I had the pleasure of hosting Kami during the recent MEDANZ Festival in Christchurch and was fascinated by her tales of adventures touring with Belly Dance Super Stars and Beats Antique as well as the day to day reality of making your living as a fusion belly dancer. In addition to performing and teaching belly dance Kami also designs and hand crafts her own jewellery range (a number of her designs can now be seen adorning MEDANZ Festival attendees, and are available on her Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/nz/shop/KamiLiddleDesigns?ref=profile_shopname). In this interview we explore some influences on her creative process, longevity in the art form and what’s next for the fusion belly dance genre.
Q: What non-dance art forms or ideas inspire your dance aesthetic?
My first inspiration is music. I have a very hard time creating or being inspired without the right piece of music to move me. I also find inspiration in nature, visiting museum or art galleries. Oh and I’ve really been obsessed with watching music videos and getting ideas from them lately.
Q: Do you currently study any other dance form or movement practice on a regular basis?
I take yoga and Pilates classes pretty regularly as well as have my own personal yoga practice to keep me flexible while travelling. I mostly focus on taking contemporary dance classes, but have also recently been dabbling in voguing classes and my new hobby is surfing which is a whole new way of learning to use your body and find your balance.
Q: It must be challenging to stay motivated and inspired to keep creating when you have done so many shows and created so many dances - what motivates you to continue growing & creating as a dancer?
It is true, it does stay hard to continue to be motivated and inspired. One thing that keeps me on top of that is my classes and workshops; knowing that I have to be prepared gives me that extra boost (I do well under pressure). What really helps me is taking time off. I tend to take a couple of weeks off once a year where I don’t dance or practice at all and allow myself the space to begin to miss it, that way when I jump back in I feel reenergized by dancing. I also find taking a dance intensive from a dancer I admire to be a great motivator when I’m feeling stuck or in a rut.
Q: Trends and fashions in Fusion Belly Dance change over time - are there any particular trends you've spotted in your recent travels that indicate where the dance form may be headed next?
I am seeing a trend of a lot of contemporary dance combined with belly dance, which I love, as well as sleek costumes and a lot of lyrical electronic music. I love that aesthetic, but it also a bit far away from the origin of the dance, so I think what will happen next is a resurgence of more traditional styles of belly dance. It is an ebb and flow I’ve witnessed over the years; we seem to always be pulled back to the source.
Q: Where will your next dance adventure take you?
I am currently gearing up for a three week trip to Switzerland, England and then Canada.
Q: Where was the strangest place you have performed to date?
Hmm, that is a tough one, so many to choose from! I used to dance at this bike race in Reno called Tour De Nez. They would give the winners their trophies and then I would come out and dance around. It was an odd context; as if I was part of the reward for winning, but yet why would there be a belly dancer at a bike race? It was still good fun and paid me well while I was putting myself through college.
Q: What is the one thing you can't travel without?
I created a little altar box that I take around with me and leave next to my bed. It has mementos of home, my loved ones and makes me feel happy and not so far away when I look at it.
Review of Kami Liddle’s ‘Patreon’ Online Video Subscription Site
By Tracey of TribalDiva Belly Dance (Christchurch)
Patreon is a content sharing website for ‘creators’ of many varieties to share their work directly with individual customers or patrons; apart from a number of belly dance and other dance instructional video creators the website is also home to designers, writers, photographers and musicians who make their work available for people to purchase on a subscription or one-off payment for product/service basis.
I have to admit that I initially found the set up of Patreon a bit confusing! It’s not a system I’m familiar with but once I looked in to it the site seems to offer a good way for artists/creators to share their work easily and be reimbursed for it. Payments on Patreon work via ‘pledges’ from patrons to creators – you could select to give a creator a pledge of $1 per month for example just because you like their work & want to show support (aka the ‘Tip Jar’), or you can pick a monthly amount that corresponds with a particular ‘reward level’ that the creator has set.
On Kami’s Patreon site she has set the amount of USD$10 per month as a pledge in return for the reward of: access to one 20 minute or more instructional video a month, inspiring music, videos, and articles along with bonus short and challenging layering drill videos. For this $10 monthly pledge (which will be automatically deducted from your credit card each month until you cancel it, which you can do at any time) you also get access to a monthly ‘google hangout’, which is a bit like a conference call where Kami will answer dance related questions for anyone who wants to join in. There is also the option to pledge $5 for access to an individual video. What isn’t stated but I think is important is that for the monthly $10 pledge you also get access to all of the videos & other content posted in previous months, this wasn’t clear until I completed the pledge process & had full access to Kami’s site.
The creator posts on Patreon are arranged in a feed format similar to facebook, which is quite good in that patrons can comment on the posted videos & links and Kami can (and does) reply to those, making it quite an individualised way of communicating together. Patrons can also request specific content be covered which is pretty unique & a great point of difference from other subscription services. The downside of this arrangement is that you have to scroll through to find each video; although you can filter posts by the tags attached to them there doesn’t seem to be a catalogue by title or content anywhere which would be quite useful to see all the videos that are available.
Kami’s videos are aimed at intermediate to advanced dancers; they focus on relatively complex isolation combos with plenty of challenging layers and concepts – I found them fun and interesting & will definitely be incorporating some of the concepts & technique into my classes in the near future!
As those of us who attended Kami’s workshops during the Medanz Festival will know Kami’s teaching style is great, she’s very precise and clear in her movement execution and the explanations of movements while still being personable & fun to learn from. This certainly carries over into her videos which I found well paced & easy to follow.
The low production cost & set up time (one of the videos is filmed on her hotel balcony while away on tour!) means that she can share new content really quickly – I liked that one video included a combo she actually using in class at the time.
There are a total of 6 instructional videos on Kami’s Patreon site which has been running since Dec 2016 so they are not quite keeping up with the 1 per month reward level offered, but there is also a full choreography instructional available, Spotify playlists from specific events (although some of them are available anyway on Kami’s Spotify profile anyway) and links to podcasts and other dance/art inspirational resources.
Overall I have a mixed review of Kami’s Patreon site; the videos that are on there are great in both content and ease of use but they just aren’t quite on target with the 1 per month aim. I think it has great potential as a content delivery platform and if you are a fan of Kami’s then signing up for a month to see how you find it is a great low-cost way to support one of your favourite artists. If you then go on to request content and interact on the site along with making use of the playlists then it could really work out quite well for you.
Kami’s Patreon site is available at: https://www.patreon.com/KamiLiddle