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Photos ©: 1 Kristine Adams, 2 Scott Belding, 3 Brad Dosland (Taboo Media), 4 Faernworks
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How would you describe your style?

Gosh, I don't know how to describe my style (laughs)! I would say it is still evolving and hopefully always will be. My approach is deeply somatic, Yogic, and core-integrated. My roots are steadfast in San Francisco Tribal. I just do what I do. People can label it, or put it in a box, but for me, I just call it "dance." Lately people have been telling me I have my own unique style. I don't know what they see, but I'd be curious to know (laughs)! These days, there is so much push towards innovation, and creating new fusion, and dancers own unique style.

For me, I think that all develops naturally over time. With that push for innovation, the coming of all these new names for what people do, in an effort to separate or define oneself as unique: tribal fusion, contemporary fusion, modern fusion, nouveau fusion, tribal nouveau, tribal fusion, modern tribal, etc.  I don't know which category I fall into (laughs), I just like to belly dance.

And in these past few years, I have really been pushing myself to integrate it with my embodied wisdom of years of training in contemporary dance, tango, contact improvisation, Yoga, in a powerful, natural way. I am very influenced by the culture, training, and community of San Francisco Tribal Fusion, and the West Coast music festival and electronic music scene, as well as all the teachers I have trained with there. I can't help it that is where I have lived and danced for the last decade. So you will probably see a lot of that in my dancing. And I am proud
of that.

I am also extremely influenced by a vintage aesthetic, and artists of the 1920s and 30s, such as Erté. I have loved Erté since I was a kid. My mom used to bring me back Erté and Mucha postcard books from Europe. I get inspired by flea market junk - finding bits and baubles, textiles, typewriter keys, vintage fabrics, antique rhinestones - imagining a whole story of their life, and reconstructing them together in some way to inspire a new costume. I like creating an juxtaposition between the old and new, vintage and modern. I think it suits tribal fusion well, as tribal is – itself - a synergistic confluence of ancient gypsy soul and contemporary artistic influences. Is that a messy answer (laughs)?
I draw a lot of inspiration for workshops from my background in somatic arts, Yoga, Holistic Health, bodywork, and methods I have learned from 15 years of facilitating groups and teaching in that field, and bringing that to the bellydance world. And I take a lot of workshops. I love being a student, because it keeps me curious and growing. I like to see what is being offered out there and where I may be able to be of service, maybe offer a different perspective on the same subject, or offer a complementary subject. I draw a lot of inspiration from the Yoga world, and applying concepts that have helped me in my dancing to tribal fusion belly dance. Quite often, promoters or students will request specific subjects from me in workshops. That inspires me to create new ones, based on what the dancers want to learn. And, most often, I teach the things I am most excited by - what topics are 'most alive' (so to speak) for me, or things that I am working on or exploring in my own dancing. That way, it keeps it fresh, and I stay excited about it.

My teaching style I can more easily describe: I interweave technique, artistry, and therapeutics, in a deeply somatic and Yogic approach that empowers each student toward their highest potential, giving hands on adjustment and one-on-one attention, and focusing on originating movements from the core and working from the inside out.

I am very non-linear in the creation process. And I have learned to not edit the early creation phases, and give myself a lot of time to allow the piece to unfold. And then, after all of that, I call my friend Cera Byer and ask her for help (laughs). I ask her to watch and critique it for me. She specializes in choreography, and usually has great insight, and the piece usually ends up changing after that. She is amazing! I do often ask others for input when I am stuck. Often I will ask Cera. For a group choreography I created this last June, I asked Kami Liddle to help me with the beginning of it, when it was in its very early stages. She offered great advice that I ended up incorporating.

You have performed with "Balkan Beat Box" and "Beats Antique", how is it working together with such amazing groups which are so different (or are they)?

I feel really lucky to have gotten to dance for/with some truly amazing bands. Those you mention are two of them. Others are: Hamsa Lila, Lynx & Janover, Karsh Kale, EOTO (musicians from StringCheeseIncident), Fishtank Ensemble, Helm, Brass Menazeri, as well as DJs/Producers: David Starfire, Govinda, Random Rab, Eskmo, Vibesquad.  Each band is so different! The musical style is different, the vibe is different. But it comes down to the fact they all are incredible musicians and incredible people, so the synergy happens. It's about showing up, being present and in the zone with the other people on stage and the music. That is the magic!

Your performance at Eliana's “Tribal Passions” festival in September will be your first time in Germany, what do you expect from Germany?

I am very excited to teaching in Germany for the first time. I have no expectations. Just excitement. I'm just looking forward to meeting everyone and sharing in our mutual love for this dance! Thank you so much to Eliana for inviting me!

What will we see from Deb Rubin on stage.

I'm not sure yet! I'm going through a big transformation in my dancing this year, pushing myself to try new things and pull in other influences. So,  we'll see! You will probably see some familiar sparkly bits, signature moves,  and serpentine movement quality (I do ove my slow and slinky, for sure!) mixed in with interesting new body shapes, and modern dance influences. I've been working lately with an amazing contemporary choreographer, Anandha Ray, who is pushing me outside my comfort zone and drawing much more emotional depth, story telling, and jagged, broken shapes out of my dancing, so perhaps you'll see some of her influences in my performance too.

Deb Rubin: (Facebook)

Deb Rubin with David Starfire
Where do you get all the inspiration for your workshops?

Workshop inspiration comes all the time for me. I love teaching so much, and I am constantly coming up with new material, new approaches, new ways to access the body to get more out of your dancing, etc. I get inspiration from taking classes in other styles. From new music, from playing around in my studio, from talking with other teachers. From students’ questions in class, or requests of material.

How do you proceed when conjuring a new piece?

With each piece it's a little bit different. Usually I pick a song that I absolutely love, and have a specific vision of what I want to convey. It might just be as simple as just a costume color, or as deep as an emotion or story. It varies. I listen to the song about 300 times, just improvising to it - free dancing - and videotaping myself. Then I watch the video and see what movement themes emerge, what movements I like and which ones I don't. I meticulously map the music out on paper and decide what I want each section to be like. I journal a lot about the piece. I rarely start from the beginning. If it's a solo, usually I leave space for improvisation.
I remember them jumping around the stage and I was trying to dance around them so they didn't land on me! They have so much passion for their music, and really get the crowd going. It was an amazing experience.  
It is my favorite thing in the world to collaborate with live music. It is always inspiring for me, and rush of adrenaline to be involved in that live music and dance conversation on stage. It's such an honor. Performing with Balkan Beat Box was quite magical. They were so generous and welcoming and really engaged with me during the performance, which I appreciated. Their energy on stage is amazing. Such high energy.
You have also worked together with quite a few other tribal stars, why are you so much sought for?

I don't know how to answer that. I feel shy (laughs)! I am very grateful for the opportunities I have had thus far to work with such amazing, inspiring artists, and wonderful people who I have considered friends. I hope it continues! At the heart of all of my collaborations, I think, was a true, genuine sense of mutual respect, professionalism, friendship, and just positivity and fun in what we were creating together. If those elements are there, ease and flow happens!


Interview with Deb Rubin

by Marcel Bieger