Cover photo: Luís Conde
Her dance style:
“Belly dance is my dance style. I am mainly influenced by Egyptian (classic and folkloric) belly dance styles as well as Tribal Fusion Belly dance, since most of my technique and artistic perspective comes from both of these sources. I am more dedicated to Fusion now, but I still use a lot of the classic and folkloric repertoire. I am also influenced by other dance styles that I have been studying such as Gypsy Dances from Eastern Europe and Russia and Authentic Solo Jazz. Vaudeville and burlesque performance style and aesthetics are other sources of inspiration, especially for working with Blues music.”
“My goal is to develop a different approach for each musical style within this vast universe that is Blues and Rock, so I borrow a lot of influence from the culture around each style (lifestyle, fashion, hairdressing, history, literature and ideas associated with).”
My goal is to develop a different approach for each musical style within this vast universe that is Blues and Rock.
“I try to incorporate influences from all types of movement practice I train with. Recently I have been expanding my horizons, taking Ballet classes, participating in Orchidaceae Dance Intensive (exploring urban dances, contemporary dance and Capoeira), and also working with an Ancient Greek Dance research and performance group (Terpsichore Dance) and I feel that all of this experiences are being gradually incorporated in my dance.”
“I have been exploring what I call the “Blues n’ Rock” musical universe, including Blues, some Jazzy Blues, Blues Rock , Rock N’ Roll, Psychobilly and more recent music usually included under the big umbrella that is Alternative Rock (including post-punk and more industrial or electronic rock music). I have already danced this styles in Tribal Fusion haflas and shows, Oriental Dance haflas, dance competitions, private events, my own shows produced by me and in collaboration with other dancers, and rock n’ roll events produced by other artists.”
“When I choreograph to Rock music, the easiest I think is the fact that it is a style of music that I like very much, that I know very well, and of which I have a good historical and cultural perspective and knowledge. It’s easy to understand the musical structure, identify the instruments involved in each song, and the conceptual aspects related with it in terms of meaning, social context, and aesthetics. It’s also very helpful that blues and rock have a lot of similarity with Arab music, in terms of structure (the call and response is very present, for example), and the sound and dynamic of the instruments is also similar (the guitar is sometimes undulating as an accordion, other times more sharp as an Oud, or very rapid, with small notes reminding a Qanun). With Metal music I think it’s a bit more difficult because the music is more fast and sharp, with less change in dynamics.”
“When designing the dance, I like to select the movement repertoire according to the musical style and musical structure of each song, using the E=E concept by Hossam Ramzy as a guide to musical interpretation.”
“The main difficulty is in being able to create movement that has the same intensity as the music, since rock songs are usually sharp, energetic and powerful, so they need to be danced with lots of expression, using movements that have the same force and impact in the audience as the music has. To find this match between dance and music is not always easy, since you cannot head bang or simply jump in a professional dance performance, or letting the music control you and go nuts and do lots of stuff in top of each other! You have to find a balance between intention and energy in your performance and going crazy.”
About the future of her style in Lisbon, her city, and Portugal:
“I think that more and more dancers are interested in exploring these styles of music here, so I believe that in the future it might be possible to have a community of dancers dedicated to these styles in a systematic way, which meet and change ideas and even organize events together. Let’s see how it goes :).”
¡BellyDance Rocks! project
“¡Bellydance Rocks! resulted from my passion for blues and rock music and my need to find a way to meaningfully dance it using belly dance technique. The main idea behind it is to develop a systematic and thoughtful approach to dance several styles within this large and diverse musical universe, respecting their musical structure and cultural and historical background. It’s a work for a lifetime, I know! But I am not easily discouraged and I am bold in my goals. The project considers both the creation of choreography and performance, and also the transmission of this approach through classes and workshops. In the future I would love to teach in several places around Portugal and other countries, and to have a ¡Bellydance Rocks! company and produce several shows and events with invited artists, from dancers to musicians and dj’s, to any artist interested in the blues and rock culture. I have lots of ideas; just give me time and the capacity to engage other people!”
Work with rock bands:
“In 2015 I have collaborated with The Voodoo Club project, dancing to live music, by Os Cardosos, a rockabilly and surf rock Portuguese band. It’s great to dance to live music, but it’s not always easy to adjust a dance performance to a concert gig setting. In 2017 I wish to look for more possibilities of collaborating with musicians. Wish me luck!”
Vera Mahsati, where to find her?
Facebook: Vera Mahsati
YouTube Channel: Vera Mahsati
Website: Vera Mahsati – ¡Bellydance Rocks!
Facebook Page: Bellydance Rocks