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.