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Homepage: http://michellesbelly.com/
Photos ©: 1,3 and 4 Amy Senecal, 2 Lauria Orrock
Graphics/WebDesign: Konstanze Winkler
Reading your bio one learns that you are a devoted bellydancer since about ten years, did you try out other styles before, did you even have any other dance training and if so, do these other genres influence your actual art? 

I had no other dance experience prior to beginning belly dance. In the past few years, I have heavily studied aerial arts (pole, lyra, contortion, exotic dance, etc), along with recently finding Jamaican dancehall and contemporary dance which I love! I'd say that contemporary and exotic dance are the genres that most influence my art right now.

How did you meet belly dance, do you still practise Middle Eastern/American Cabaret, and what led you to ATS(R) and Tribal Fusion?

I found belly dance the summer I got married and moved to Salt Lake City. My husband and I were walking in the large park in the city‘s center and we happened to end upon a big belly dance festival stage. I couldn't stop watching and signed up for the fall semester of classes that day.  I began with 1 class per week, and loved it so much that I ended up taking 2 or 3 classes per week in my first few years. My teacher eventually moved to another place and I was looking for a new class to attend. I saw some ATS® dancers at a show and decided to give that a try. My very first workshops after beginning ATS® were with The Indigo, when they were passing through on tour. That is what led me to my obsession with fusion belly dance. I do currently practice Egyptian style dance with my instructor Stephanie Buranek here in Salt Lake one evening per week.

You are one of the World's leading Tribal Fusion artists of today, would you care to describe your personal style?

I think it's hard to define personal style when it has evolved and will continue to evolve over time. But, I will say that my fluidity (particularly with the arms), crisp isolations and bellywork are some things that have helped me to stand out on a professional level. I also have worked very hard to not fit in one particular box or "label". I think it is important to be a chameleon of sorts, and be able to mimic other styles along with being able to maintain your own.

At facebook you state that "My brain wants to look at this improv and criticize everything from my arms, to the moment I lost my balance. My critical mind says this is crap. My emotional mind, however, says "Yeah. This felt goooood. You and me, we needed this." And sometimes, that's all it needs to be." Would you like to comment on this?

In my earlier years of belly dance, I was very hyper-focused on technique and doing things "correctly". I think technique is important, but I also feel there are times when technique needs to be taken away and the natural movement of the body reintroduced. Every person is born/grows up with certain ways of moving. Even daily activities look different on different people. When we reconnect with our natural pathways and tendencies (moving in ways that FEEL good as opposed to LOOKING good), that's when our dance truly becomes our own. Nobody can move EXACTLY like you. Each individual muscle is different, the thickness of our skin, and even the way our hair moves. Something i've been saying a lot this year is "Move without apology". I think it's important to remember to express without always aiming to impress.

What will you show us on stage when in the Black Forest?

I've been working on cleaning up a piece that is (what I think) a perfect example of where my aesthetic in dance lies right now. It's heavily influenced by exotic dance and my work in contemporary movement, as well as some street styles. I've performed it a couple of times at small events and I love the way it feels in my body!

What will you teach us in your workshops (please be a little more specific as the official ws information is a bit sparse).

In my Bellywork & Backbends workshop we'll be going over a progression of drills focusing on the muscles used in bellyrolls. This will be the primary focus of the workshop, followed by a conditioning focus on prepping safely for backbends (what muscles to engage, how to safely engage and curve the spine, etc.).

My Brushstrokes workshop is all about arms! Arms are one of my very favorite things to watch on a dancer when done well. In class, we will breakdown a new way of thinking about building a choreography beginning with the arms and adding footwork, isolations, and facing changes last. It's one of my very favorite topics to teach!

Friday, 30. September 2016
12:30 - 14:30h
BELLY WORK & BACKBENDS

Michelle Sorensen
is guest at the
BLACK FOREST TRIBAL FEST NO. 6
30. September - 2. October 2016
in Oberharmersbach near Offenburg
Sunday, 2. October 2016
15:00 - 17:00h
BRUSH STROKES
Workshops with Michelle Sorensen:
to the Registration ...
You have worked with the "Sepiatonic" and still do, we hope. How is it working with them (we had the two male members and Karolina Lux over here in June and they really rocked the house - what a pity you weren't with them!)

I do still work with them! In fact, we have a show coming up in Boston, MA this fall. It's been such a pleasure to work with dancers of so many different backgrounds and a good challenge to find ways to interact with different preparation styles. I hope all of the dancers (myself included) can work together more frequently in future! It's just so hard to do more than a couple events a year with us all living in different locations and with separate solo careers.

Where will you be in 10 years from now?

Hmmmm. That's a hard question to answer! I hope in 10 years from now I will have the same desire to constantly learn and challenge myself both physically and mentally. I also plan on having a regular intensive training program (open to students from around the globe) based out of Salt Lake City in my studio The Velveteen Serpent. I cannot wait to see what the future may bring!
EXPRESS WITHOUT ALWAYS
AIMING TO IMPRESS
!“

Interview with Michelle Sorensen
by Marcel Bieger
Tribal Fusion invents itself anew in short intervals, mainly because it constantly flirts with new styles. It took some years until Modern and Contemporary were co-opted but these days this variant is state of the art. One of the leading figures in Modern/Contemporary & Tribal Fusion is Michelle Sorensen, who will be the first time in Germany this year. We can admire her at the Black Forest Festival und we are very curious to see her, also because she has put some more ingredients into her art. Here are her answers to our questions …