Dark Fusion Dance Inspiration, Volume I

This is the first in a series of posts I’ll be making in which I link to some of my all-time favourite performances in dark fusion or gothic bellydance.  This list will be limited to the performances I love so much that I watch them over and over again, drinking in every nuance of the music, lighting, costumes, choreography, and atmosophere.

Many of these are also linked on my dark fusion dance page, which contains more general information about this dance form, but I wanted to make an updated post with all the links to my current favourite performances in one place.

This list features just a few dancers whose work has inspired me the most, including:

* Ma’isah
* Aepril Schaile
* Shakra
* Paige Lawrence
* Raqs Fusion Factory
* Asharah

I know that several of these dancers identify themselves as pagans, witches, or occultists as well, and their spiritual focus is part of what attracts me to their work.



Raqs Gothique: Ma’isah solo dark fusion veil dance 2010

This moody, ethereal veil dance performance by Ma’isah of Elysium captivates me.  I love the blue lighting, the music is so emotionally laden, and although the feel of the piece is predominantly mournful, she nonetheless exudes a subtle and beautiful sort of eroticism.  The ending sends chills up my spine every time I watch it!

I also love the fact that she wears a headpiece with a black stone over her third eye, just as I do when I do ritual dance at the Hermitage.


Raqs Gothique: Ma’isah solo “Outside Your World”

This is part two of a three-part performance, in which she dances to an ethereal dark ambient-neoclassical track by Arcana.  It even takes place at a place called The Monastery.  If you like this one as much as I do, definitely check out the other two.

Did you know she teaches online classes, too?  As far as I know, she is the first – and only – dark fusion dancer to do so.  I hope that one day I will be able to stream online classes and workshops with more dark fusion dancers through a pay-per-view or subscription model, just as the folks at Datura Online have done.


Aepril Schaile:

Aepril Schaile at Raks Spooki

This 2007 performance is the one that originally captivated me and made me a huge fan of hers.  My enthusiasm was driven in part by her amazing artistry and dancing, of course, and in part by my enthusiasm: “You mean there are bellydancers who do this kind of dance to industrial music?  While dressed all in black, with black veils?  I’ve wanted to do this since the early 1990s, but when I joined a bellydance class back then I was the only black-clad freak, and I found the music completely uninspiring, so I didn’t last long.  I want to drill to rhythmic noise and EBM!  WHERE DO I SIGN UP?!?!”


Babalon: Aepril Schaile at ShadowDance

Magnificent.  Her dancing always stirs profound emotion in me.  I particularly love the veiled intro section with burning incense.  Of course no one who reads this blog will be surprised to hear that I love the dark ambient music in the intro…and I’m also thrilled that she dances to Räven (Fox Woman) by Hedningarna, which is one of my all-time favourite Hedningarna tracks, and one I’ve been dancing to for years myself.  Enjoy!


Aepril Schaile at BellyFusions 2010: The Snow Queen

I watch this incredible performance during my Yuletide celebrations every year now, and it continues to deepen and strengthen my passion for ritual dance. I eagerly await her instructional DVD, to which I contributed.


Aepril Schaile at Xmortis’ “Arabian Midnights”

Her signature style is riveting, theatrical performances packed with emotion, and of course this one is no exception.


Mechinations by Paige Lawrence at Salon L’Orient

I love this performance – the costume, blue lighting, choreography, choice of music, and most especially his energy.  This performance inspired me to sign up for a workshop with him in 2012, for which Paige visited the Hermitage.  (He even called it “gothalicious”!)

Paige teaches workshops on harnessing deep pain and dark emotion to bring a high level of power to dance performance, and his workshop at Gothla UK 2013 is called “Hekate’s Cauldron.”  His musical project is called Her Undulating Scales, and he is the director of The Uru Tribe, the first all-male tribal fusion bellydance troupe in North America.  Check out his work!


Ego Umbra at Shadowdance 2012

This is an amazing and powerfully evocative performance, exploring the realm of the shadow self in the Jungian sense. I’ve watched it several times with rapt attention. The whole piece is captivating, but I especially love the sharp transition at 1:28.  Gives me chills!

Here’s the summary from the video description:
“The shadow self is the embodiment of all parts of the personality — both positive and negative — that are buried somewhere outside the light of consciousness. It is made up not only of our least desirable traits, but also of the power in ourselves we are afraid to behold, and it is a strong source of creativity if it is accessed regularly. Without embracing it and calling it forth, however, it finds other ways to emerge. In this eponymous piece, Ego Umbra explores the consequences of evoking the shadow self, and the even more dire consequences of having ever denied it.”


Edenia at Gothla 2009

This performance features a wonderful build-up of anticipation, exceptional interpretation of the music, and one of my favourite Amduscia tracks (“What”).  Love her sinuous, slinky movement style, too.


Gothic Bellydance – “Primordial Womb & Charm of the Snake”

Iman Najla with Mystique Bellydance

The atmosphere of this piece, and the ritualistic music, is what really grabs me.  In this case I can’t say I like all of the choreography – I’m not particularly fond of the candle-carrying, for example, and in some portions I think the dancers get a bit too occupied with the ritual part, at the expense of the dancing – but I very much like the use of veils, especially the parts in when they are flipped back over the dancers’ heads.  The knives aren’t bad either.


Raqs Fusion Factory performs at Opera Viareggio 2012

I’m not sure how many times I’ve watched this performance, but it’s a lot.  I love the choreography.  The belly dance/jazz dance fusion is excellent!  The veil work and the costumes are stunning.  Exceptional interpretation of the music, too.  I hope to have an opportunity to study with these amazing ladies in Milan someday.


Asharah at Tribal Fest 2008

Want to know how to do anger in bellydance the right way?  This is the perfect performance to watch.  Asharah dances her heart out to a very intense breakcore track called “Grist” by Drumcorps, and inspires countless dancers – including me! – in the process.

Asharah’s opening piece on the very first Gothic Bellydance DVD by World Dance New York was the first gothic bellydance performance I ever saw.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I had been given a glimpse into my future self: a veil had been lifted, and a part of my destiny revealed.  I knew I had to learn how to do this kind of dance, or die trying.


Shakra at Tribal Fest 2007

These amazing dancers were the first bellydancers I saw, aside from Aepril Schaile, who danced to industrial music.  And oh, boy, do they ever know how to do it right.

Their beautifully creepy performance to Maduro and Wumpscut was featured on the second Gothic Bellydance DVD (Hey, WDNY, how ’bout making a third?  Fourth?  Fifth?)  They also made an industrial strength workout DVD in their energetic signature style.


OK, that’s it for Volume I.  Enjoy these incredible performances!  I keep a close eye on what’s going on in the world of dark fusion dance, so no doubt I will post more!

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