Interview with Morgana of Madrid
Late one night
while researching snakes and snake dancing, I stumbled upon a
link to Morgana and Nieblas De Avalon Dance
Company. I'd heard of Morgana in my travels online
in tribe.net and other internet surfing, but should have zigged
when I zagged. It's tragic that until late last year I'd
skipped over such an amazing dancer. I accept partial blame
for not paying attention when I should have. However, I let myself
be jaded by inferior products, excitement-free performances, and
lack of content, personality and character in the recent emerging
tribal/goth scene. Boy did I miss out on this one.
Morgana's Serpent Dance, where she embodies the personality of
the serpent, I was hooked. Any snake lovers or snake dancers
will have a special appreciation for this piece.
technique, presence, performance, ambience, mood, attitude,
emotion, choreography, improvisation, costuming - it's all a
delicate balance of ingredients mixed into a pleasurable cocktail
and mesmerizing flow of Rachel Brice with the
softer beautiful grace and poise of Jill Parker and
Rose Harden and equal parts of attitude, fire
and passion - Morgana is the new drink on the menu, and she is
really shaking things up. Truly
inspired, I reached out to get her take on things, and how this
scene is emerging in her native Spain. I found a warm, friendly
soul, grounded and earthy and eager to shout across the pond!
What was it like growing up the daughter of a dance instructor?
How has this helped or challenged you? What
inspired you to study martial arts at such an early age?
I'll tell a
story. When I was 6 or 7 years old, I tried one of my mother's
jazz classes. It was so stressful for me being the teacher's daughter
that I decided to do martial arts in the room next to my mother's
class. The teacher was my uncle, but during the classes he treated
me like he didn't know me. This was very hard work but it
was better for me. However, at home I used to disguise myself
with my mother's dance clothes. At
15 years old, I won a dance contest in my city, and a Silver Medal
- it was a surprise for my mother, because she had never seen
me dancing other than in my room imitating Michael and Janet Jackson.
you find most captivating about martial arts?
I love swords
and scimitars. I have a collection of them. They feel powerful
and dangerous. Martial arts requires a lot of discipline
and precise movements that I feel are great to combine with other
activities like dancing.
has it had on your dance?
just try to combine the things I know how to do well. 'Oriental'
is a word that is associated with China and Japan also. I thought
that the mixture of the two cultures would compliment each other
nicely. The weapons and the strong steps balance the elegant moves
of belly dancing - Yin and Yang at the same time.
you come to discover eastern dance?
I studied modern
dance and jazz dance, but I like to experiment with other activities.
I tried tap dance, salsa, tango, and eastern dance for fun, and
that conquered me. I had never imagined to be a professional of
belly dance - it seems it was just part of my destiny.
your favourite dancer and why? What did you find most interesting
Of course in
the tribal fusion style, I love Rachel Brice
and the Indigo. Beautiful choreographies and precise
movements, very clean and elegant, also different from others;
they have their own style and way about them. Some of the dancers
of Evolution DVD are great, too!
you choose to make American Tribal Style your primary focus?
I began with
an Egyptian teacher doing cabaret, but a friend of mine talked
to me about the Amercian Tribal Style and its warrior attitude;
the arm positions, the costumes, the isolations and the music
were closer to my personality.
you say are your strongest influences in Eastern or Tribal styles
of dance and why?
first teacher, Fathy Andrawis, showed me how
to dance as a woman with elegance and technique. In addition,
I loved the style of Carolina Nericcio; her technique
is really pure tribal. The companies are the Indigo,
Ultra Gypsy, Desert Sin, and Domba! are
also strong but different influences for me in tribal dance.
you feel about gothic belly dance and what trends in Eastern dance
to you see emerging?
gothic belly dance is necessary to be. Belly dance is not only
folklore, zills and being a 'One Thousand Nights princess".
has its dark side. And there's a culture that needs to express
the art dancing too - we call them "dark fairies." The purists
always will see this style like a very modern invention, not
like a real dance, but I know that a lot of people (some of
my students, for instance) would have never began belly dancing
if the "gothic" style didn't exist.
They want to
have their own space in this artistic world. There's gothic literature,
painting and so on - why not dancing? It grows slowly, but surely.
is eastern dance viewed and accepted in Spain?
We have a good
acceptance at this time. Belly dancers were badly considered some
years ago, like showgirls or striptease dancers; now we are considered
artists. I think the Shakira videos have helped
us with this in some way - and there's something more that people
can chose aside from ballet and flamenco. Girls or boys feel good
with their body, they have fun and it's exotic. Tribal is taking
off and gothic has just been born.
some of the viewpoints on Eastern dance in your community?
of classical eastern dance, with Egyptian, cabaret or folkloric
influences, are the strongest personalities. The classical eastern
dancers mixing with other styles like flamenco, tango, etc. American
Tribal Style dancers, are fewer in number than cabaret style.
And as for gothic and tribal fusion, maybe it's just me, alone
in the dark.kidding, but there are some dancers and troupes elsewhere
coming out from the shadows.
is this dance form in Spain compared to Flamenco or other popular
a very strong influence in Spain, the most popular dance, although
it comes from the southern part of the country. Now there are
new companies that fuse flamenco with modern dance for the younger
generations. Flamenco, ballet and modern dance has had the lion's
share of dancing here in Spain. Belly dance and ballroom dance,
for instance, were in second place, but now they're growing in
about the creative process in creating your choreography and image
for the Serpent Dance video that is so highly regarded on youtube.
(smile) I was
preparing the end of the course festival for my students. Each
year I choose a story for the festival, last year the story was
about a poet who missed his muse and he searched for her in the
desert. As part of that story, I created a character that lived
in the desert, a serpent, which transforms into a woman at night
and guides the lost. That was my character in the youtube performance.
I only thought one thing over and over: 'I have to be a snake,
I have to be a snake' - so I watched documentaries about reptiles
and imitated their moves. This choreography is very relaxing for
me; I like feeling every muscle of my body in motion, like a snake.
you feel about the feedback you have received?
I just made the choreography to fill the holes in my students'
festival! A lot of people have asked me for the snake dance since
then. For Halloween I did a gothic performance with a role moving
as a cat, and that was the preferred part of the show. I'm thinking
that maybe I have more abilities to move as an animal than a human.karma
you go about selecting music for your dance?
I waste many
hours listening to music, and I chose favourite songs and set
them aside. Sometimes I just don't know when I'll get to them,
but know I'm going to use them for something some day. I feel
like each song has its own soul, and it has to be shown as choreography.
your choreography process like?
the song in rhythm beats on paper, and then I make notations if
a violin sounds or somebody sings, etc. Then I improvise the song
on my own, many times. And when I feel I find a part that always
gels with the music I write it down in the paper. Very scientific
you recover from stumbling blocks when crafting your choreography?
Very easy. I
have all the music saved in the computer, so if I have no time
to think of new movements. I cut down the 'damned part' of the
song with a music editor! (laughing)
How is it owning your own dance studio and dance company?
and very challenging at the same time. Most of my free time is
dedicated to the school and the companies (I have two at the moment,
so it's even more work) but I wouldn't change it for the world
- they're simply an integral part of my life.
business and what was it like opening your own place?
We opened the
school less than a year ago, so right now there are a lot of expenses,
but the response of the people has been very positive. We have
more students that I thought for the first year, and also a full
'waiting list'. However, I have no time for anything outside the
business - no family, no holidays - I hope this will change because
I'm exhausted! It's worthwhile in the meantime.
are some of the challenges you have faced in this process?
We had to finish
the construction work, that was very difficult, and you can imagine
the tediousness of the boring legal papers and documents required.
What is the mission of Nieblas de Avalon Dance Company?
First and foremost
is to have fun. Also to offer a fusion tribal dance troupe here
in Madrid, mixing modern dance with tribal. I have found three
excellent girls and friends, Liz Santiago, Irene
Ortiz and Victoria. They have great
abilities and are hard workers. By the way, one of them comes
from the USA!
we expect to see from them in 2007?
We are preparing
a show, not so long, just an hour. I'm going to combine the two
dance companies - the boys of Excalibur Dance Company
and the girls of Nieblas de Avalon. Also in the mix are
two musicians, fire, gothic, funky and ethnic music. I'll tell
you when it's finished (wink).
your goals for this new year?
First of all,
finish the show. I believe Helm
is coming to my school, and in Barcelona I have tentatively planned
a show with Solace - dancing with them. Lots of travel
throughout Europe is on the horizon for workshops in France, Germany,
to the United States or workshops on the horizon?
I'd love to
visit the US in 2008 or at the end of 2007.
or advice would you give to emerging dancers or ambitious students?
Everything has a moment. There are a lot of blunders along the
way, but it's worth it to be constant. Hard work, practicing and
practicing, work on technique and feel with your heart every move
you're doing. There are three things that connect in dancing:
mind, soul and body. Something equally important: respect
other dance mates, and always be a proper lady, no gossiping nor
criticizing. And of course, don't give up your dreams.
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Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Mining for Gold in the Gilded
Serpent Archives - List #1 Surreyya's Favorite Articles
compiled a list of articles that have inspired, influenced and
enabled me to cross many intersections when arriving at a challenge.
Soltice Festival, Belly Dance in Spain- Part 2, Photos by
held June 23-26, 2006. Part Two- The Evening Show, Event
organized by Maria Cresswell of Tribal Girona at Sanctuari Els
Arcs, Girona, Spain. A medieval hostelry with a chapel, set in
the beautiful volcanic natural park of La Garrotxa near the picturesque
village of Santa Pau.
The Soltice Festival,
Belly Dance in Spain- Part 1, Photos by Lynette
held June 23-26, 2006. Part One- Workshops and Setting,
Event organized by Maria Cresswell of Tribal Girona at Sanctuari
Els Arcs, Girona, Spain. A medieval hostelry with a chapel, set
in the beautiful volcanic natural park of La Garrotxa near the
picturesque village of Santa Pau.
by Michel Harris
wealth, along with social and political change, has threatened
Islamic culture and traditions. Therefore, many Muslim planners
and architects are reacting to this invasion of Western culture
by reasserting their Islamic heritage.
Belly Dance Workshops: Realistic
Expectations by Eleyda Negrón
difference between a Christmas gift and a workshop though, is
that in the worse case scenario, you can always return your gift
and change it for something else, but… What do you do with
a workshop that didn’t suit you? It can become a waste of
time and money for both ends.
Nakish- An inteview with "The Lady with the Eyes"
worked hardest for the dancers in San Francisco to wipe out the
discrimination factor and to make sure that all cultures were
included in the performance of this dance.
My Dance Career’s Dark Side:
As seen through a fog of murky emotion by Najia Marlyz
recounting my dark stories help me to purge them? Should one forget
those special moments of insult and bad human behavior that all
Photos PAGE 2-Carnival
of Stars Photos by Michael Baxter
Sponsors Alexandria and Latifa November 11 & 12, 2006 Centennial
Hall, Hayward, California
Its Not Your Grandmamma's Zar By
Luckily at some point we hear the distinct rhythm for
a Zar and follow the drumming right to the front door of an apartment