Becoming a Choreographer

Written by Invoketress troupe member, Nicole Lalonde

Dionysus 2
Photo by 4KW Photography.

I’ve been a belly dancer for over a decade now and have occasionally delved into choreographing solos for myself, duets and, at most, a four-dancer number in which we were all dancing the same choreography together. Two years ago, I started a new and exciting challenge. I had the honor of being asked to choreograph a piece for twelve dancers. This piece would tell a story as it was to be performed in our bi-annual bellydance fusion show “Mosaic“, which always features a theme and is a more theatrical dance show than our student recital or other gigs.

This process was really transformative for me. We performed it in our 2016 Mosaic show in November and I now have time to reflect upon my experience. Our Artistic Director, the lovely and talented Ishra, chose the theme: “Evoking Otherworldly Beings.” I was super excited by this theme and thought “Where do I begin?”  For me, the song came first. I chose the ending theme Bolero from the movie soundtrack of “Moulin Rouge.” From there I did a lot of research and tried to find a storyline that would fit with the exciting and intense music. I decided on telling a story involving the Greek god of wine and fertility, Dionysus. The gist of the story is that Dionysus wakes his followers, the immortal maenads and the mischievous satyrs for a day of fun.  During their romp, they stumble upon a group of innocent maidens and from there begin to bewitch and seduce the maidens into joining their revelry. In the end, the maidens join in the fun and the piece ends in an ecstatic, pulsing exhaustion.

The dancing was a fusion of Raqs Sharqi, Tribal fusion, and a section of Bolero. I spent countless hours listening to the music and trying to visualize the story come to life in dance form. Some of the sections were completely inspired from my imagination while other sections were inspired by YouTube research and collaborations with Ishra and Mary of Invoketress. I was living, breathing and dreaming this choreography. There were times my husband would be talking to me and I wasn’t hearing him speak; I was seeing dance in my mind’s eye! After many hours of rehearsal and trying to explain my vision to the dancers, this choreography came together in a fun and exciting number for the show.

I’m so proud and humbled at the same time and feel that this experience has awakened a new level of creativity in my soul. I can’t wait to delve into the next venture and keep exploring this new world of large group choreography!

View the performance video below!