I know I haven't payed nearly as much attention to Orgeltanz as I should've, but watching the band's bellydancer Eshe perform the most mesmerizing dance to Apollo 18's Orbis I promise that'll change. I've liked the idea of a bellydancer in a band since I first heard of it, but after Orbis I became even more fascinated by the idea and wanted to learn more. Eshe lovingly provided delightful answers to all of my questions:
How did you start bellydancing?
I was 21 and I'd just taken my first ever flight and moved to Tokyo, Japan from Canada. I was there for a year to save money to pay for my last year of university. I saw an ad for bellydance lessons in a free entertainment magazine and thought I'd check it out. I was the worst dancer in the class. I had no dance experience but I loved it so much. I'm super impulsive and I totally threw myself into dance. I was taking 3-7 lessons a week during the first year. I was super determined to improve. I practiced all the time. I was shimmying when brushing my teeth and practicing level changes riding the subway. My teacher saw something in me and I was on my first stage after 3 months of studying. Her faith in me gave me the confidence to perform for an audience but bellydance gave me the confidence to move through life and feel good about who I am.
How did you end up in Seoul?
A year in Japan quickly turned into four years. I just kept getting more and more opportunities and working with the best in the business there. But in the end I needed change. I knew a lot of dancers who'd visited Seoul and said bellydance was growing here. That was a must before I considered any destination. And I loved Korean barbecue! It was a really hard transition though for me at first probably because I hadn't anticipated how different Korea and Japan would be. It's become so enriching and rewarding being here. I could never have predicted how much Korea has become part of my soul or how I would grow as a person and an artist by being here.
How did you end up in Orgeltanz?
When I arrived in Seoul I initially had trouble connecting with the bellydance community. So I started emailing everyone I could think of to link up for events-DJs, nightclubs, dance studios, dance teachers, bands, event promoters, charities and organizers. For every 60 or so emails I sent out I got 1 response. One response was from the Well Being Studio in Seoul's Itaewon area where I have been teaching bellydance classes since January of 2008. The other response was from Orgeltanz. I ended up meeting them at a show and being totally enchanted by their sweet music. They invited me to a rehearsal. We went into the studio and they played while I danced. Everyone was looking at the floor and after I finished everyone was silent and I thought they totally hated it. But the bassist smiled at me and said "Today is the best day of my music life." And then everyone joined in about what they liked. It was awesome. We went out as soon as practice was finished to try and book a venue for our first show. I'm so grateful that they took me under their wing and accepted me as family.
Where can we expect to see you dance next?
I'm really honoured that Apollo 18 have asked me to dance at their CD release party on September 19th at Salon Badabie in Seoul's Hongdae district. That's going to be an amazing show. I'm a huge fan of theirs. I listen to The Blue Album every single day. I also have a really deep respect for their artistic vision. They really know what they want and who they are. The Plastic Day are also playing that night too. Their music is so inspiring to me as well. I love dancing around in my house listening to them. Their passion is really tangible and their talent is unbelievable. I was lucky enough to dance with them at the end of August at The 7th Psychedelic Flower Music Festival in Hongcheon and it was so much fun. We're talking about creating a psychedelic party together in the fall that I'm really excited about too. Cocore was actually the very first band I performed with in Korea (at Seoul's Festival Bo:m in 2008) and as they've just finished their eclectic new album I'm hoping they might have a spot on stage for me sometime in the future too. I admire not only their longevity but also their courageousness and creativity. Those are things I hope to emulate. And of course, I'll continue to dance regularly with Orgeltanz.
Do watch her dance away in Orbis if you haven't already, and don't miss the many gorgeous photos on her website. Oh, and here's a recent clip with Orgeltanz! I want to be able to do that too...
Tuesday, September 8, 2009