Heidi Wunder Brings Belly Dance to the Dallas-Fort Worth Convention Stage
Heidi Wunder is just as her name suggests…a wonder! She not only performs and teaches Tribal Belly Dance, but also lives the concepts that she teaches. She has a deep love of music, dance, nature, and of people. She brought all this and more to the stage on June 4th as the fictional “Delegate” from Persia in a supporting role in a “steampunk” Murder Mystery Play at a new Texas convention called the “Difference Engine” in Fort Worth, Texas.
In fact the entire event is a celebration of the performing arts in all its forms as they intersect with the fascinating and exotic world of steampunk fiction. Heidi will also be bringing real world performances of Tribal Belly Dance to that same stage later in the day as one of the main performers for the event. I was recently honored to interview her about her dance, her influences, and her impressions of performing conventions with the local steampunk community.
Ramon Fagan: How would you define your dance style or genre?
Heidi Wunder: I am an American Tribal Style Belly Dancer, and I have mostly danced world/gypsy type genre.
RF: What artists do you think most influenced your current style or styles?
HW: Carolena Nericco, as being the creator of ATS, but there are too many Tribal dancers to name that have influenced me in some way, either dance technique or costume. I also take inspiration from the Ghawazee tribes of Egypt and the Berber tribes of North Africa
RF: What types of music do you use, and how do you use them in different types of dance?
HW: I use a lot of ethnic music that has drum rhythms from the middle east and India. I also use some more modern Techno, and groups that infuse techno with middle eastern and Indian rhythms. When I am using the more ethnic music, I tend to be doing traditional movement, the modern techno, I tend to be more expressive, and carry the energy of the music throughout my dance.
RF: What was your first exposure to this style of dance and what effect did it have on you then?
HW: I am active in Amtgard, and have been since I was a teenager, there is where I was first introduced to Tribal by some friends who wanted to create a dance troupe. They needed a third person, and told me I had no choice! It looked cool, the way the costumes looked, the way the dancers danced just reached into my heart and grabbed it. I knew instantly this was the dance for me!
RF: What sort of experience do you have in terms of public performances, paid performances, and/or teaching dance?
HW: I have been dancing the style for 11 years, and teaching and performing for 4 years. I have taught in dance studios and yoga centers. I have performed at festivals, restaurants, open mike nights, and stage shows.
RF: When did you first encounter people in steampunk attire that was distinctive enough to really draw attention and what effect did it have on you?
HW: At a local meeting, is when I saw folks in the flesh in steampunk attire. I have seen many movies, folks on the internet, and even steampunk in the Tribal Belly dance culture. It captivated me as it was different, and funky, and just plain cool. I knew I had room to integrate this cool style and culture into my dance.
RF: What percentage of your music do you consider to be Steampunk related?
HW: I’d say about half of the music I use is steampunk related.
RF: What do you think about the influx of steampunk fashion into dance performances?
HW: Over the past 5 or so years, as I have seen more and more steampunk fashion, and it has been an alternative to the traditional tribal garb. I enjoy the steampunk fashion, and what it has done for Tribal Belly dance
RF: Do you think there is such a thing as steampunk dance at this time and why?
HW: For belly dance, I see mostly Tribal genre dancers wearing steampunk fashion. I know that the costume really helps shape the way you dance, your character while dancing, so I do believe there is an evolution of Tribal into a steampunk belly dance.
RF: How would you define or describe what aspects of music, wardrobe, instruments (acoustic versus electric for instance), styles, and lyrics, make you think “steampunk” when you hear music or see those styles in another performer?
HW: When I think steampunk, I really think a melting of classic with electric. A Mandolin with an electronic beat box, or out of this world sounds. I see classic Victorian garb with a hint of mad scientist tinkerer, or lightning pirates. This crazy alternative look that has become more prominent is what makes me jump to think “steampunk.”
RF: What was your first exposure to steampunk as an actual subculture (as opposed to say steampunk movies or fiction books)?
HW: Actually Admiral Ramon Leon del Mar and Vice Admiral Radha Narasimhan of Kali’s Hourglass. They opened my eyes to “steampunk” [as a subculture].
RF: Would you like to share any information with our readers (and potential hiring clients) about typical compensation levels for performances of different types or would you prefer to keep that something discussed on a case by case basis?
HW: For performance, I would like to always talk with somebody interested in hiring me, as situations vary, but I can be reached by going to http://www.facebook.com/heidi.wunder