Gilded Serpent presents...

Not So Steampunk Belly Dance

Barbary Coast Shakedown

by Jasmine June Cabanaw
posted February 26, 2011

As Tribal Fusion belly dance has gained momentum, so too has the incorporation of steampunk fashion in Tribal Fusion costuming. Tribal Fusion being the tricky genre that it is, some people have begun coining the term “steampunk belly dance”. While this seems innocent enough, using terms without properly defining what they mean can lead to a slippery slope of “everything” belly dance. We need to remember that belly dance is based on movement and not on aesthetic. It is belly dance, not belly fashion.

Steampunk is an aesthetic that draws from science fiction, fantasy, and eras in which steam power was in popular use- primarily Edwardian and Victorian. Belly dancers who don costuming influenced by steampunk mix lace with stockings and top hats and industrial metal (like coin bras made from washers and metal chains). In San Francisco, Tribal Fusion belly dancers frequent the store Five and Diamond, in which ruffles and Victorian-era lace can be found amongst gears and rivets.

Faysah

It makes sense that steampunk fashion would be used in Tribal Fusion costuming. Tribal Fusion is already theatrical and fantasy oriented, just like steampunk. That is to say, that the influence of steampunk has been a natural progression. However, it is important to note that the theatrical quality in Tribal Fusion proceeded steampunk; Tribal Fusion set the stage for a variety of costuming styles.

“Steampunk” bands, like Abney Park, dress in the full steampunk regalia and have “steampunk” belly dancers perform live to their music. The steampunk is in quotations here, because how can a band or a dance be defined by an aesthetic? The answer is that something that is music or movement based simply cannot be defined as “steampunk” For example, if one was to listen to Abney Park without having seen what the band looks like, steampunk wouldn’t come to mind because steampunk isn’t a musical genre.

Steampunk isn’t a dance genre either, in belly dance or otherwise.

To label a belly dancer as steampunk is misleading; it’s not the belly dancer who is steampunk, but her costume. The Tribal Fusion dancer, Rose Harden– who has been labeled steampunk by some- shed some light on the subject. She pointed out that photos of belly dancers in costume are so easily accessible because of the Internet. When a person who does not know much about belly dance sees these costumes, it is easy for them to label the dance based on what they see in the photograph. For example, while researching this article, the dancer Fayzah was mentioned in several articles about steampunk. Yet she has stated that her costuming and performances are not influenced by steampunk. In one of her costume pieces, she wears pinstripe cuffs, which could be defined as steampunk fashion, but this does not mean that her entire style is steampunk. It just goes to show you that we should not define a belly dancer by her costume!

Since Tribal Fusion is also easily accessible, there have been dancers who begin performing and calling themselves professional when really they are just hobbyists. A professional belly dancer would never label her dance genre based on an aesthetic.

As for the hobbyists, some fall into the trap of calling themselves steampunk (or some other creative title) because they don’t understand what belly dance truly is. If a dancer wants to be professional, she needs to keep in mind that belly dance is more than just its costuming.

 

Aziza!‘s photos-
"These pictures are from a Steampunk Convention where I was a costume vendor.
I saw on Facebook that you needed some Steampunk costume pictures.  I just now thought that you probably mean Steampunk belly dance costumes.  Hmm….oh, well.  I am attaching some regular Sp costumes just in case you can use them. 
"
Lady in Black by Aziza! Lady in Red by Aziza!
Ladies in coats by Aziza!
Cute Couple by Aziza!
Dude by Aziza!
Lady in Green by Aziza!Azizacaptures a dude in cape
Lady in Hat by Aziza!

 

 

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   |       |    50 Comments

  1. No Gravatar
    Shelley Muzzy

    Feb 27, 2011 - 08:02:41

    Is modern tribal, fusion, whatever, more than it’s costuming?  Of course some of it is, but even founders of the movement talk about Masha Archer’s idea of the look, the aesthetic, as the starting point for the whole deal…Masha didn’t exactly take lessons for a long time.  Oops!  Another controversial subject.  I think the costuming is a lot of what brings new dancers in to Middle Eastern Dance…both fusion and the more classical styles, but that is just an outsider’s observation.

  2. No Gravatar
    Jasmine

    Feb 27, 2011 - 02:02:28

    I agree that there is a strong aesthetic with belly dance costuming, but the point was that costuming is only one component. There have to be actual dance moves to back it up. And Masha wasn’t modern Tribal Fusion. That whole scene originated with Jill Parker, who has had more dance training than any dancer I know.

  3. No Gravatar
    Jasmine

    Feb 27, 2011 - 02:02:49

    Also, for the Tribal Fusion dancers who are serious about the dance, modern Tribal Fusion is much, much, much more than its costuming. Unfortunately, there are too many  dancers who think that a costume is all that is needed to call oneself Tribal Fusion.

  4. No Gravatar
    Tracy

    Feb 27, 2011 - 05:02:46

    “something that is music or movement based simply cannot be defined as “steampunk”’
    I can’t agree with this quotation, because there are certainly musical groups who have worked to identify a steampunk “sound”. They’ve done this through creative instrumentation, combining wind and string instruments with classical themes but modern variations. (Not to mention science fictional performances on the theremin.) Steampunk is a very loose aesthetic genre — it’s not all defined by gears and air pirates. Therefore it makes sense that the musical genre is also loose and hard to define.
    One might think that dance, since it has more visual aesthetic than music, would have an easier time finding “steampunk.” But that doesn’t seem to be the case. I think this is because the musical genre has not yet settled. Goth music has been around for quite a while, so adapting dance to it is fairly straightforward. I don’t think there need to be “specific bellydance moves” for a genre to be defined. You could create a Goth or steampunk ballet, perform steampunk modern dance, and I’ve seen a Goth flamenco number.
    Steampunk is unlikely to go away very quickly. It’s possible that its musical style will settle and a steampunk dance style will emerge. It might not have anything to do with bellydance at all but be based on Victorian social dances instead… but since communities supporting tribal fusion performance and steampunk aesthetic tend to overlap, I wouldn’t bet on it.

  5. No Gravatar
    Janus Zarate

    Feb 28, 2011 - 01:02:39

    Defining movement as steampunk is certainly a greater challenge in the long run, and I will agree with you to an extent that a large quantity of what’s being called “steampunk belly dance” is really just tribal fusion with a steampunk aesthetic.  I’ve been absorbed in the tribal fusion world for quite some time now (I happen to date a dark fusion belly dancer), and steampunk has not quite walked the tribal fusion paths that goth, ritual art, and theater did to establish dark fusion belly dance.  Nevertheless, I have seen glimpses of what could be its genuine beginnings – dances of wind-up dolls, mad science theatrics combined with dance.   Movement sets do play a crucial role in defining a style of dance, but  I would personally be hesitant in drawing the lines too closely and brightly in a realm of dance which encourages artistic fusion and individual expression.
    Movement aside,  I do not agree with you on the subject of music.  Music that is audibly steampunk, without the aid of visuals, already exists.
    “For example, if one was to listen to Abney Park without having seen what the band looks like, steampunk wouldn’t come to mind because steampunk isn’t a musical genre.”
    Without getting into a debate on Abney Park in particular, I will say that a number of bands already exist that deliver the sound of steampunk where the visuals are merely icing on the cake.  I happen to be a member of the oldest project whose primary goal has been just that: Vernian Process.  We’ve created a sound that is recognizably steampunk without having to rely on the aesthetic to pull it off.  I’m not just saying that because I’m in the band, either – that is the general consensus among the journalists and music critics we’ve been exposed to.  We did not begin expanding the aesthetic side of the band until only a few years ago when we started assembling a proper crew for live performances and future albums.  Even now, we do not let the visuals impede the goal of our music.
    Prior to 2003, many artists had dabbled in various elements of steampunk, but none intended to be a steampunk band from their very inception until Vernian Process came into being.  And now, I’m proud to say we’re not alone in the pursuits – many other musicians have found a home in the sounds of retrofuturism.  While it’s true that steampunk music has not yet achieved a unified sound (and whether it needs unity is up for debate), that doesn’t mean steampunk music doesn’t exist.
    Abney Park’s early work may have been better categorized as goth or world music, but even they have since created something that doesn’t need the aid of visuals to identify as steampunk.  Like our music, they certainly don’t belong squarely in another genre, and that’s a good thing for the future of the steampunk sound.

  6. No Gravatar
    Janus Zarate

    Feb 28, 2011 - 02:02:55

    And one additional important note, as I seem to have overlooked this: steampunk is not merely an aesthetic.   It’s a common misconception that ignores two centuries of literature and the origins of steampunk.  It has a subculture and a community, just as tribal fusion does, and as with tribal fusion, the core elements of steampunk predate its aesthetics.

  7. No Gravatar
    Tracy

    Feb 28, 2011 - 03:02:20

    I’m really glad that Janus Zarate posted, because I was hoping to hear from a musician on this thread.
    However, while I agree that steampunk is a subculture, I think we should clarify that it hasn’t existed for two centuries. The origin of the term steampunk was in the 1970s and referred to works of science fiction published in that time; those interested in it have traced the literary relationships back to certain 19th century works of early fantasy/science fiction.  This sounds like I’m splitting hairs, but having already had conversations with people who were indignant at the idea of Jules Verne being called “a steampunk author,” I thought I would throw it in.

  8. No Gravatar
    T.

    Feb 28, 2011 - 03:02:36

    My own (more than two) cents, as a stylist, musician and performer with a complicated relationship to the Steampunk subculture:

    Steampunk as a literary genre has been around for a while now (almost as long a cyberpunk), but the thriving Steampunk subcultural movement is, at best, only about 6 or 7 years old.

    There are plenty of folks who treat it not only as a style of dress, but as a lifestyle choice, even a philosophy. Folks who focus on these aspects of Steampunk place a lot of emphasis on DIY, a love of craft and aesthetic, and positive, supportive creative community… which is fantastic! Then there’s the cosplay, purely fashion-based aspect, which is also great fun, if that’s what you’re into. It’s good stuff.

    But I do think it’s VERY important to acknowledge that others who work with similar, time-honored aesthetics (and have been doing since long before 2004 or so) who have never, ever needed a “buzzword” to feel validated or resonant, have every right to argue against having their entire art form unfairly lumped in with, or reduced to a one-word label by overzealous labeling and co-opting, whether it comes from outside of the Steampunk community, or from within.

    As one who is exhausted by all of the aggressive pigeonholing, I was glad to see an op-ed like this, focusing fairly rationally on semantics and rhetoric. It WAS a bit cranky (which can tend to do a disservice to straightforward, logical statements in any debate) but ya know, I can understand completely why it’s a bit grumpy. Hey, I’M a bit grumpy. I know Steampunk is more than just a fashion trend, but I still see exactly where these dancers are coming from.

    It’s never a good feeling, having your meticulous, time-honored craft dismissed or eclipsed by a trend you have no immediate connection to. It’s difficult not to feel uneasy, watching your art form be oversimplified, lumped in, or lazily dismissed by an all-too-easy and reductive definition. It’s not fun, being shoved in a box that you have no desire to be in, even if that box is comfortable, or even inspiring, for plenty of others who’ve willingly placed themselves inside of it. That proprietary, icky tug many of us instinctively feel when they see multiple aspects of our own organic, individual sense of style suddenly being perceived as a uniform…? It is often difficult to come to grips with. Thankfully, those of us who place emphasis more on substance than style know that in the end, it’s the work that matters, and our self-definitions… not what people say about us.
    But still. It’s not very easy to smile and quietly accept these kinds of reductions.

    Personally, I’ll be relieved and grateful when the compulsion to arbitrarily label anything and everything (however tenuously tied to Victoriana or ye olde-ness or “exotic” cabaret style or wilde west or retro sci fi or dystopian aesthetics) steampunk starts to fade.

    And while I support the folks in the Steampunk movement in all that they wish to do, I will also continue to welcome rebuttals like the one, because they create a more thoughtful and multifaceted forum.

    Thank you for this.

  9. No Gravatar
    T.

    Feb 28, 2011 - 03:02:25

    ps: Apologies for my cruddy grammar. It’s been a long day. 🙂

  10. No Gravatar
    Tracy

    Feb 28, 2011 - 04:02:37

    ” It’s not fun, being shoved in a box that you have no desire to be in, even if that box is comfortable, or even inspiring, for plenty of others who’ve willingly placed themselves inside of it.”
    What a great comment.

  11. No Gravatar
    Tempest

    Feb 28, 2011 - 04:02:03

    Re-posting, b/c I think my original post got lost in moderation due to me linking to several resources that discuss the topic of steampunk bellydance in depth (search “beyond victoria” and “steampunk bellydance” for the curious, as well as Hagalla from Germany)

    Kudos to Tracy, T, and Janus Zarate for their insightful comments.

    I think there’s a bunch of different things getting jumbled here – I think that the real point of this piece (and correct me if I’m wrong) is addressing the very real issue of people focusing too much on costuming and not enough on the dance, and the confusion that results from that. I think dancers from all styles can definitely agree with that, and I really wish the piece had been titled and focused most acutely on discussing and aiding that agenda. And the problem is two-sided, there’s the dancers hopping on whatever trend suits their fashion fancy without much consideration as to WHY they’re doing it, and there’s the audience who may not be familiar/understand what they’re seeing, and label something as such – as I have long said, for many years, if you just looked not-cabaret, you must be tribal, with no one actually looking at the DANCING to make that conclusion, only the costuming. Add to that, the fact that a lot of dancers who call themselves “tribal fusion” are lacking that big factor of tribal, or even regular bellydance for that matter – these are the core issues, not labels.

    If this was meant to be an article on actual discussing the culture of steampunk and where it correlates with bellydance, it falls short immensely – and I again, I would direct folks to the several in-depth articles that debate the topic, from both the Steampunk community as well as the dance community.

  12. No Gravatar
    admin

    Feb 28, 2011 - 04:02:06

    Tempest! Perhaps YOU should write an article on the subject to be posted on Gilded Serpent! Yes, I think your previous post must have been filtered out because linking looks like spam. And it could appear that you would like to divert attentions away from the discusssion that is happening here. I think  Jasmine did a great job of starting an appropriate discussion.  If you have a different agenda, lets hear about it in an article of your own! Thanks  to you and all for your thoughts.

  13. No Gravatar
    Janus Zarate

    Feb 28, 2011 - 05:02:49

    Tracy, thank you for posting the clarification.   My statement was rather vague, but yes, I do agree with you.
    T. – excellent thoughts.  The gratuitous lumping and labeling of anything vaguely antique or retro as “steampunk” is frustrating for everyone involved, whether they’re artists, historical re-enactors, LARPers, musicians, self-described steampunks, or any relevant group I haven’t already mentioned.
    Regardless of my response to the article, I’m certainly glad the article is out there to encourage discussion.
    As Tempest thoughtfully discussed, costuming is a curse and a blessing in tribal fusion (as well as in steampunk and any culture or art form with an associated style of dress) because the outfit can carry so many unintended connotations, assumptions, stereotypes, and the like, and can often overshadow the core of the art.   Just as with selecting the music to perform to, creating a costume that gets the intended message across without compromising the dance is an art form in itself.
    On a related note… you’re Tempest the dancer, I assume?  If so, it’s a pleasure to see your thoughts on the matter here.

  14. No Gravatar
    Shay Moore

    Feb 28, 2011 - 07:02:02

    “It’s never a good feeling, having your meticulous, time-honored craft dismissed or eclipsed by a trend you have no immediate connection to. It’s difficult not to feel uneasy, watching your art form be oversimplified, lumped in, or lazily dismissed by an all-too-easy and reductive definition. It’s not fun, being shoved in a box that you have no desire to be in, even if that box is comfortable, or even inspiring, for plenty of others who’ve willingly placed themselves inside of it.”
    Not to be flip, but I imagine this sums up the feelings of a large cross-section of the bellydance “culture” who feel that lots of different things have been tossed into a giant pile and called bellydance, for no other reason than someone likes bellydance AND something else, and they think that gives them the inalienable right to jam them together and call it bellydance.  These sentiments ring true to artists of any and all ilk–there are always those who are trying to maintain a set of recognizable criteria and standards, and there are those who feel to do so is a constraint of their creativity. The former feels they are being undermined in their efforts to uphold their ideals, and the latter feels they are “taking it to the next level.”
     
    I always argue that a dancer should be able to remove their costume and even the music (gasp), and those knowledgable of the style being presented should be able to recognize the dance they are doing.  I have yet to see a performance called “Steampunk bellydance” able to communicate that fusion through purely movement. Tempest and I disagree on gothic bellydance as well–I have not yet experienced something under that moniker that didn’t look simply as either simply bellydance or generally modern/interpretive dance.
    Think of it. Can you recognize tap without any of the trappings? How about ballet? Flamenco? Hip Hop? Irish Step Dance?  Contact improv? Salsa? Jitterbug? Stomp?
    And within these styles, experts can even discern sub-styles fairly easily.  yet with bellydance, often we throw on a different piece of music and a different costume, and we think we can call it something else. We need to look deeper, as a community of artists, to understand what really differentiates one style from another, and whether it truly is a new style, or an existing style in a new frock.

  15. No Gravatar
    Tempest

    Feb 28, 2011 - 09:02:54

    Thanks Janus!

    Lynette – thought about it in the past, but there’s such very good pieces already out there on the subject, seems a bit superfluous. Perhaps something about semantics in bellydance, as Sharon and I will have to agree to disagree on a few points, and I think that’s where it really does sit. There’s the camp of “it’s all just bellydance, whatever” and the camp of “what you’re doing isn’t bellydance to me, it’s too different, don’t call it that” – so in one, (hypothetically) I’m just a bellydancer who looks weird, and in the other, I’m too weird to be a bellydancer. Can’t please everyone and I’m sure as hell not going to try 😉 But I personally don’t believe it’s just about the costuming or the music – obviously, a well-crafted and well-considered piece will have all of the elements working together to create the most cohesive performance for the audience’s experience – but even without the trappings, it can be done, and also can be explained and demonstrated through instruction clearly.

  16. No Gravatar
    Ramon Leon del Mar

    Mar 1, 2011 - 09:03:15

    To Ms. Cabanaw and her readers,
    I would like to preface this by saying that the following is my own opinion, albeit shared by most of my fellows in my local community on most, but not all points.
    I have read the original post in which you stated that:
    “Steampunk” bands, like Abney Park, dress in the full steampunk regalia and have “steampunk” belly dancers perform live to their music. The steampunk is in quotations here, because how can a band or a dance be defined by an aesthetic? The answer is that something that is music or movement based simply cannot be defined as “steampunk.” For example, if one was to listen to Abney Park without having seen what the band looks like, steampunk wouldn’t come to mind because steampunk isn’t a musical genre. Steampunk isn’t a dance genre either, in belly dance or otherwise.”
    and all the comments associated, and I agree they make for interesting reading.  As I am leading a panel discussion soon at All-con on the topic of current and future trends in Steampunk music and dance, I read and re-read them and copied many of them for discussion in that forum as I think some present worthy points of view.
    I would have to say, regarding the original article though, that Ms. Jasmine June Cabanaw makes herself appear more than a little uninformed on the topic of “Steampunk” when she writes it off as merely costuming, a fashion aesthetic, or cosplay.  This is unquestionably a social blunder as horrifically offensive to most of the Steampunk community I know as if one of us were ignorant enough to state that bellydance is just people dressing up in a costume and shaking their assests to Middle Eastern music. This would also be an equally untrue and ridiculous suggestion, but as I grew up in Texas, I hear a lot of silly things like that from time to time.
    Belly dance, in all serious forms, and as offered by serious dancers and artists of that genre, should be given the highest level of respect.  I say this as a dancer and a devotee of that art!  On the other hand, I disagree with many aspects of your article even though I agree with the general concept and intent.
    Let me explain why I believe your article got a bit off track from the original intention which appears to have been to point out correctly, that a costume does not change one form of dance into another, much less a completely independent genre, or even a sub-genre altogether.
    While members of the actual Steampunk sub-culture are very friendly with and thankful, to some degree, to the anime convention fans and many others who simply enjoy the fashion aesthetic as “cosplay”, for making space in their lives, their conventions, and their hearts for us to have a good place to meet and share our culture, far more than our aesthetic, with others of somewhat like minds (regarding a tendency to rebel against being told to have uniform and restricted forms of self expression or creativity), but serious members of our community do not do “cosplay” when dressing Steampunk.  That is a flat fact in my opinion.  This, even when a fashion aesthetic, is what we desire to wear most (albeit often in a somewhat physically lighter and less bulky accent manner for the sake of comfort at home) in every moment of our lives as it exemplifies who and what we are as creative rebels against the standardization of human thought, and as one author put it, the “graying down” of art and every other aspect of life in general
    Serious members of our culture sometimes choose to perform cosplay at such events, but they do not typically wear clearly identifiable steampunk ensembles for that purpose just to keep that difference between “cosplay” and lifestyle apparent.  One is excellent creative art, costuming, and sometimes acting, but the other goes much deeper in terms of developing self reliance, community, and using art to effect positive social changes, especially by encouraging others to become healthier, stronger beings by allowing their creative sides more freedom to breath and grow.  That is not an act, and certainly not a fashion trend.  Those interested only in fashion trends are welcome at our same events, but not considered really a part of the community, because they have nothing more than fashion taste in common with us.
    If a belly dancer, of any type, chooses to wear a recognizable fashion aesthetic, they are directly requesting the audience to make comparisons between and identification to some degree of that dancer and dance with the community the dress comes from regardless of the culture in question.  As such, it is not surprising that someone might, totally incorrectly, call what you are referring to “Steampunk Bellydance”, just as they might call it Japanese Bellydance” if the same dancer attempted to do it in a Kimono, but I agree that it would be just as inaccurate, albeit understandable, to do so.
    It is the dancer; however, that requests and invites this comparison any time she chooses to do belly dance in attire that is very unusual for the genre.  Some “tribal belly dancers”, for instance, use significantly different styles of belly dance, but some simply put on a different costume as a gimmick to get attention.  The same is true of Gothic attire, Steampunk, or any other aesthetic.  Many of the Steampunk community actually agree with you about that, but you should go to that dancer you are questioning first, and ask them what their intention was, as they are the ones requesting the comparison by their choice of attire for the performance.  Are they actually a real member of the Steampunk community that is trying to bring bellydance into their world (such as I believe Finn was when dancing for Abney Park) and looking for ways to develop it into a unique style, or are they simply trying to spice up an old routine with a new look?  We would consider the first to be serious beginning of “Steampunk Bellydance, and the second to be “cosplay”, which is not bad, actually it can be wonderful, but it is not “Steampunk” as it is purely superficial and cosmetic in nature.  If on the other hand, it is scripted and/or choreographed up to the level of an actual acting performance, or an interpretive dance performance, that tries to really present, address, steampunk themes, social issues, and/or controversies within the steampunk subculture within the interpretive dance of their art, then it becomes and entirely different thing all together. That I would strongly defend as “Steampunk dance” (or acting) regardless of the styles of dance fused into the routine. I say “fused into” as most of what I personally would relate to as “steampunk dance” and yes, as a dance professional, I believe it certainly is emerging as it’s own genre,  involves a fusion of ballroom, jazz, and (surprise, surprise) belly dance moves fused into a a truly unique blend that is used primarily to dance to music similar to Abney Park or Vernian Process in style, and that is clearly not identifiable as any other single style pre-existing.
    I look forward to supporting any efforts to use the art of belly dance to create unusual and unique interpretive “Steampunk” belly dance, but admit that I am still searching for that at this point.  The problem is that if enough “Belly Dance is truly included to identify it that way, then it becomes problematic to say how it is actually a new genre, or in this case sub-genre of belly dance, as I agree that fashion is not enough alone to justify this. Belly dance within our local community has not been a really common element so far, and that is probably why I have not seen a clearly “Steampunk” form of it yet, ( Iknow one that may justify the label, but she appears to be doing more “Dark Wave” bellydance at this point and I really haven’t seen her perform that much) but creative energy abounds here in Texas. In fact, one panelist has already offered to teach “Steampunk Belly Dance” at a Steampunk Convention we are sponsoring, performing in, and handling programming for, so we will be looking very closely at what they really are offering for the community as we consider the panel they propose.  I do not question that the person’s credentials are good as a belly dancer, so we will be looking at exactly what you refer to when deciding on an appropriate label for the panel. I fully agree that putting on a costume, does not turn a dance style into anything else, nor should it!  On the other hand, publishing articles that state flatly that “Steampunk” is purely a fashion aesthetic, is a bad idea, and very bad for our current efforts at establishing a mutual respect and cooperation between our two communities.
    Let me know if I can help with this effort to clarify confusion and, hopefully, strengthen the ties of mutual respect and support between our two communities and sub-cultures..
    Sincerely,
     
    Ramon Leon del Mar (aka Ramon Fagan, LCSW)
    Kali’s Hourglass – Covenant of the Kraken (performance art collective)

  17. No Gravatar
    Shay Moore

    Mar 1, 2011 - 10:03:53

    Ramon, I really enjoyed your take on this. Well stated!  In Jasmine’s defense, I think she was referring to the aesthetic as it is overlaid on bellydance, not necessarily relegated all of Steampunk to strictly a fashion trend. But that is how I read it, and I can see how it may have been interpreted otherwise with the way it was written. Then again, perhaps I misunderstood altogether…;)
     
    Shay Moore
    founder of the Seattle Steamrats
    (a good mix of cosplayers and lifestyle Steampunk folk)

  18. No Gravatar
    Jasmine

    Mar 1, 2011 - 07:03:10

    Hello everyone! I have really enjoyed reading all of the comments and different perspectives.  I would like to address and clarify a few things. In regarding steampunk, I was speaking strictly of the fashion component, as stated in the introduction.  In retrospect, I will admit I could have made that a bit more clear (although, it seems that some of you understood this). I am fully aware that there is more to steampunk than just fashion, and I have respect and interest in steampunk culture.
    My point, as Shay Moore recognized, was that belly dance cannot be defined as “blank” unless there is a school of movement to back it up. Carolena altered and created new moves with ATS, as did Jill Parker with Tribal Fusion. So far, there have not been a set of steampunk belly dance moves. I want to stress that I am only talking about belly dance here- I have no idea if there are other steampunk dance genres.
    I would also like to apologize for any offense taken in my comments pertaining to steampunk and music. I think made the same error as dance audiences sometimes do when viewing belly dancers: while researching the article, I came  across many bands that called themselves steampunk (or were called so by others) that were obviously not steampunk. I think I was annoyed by the time I saw any info regarding Vernian Process and managed to skip over that band! A huge blunder,  I know, and I am admitting it. So, I stand corrected on my point about steampunk music.
    However, I am standing firm on my opinion that there is no such thing as steampunk belly dance. Show me a new school of movement (as in, more than one dance move) that can pass as steampunk even when the costuming and music is taken away, and then I will concur.

  19. No Gravatar
    Ramon Leon del Mar

    Mar 2, 2011 - 05:03:07

    Thank you Ms. Cabinaw for the clarification. Apology accepted and I hope you accept mine as well if I offended in my attempt to clarify our position on, not the aim of your article, but rather on the manner in which it portrayed our culture in the process. I thought I should add here that when Tempest and Shay contacted me via private e-mail, suggesting much the same thing in terms of their take on your article, I advised them that I had carefully read the other comments before commenting, so I realized this may have been what you meant, but, the article had already raised a firestorm as it was re-posted to the entire Steampunk community, worldwide, almost immediately (we are very computer savvy people), and I am doing damage control, the best way I know how, in order to preserve the previously strong positive connection between the Belly dance subculture (yes I actually realize that serious belly dancers have a subculture all their own) and my own Steampunk culture.  Failing to point out just how offensive some of the statements in the article can be to some of us, was an essential element in reducing the severity of the backlash from my own community.  They are now seeing that their position has already been made clear, and then read what else I said about agreeing with your basic premise that a corset and bustle do not a Steampunk make. It may appear like I was angry, but I’m really just trying to get this matter clarified while reducing the overall backlash from what was probably an unintentional offense, that you gave unknowingly while attempting to make an excellent point.  I hope I was not unnecessarily offensive in the process, but still made the point of how strongly we “Steampunk Lifestylers” feel about these type of comments that reduce a serious social movement to a mere temporary fashion trend. That appears to have worked as I do not see a lot of angry posts coming your way even though I know at least 500 or so people that received the article re-posted without any such clarification at the time. As for the Steampunk music, I might add that in addition to Vernian Process, I am fairly sure there is no doubt in the minds of listeners to Abney Park songs after the Airship Pirate CD (about 3 cds back) or possibly much sooner, that they were irrevocably “Steampunk” and that several other bands such as Clockwork Quartet, The Cog is Dead, and several others are impossible to mistake as anything else even without any visuals. As for dance, I am personally involved in a style that is a truly original blend of styles (albeit drawing some elements strongly from Neo-Pagan Trance Dancing-which involves actual trances communing with nature spirits rather than Rave style drugs) that I refer to as Steampunk Dance as it is starting to blend in ballroom, belly dance, lyrical, modern, and many other styles, but I agree it is certainly not belly dance even though a lot of moves are taken from that genre, but slowed down and altered so vastly as to look more like lyrical than belly dance. I hear a lot of people talking about Steampunk Belly Dance, but actually agree with you on what I would like to see as a clear definition of such a thing. Perhaps a fusion of what I described above with more typical belly dance style may occur or already be out there, but I haven’t seen it yet either, though I certainly hope to do so. BTW I am a very devoted devotee of the classical art of belly dance and of Tribal Fusion as well, so I also wish to see their traditions respected as distinctive dance art.
    Ramon Leon del Mar – Kali’s Hourglass
    (aka Ramon Fagan, LCSW)

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    admin

    Mar 2, 2011 - 08:03:40

    Ramon— Please tell me you are exaggerating! You reposted our entire article and comments where? 
     “…  the article had already raised a firestorm as it was re-posted to the entire Steampunk community, worldwide, almost immediately (we are very computer savvy people)” 
    Please contact me immediately and lets talk about basic etiquette. Using content without permission is stealing. Please remove the material from your site now. See our FAQs, question #7 and after we talk perhaps you can do as describe in #11.
    Thank you,
    Lynette Harris
    editor, publisher, owner, founder …etc…

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    Shay Moore

    Mar 2, 2011 - 08:03:00

    Lynette, perhaps Ramon meant that the link to this article was reposted on several communities, not that the entire content was copied and pasted somewhere.  It’s probably best no to jump to conclusions before giving Ramon a chance to clarify what he meant?

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    Lynette Harris

    Mar 2, 2011 - 09:03:54

    I found it on his site including all the comments he found worthy.  I have attempted to contact him directly.  Thanks for your concern. This is a very sore point for me.

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    Shay Moore

    Mar 2, 2011 - 11:03:52

    Mea culpa. I didn’t see that before now, thanks for clarifying. I feel that summarizing/clipping  a portion of a post is appropriate, but indeed this was a little more than was ethical.
     
    From your tone, and as a Proper Gentleman of the Era, I feel pretty confident Ramon will make amends.  Bringing the conversation to a wider audience is always a Good Thing, but there are best and not-so-best ways to do that. Hopefully he will understand (not meaning to talk to you as if you aren’t here, Ramon, just not wanting to speak for you!)

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    Jasmine

    Mar 4, 2011 - 07:03:39

    Ramon, thanks for replying to my comment. The article was meant to be an opinion piece, and of course I knew it would arouse different opinions! I am thankful for the dialogue and am glad to have my perspective broadened because of it.
    On another note, though, I don’t like that you re-posted my article without my permission, especially before I had a chance to address the comments. There are copyright violations here, as well as taking the article out of a belly dance context. Belly dancers most likely will have a different take on the article than steampunkers, who I am sure (as you said) would be offended by some of my points. Also, how am I supposed to address people’s comments when I don’t even know which sites the article is on? I feel like that is very unfair to me and definitely can damage my cred as an author.
     

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    Ramon Leon del Mar

    Mar 5, 2011 - 08:03:59

    First: I believe I may have caused some misunderstanding due simply to the different uses of the word “re-post”.  On facebook the word is often used, possibly incorrectly, to indicate any time someone hits the “share on your Facebook page” button at the bottom of many articles in most online systems now.  I suppose the label sort of applies in this case as Facebook posts the caption photo and the first paragraph automatically with the link when this is done.
    Second, I never did that with your article.  I pointed out that it was “re-posted” almost immediately on Facebook, and that I was very concerned about the likely effect of this, but your editor is the one that assumed or read into what I said (understandably) that I was the one re-posting it.  As my years of writing experience have been in professional counseling and in local Neo-pagan newsletters, I was unfamiliar with the various uses of the term “re-post” and used the colloquial phrase I often encounter as the common usage on Facebook, which is not what you are thinking of.  This experience and trainign for years using APA format (american psycholgical association); however, was quite sufficient to teach me not to copy and paste someone else’s article into my own blog without permission or without citing the source.
    I was interested in the offensive response to the tendency to apparently dismiss “Steampunk” as purely a pop culture fashion trend, far more than the article itself, which I suspected  was intended to convey what I finally saw stated more clearly in your clarifying comment.   Not only do I agree with your point there, but I applaud you for being brave enough to bring up this very valid point, that a traditional dance style should not get re-labeled without a real basis for doing so.  I think the dancers that dress in modernized Victorian related attire are actually requesting the comparison (not the label) themselves, but that does not mean they or the rest of your community should have to accept it as a label of an actual dance style.  As the controversy about defining steampunk and about the interface between steampunk and the arts is exactly what I write about, that is what I entered a blog post regarding.
    Your belief that I “re-posted” your article, which I did not, comes from your editor assuming incorrectly that I define the term “re-post” the same as she does and her reading into my statement that I was the one “re-posting the article” combined with the fact that she did look at my blog site and found that I had copied some of the more calm and enlightening comments (not the article) so as to illustrate the different opinions, then stated my own, and then said to see the original article they would have to go to Gilded Serpent and read it there.  APA format does not teach or state anything about comments to articles as that is a new phenomenon that cannot exist in professional journals online or otherwise.  As they are handled quite casually in most forums, so long as the writer posting them is doing so to praise the good sense of someone that presented a position better than they could themselves, and is quoting someone they believe has better information or expertise on that viewpoint (often posting short comments in entirety in order to avoid the risk of misrepresenting them by quoting out of context) and labels clearly who made the comment in what journal in reference to what article, then the current trend on say “Brass Goggles” the largest “Steampunk” forum worldwide is to consider this acceptable so long as it is done in a positive way that is not a criticism of the comment copied and presented as an example of a healthy point of view.  I realize that as I have no standard, in my professional work, relating to quotation of comments or how to properly cite them, this can be problematic, and apolgize if it caused a problem.  So far as I can see; however, the problem arose in that your editor looked briefly, but was in too big a hurry or too angry to look closely enough to notice that the article and magazien were both cited completely with explanatory text detailing the source and directing readers there for the article.  She then incorrectly stated that she looked at my site and claimed (see above) ”
    Read more: Gilded Serpent, Belly Dance News & Events , Not So Steampunk Belly Dance
    Copyright 1998-to current date by Gilded Serpent, LLC

    “I found it on his site including all the comments he found worthy. ”
    when in fact she did not find
    it” [meaning the article] on my site at all.  I attempted to quote one or two sentences, as is typical for my profession when quoting another author, but could not find any one or two sentences that showed why there was a controversy without taking it so out of context as to put the author in a bad light, which is considered unethical.  In that situation, our standards permit a properly cited quotation of up to an entire paragraph, if necessary (4 sentences in this case) in order to put the statement into a proper context, so long as it is cited and properly explained as to the source and the purpose of the quotation.
    The only content that I quoted from your article is the following:
    “Steampunk” bands, like Abney Park, dress in the full steampunk regalia and have “steampunk” belly dancers perform live to their music. The steampunk is in quotations here, because how can a band or a dance be defined by an aesthetic? The answer is that something that is music or movement based simply cannot be defined as “steampunk” For example, if one was to listen to Abney Park without having seen what the band looks like, steampunk wouldn’t come to mind because steampunk isn’t a musical genre.  Steampunk isn’t a dance genre either, in belly dance or otherwise.”
    That quote only appeared on my personal blog, because I was quoting myself, by copying my own comment, to my own blog,
    The material prior to it cited the source.  The first comment you see above is what was copied to my blog.  Readers were directed back here for the original article.  I seriously considered quoting only one sentence, but that would have been either the 2nd or the 4th one, either of which would have been very unfair to you and have misrepresented your intent, which I was unwilling to do.
    The comments that I quoted were carefully cited.  My copy of my own comment in response to the article was less formally cited as it was linked to both the article and the previous blog post with the comments which cited it in detail, and an explanation of what I was responding to in the title and in the blog post making it difficult for anyone to mistake the quote as being my own material.
    I am sorry if you are concerned that others might take your statements the wrong way in another forum, but I have not done what your editor states, so it is important you take a close look and tell me what you think about what actually occurred.  I would be very interested in that.
    I cannot; however, take responsibility for whatever response a given subculture or social activist group makes if the style of presentation of ideas (valid ones I think in this case!) makes it appear that their community, beliefs, practices, and lifestyle are being invalidated as what looked like a suggestion that “Steampunk” was nothing more than a temporary pop-culture fashion trend.  This once again comes from the varied meanings of a single word, which is always a problem.  The tendency to try to “steampunk” everything just to make it sell or add variety, is indeed a temporary fashion trend, because it is being done by persons with no interest in the deeper philosphy and social movement of the sub-culture who are interested in economics not development of the self or of ones own creative thoughts, skills, and arts.  Dismissing all steampunk music and dance (I believe I see a really original style coming into being, but it’s not belly dance) as purely an aesthetic, was an unfortunate choice of approach which showed how a hasty and poorly researched comment or phrase can set off un-necessary conflict between two normally strongly allied groups.
    I certainly do not want to misrepresent what you were trying to say.  I did not copy your article anywhere.  I did copy a few of the comments about it, but was following the practices I saw common on my own forums and for which I have no specific guidelines.  I would actually appreciate referral to a site that specifies details about citing and re-posting comments to a magazine article.  In terms of professional writing, the idea of attempting to copyright someone else’s comment, or quoting or copying it intact elsewhere to comment ont heir comment, is a relatively new phenomenon as this really did not exist until online journals started permitting posting of comments.  This may not seem new to you, but certainly occurred since when I got out of grad. school where I was given formal training in such matters regarding writing, citations, and etiquette on quoting other people’s material.
    I hope that answers your question and ends the concern you might have had that I was “re-posting” your article anywhere.
    I seriously cons

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    Larry Amyett

    Mar 5, 2011 - 09:03:51

    I think something needs to be mentioned here. Regardless of the subject matter of this article, the manner by which the administrator of this site and article’s author, in my opinion, handled the issue of “re-posting” was unprofessional.
    The proper way to have addressed this issue was to have sent a private message to Ramon (his email is listed on his blog profile) rather than a public exchange. Admittedly, he made an error in the re-posting, which he has since resolved, but that didn’t warrant the drama. To use the word “stealing” and saying that the author’s credibility as an author was over the top.
    Ramon has been polite in all of his comments made in this exchange and I believe that he deserves a public apology by both this site’s administrator and by this article’s author.

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    Shelley Muzzy (Yasmela)

    Mar 6, 2011 - 03:03:53

    Now what were all these postings about?  Did we get lost and carried away?

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    Calliope

    Mar 11, 2011 - 02:03:09

    While I agree that there is currently not “steampunk belly dance”, I applaud the attempts of dancers who are genuinely trying to make a new movement style (and not just throw new aesthetic over regular bellydance). As this movement is in it’s infancy, I think it’s a bit premature to discount them and we should give them time to grow, experiment, and develop. After all, most, if not all, new art forms take a while to find their footing and their voice. I’m sure belly dance was the same way. 🙂
     
    -Calliope

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    Lara Lotze

    Mar 17, 2011 - 12:03:00

    Interesting discussion. I won’t go into anything at length, since most of my objections have already been addressed by others, but I will express my opinion on whether there is steam punk belly dance or not- I’d say perhaps not yet, but I’m sure it is coming! I think it is fine for us as belly dancers to state our opinions on whether or not something is belly dance or not, but isn’t it up to the steampunk community to decide whether a particular form is steampunk or not? I recently had an interesting discussion with fellow musicians about what constituted steampunk music- and there was a huge variety in responses! It is very much an art form in it’s infancy, and to me that is very exciting as we look at all the possible ways this can develop. There is a fair bit of crossover in the belly dance and steampunk communities, so I think a steampunk genre of belly dance is almost inevitable. If steampunk essentially started as a genre of fiction writing, then progressed into a community with more defined fashion and aesthetic, why can’t it grow to incorporate dance and movement as well?

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    tracey farmer

    Mar 18, 2011 - 10:03:20

    I think before anyone gets carried away with trying to create a new ‘style’ of belly dance, they should begin studying its roots, in North Africa (Egypt), the Levant and the Arabian Gulf.  Once you can identify the rhythms, type of music, region, culture, etc, then maybe you can try “inventing” something new to call your style.

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    Kryss

    Mar 19, 2011 - 01:03:22

    Admittedly, I have not read all of the comments, so pardon me if I missed something or repeat something here. I really enjoyed this article because when I first heard about steampunk belly dance, I asked several people what made it steampunk and the only real response I got was “the costume”. I think that what is being missed here is the actual dance.  When ballet is defined by style there is Russian Method, the Italian Method, the Danish Method, the Balanchine Method or New York City Ballet Method, and the Royal Academy of Dance and Royal Ballet School methods, derived from the Cecchetti method. They are diiferent in technique, line, posture and composition. When looking at the Cabaret style Belly Dance, it’s possible to break it down to Egyptian, Lebanese, Turkish and “Great American” being a combination of the previous 3 plus some elements of modern dance and then there is folkloric which breaks down pretty specifically by culture. Each of these has unique characteristics in movement, posture, composition of steps and execution of movements. I.e., Turkish is typically more grounded and sassy, Egyptian is contained and controlled and Lebanese big and covering space.
    I think it’s possible that this is the other side to what Jasmine is trying to say. “Steampunk” Belly Dance is still based in the foundational technique of Tribal Fusion in regard to posture, timing, line and composition. Even if the music is notable Steampunk without an visual input, that doesn’t automatically make the Belly Dancers dancing to said music “Steampunk” Belly Dancers. If they were dancing to the BeeGees, they wouldn’t be Disco Belly Dancers unless they were fusing classic movements from the disco repertoire with timing and composition of steps to reflect Disco dancing.
    Why does this matter? Because when new students are attracted to Belly Dance and they think they are labeling themselves as “Steampunk” Belly Dancers, they are doing a disservice to themselves and the art form by not having an understanding of the great, all encompassing, art of dance. Their teachers have failed them by not explaining that they’re still Tribal Fusion Belly Dancers, in Steampunk costumes. It is a fine line and slippery slope to walk. No one wants to say that any one else’s dance is not valid but no one should be trying to give the public a false sense of the art either. Know what is is that you do based on the principles of dance beyond Belly Dance, Tribal Fusion or otherwise.
    Just my 2 cents.

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    Jasmine

    Mar 25, 2011 - 11:03:45

    Kryss, you got my point spot on!

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    Joy Evans

    Mar 30, 2011 - 06:03:27

    sorry, but I totally disagree with her statement: “it’s not the belly dancer who is steampunk, but her costume”.  
    I perform steampunk bellydance, and I perform ‘bellydance”. It’s a lot more involved than just putting bellydance into steampunk costume. 
     
     My SteamPunk bellydance uses dance moves that I would never use as a bellydancer. We dance like clockwork dolls, who need winding up ocassionally. We use Mime, and mess about with the ‘timing’ of the songs ( speed sections up, slow them down ) 
     We use props like umbrella, suitcase, hip flask, a couple of types of fans … all things I would never use during a bellydance performance.    Except the cane ! my SteamPunk cane dance moves are based totally on Saidi cane moves..
    … although.I don’t think any Egyptian person would be caught dancing Tahteeb to a Beats Antique song ?  

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    Ramon Leon del Mar

    Mar 31, 2011 - 06:03:53

    Thank you for your comment Ms. Evans.  I would love to hear more about your approach to this type of dance.   Ms. Cabinaw and I continued our discussion of this fascinating topic outside of this forum, and she asked if I would be willing to assist her in gathering information for a follow up article that would explore the possibility of whether actual new dance styles and approaches, like what you describe, exist and how they differ from traditional Tribal Fusion styles.  (I write a blog that and articles for various magazines that explore the intersection between my Steampunk sub-culture and the arts)  None of the belly dancers in my community that I have interviewed thus far had nearly such interesting information or approaches to discuss, so I would dearly love it if you would contact me directly to explore this further (without taking up their cyberspace).  covenantofthekraken@yahoo.com
    thanks

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    Jasmine

    Mar 31, 2011 - 05:03:31

    Evans, I still have to disagree. Just because you incorporate some mechanical movements (re: winding up like a doll) does not make those movements belly dance movements. Maybe you could call it steampunk belly dance FUSION. What you described to me sounds like a steampunk belly dance performance, but it does not sound like its own dance genre.

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    Joy Evans

    Mar 31, 2011 - 06:03:14

    Yes, it IS SteamPunk bellydance fusion. If it’s true fusion, you should be able to clearly see the elements that have been blended together. In my case, 70% bellydance, 30% Steampunk ( music, costume, non-bellydance moves).

    It stops being bellydance when you can not see the bellydance moves.  Which is why I would never dance in a corset.

     To be fair to Steampunk, it’s also a lot more than just adding a victorian costume to the dance. It needs toadd that element of  future technology to the Victoriana. My sound-sensitive Top Hat lights up and pulsates in time with the music !

    I never feel comfortable with just labelling a bellydance as Fusion.

    I much prefer labels that describe what is being fused. e.g Steampunk bellydance fusion, or Bollywood bellydance fusion.

    Or if you like – Wady Samba al Malfuf – so you can expect some Brazilian steps and personality mixed with the Egyptian style.

    I love it when the name of a fusion piece tells you exactly what elements you should look and listen for!
    And if it’s very clever Fusion, you will clearly see the 2 elements, yet it takes on a magical ‘3rd quality’ that becomes more than the sum of it’s parts. 

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    Joy Evans

    Apr 1, 2011 - 12:04:52

    My SteamPunk bellydance does NOT have it’s foundation in Tribal Fusion.
    I’m not a tribal dancer, never have been. My background is orientale, with some folkloric styles.
    How can you justify saying that SteamPunk is really Tribal Fusion ?

    I would also never teach SteamPunk to beginner bellydancers. There’s no confusion there.
     I only dance Steampunk with other experienced dancers – we believe in learning the rules first, before they are bent or broken.

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    Joy Evans

    Apr 1, 2011 - 12:04:45

    Like some of the other people that have posted here, I am also concerned over the Editor’s handling of Ramon Leon del Mar – just because he posted a link to this page ??

    I only found this discussion because a link to it was posted on Facebook.
    and yes Editor, there are MANY people re-posting – and making comments about this page on Facebook.
    I don’t see how Ramon did anything wrong, when so many other people are doing EXACTLY the same thing.

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    Lynette Harris

    Apr 1, 2011 - 12:04:50

    I believe there was a confusion in terms. Posting a LINK  to this article is encouraged. Taking the content of the article including comments and reposting the content on your own site is diverting support for the artists who created it. Posting links in the comment section below an article is a common technique for spamming.  Discussion is valuable to the original topic if it stay on that topic and doesn’t divert attention to an individuals personal agenda.

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    Jasmine

    Apr 1, 2011 - 04:04:12

    Joy Evans,
    I think you and I are actually in agreement. The confusion arises when the word ‘fusion’ is left out of the title.  I have seen many versions of steampunk belly dance fusions and have enjoyed a lot of those performances (including yours- I saw a video on You Tube. LOVE your costumes!).   The problem comes when people just stick a word (like steampunk) in front of belly dance and try to pass it off as its own dance genre, when it isn’t.

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    Joy Evans

    Apr 1, 2011 - 05:04:22

    It seems you define a dance genre as containing moves that you could say are specific to that genre alone – you could take away the costume and music, and still be able to identify it as ‘that’ style of dance.

    I can compile a list of  Steampunk bellydance steps that meet exactly that requirement.
    It’s only a small list at the moment, as it’s a fairly new dance style. hopefully other ‘Steampunk bellydancers’ will start to use these moves, and add new moves to the list.

    When my troupe first began researching Steampunk bellydancers on Youtube, it was quite disappointing that many of them were doing some form of Tribal Fusion, with Steampunk costuming elements.

    We wanted to invent dance moves that were very specific to Steampunk.
    And yet it’s still bellydance, as every time I perform a hip-drop, snake arms, shimmy etc I’m trying to do it with the very best bellydance technique that I can.
    And any bellydancers in the audience definitely know what  they are looking at.

    This list includes steps either invented by me and my dance troupe, or from other bellydancers’clips on YouTube:

    1. Checking the time on a pocket watch or timepiece while standing in a held bellydance pose.

    2. ‘Clock Hands’ – first dancer stands with right hand held out stiffly. 2nd dancer stands behind her with left hand out. Both dancers move their arms round like hands of a clock. ( I can’t think of any other dance style that uses this ?)

    3. Clockwork Doll Being Wound Up – stand bent over from waist, slowly rise up with jerky movements. This works best with a  ‘winding up a clock’ sound bite, but if I saw this performed without sound, I would still guess it was a SteamPunk piece. 
    There are several versions of this step on Youtube.

    4. Hip Drop ! done with exactly the same technique as an oriental or Tribal fusion dancer !
    What makes it a ‘Steampunk Bellydance’ move ?  The Timing.
    It is performed in a jerky mechanical manner. 
     Not smooth and fluid. Not sharp like a regular accent.
    Like clockwork, it’s jerky and mechanical.

    There are many steampunk bellydance clips on Youtube now, with people who are getting it right.
    I craft this new dance genre very carefully, with much love, care and attention.
    No matter what it gets called, I’m going to keep dancing  my version of Steampunk bellydance with my friends.

    a Final note on music – you could try listening to Pentaphobe’s CD called ‘Sawdust”.
    Right from the very first note of the first song, you will immediately ‘get’ what Steampunk music is.

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    Jasmine

    Apr 1, 2011 - 07:04:49

    Maybe numbers 1 and 4 could constitute as steampunk belly dance movements, but the other two would just be steampunk- where is the belly dance with those movements? So, it still sounds like a fusion to me. With ATS and Tribal Fusion, there are whole schools of movements that have been modified from existing belly dance movements. You can’t just create a new movement and call it belly dance. Belly dance movements have centuries of history and cultivation behind them. Sorry, there is no such thing as “steampunk belly dance”. Fusions between the two, sure, but not a steampunk genre. When a ballet dancer performs the nutcracker, she is not defined as a “nutcracker ballet dancer”. She is simply a ballet dancer performing a choreography.  The same (thus far) goes for belly dancers performing steampunk. You are a belly dancer doing a performance that has both belly dance and steampunk elements- which is great, creativity is encouraged- but call it what it is. A lot of Americanized versions of belly dance get a bad rep because they treat the dance style so lightly and call belly dance anything they want without really understanding what defines a genre. Any dance genre needs a sound structure and a body of movements to qualify as its own genre. There is a difference between the type of performance and the type of dance.  If a movement is going to be “steampunk belly dance” it needs to contain BOTH steampunk and belly dance movement elements simultaneously.

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    Joy Evans

    Apr 1, 2011 - 08:04:32

    Yes, a performance by my troupe contains both Steampunk and bellydance moves simultaneously.

    Much of the feedback I have received from audiences ( both bellydancers and general public) has been along the lines of ” they now understand what steampunk bellydance is”. and ” they learnt what steampunk was about, but could simultaneously see the bellydance moves.”

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    Joy Evans

    Apr 1, 2011 - 09:04:33

    I’m also glad you brought up Ballet, and the Nutcracker suite.

    One of our choreographies is to Abney Park’s ” Dance of the Sugar Plumb Fairy.” wicked version of it.

    You just reminded me that all the dance steps associated with bellydance – and all Ballet steps – are so hugely different in their guidelines and regulations, and qualifications available.

    Authentic Bellydance continues to grow and change -modern Egyptian oriental, and ATS, (which doesn’t need the word Fusion) are just as much ‘bellydance’ as urban Baladi, or classical egyptian.

    Ballet, in all its gloriousness, does not seem to grow and change in the same way. It just is.  what it is.

    Applying the same rules to Steampunk bellydance as you would to  Ballet seems a little unfair.
    Especially when it comes under the umbrella of ‘Bellydance”.

    I have seen Gothic Bellydance DVDS for sale. If you took away the music and costume, would they survive the VERY Strict description you have applied to Steampunk bellydance ?

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    Joy Evans

    Apr 1, 2011 - 10:04:57

    Sorry to get so excited, but I just came up with another step for ” The List”.
    5. this is what I’ve always called the ‘Sohair Zaki’ step. Sharp hip drop on right, squeeze and pull left waist in so left leg and hip lift up. repeat on other side.
    If you look at old clips of Sohair Zaki you often see her walking like that – think it was sort of a ‘signature step’ for her?

    Steampunk version – do exactly that, but add a tiny shimmy during the ‘shot of steam sound’ in the music.
    To fulfil your criteria that the Steampunk and Bellydance elements should happen simultaneously:
    I NEVER perform Steampunk bellydance alone – while I’m shimmying, someone else is pouring liquid ice from a teapot, while another is winding a watch, or hipnotising the audience with strong slow Hip figure-8s…

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    TribalLover

    Apr 6, 2011 - 01:04:50

    but isn’t  “Steampunk Bellydance” easier than “egyptian belly dance troupe wearing steampunk costumes and dancing to a steampunk band with approx 80% “pure” belly dance and 20% unique steampunkyiness”?

  47. No Gravatar
    Jasmine

    Apr 19, 2011 - 07:04:48

    Joy- I think you are at the very forefront of defining the steampunk belly dance genre. I never intended to sound like I was against steampunk belly dance- quite the contrary actually. I would love to collaborate with you on what you are doing with the dance and how it is evolving for you.

  48. No Gravatar
    723

    Jun 27, 2012 - 05:06:00

    I love steam punk costumes and Tribal fusion belly dance. Sometimes I combine them together:) A heart shaped pocket watch(a spring watch?), an antique music box, slow and fast space, tick tuck sounds are this dance’s concepts!!

  49. No Gravatar
    Kris

    Dec 29, 2013 - 10:12:47

    Dance is a visual art. Enough said, but I shall elaborate. Not only is it a visual art, it is art and that means that a variety of means of expression SHOULD be accepted. Growth is want causes the forward action of what we love. I am trained as a classical ballerina. I have been trained as a tapper, clogger and ballroom dancer, I have a BFA  and have been bellydancing for 5 years . I first read this article a couple of days ago while researching and preparing for a show in which “steampunk” would be useful for the proratel of the dance to the concerned audience…The stage “steampunk” is at now is the stage that things that cause us to move forward are often at and though there will always be opposers, there will also always be supporters and it is up to them how this all turns out. If the supporters are passionate enough, this movement will become a part of bellydance fusion (officially) and if they are not, naysayers will always oppose…such a delicate balance that doesn’t actually matter at all. Just dance, enjoy dance and allow others to dance and define dance as they please. It is only important to an individual no matter the view. Dance is what it is and dance is a great and beautiful thing. Chill out. …in my opinion:)

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Gilded Serpent

MaryEllen Donald