Erica

The Gilded Serpent presents...

Erica

It seems that I am working my way through the alphabet; I’ve been an Archaeologist, I’m now an Artist making a “hand-made” life for myself, and a Bellydancer!

I started Middle Eastern dance 5 years ago in Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with an excellent teacher and beautiful cabaret-style professional dancer from the USA, Nancy King.

My movement background is of childhood ballet, Tai Chi & Yoga, and dancing to bands in my biker/gothic/hippy chick youth. Like many people, I suspect, the latter has influenced my creative/costume desires. In 2004, when I saw a friend’s programme for the Bellydance Superstars with Rachel Brice & co, it was a “Wow!” moment – “That’s what I want to look like!” Then I saw the performances… Nancy’s performance group had a very lifted, mostly cabaret style with rigorous drilling and ‘Red Arrows’ type floor patterns.

I was interested in taking things further and began going to workshops with as many different teachers as I could afford. My interests developed towards the ethnic origins of what we call Middle Eastern dance, Gypsy dances, and theatrical styles like sword dance and Raks Gothique. Of the workshops I have attended, Amel Tafsout and Raksan of Berlin must have special mention here as inspirational teachers who have their heart & soul in the dance. My internet time was spent absorbing everything from original ATS, through iconic dancers, to Gothic Industrial Bellydance!

There are only a few Tribal groups developing in the UK, and the costumes are a BIG hit. So, I started making headdresses on commission to suit the colouring, style and look of the individual, and have others ready to buy when I exhibit at shows. I use synthetic hair, ribbons, wools, other trims, beads coins, flowers, shells, feathers, etc – whatever you want! I also book teach groups how to make their own headdress pieces in a day’s workshop.

I describe my style as Middle Eastern/Tribal Fusion simply because I am a magpie and collect bits and pieces of everything. One of the brilliant things about all the Tribal styles is that they do not attempt to be “authentic” anything else. Most of us are Western women dancing to something not of our heritage. The only “authentic” thing I can be is Myself, not a Turkish Cabaret or Egyptian Folkloric dancer (or vice versa); too many other areas out there that interest me! This dance is an amazing platform for personal expression. I want to develop my dance as fun, sacred, ceremonial, healing and empowering.

As an ex-archaeologist I am interested in the origins of dance right back in the Palaeolithic when we started adorning ourselves, developing art, music and ritual. When I dance, I instinctively feel as though these movements have been in me forever, reconnecting me back to the feet of our ancestral dancers, men and women, beating out our hearts’ rhythms, passions, fears, grief and joys into the earth and up to the skies.

Another offshoot of being an artist/dancer is that I do pictures of dancers. I’ve also developed some graphics that I am thrilled Tribal Magazine (UK) is using. I paint or draw portraits on commission using photos for reference, in a variety of styles. Through symbolic personal imagery, the emphasis is on creating a picture that is unique, evocative and expresses the dancer’s view of herself (or himself!).

The rest of my artwork is largely illustrative, colourful, and influenced by dreams, folktales, Nature, a word or a phrase, or a stunning moment in time. People respond to my work by saying I have helped them see the inner spirit or beauty of the ordinary. I hope my illustrations do not take themselves too seriously, but instead, some have a slightly surreal, fantastical or humorous quality. Please email me if you would like more information.

Articles on Gilded Serpent by or about Erica

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