Monday, August 25, 2008
The Fairy Dancers: Linda Donahue, Julia Mandala and Julia Burchard
Today, I present to you the Faerie Dancers, Linda Donahue, Julia Mandala and Julia Burchard. The trio have been performing for many years now at various conventions, and these photos are from the world SF convention in Denver this year. Linda is a friend of mine and offered to share them. Below is what she said about dancing and writing:
We love to dance for the exercise and we love to perform for the fans. It's just our way to add another dimension of entertainment at local conventions. Juli and I were dancing at conventions before we were attending as writer panelists. And now we have a sort of cross-audience of fans. At a recent convention I'd attended a panel and forgotten my name plate. I apologized to the audience and a lovely lady in the front said, "It's all right. Your fans know who you are." At the time, I'd assumed she meant those who read my stories as this was a writing panel. But afterwards, while we were talking and she took one of my bookmarks, she said, "What have you written?" So it turns out, she was one of my dance-fans who'd seen the show the previous night. Now that brought a smile.
About the pictures, we do a sort of belly dance performance--although we blend in jazz, ballet and even some of my tai chi into our shows. We're a fusion style. Belly dance is a very old dance and was originally for women and by women, taught from mother to daughter in part to strengthen her body so she wouldn't die in child-bearing. It's roots are very old and in countries that oppress women, it is often the one thing that lets a woman be "elevated" above a man. In case you didn't know, belly dancers first started using canes and swords as props to poke fun at men and dancers in these cultures are "divas" or "goddesses." Furthermore, the older the dancer the more respect she commands. That's why, if you hang out in or with belly dancers, you might hear a reference along the lines of "At 50, every dancer becomes a goddess/diva." Anyway, it's not the hoochie-coochie dance some people think it is. It requires a lot of muscle strength, balance and coordination. All the minor "shimmy" movements are actually done by selectively clenching muscle groups and relaxing them. It's like pilates in that sense. If done right, belly dance combines the best benefits of pilates, yoga, aerobic and weight bearing exercises.
Oh yes, I'm in the purple wig. Julia Mandala is in the black & pink wig. And Julia Burchard is in the blue. These costumes feel weirder to me because they show so much more leg than usual. But we were trying to go for the sort of Amy Brown fairy--but without actual corsets so we could dance a little more easily. I'm the oldest of the bunch as I'll be 49 in December. Julia B, at a mere 30, is the youngest.