Wednesday, January 25, 2012
DANCERS BACKSTAGE RITUALS PART EIGHT: MICHELLE MANX
Like many actors, some dancers work by really getting into character before their shows. Immersing themselves into the role they will be playing onstage is paramount to turning in a believable performance. Michelle Manx is one of these dancers…but she doesn’t just practice this theory before shows, she lives it!
Michelle is the originator of “Pin-Up Belly Dance”, a unique type of alternative fusion, which she herself invented. Pulling from her varied background of Tribal, Bharata Natyam, Burlesque, Yoga and traditional Oriental Dance, and tempered with her academic background of anthropology, Michelle has brought the glamour of Vargas and Petty girls to life within the world of belly dance. With her petite frame, porcelain doll face and psychedelic flame red hair, Michelle’s everyday look could be described as “Jessica Rabbit meets Fatchancebellydance”. A sought-after pin-up model and fashion icon with a bubbly personality, she has modeled for many clothing companies, and appeared at tattoo conventions and rock and roll events… but her first love is belly dance.
Growing up with a belly-dancing mom, Michelle began ballet and taps at the age of six, and has never stopped dancing. In 2002, she discovered the world of belly dance, and found her calling. She has extensively studied both raqs sharqi and Tribal styles, with teachers from around the globe, and has been certified in both the Suhaila and Jamilla Salimpour formats.
In 2008, Kajira Djoumahna invited Michelle to teach a workshop based on her brand of Pin-Up Belly dance at Tribal Fest, and she has not looked back. Currently, she is also the producer of Tribal Belly Dance Camp in her native Texas, which will take place this year with special guest Amy Sigil of Unmata.
I have known Michelle for years and am always stuck not just by her beauty but by her dedicted and artistic approach to life. Not only that, she is tons of fun!
This is the way Michelle prepares for her shows, in her own words:
“Recently, my performance day ritual has drastically changed. My old method consisted of a relaxing day (typically of lounging around the house), prior to the performance. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that a day of rest actually leads to an ultimate build-up of anxiety associated with the performance. I’ve found that if I spend my part of my day at my day job or dance classes/workshops, prior to a performance, I tend to have a more relaxed feeling on stage, which of course, leads to a better connection with my audience. As long as I have prepared for the performance, this method tends to work well for me.
It is imperative that I have set aside enough time to prepare my hair and makeup for the performance, especially if I am planning to wear my hair in complex styles, such as Victory Rolls. You just never know when those rolls may decide to not cooperate! Therefore, if I give myself enough time to allow for hair mishaps, I'll have enough time for last minute yoga stretches.
If my pre-performance day does not consist of classes or workshops, I enjoy dressing up in a cute vintage dress. This ritual helps me ease into my stage persona. If the weather is humid, I'll show up to the dressing room in a Rosie rag over my hot rollers. In these instances, I have to arrive at the venue early, but this method has rescued my hair from becoming frizzy before I take the stage.
In cases of festival or seminar appearances, I typically train with the guest instructors all day, prior to the show. After four- six hours of classes, I’m way too exhausted, yet exhilarated, to focus on those moments of pre-show anxiety. In addition, I often feel excited that I've made it through a challenging day of workshops, which always boosts my spirits and performance confidence levels.”
Michelle is the producer of “TRAMP”, TRIBAL DANCE CAMP, in association with Bahaia and HOT Texas Seminars. This year’s camp will be April 12-15, 2012 at Vista Camps, Ingraham, Texas. This year’s special guest is Amy Sigil of Unmata
For info, visit: http://www.pin-upbellydance.com/index.php