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Photos ©: 1 Ana Escamilla, 2 Devansh Jhaveri, 3 Clamaje, 4, 5 and 7 Meri Santos, 6 Manuel Lara Cardenas
Graphics/WebDesign: Konstanze Winkler
Elisabeth Medina and her teacher Colleena Shakti
Your wonderful original biography on your site tells us a lot about the many stations of dance and movement in your career (contemporary, ballet, martial arts, to name just a few), but whilst telling wonderful things about India and how you fell in love with all things Indian, we don't get to know much about how belly dance and tribal crossed your way and what urged you to let yourself be accompanied by them.

That's true! Well I guess that was something intuitive... when I was 20, I saw an oriental folk performance, a saidi dancer with all the beautiful costume and the stick jumping on the dum tak, tak dum tak rhythm... it was very hypnotic. After that I just wanted to know more about what she was dancing, and that is how I met my very first teacher, Narjes Montasser. I studied with her for about 4 years. Years after that, between the conservatory and my first trip to India, I met a girl, who is one of my best friends today, she is a tribal fusion dancer, Hel Valozic. We were getting ready to dance at a Hafla, and by chance I said something about Shakti School of Dance and my next trip there, and she gasped about that and Colleena... Naturally we spent a lot of time together after that, exchanging experiences in dance... and I loved her great passion for tribal dance, and of course how she danced and the effectiveness of her moves... and then she became my teacher till today.

You are reknown for the dance art of "IndOriental", a kind of fusion between classical Indian and Oriental dances. When this term is mentioned, your name and the one of Colleena Shakti fall automatically. Can you enlighten us, what the both of you did for creating and developing "IndOriental"?

Well, actually she is my Teacher. I like to mention her because she is the person, who carefully guides us through the way we fuse aesthetics of indian dances, together with tribal dance. She opened my eyes into a brand new world of codification in dance, respect on tradition, cultural appropriation, repetition... So I can totally say she is one of my great inspirations. A short remark about IndOriental is that Colleena is not involved in the trademark as an artist, just because she is “The SOURCE” of my IndOriental dance, she is my mentor and my role model. I modestly try to develop my own dance just following her point of view on dance and fusion.

What are the main differences between "IndOriental" and other "Indian Fusion" styles?

I like to involve my background consistent of different dance styles I practice. So I guess it is something between ethno contemporary, sufi and persian dance with a big influence of kalbelia, and Indian classical dance aesthetics. All that compounded in a oriental/tribal fusion dancer.

Do you think that after the big "Bollywood" hype the traditional Indian styles are having a renaissance, especially in the Western world?

It has some relevance, of course. I think India itself is very popular nowadays... yoga philosophy and practice, food, even in the fashion world ... we feel the deep roots of the tradition in India, and I believe that is very inspiring, they speak with their truth,
they live with their truth... you can smell it, touch it, see it, enjoy it or hate it, but IT IS there. For me, that is one of the reasons why indian classical dance world makes sense for us. And we are attracted by this truth.

In between all others you have not neglected the contemporary pillar of your career, would you like to introduce your project "AnDanza" to us?

I'm in love with contemporary dance as much as I am with Indian classical. I couldn't choose, If I had to. That is how AnDanza came into my life. AnDanza is a pedagogical/performing project created by my soul sister/Teacher Inma Manresa, and I’m happy to take part in it.

Such art forms as performance and theater are present in this new creative/creational proposal. Using the body as a transmitter of feelings, sensations, states... through the contemporary dance and mood.

While taking a look at your schedule one can see that you do come around a bit, but you still perform a lot in your home country Spain. What sort of festivals are there in Spain, which would welcome your art especially (pardon us for being such ignorants)?

You can find very different kind of festivals, it depends on the project we are talking about. If I dance accompanied by my musicians, Qirbilyan Ensemble, we usually perform on Medieval Camp Festivals, or festivals that promote Arabic or medieval culture. If I dance alone, as an IndOriental performer, usually you can find me at Oriental or Tribal fusion events, such as festivals, haflas, workshops demonstrations... With AnDanza it is more common to dance at the university productions, which are held in a big theater or on the street.

If we aren't wrong totally, your perfomance at Black Forest Festival will be your first one at a major German festival. What do you expect from it, and from Germany?

I love Germany. I did a car trip from Zurich to Berlin 5 years ago where we visited a bunch of different small villages and big amazing cities like Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Leipzig… unbelievable landscapes and of course, we spent a few days in a camping in the stunning Black Forest. It is an honor for me to be part of the Tribal Fest community and I feel very grateful to the organizers for their trust in me. I like not to have expectations but enjoy, learn, and share!! I'm open to surprises!

What will we see from you on stage in the Black Forest?

I will introduce two different pieces, linked to the workshops I'm teaching:

“Black is the new White” is a Contemporary Indian Whirling piece, where I will dance inspired by the strength of women, the subtlety of a gaze and the power of life after death. I was very inspired after a retreat with Miriam Peretz, where we were working with soul trades.

On the other hand, I will present “Saank Charming” which means snake charming. It is a completely IndOriental classic choreography. I made this composition delighted by the kalbelia tribe lives, how they protect the cobras and get inspired by this amazing animal. I will get literally “charmed” by a snake during the choreography... don't miss that moment!

Choreographic repertoire: “Beyond Borders”

The name of the workshop refers to a work that goes “beyond the frontiers”, on which we will work on during the next two hours. We will translate Indian, IndOriental®, Tribal and contemporary dance features in a more holistic choreographic composition, and we will work on it together. My starting point will focus on how to approach Indian “Mother Dances” that inspire us towards our own professional vocabulary, coherently fused, based on the respect and the develpoment of the own imaginary. The composition will be open, from the spatial point of view, with small patterned improvisational movements, repetitions, different rhytmical reading, loops, linkage...

The improvised part of this workshop will be IndOriental® Dance, and with it as a base, we will create a collective composition. In order to make the work as efficient and dynamic as possible, attendees to this workshop are encouraged to attend the IndOriental® Technique workshop. In this way they will not face a completely unknown dance vocabulary which will be used to create the choreography.

Elisabeth Medina is guest at the 6. Black Forest Tribal Fest
30. September - 2. Oktober 2016
in Oberhamersbach (near Offenburg)

Infos - also about the Workshops - here:
Elizabeth dances Kalbelia
What will you teach us in your workshops in the Black Forest?

IndOriental® Dance *Bases* Workshop

IndOriental® dance is a dance form developed by Elizabeth Medina. The defining features of this style portay her as a performing artist. This dance form arises from specificelements featured and derived from the Indian classical and folkloric “Mother Dances” and their connection with Oriental and Tribal Dance. At the workshops we will learn about fundamental theoretical and practical features regarding the IndOriental® fusion. We will create secuences out of apparently easy movements, which get more complicated once we introduce a very important element, the intention. The methodological and theoretical contents are cumulative. •Inspiration on Katak and Kalbelia •Arms: itinerary and development •Tempoand rhythm •Mudras •Sira (head) •Dristi (eyes) •Intention •TravelingsThe beauty inspired by this dance is graced by the work on technic andrepetition. Immerse yourself in a magical language where you will need no words to talk!

Interview with Elizabeth Medina
by Marcel Bieger

Spain is not the first country that springs to your mind, when it comes to Indian Fusion. But here she is, a Spanisch senorita, who goes by the name of Elizabeth Medina, who has fell in love with all things Indian. And as if that weren’t enough she also loves contemporary dance … and bellydance … and many things more. Read below, what happened to her in her dance life and you will be amazed.