“I personally tell my students all the time, dance from your heart, and dance for other women…Which is where I believe, the origins of bellydance came from.” Gigi Corkett
Gigi is one of my absolute favorite people. She’s intelligent, caring, fun to be around, and a great dancer! The following is from an interview at the Ojai Bellydance Festival earlier this year. Gigi shared her dance history, how it influences her current choreographies, how she modifies ballet within “fusion” and the unique community of Tribal Fusion Bellydance.
Interview with Gigi Corkett at the Ojai Bellydance Festival March 19th 2011
Alia: Ms. Gigi
Gigi: Yes, Ms. Alia
Alia: What is the dance you’re doing this evening?
Gigi: It’s kind of a jazzy, vintagey number. The music is reminiscent of the 20s/30s flapper era (sounds to me as though) and it’s upbeat and sassy.
Alia: Nice, and the movements, where are those inspired from?
Gigi: The movements are inspired by cabaret.
Alia: And is that your first BellyDance training, was in Cabaret?
Alia: Do you feel like you go back to that?
Gigi: I’m told I do.
As much as I try not to, it happens. But I do go back to that. I also think that Cabaret is a lot more technical, than just straight Tribal. I don’t mind.
Alia: Yes, it seems to be more cleaner, or polished. I’m thinking that’s from the history, I mean it’s been around for a lot longer, so it’s had time to be more polished.
Gigi: So yeah, partially it’s that, and partially my inspiration for this particular number is Mira Betz and a tiny bit of Rachel Brice (which I’ve never attempted before).
Alia: So I’ve been think about cabaret, that we have an idea about what cabaret is, but that even that has been changing through the centuries.
Gigi: I think it has been, and I think the aesthetic of cabaret is changing for a lot of people.
That’s the funny thing is that I notice with people that call themselves Tribal actually have a lot of technique that Cabareters would use, theprofessional Tribal people. But it’s in a different toned down kind of way.
Alia: Yeah. And sometimes specifically down, more earthy, less on the toes…So you also had early beginnings in modern, did you dance modernbefore cabaret?
Gigi: Yes…my first dance, my first introduction to dance was through straight up ballet, which I did until I was 16/17. And then after that I was doing lyrical, which is kind of an inbetween between modern and ballet. And then I went right into modern, which is the really abstract stuff. So I think I really pull from all of those. Yeah, I really think I do. I know that I can be a bit of a ballerina too, especially when it comes to pirouettes and
turns. That’s definitely from all my years in ballet. But as far as my expression and my emotion, it’s often times very modern.
Alia: It seems like the spins of ballet, focus more right in your center. And more of the ATS spins, you take more of a wider stance.
Gigi: and I tend to pull from both. I can go into a really tight pirouette, and I can go into a nice big barrel turn, particularly for fusion, tribal fusion. For tribal fusion bellydance I really like to keep my pirouettes low, in plié.
So yeah, that’s where I’m at.
Alia: This whole culture that enables us to collaborate and create, have performances…and it’s all based upon belly dance history in America. I don’t see that in Modern Dance or Jazz, or hiphop.
Gigi: I would agree.
Alia: And so I think it’s very unique what we have.
Gigi: It absolutely is, and I think the difference is that it’s communal and it’s non –exclusive. We certainly have the pros..
Gigi: …but in general, it’s really for the masses
Gigi: …and inclusive.
And I mean I personally tell my students all the time, dance from your heart, and dance for other women, not because you’re trying to be sexy, or you’re
trying to be this that or the other. Which is where I believe, the origins of bellydance came from.
Alia: Dancing for each other.
Gigi: Dancing for each other, dancing for women.
Alia: Yeah, I think that origin still really continues to play through
Gigi: Definitely. I’m thrilled, I’m thrilled that its coming back to that. Because so many people that you talk to still think that it’s a very sexual dance, that it’s a dance that’s intended for men.
Alia: Harem dancers…
Gigi: And they get turned off when you tell them that you’re a belly dancer. And its like, I’m really not dancing for those people.