Jill Parker Interview 2010

Tribal Corner
Tribal happenings plus Devi talks Jill Parker

Bellydance Oasis Issue 40. November 2010

Well I for one am glad that spring is finally here although as I type the Blue Mountains is having a freakish bit of snow! And to think that only two days ago we were all running around in t.shirts! Well that’s Australia for you!

In July Ghawazi had the pleasure of being a part of Evernight 2 hosted by the lovely Dani Graczyk from Umbra belly dance in Newcastle N.S.W. This was a Gothic belly dance event with special guest Sashi from the U.S.A. This was our very first Gothic belly dance event & we came to the party as vamyres and did our own version of the darker side…Ghawazi style of course! [wink wink]. We had so much fun and would really love the opportunity to present our pieces again! Sashi & other Aussie guests Maaisah from Melbourne & Ravyn from Brisbane were all fabulous of course but the whole night was so much fun. What I loved about it was it wasn’t your ordinary type of show with one act on stage followed by another. Dani and her girls also used the floor in front of the stage & also performed throughout the night in amongst the audience. When I wasn’t performing myself I thoroughly enjoyed watching and really felt like I was part of the show. I really enjoyed this interactive feeling and was almost a little scared at one point as I was wondering what was going to pounce on me next? A ghost, Werewolf or Zombie! Sashi also conducted a series of workshops and performed in other states, Canberra and Melbourne and I believe she has plans to visit us again. I will be talking to her in the coming months so hold your breath for that one!

In August Carolena Nericcio decided to take a holiday. And where is her favourite place in the world do you think?! Australia of course! She stayed with me for a week and decided to give some private lessons which many people from around Australia jumped at the chance. I am happy to say that her dance card was full that weekend!

September was SUPER busy. We started off with The 2nd Australian Dance Festival. Once again Ghawazi Caravan and Jrisi Jusakos and The Hathor Dance Company were invited to be part of it and to represent Belly Dance. It proved to be a full on weekend of many different dance styles and troupes representing their own genres from contemporary, hip hop, jazz, and Bollywood, just to name a few… and of course all the stars from So you Think you can dance were there as well.

The weekend after was the 3rd Australian Tribal and Trance Festival hosted by Deb Napier and Merilyn Hyde. This year the event was held in Parramatta which was an excellent location for the festival. Friday and Saturday was full with many different workshops. April Erzetich and I co taught Indian/Tribal Fusion and then I taught another one on my own entitled New Flamenco Fusion combos! These were lots of fun and all the ladies were super enthusiastic. Saturday was “Red Carpet Night” and was a show case of Tribal in all its varieties with participants from all over Australia as well as special guest Elizabeth Strong who was there to conduct a series of workshops as well. Her performance was truly inspiring and we hope to be talking to her in the next issue. Sunday for me was heaps of fun. It was the Market day and all day Soiree. Performances all day, stalls, and just catching up with everyone. And to finish the weekend off, dinner and Gelato with some old friends after. Now that’s why we dance, isn’t is?! Thanks to Deb, Merilyn and all the crew who made it such a special weekend.

Two days after it was onto our next project. Earlier in the year we had applied to present Intertwine as part of The Sydney Fringe Festival and to our pleasant surprise, they accepted! We had 3 shows on at The Italian Forum in Leichhardt which is a lovely venue in the Heart of Sydney. We had reworked 2009’s Intertwine, tweaked it, changed it and in some cases created completely new works for the one hour , live music and dance show. It was a lot of work but worth every minute. We had great attendance for all 3 shows and for me it was lovely to be able to present our dance form, with a completely live musical score with all original pieces, on a stage to a seated audience who had paid to come and watch the show. And we were 1 in 3 nominated for the Avant Card, Bodies in space Award by The Fringe Festival! This is a huge step forward not just for us but for all MEDancers of all styles as we were up against many fantastic dance acts including professional Contemporary and Ballet dancers.

Following the success of Intertwine 2010 we are burying it for now while we spend time recreating the next instalment and working on new pieces and working with new people to create a different show for next time. Watch this space for updates!

Then a week after that I was off to teach and perform in Belgium for the first time! Wow ! What an experience. First of all do I need to even mention how long the trip is!? Well it’s long! I was only there for a week and hadn’t quite managed to get over the jet lag before it was time to do it all again on the way back. Jet lag and exhaustion aside the trip itself was absolutely wonderful. I was sponsored by the lovely Hannele Aaltonen from Finland and her and her husband were very gracious hosts. At my workshops I had ladies from Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Poland, U.K and Russia. Everyone was super nice and very supportive of each other. Many of them already knew each other from attending the GS with Carolena in Finland the previous year so I felt like I was part of a big reunion party, which was nice. The workshops went really well and everybody seemed to be having a good time. There was also an intimate performance night giving everyone the chance to get up and perform.

One thing that I found extremely fascinating is that all the countries had their own “dance vibe” whilst performing. For example the ladies from the UK had a very relaxed, “sisterhood” vibe as they danced together which was just a joy to watch and the Russian ladies had a very Intense and dramatic vibe to their dance which was very intriguing. These dancers were not usually from the same troupe but only from the same country so it would seem that something of their culture filtered through in their dance. So it got me to thinking. Do we have an “Aussie vibe”? I’m not sure? Would love to hear your thoughts on that one!

Anyway the trip was a huge success and Germany has already booked me for more workshops and shows in April with the possibility of Belgium or the UK on the same trip!

So I’ve hit the ground running..of course! Lots of end of year shows and projects for me and Ghawazi Caravan. On top of all this I will be co teaching the GS certificate with Carolena again this year in Adelaide from the 5th to the 8th of November as well as performing a duet with Carolena. This GS will be the first GS in the world to include my steps into the curriculum so I’m pretty excited about that. If this issue comes out before then and you are interested please contact Evangeline of Cinnabar Red who is our lovely host at; evangelinefeary@bigpond.com

In October there will also be the exciting Wild Honey festival with special guests Hilary & Melusina. This edition of the oasis won’t get to you in time for that but I am hoping to tell you more about what went down in coming editions.

And, don’t forget that 19th to the 21st of November is Unearthed 2010 in Mooroolbark, Victoria. Contact www.redearthghawazee.com. Should be fun. Workshops by me, Melusina, Nina, Miasma, Acushla, just to name a few AND Acushla and I will be dancing a duet together for the first time. Kewl!

So now to our little fireside chat with the Fabulous Jill Parker who visited us for the first time in May.

1] You are often named the Mama of tribal fusion. What do you think of that?

I’m sure It’s because of my place in history and lineage regarding Tribal Bellydance. It makes sense to me, I own the title!

….I made a distinct departure from ATS and classical bellydance by incorporating narrative, theme, unusual props, theater, dramatic costuming, choreography and improvisation, ritual, ATS, Classical Bellydance, Folk Forms (Tunisian, Turkish Roman, Kalbelyia, Zaar, Moroccan), powerful unapologetic sensuality, at times bold sexuality, fairy tales, fringe sub culture, art, alternative and punk influences that have shaped me artistically and politically over the years.

2] Who were your past/present teachers & how did they shape your dance?

Carolena Nericcio: She is a fierce strong iconic woman. She put me through my paces and impacted me tremendously. I am very grateful for my time with her and the incredible life changing experience of being with FCBD from the ground up.

Malia DeFalice: This woman is a bombshell with a brain. She is so badass, just fearless, accesible, profound, knowledgeable, humble and real. I have been deeply affected by our friendship, her teaching and collaborations we have done over the years.

Katarina Burda: Katarina is a gentle generous gorgeous artist. I love her style, grace and earthy sensuality. She is also an amazing musician.

“I hope that a place of real knowledge and respect for bellydance is valued as a starting place for students new to the form, as well experienced dancers. I would love to see teachers emphasize the benefits of a lifelong commitment to being a student of bellydance proper. I see this as the only way that “fusion dancers” will have an educated platform from which to be fusing from.” – Jill Parker

3] You were the founder/director of Ultra Gypsy for years, and now of The Fox Glove sweet hearts. How are they different if at all?

Ultra Gypsy was a platform for my personal and expression and growth as a dancer and performer 1995/6 through roughly 2007/8/9???? I am terrible with dates!

Foxglove Sweethearts and my solo work are a current platform for my growth and expression.

The two projects are inherently different because I am committed to evolution, growth, learning and authenticity. My tastes and influences are constantly evolving. The projects also differ because of the dancers participating in them. Each group has/had it’s own distinct chemistry and input that I’m shaping and teasing out when we create work. I am currently really enjoying solo work and collaborations quite a bit.

4] Can you tell us more about the members in The Fox Glove Sweet Hearts & what you are working on?

FGSH are currently taking a break so that I can focus on my travels and solo work. I do occasional collaborations with Sweethearts when time permits and the door is still open.

Personally I am working on being authentic, staying balanced, turning inward for genuine inspiration.

5] What has been your recent inspiration?

Nature. Love. Cycles of Life. Soulfulness/Depth. Authenticity. Morocco. Being Humbled. Older Women. Fairy Tales. Yoga. Politics.

6] What projects if any are you working on at the moment?

DVD’s. A lot of travel/work/teaching/performing. Solo choreography & improvisation rehearsal time. Being the best teacher I can possibly be. My commitment to my health balance and reintegrating my yoga practice on a day to day basis.

7] There has been talk of you creating a DVD. Is this true? Tell us more!

Yes, there will be DVD’s! They are long over due. I am very excited about this!

8] Tribal & Tribal fusion is rapidly changing. Where do you see it heading?

I can’t imagine where Tribal Fusion may be headed but I do have a deep wish for where it may head….
I hope that Tribal Fusion dancers circle back to understanding roots, history, classical & folk variations of the form with a true respect for lineage, tradition, culture and knowledge. This seems like a deeply needed evolution of the form in order for it to garner any respect and in order for it to evolve in a healthy way. I would like to see more nurturing and honesty; I would like to see more respect in the teacher/student relationship, for our peers and an overall commitment to healthy community values more similar to what you see in yoga lineages and community.

I hope that dancers take responsibility for culture we have created. I see a deep need for healing. I hope that dancers will be conscious of their ethics and values and proactively see those to fruition.

I hope that a place of real knowledge and respect for bellydance is valued as a starting place for students new to the form, as well experienced dancers. I would love to see teachers emphasize the benefits of a lifelong commitment to being a student of bellydance proper. I see this as the only way that “fusion dancers” will have an educated platform from which to be fusing from. I mean otherwise, what in fact are we fusing?…If we don’t know proper bellydance, right!?

9] It has been a long time coming to get you here to Australia. What are your thoughts on Australia & its dancers?

I have long had an affinity for Australian bellydancers! You ladies know how to work hard and play even harder…what’s not to like about that?! Australians are fun!

10] Do you have more travels in the pipelines & will you come & visit us again?

If all goes as planned Kellie and I will be doing this again next year. I will continue to be on the road often in the coming years…you can expect to see a lot more of me!