructional DVDs, where they have seen that I can teach and have experience doing so. The YouTube clip helps draw in the crowds once I have been booked for an event.

2) Being from a non-arabic/turkish background and born in a Western country, what challenges or obstacles do you feel that you have encountered in your current journey to the status you have acquired today?

Honestly, I have not felt that being an American, not of Middle Eastern decent, has hindered my career path in any way other than personally. Recognizing that Middle Eastern dances and music are part of a culture of which I do not come from has often times made me reflect on how I fit into all of this. Being typically American, I have long been removed from my own cultural roots but being American also means I have been exposed to so many cultures as my country is a melting pot of all, yet I still do not belong to any of them. From the very beginning of my bellydance journey I never felt appropriate imitating a particular style or dancing to music with lyrics that I did not understand, in fact I found this to be rather disingenuous so my style developed from me expressing myself in ways that was in tune with the music I was hearing and still true to me. A few years after I began my studies of Middle Eastern dance I was introduced to the most compelling music I had ever heard, the music of Oum Kalthoum. For awhile I would just listen in awe of how this woman who was signing in another language which I did not understand could make me feel so many things. I had such a profound respect for this music that I didn't even dare to try and dance to it, I even thought maybe I should not dance to it because I did not have the cultural pass to do so. However it inspired me deeply and I knew there would be a time and a place for it later. It has only been in the last few years that I feel confident enough to approach a piece of music like Oum Kalthoum's from a dance perspective. At some point for me, the music and culture sank deep into my bones and psyche. I have been around it long enough and have had enough candid experiences that I feel I can appropriately and genuinely feel, express and enjoy this culture even though I am not from it. In sorts, I have been adopted into it. This is just my personal experience and a personal obstacle that may have kept me from maturing faster than I could have but as I always say, its the journey and not the destination that matters. In the last few years I have performed in over 20 countries as well as had both Dina and Fifi Abdou of Egypt personally compliment my dancing, for me, this has been a sort of personal validation that I am doing something right and crossing through to all cultures around the world!

3) You seem so comfortable and controlled when you are dancing. When performing what goes through Sadie's mind? Do you have any specific thought processes that result in the beautiful polished technique that your audiences are privileged to view?

That is a fun question. Every time I go on a stage it is different for me. In general I always want to make sure I am connecting with my audience no matter how big or small. I always feel a tremendous respect for those who have come to support me and watch me perform and I want to do my best to please them. Sometimes I feel as though everything is in slow-motion, other times it goes by so fast I wonder if I even danced? I always have some degree of nervousness and I like that. It keeps me on my toes and keeps me respecting the process. I always start with a short meditation or prayer of gratitude before going out and depending on how everything else falls into place I may be calmer and able to be in the moment more, I notice this to be the case when I feel really confident about the choreographies or songs I am dancing to or the crowds energu is really portive and strong, or I may be more nervous and really approaching it from a technical perspective, this usually happens when I personally don't feel as confident. Its a melding of art and science I would say. As I grow as a person and a dancer I always feel like I have more to offer on the stage and I look forward to how life's trials and tribulations will translate through my dance.

4) What hints could you offer to professional dancers that want to make it as internationally renowned as yourself?

Patience. I have learned that many dancers have very little patience. So many of my students seem only to focus on becoming a "professional". The process and journey will unfold before you, you just have to be patient enough to see that. For, me this was never my goal. In fact I was so shy at first I never even dreamed to be professional, I just kept doing what made me happy and that was to dance and to become better at it. Eventually opportunities presented themselves for me. It was a slow process. Also dancers really need to focus more on refining what makes them unique and what sets them apart from the rest. That is what will make them stand out and rise in popularity. Too many dancers imitate or refine themselves to look like their favorite dancer or the best Egyptian style dancers, etc. The fact is no one wants to see that, they want to see you! There is already a Dina, a Randa, a Rachel Brice, a Sadie, etc........... who are you and what do you offer that is unique from the others. We can learn steps and techniques but to be polished, to have charisma and grace, to have a stage presence, all these things take time and wisdom and that will not come over night or even in a few years time.

5) Sadie, Your style of oriental dance is beyond amazing! Could you explain what were your inspirations to dance in the technical manner that you do?

This came from myself. I was a gymnast and always appreciated the ability for the human body to move and contort in so many interesting ways. Before I even had a large dance vocabulary, I was a very baby beginner, I would turn on the music that inspired me, mostly drum solos, and dance they way I felt my body best reflected the sounds. I mostly did things that are not typical bellydance moves but for me it was how I heard and interpreted the music. Over time this became my dance vocabulary and now its so ingrained into me that it is how I dance.

6) With already so much recognition nationally and internationally, what plans do you have for the upcoming future? Any projects that your Australian followers should be aware of?

Well, as I mentioned before, the process is always unfolding but yes, I do have some plans to produce a show with my friend and dance partner Kaya. We hope to debut it late 2010, thats all I will say for now, but if anyone would like to know more about it, they can join my newsletter which comes out monthly with all my updates. You can do so by going to my website, www.sadiebellydancer.com , click on the "contact" page and send me your info which gets automatically entered.

PS- I hope I will be invited to Australia some day, I have always wanted to visit there! Any interested sponsors can contact me about hosting me for the first time there.


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