It’s hard to believe that one of the most well-known dark fusion belly dance performers in the entire world grew up in sunny Orange County, California…the home of Disneyland! But that’s Sashi: she’s a symphony of contradictions. She’s funny and smart, a terrific dancer, and a nurturing, giving instructor.
Founder of Ascend Tribal, Sashi's roots are many and varied. She began studying West African and Afro-Haitian when she was a university student in San Francisco, which soon lead her to Middle Eastern dance, including Egyptian and Lebanese cabaret, and many folkloric styles such as Nubian, Debke and Saidi.
When she started studying tribal style it lead to an experimental love affair with tribal fusion. Combining this style with her Goth rock ‘n’roll side, Sashi truly unleashed her innate creativity- and apparently a few demons as well-to see her live onstage is to be floored by the sheer intensity she projects.
Sashi’s collaborated on many pieces with her own troupe as well as other internationally known performers, but her highly original-and often controversial- solo work is really what put her on the map. She was one of the first dark fusion dancers to really push the envelope, performing in gas masks and bondage /Anime attire… and of course there was that time she performed at Tribal Fest in 2006- with giant custom-made aluminum wings that were literally pierced into the flesh of her back!
This performance, based on the Malaysian Thaipusam devotees who practice piercing as a form of devotion the Hindu diety Lord Muruga was taken out of context (by many who hadn’t even witnessed it ) providing pages and pages of internet chat forum speculation and shocked gossip.
One of the founders of the popular Gothic belly dance festival Gothla USA, in 2013 Sashi is joining forces with new partner Karin Jensen, leader of the highly theatrical Mandala Danceworks troupe to re-vamp Gothla . Fittingly enough, this year’s festival theme is “The Chrysalis”. Gothla’s new home is The Cable Airport, in Upland, CA, and takes place from November 8-10, 2013, stretching Halloween out another week and a half!
For an artist so powerful and extreme, Sashi’s rituals on performance days are surprisingly mundane…but that’s precisely why I like her so much: though she seems like the spawn of The Underworld, for all intents and purposes, she’s just a good ole gal!
Here’s her show preparations, in her own words:
“To prepare for a show, I start off early in the day and lay out my entire costume, jewelry, music and information about the show I am performing in, making sure everything I need is ready, all the way down to my safety pins and panties…I mean who really wants to be rushing around getting ready right before a show and not be able to find the chonies, right!?
Once everything is laid out I start leisurely doing my make up and hair. When I’m done with that, I eat a bit before the lipstick is applied then pack up my bag with my make up, jewelry, costume, music and snacks….including my flask and leave for the venue.
I get there as early as I can so that I have time just in case I end up with a wardrobe malfunction or other unexpected issue and get ready. Once ready and in my cover up, I can wander the venue, check out the stage, visit with my dance pals in the show or meet up with people coming to the show.
As show time grows nearer, I often pull one of my dancers or dance pals aside and get grounded with them. My particular way of grounding involves standing facing each other, foreheads touching, left hand on each other’s sacrum and right hand on each other’s hearts. We then take a few moments to share the grounding breath before parting. And off to perform we go.
Now, if Princess is backstage with me…well hell, that’s a whole different kind of back stage ritual!"
Gothla US registration is open now: http://www.gothla.com/
To see details on workshops, instructors, performers, lodging and the festival in general.
Gothla US, Nov. 8-10, 2013
2009 Porterfield Way
Upland, CA USA
To find out more about Sashi, please visit:
Sashi in gold: Scotte Belden, Costume by Flippin' Tribal
Pierced Wings: Michael Baxter
Backbend: Brad Dosland, taboo Media
Gasmask: Pixie Vision