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Interview with the
Vietnamese-Tunisian
Dancer

Anasma

by Marcel Bieger

DANCE AND DIGNITY MAKE FUSION
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Layout: Konstanze Winkler
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So tell us please a little more about the demon you played in your dance
.“The Little Devil” piece was suggested by two show producers, Blanca and Neon, from the Venus Upraising collective. They were elaborating a “Tarot Fantasy Bellydance Show”, based on the Tarot cards. They wanted me to do the Death card at the beginning. But they changed their minds and chose to give me the Devil’s card. They already had a song for me to use: “The Mad Marionettist” from Raquy and the Cavemen, in the album “Mischief”, that fitted perfectly with the character. Neon and Blanca knew that I am “crazy”and adventurous enough to take up such challenges. To make a long story short, when Neon saw my “Other Prince Charming” piece,  she offered me to record my instructional DVD right away. That piece, also viewed by the Dusseldorf audience, combined a strong storyline to bellydance, gymnastics, some wushu, some hip hop and a lot of facial expression and “out-of-the-box”ness. The “Other Prince Charming” is an anti-hero.
So I accepted to play the Devil character even though I am NOT gothic nor a devil fanatic… I do NOT enjoy horror movie. They really haunt me for a long time after I have seen them. I still remember some images from the “Tales from the Crypt”, “Shining”, “Dracula”, “Scream” etc and other movies I saw 14 years ago, and later on “28 days later”… and that still haunt me if I dig too much into the memory…

Actually, I also need to mention at this point that when I was 8 years old and did theater classes, my teacher, Chimel,  gave me the role of Satan… It is strange how some actors get “stuck” or associated to a certain type of role… (like Johnny Depp to awkward characters in his movies… If I were an actress, I would like to play Johnny Depp’s roles). I have this “ounce of craze” in me. I am not afraid to look ugly and I fully commit to the message and the characters I embody… The only times I feel really uncomfortable with are nudity situations or too highly sensually suggestive partnering dances. I refuse these roles.

The story by Pierre Gripari (a marvelous children book writer) depicted a funny, nervous, very hyper Satan that gives Lucifer the order to collect a glutton’s soul in an empty glass bottle. Lucifer collects a fart instead from the sleepy body that he thinks dead and brings it back to Hell. Satan swallows the fart and screams at Lucifer revengefully! My interpretation was pretty good for the audience laughed out loud. 

above:
Anasma as "Prince Charming" at Orientale 2010
in Düsseldorf

right:
"little devil"
at Willow Chang's "Puja"
in Honolulu
I did some research on the card’s signification and esthetics in our Western culture. I found a great description of the Devil card here: http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/basics/devil.shtml.  In the Tarot deck the Devil is a symbol of pleasure, abandon and wild behavior… The Capricorn is its ruling sign and this is a card about ambitions, temptations and addiction. On the flip side, the Devil card can also mean that if somebody is too restrained, they need to loosen up! The Devil is adaptable, controlling, persuasive, aggressive and has an erotic power. These words all helped me shape my character.

In the popular images, I found drawing of the goat legs (that reminded me images from my childhood in a Disney anime, showing the walk of a sneaky Satyr character), the forehead horns, the little goat beard, the red color… Thus, I designed a Bellydance costume with the attribute of the little devil. My friend and talented seamstress Sandralis (www.sandralis.com) made it for me. I bought the fabrics, the little horns and some white creamy clown make up to give a dramatic look to the character.

So because of my research on the card, and my fright of horror movies, I created a sneaky character as I developed the piece, rather than the frightening nightmare feeding Devil. My little devil became catty with flowy, wavy, “digitty” (to use the hip hop word “Digits”) hands on a recommendation of Sandralis. Before creating the “Little Devil” I had incarnated other monsters and creatures with eagle/ cat claws, but I needed to make the Little Devil distinctive.

And the storyline developed at the same time. I used the common collective imagery of The Devil and Faust. However I twisted the usual ending where Faust‘s soul is saved by the angels. In my piece, there is no happy end. The Little Devil fights for Faust’s soul and actually gets it.
I developed a clear storyline, with emotional arcs. The Little Devil is presented at first. He is strong (thus the athletic moves), flexible (he adapts to different situations and people), he is wise like a fox. The next phase is about convincing his ‘victims’ to collaborate with him. He seduces, charms. He does not scare people away. He meets Faust and unfolds  his seduction routine. But Faust’s soul is saved by an angel. The Devil gets very angry then. Power shimmies show this phase. This time, I use the ‘monster’ claws on my hands to show the tension in the body (as opposed to the flowing charming fingers). At the end, you know what happens. 

If you want to watch this piece over and over again, it is featured on the “Tarot” DVD that you can get from my website (autographed) or on Amazon.

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© Photos: 1 Scott Schuster, 2 Konstanze Winkler, 3 + 4 Joe Marquez