Interview with a Geek: Li

When did you start bellydancing?

I started dancing in 2005. I knew that I wanted to take a dance class during college and two of my friends had already been bellydancing for years. I knew how to do wrist circles and loved the awesome thing that my friends could do, so I signed up for my first class and have been learning since!

How did you get your stage name?

My name is unique enough (as a first name with this spelling) and is short and easy to remember, so I kept it! I have enough nicknames to answer to already.

Why did you decide to join LXBD?

The short answers would be: fun and challenge and delight. The people are fun to be around and work with, as are the choreographies. I relish the challenge to tap back into my pre-ATS® roots and bring those skills to new heights in order to do justice to the themes and characters that we bring to life on stage. Finally, while I came to dance as a method of movement meditation, learning about and appreciating performance is really important to me - to delight the audience, whether through interest or just through having a blast watching a masterful-but-silly dance!

Plus, I’m a giant nerd who researches her own nerdiness. So. You know. Yeah.

What’s been your favorite LXBD moment?

Off the top of my head, I think embodying a Jedi the first time at Legends has been my favorite moment. I remember watching this dance from the sidelines at a stage show as I waited to go on with my class and nearly dying of delight myself! I would watch the videos of this dance over and over and over because it’s just so fun!

And then, that one night when Harleen and I WERE those Jedi … I had a weird brain moment. I was doing that for someone else. Well, the group was, but I helped!

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Whenever I have the opportunity to do this dance, I remember that feeling and so I work really hard to keep upping my Jedi game and make her better and more fully-realized each time.

What’s your favorite LXBD dance?

There are (unsurprisingly) a number of contenders here. I adore our D&D dance, from my costume planning to the group working together to make Linda the Beholder, to finally mastering swinging my sword around at speed. I love the Sailor Moon dance, which technically may not be LXBD since Emily/Usagi taught it at a workshop, but I have never enjoyed being cutesy more (Sailor Jupiter forever).

But the tribute to Melisandre of A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones still wins, as it always has. I already liked Florence + The Machine and utterly freaked out when I heard the opening vocals with the large group at Geektastic. Beyond that, I love how much Emily embodies Melisandre in this dance (you can see it in pictures), and the swirling ebb and flow of red and gold and candles makes my heart soar. It also feels amazing to practice and perform - I love dances that force me to flow and to slow down and that juxtapose fluid undulations with sharp isolations. And I love red and gold. Still my favorite.

Are you working on anything at the moment?

Hello, I am Li and did I mention I am a nerd? I’m always working on things! It’s a problem.

I’m still working on new pieces for my Paladin costume and am planning on exploring a variety of ways to make prop swords with my partner, who is into woodworking.

I’m working on a large group choreography to submit to LXBD (eek!) based on my favorite video game from my childhood.

LiBatleth

I’m also on the lookout for a good place to source real steel bat’leth ...

I already have a promised General and promising recruits for bat'leth ATS® so I just need to find a good source and set up a workshop time!

I also have plans for some solos (geeky and not), because those are important to me in my dance development. I hope you like Garth Nix and Cowboy Bebop!

Do you have any side projects?

Sure! I make jewelry that I sell in person and on Etsy. I love working with natural gemstones and wire.

An original design

by Li Marcus

In addition to LXBD, I also spend a lot of time in service to my ATS® dance life and community, learning from and performing under the direction of the wonderful Dawn Ruckert and attending workshops wherever possible from dancers like Wendy Allen, Kae Montgomery, and Anita Lalwani.

I also think I could count my personal dance development stuff as a side project, in a way? I’ve been lucky enough to be able to take workshops with the beautifully-musical Jules Downum and am excited to learn from Kami Liddle this September! I’ll also be starting my 8 Elements journey with the woman who inspired me to keep learning when I had no class to keep me going - Rachel Brice - this August!

Basically, in 2005 when I started I never ever thought that I would be able to learn and participate so much in so many things. I am so, so thankful.

Li performing ATS® with a prop basket. Photo credit: Karl Ulrich

Li performing ATS® with a prop basket. Photo credit: Karl Ulrich

Favorite fandom and why?

Oh dear. I don’t know about “fandom” as the communities surrounding the geeky thing, but I’d say that my favorite thing of which I’m personally a fan is Star Trek.

I have many fandoms, and it kills me a little bit to not name Sandman or American Gods. But Star Trek, to be honest, illustrates the kind of geek I am: I am the overthinking geek.

Star Trek, in each of its incarnations, is both a clear product of its time and also an illustration of hope for its future. Likewise, it has influenced our culture and our technology, and it embodies what I want from my science fiction: careful and piercing examination of the present and the courage to imagine and show a better future.

Which Star Trek technology do you wish we had already and why?

“Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra” - A universal translator that (at least) takes into account slang and nuance where possible. Cultural references may never be translatable, but we’re already making great strides in contextual, quick translation! I follow the efforts of translation technology (in my other life in my imagination, I pursued linguistics and computer science to help this effort) and we’re getting pretty far, pretty fast!

I would also say ... you know ... food replicators to end world hunger and warp speed to explore the universe (and enable my dream of studying exolinguistics) and wonderful medical diagnostic technology to save lives. But I honestly believe that a really, really good translator would level the playing field around the world and enable cooperation towards these technologies. We would share more information and new voices can come to these fields without the language barrier acting as a functional and status hurdle to cooperation and progress. Not to mention that it would bring an immense wealth of cultural cross-communication that would enrich the world and international/interpersonal relations.

I’d still learn all the languages, though. I can be the backup.

 

Behind The Scenes: D&D Bellydance

Ever wondered what goes into the creation of a LXBD choreographies? Welcome to the first installment of a new blog series that gives a behind-the-scenes look at how we turn simple concepts into epic, stage-worthy performances. Let’s take a look at LXBD’s most ambitious endeavor to date: Dungeons and Dragons bellydance!

So, how do you take a game of verbal storytelling, dice, and character sheets and turn it into a dance that’s still easily-recognizable as Dungeons and Dragons? We focused on three things: Setting the scene for our adventure with a heroic song, creating a narrative that would unfold as the dance progressed, and choosing the perfect iconic monster for us to battle.

 

Music Worthy of the Finest Bard

Like many LXBD choreographies, the idea of making a D&D dance came to me while listening to a specific song. We keep a shared Spotify playlist which troupe members can contribute to and when I heard this song, inspiration struck. The lyrics aren’t complex; they paint a picture of a person or group of people yearning to be heroes. The more I listened to the song -and I must have listened to it at least 100 times- the clearer the idea became of a bard inspiring a group of adventurers to seek glory. I edited the music to make it match the narrative sequence I had in mind, trimming a few sections and lengthening others. I’m a big fan of reworking songs to better suit the choreography that I have in mind and to give our performances a little something special.

 

A Tale Told Through Dance

With the music selected and edited, it was time to work on the choreography. What I find works best for me is to start with broad strokes and then fill in the details. This was especially important for this dance, because we had to make sure that our movements and formations somehow conveyed a story. Here are my initial notes for the structure and story:

 

From this outline, we created almost the entire dance. Early on, we each chose our D&D class and then determined what type of weapon or spellcasting we would use. I was committed to making the weapon moves fairly realistic rather than doing regular bellydance while simply holding them as props. This was a challenge, but ultimately made the fighting sections seem more dramatic. Figuring out how to convey our chosen monster’s - the Beholder -  attacks and abilities also took some trial and error. As a mega D&D nerd, I wanted to make sure that we incorporated different types of eye rays and the Beholder’s anti-magic cone. While practicing the choreography, we each set to crafting our costumes and weapons. But that still wasn’t quite enough to tell the story we wanted. We needed something more to set the scene, so I created a video of projected backdrops with scenes for the tavern, traveling across the countryside, entering the Beholder’s lair,  and “magic” for the divine intervention. All of this together helped us to roll a natural 20 on our performance check!

 

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

One crucial aspect of our D&D dance I haven’t said much about is Linda. Who’s Linda? Why, that would be our giant paper mache Beholder! Much like how Beholders are born from the nightmarish dreams of other Beholders, our beloved Beholder was born from our own strange dreams. When choosing a monster that would best symbolize D&D and be exciting for an audience to see, I immediately envisioned a Beholder whose eyestalks were made of a mass of undulating arms. Other options were a dragon or a lich, neither of which stuck so clearly in my mind. Beholders are unique to D&D and I was committed to making our own version of this monstrosity come to life. It took many weekends and nights of dedicated work to create Linda, but the end result was beautifully horrific. More information about Linda’s creation will be posted in a separate blog post, coming soon!

 

Our tribute to D&D is still evolving and just like any bard’s tale, no two performances of the piece will be the same. We hope to see more of our adventurers again in the future - next time with a full show devoted to their campaign. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions about this dance or which dances you’d like to get a behind-the-scenes look at next!

 

Interview with a Geek: Luna

How'd you come up with your stage name: Luna?

I had to pick a stage name for the very first troupe I joined. I wanted something easy to spell, easy to pronounce and easy for me to remember. I was a super fan of Blue Moon Dance Company, so I wanted my dance name to be somehow related to the moon or stars or something celestial-sounding. the name "Luna" popped into my mind first, so I went with it.

When did you first start bellydancing?

I took my first bellydance class around the turn of the century (2001 or maybe 2002?) I've taken breaks here and there, but it's the only creative or physical endeavor that's stuck with me.

A herd of 100 hungry cats vs a T-Rex. Who would win?

100 hungry cats.

Why do you perform?

Mostly because it's fun and I need to justify all the money and time I've spent on costuming to myself. And also I need to have a goal to focus on (so I'll be forced to practice as to not embarrass my troupemates.)

What made you want to join LXBD?

As with most things in my life, I didn't put a lot of thought into it. It sounded fun. I knew Emily is a great choreographer and a lovely person. I also knew a couple friends of mine were trying out. So I just signed up to audition and hoped for the best.

And that's definitely not ego talking ... it's 80% pure optimism and 20& tomfoolery.

It did not go so great. Fortunately, Emmy Beams decided to give me a chance and apparently it's all worked out okay.

See? Optimism? YEAH! HAHA!

 

LXBD on Twitch!

We're taking LXBD to the next level with our brand new Twitch channel! Starting February 1st, we'll be live streaming all kinds of bellydance and geeky awesomeness.

Many of you are probably wondering, "What the heck is Twitch?" Simply put, Twitch is a site where you can watch and interact with people streaming live content. Mostly it's used for watching video games or tabletop gaming, which may sound a little weird if you aren't a gamer. But trust us, it's a fun and unique way to interact with others who like the same things that you do. There's also a whole creative community on Twitch, which focuses on streaming all types of artists as they make creative works.

Twitch is the perfect platform for us to give fans a glimpse into our creative process and the depth of our geekiness. Also, it's a great way for us to interact with you and give you the opportunity to give us feedback on what we're working on. So come check it out and let us know what you think!

DIY Elven Crown

Hello and welcome to another installment of our DIY blog series, in which I, Emily, teach you how to make various geeky things. This time, we’ll explore the magical world of D&D and make a crown fit for elven royalty. Because admit it, you’ve always wanted your own crown.

(Very long) Side note about this project: I’m a mega fan of the livestream D&D show, Critical Role. I stay up way past my bedtime to watch a bunch of voice actors play D&D and no matter how late into the night the show goes, I'm always left wanting more. After the most recent episode, I had a dream that I made a replica of the headdress that one of the characters wears. When I woke up, I was determined to make that dream a reality, despite the fact that I have no experience making crowns or any money/resources to create such a thing. But when has that ever stopped me? So what follows is my very wonky interpretation of Keyleth’s headdress. Feel free to make your own version that isn’t inspired by someone else’s D&D character. 

Part 1: Awesome(?) Crown

What you’ll need

  • 16 gauge craft wire
  • Masking tape
  • Acrylic paint in the metallic color of your choice
  • Paintbrushes
  • Pliers (2)
  • Wire cutter (or scissors that you don’t care about ruining)
  • Chain that matches the color of your crown (will be used to keep the crown on your head)
  • Lobster clasp

Step 1: Decide on the shape of your crown. Like I mentioned, I used this image as a jumping off point.

                                           Portrait of Keyleth by the awesome Kit Buss

                                           Portrait of Keyleth by the awesome Kit Buss

Grab your wire and get to shaping! First, cut one long piece of wire to serve as the base, bending it to fit where you want it to rest on your head. I put a V-shape bend in the center of the crown, essentially dividing the crown in half and making it easier to keep the sides even. Bend the ends of the base piece to create a loop on either side where we’ll later attach the chain. Cut and bend any other pieces you’d like and shape them to fit your design.

Step 2: You’re probably wondering, “WTH Emily, now I just have a bunch of pieces of wire and no way to attach them to one another.” Fear not! While some may defer to the time-tested tradition of welding one piece of metal to another piece of metal, my lack of welding gear and general dislike of pain and bodily injury forced me to come up with another solution. That’s right, we’re going to *gasp* tape the wire together. Take your masking tape and tape your wire pieces together. Don’t worry about making it look pretty, just focus about making the attachments as secure as possible. Once you’ve taped your pieces together, carefully try your crown on and bend the wire to make sure it fits you as desired.

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Step 3: So now you have a bunch of pieces of wire taped together. Good work, you’re done!

Just kidding!  That would be terrible. Next, we need to fill out the shape of our crown so it will be sturdier and look less like a bunch of wires taped together. How do we do that? MORE MASKING TAPE :D

Take small pieces of your masking tape and cover the wire structure. Do not cover the loops at the end. You’ll probably need a few layers of tape, depending on how thick you want the crown to be. Once you’ve covered your wire do one final layer of tape, and try your best to hide any seams or bumps on the back of the crown. It won’t be completely smooth, so don’t stress too much. STOP STRESSING OUT!!! THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!! (I know that when I’m stressed, the best thing is to have someone yell at me to stop it.)

Step 4: Once again, try on your crown and mold it back into the desired shape. Once satisfied, it’s time to paint. Paint the entire crown. Make sure to get the paint in the folds and cracks in the tape and look at your work in different types of lighting to make sure you didn’t miss any spots. I did 3 layers of paint and waited about 15 minutes between each layer. Pro Tip: Be patient. Don’t try your crown on before the paint dries. Otherwise, you’ll go to teach dance class and realize you have a gold stripe of paint across your forehead. GREAT JOB, EMILY. Now your students think you’re insane.

Step 5: Make the final shape adjustments and touch-ups. Test the crown again. At this point, the crown may stay on your head just fine as is. If so, you don’t need to worry about this last step. Otherwise, take a piece of chain and attach it to the wire loops you made on the ends of your crown base. Do the same thing with a separate piece of chain on the other loop. Now, attach the lobster clasp to one of the chains. Make sure that your chain pieces are long enough to connect behind your head. Measure if you’d like, or just be a slacker like me and eyeball it.

Voila! You’ve made a weird tape crown. You should be proud of yourself! Put your crown on and go frolic in the woods or sit on a throne and pass judgement on your friends and family.

If you don't think your plain crown is zazzy enough, move on to Part 2 of this tutorial. I’ll teach you how to make beautiful flower and antler attachments for your crown! SPOILER ALERT: We’ll use even more wire and masking tape.

Part 2: Flowers and Antlers

What you'll need

  • Small fake flowers and fake leaves (you can use the ones on the stems of the flowers you buy to save money)
  • Fake butterflies (whatever size you'd like)
  • Floral wire
  • More masking tape
  • More Wire
  • Brown acrylic paint
  • White acrylic paint
  • Hot glue gun (or glue of your choice that will bond the flowers to each other)

Step 1: Find an image of antlers that you like and cut a few pieces of your thick wire from earlier. Cut one longer wire piece as the base and several shorter ones to wrap around it and branch off. Try to make both structures as similar as possible so that you don't end up with mismatched antlers. That would just be embarrassing.

Step 2: Wrap the wire structures in tape, using as much as you like to create the thickness and size you want. Make sure you put extra tape on the ends so the wire won't poke through. Check to make sure the antlers look similar and put a last layer of tape on, trying to get the least amount of wrinkles possible.

Step 3: Time to paint the antlers. Coat the antlers in a couple of layers of brown paint and then let dry. While you're waiting, you can skip ahead to step 4 and work on the flowers. When the paint is dry, add another layer and make sure you catch any spots that you missed before. If you'd like, you can put a tiny amount of white paint on a brush and add some white to the tips and base of the antlers.

Step 4: Cut your flowers and leaves off of the stems, but try to leave a piece of stem if possible. Cut your fake butterfly in half. Feel a little terrible about cutting the butterfly, but then remember that it isn't a real butterfly and therefore doesn't experience pain.  Some flowers will pop off of their stems really easily, so secure the stem with a dab of glue.

Step 5: Arrange the flowers and butterflies in two symmetrical designs. When you decide on a configuration you like, hot glue the flowers together. Start from the base and layer up from there. Try not to scream out in pain to loudly when you press the flowers together and get hot glue all over your finger. Crafting is not for the weak! Once you've glued everything together, take a piece of your floral wire and wrap the stems together to reinforce the structure.

Step 6: When the antlers are completely dry and the flower arrangements are done, put your crown back on and hold one set of flowers and and antler up to the side and see where it looks best. Mark that spot lightly with a pencil, then mark the same point on the other side of the crown. Use the floral wire to attach the antlers to the crown. I alternated the wire from one side of the antler to the other creating an "x" shape. It that isn't secure enough for your liking, you can add some good old masking tape and then paint the tape to match your crown.

Step 7: Take your floral arrangements by the stems and use the floral wire to attach the "bouquets" to each antler. If you'd like you can also use some strong glue, but I opted to make the antlers and flowers detachable, hence using the easily-removable floral wire.

YAY YOU DID IT!! I'm so proud of you for sticking it out and making it through this entire post. You are a champion and now you have an adorable crown to prove it.

 

 

 

Interview with a Geek: Marcia

It's here! The second interview in our series learning more about the members of LXBD. This time, we interviewed Marcia, aka Esme (sort of), aka our unofficial troupe mother.

                                                                                                                                           Look at that sass!

                                                                                                                                           Look at that sass!


How'd you come up with your stage name?

I don't really have a stage name. I thought about it for a while and landed on Esme. I don't really use it though. I'm confused enough without having to remember to answer to another name!!! 

When did you first start bellydancing?

Let's see. I took my first bellydance class in the summer of 2006. It was a cabaret-style class taught at a community center. I took it because it sounded like a fun way to get me out of the house and a bit active during summer break with the kids. I had so much fun with the class. It reignited my love of dance. And I never looked back.

Why'd you decide to join LXBD?

How could I not? Bellydance AND geekiness in one place??? It's a dream come true. Plus, you know, stalking Emily.....shhhhhhhh.

What's been your favorite experience with LXBD so far?

Performance-wise, Geektastic!!! That show was amazing and crazy and so much fun. The audience was so responsive and receptive. That is always a huge thrill. Although truly, any time I get to bring out my mad Jedi skills is a huge plus. Nonperformance-wise, going to DragonCon. OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG let's do it again!!

You can become the companion of one Dr. Who doctor. Which one do you choose and why?

Wow. That is a super tough question. Original Who? New Who? Gah!!! I think I would probably go with Nine though (Christopher Eccleston). He had just come out of a horrible war and was very alone. He definitely needed a friend. Someone to show the universe to. Someone to have a bit of fun with. And yet he was fiercely protective at the same time. So serious and yet very silly at times too.

Why do you perform?

Because Emily forces me too. Such a harsh taskmistress!!! Honestly though, when I'm performing I tend to forget a lot of worries and concerns. Getting feedback from an audience makes all the hard work so worthwhile. 

DIY Mass Effect Gun

Welcome to what is the first (but hopefully not last!) in a series of geeky DIY tutorials. To celebrate N7 day, let's learn how to make a Mass Effect inspired prop gun!

 

Warning: This guide isn't intended to teach you how to make a perfect replica of a gun from Mass Effect. Instead, it's a look into my trial-and-error* crafting experience. So grab your omni-tool and get ready to make something awesome!

*Thanks to Sara, who basically guided me through this entire process and showed me the majesty of rub n' buff.

 

What You’ll Need:

  • Nerf gun of your choice

  • Sand paper

  • Black spray paint

  • Silver Rub n' Buff

  • Painter’s tape

  • Soft rag

  • Paint brush

  • Black acrylic paint

  • N7 decal (get 2 if you want one on each side of the gun)

Step 1: Find and buy a nerf gun that speaks to you. When making my gun, I only had a few days to complete it before a performance so I was limited in my selection. I settled on this gun since its shape was reminiscent of the M8 Avenger assault rifle.

See, it’s vaguely similar. Just go with me on this, okay?

Step 2: Remove any stickers then sand, sand, sand! Make sure that you spend extra time where there are logos or markings. Also, maybe don’t do the sanding in your kitchen. Unless you like having plastic dust all over your counters.

Step 3: Spray paint the base color on one side of the gun. Wait for it to dry somewhat, then flip it over and paint the other side. I only needed to do one coat on each side, but you can do more if you’d like. Pro tip: Put some cardboard down underneath it so you don’t end up with a big black spot on your lawn or wherever you’re doing this. Also, be aware of which direction the wind is blowing so you don’t get spray paint blown back into your face. Not that this happened to me…

Step 4: Get high off of the spray paint fumes. No, seriously, please leave the gun in a ventilated area while it dries. I left mine out on my tiny apartment deck and only got a small number of confused stares from my neighbors. But one of my goals in life is to weird out my neighbors as much as possible, so it was all good!

Step 5: Once the spray paint is completely dry (wait at least 24 hours), use the painter’s tape to cover the areas of your gun that you want to keep black (or whatever your base color is). Take your time with this step and try to place the tape as precisely as possible. Use an image of the gun you’re emulating and try to follow the coloration patterns as best as possible. It won’t be a perfect match, but don’t worry - it’ll still look cool when you’re done!

Step 6: Time to add the Rub n' Buff. Unlike the spray paint, the Rub n' Buff doesn’t have much of an odor and won’t cause all of your brain cells to die if you inhale the fumes. You can also get it on your skin and it will wash off. Basically it’s the coolest. Anyway, put a small amount of the Rub n' Buff on a soft, clean rag and apply it to the gun using small circular motions (like you’re buffing the gun, get it??). Continue applying it until you’ve achieved the color/coverage you’d like.

Step 7: Once you’re done applying the Rub n' Buff and have let it “dry” for a little while, remove the painter’s tape. Cry a little if you didn’t tape the gun properly and you have silver in the wrong places. Stop crying, it’s just a prop gun! GET IT TOGETHER, EMILY!

Sorry about that ... wipe your tears away and grab your paintbrush and black acrylic paint. Going along any rough edges, you can use the black paint to fix any mistakes you’ve made. Look at the image of the gun you’re trying to make and add any details with the black paint that you’d like. I went in and drew lines and dots on the gun to make it look more like the Avenger. I also used a little bit of red paint for the center part of the gun. Wait for the paint to dry on one side, then flip it over and do the other side. Try not to cry again when it doesn’t match the other side very well. No one will be able to tell, I promise.

Step 8: Once the paint has dried, apply the decal. (put link and image of decal here). For this step, I decided against accuracy to the in-game gun and used an N7 image instead of the actual numbering for the Avenger. Deal with it.

As I mentioned before, when I made my gun I didn’t have time to order a decal. Instead I tried to create a stencil and failed miserably. Then I thought briefly about freehand painting it, but that would have been a disaster. What I settled on was printing out an image of the N7, carefully cutting each part out, then even more carefully applying it with matte Mod Podge. It isn’t the best, but it did the job and stayed on surprisingly well.

Step 9: Put on any finishing touches, then grab your newly made Mass Effect gun and run around with it yelling,“I’m Commander Shepard and this is my favorite gun on the Citadel.” Then maybe stop scaring people and go lie down. You’ve earned it!

e gun.jpg





Interview with a Geek: Emily Beaman

Hello! Your eyes are now gazing upon the very first interview in our new blog series: Interview with a Geek (name subject to change upon finding a more clever title.) 

Our first interview victim - er - subject - is none other than Emily Beaman, creator and troupe director of The League of Extraordinary Bellydancers. 


So, what’s your name?

Zorb.

Tell me about how you came up with the idea to form The League of Extraordinary Bellydancers.

I saw a video of someone doing a bellydance routine to a Mass Effect song. I've always wanted to do something like that, so I posted on Facebook “I want to do this” and everyone was like “Oh, I want to do geek bellydance too!”

A couple months later I posted about auditions and applications. I made some mini-combo audition videos and a crapton of people applied - about 20. I ended up accepting ten people into the troupe. So about half - or, actually, literally half.  A lot of really awesome people applied and I was really excited about it.

I wasn’t expecting the level of ability of those who applied. I was expecting to get applications from advanced beginners, maybe intermediate-level students - but a bunch of professional level dancers were interested.

I had to be harsher than I originally thought I was going to be when I was looking through the applications. So it was tough because I hate making anyone sad.

How did you come up with the troupe name?

I’m going to be honest. I didn’t come up with the name, my Mom did. She was giving me suggestions every five seconds to the point where I wanted to be like “Enough!” It was very sweet. Every time I would see her, she’d be like “how about this? How about this?”

And then Sara and I came up with the name “Zorb’s House of Bellydance,” which is why I said my name was Zorb in the beginning of the interview. But then we thought that was a little too weird. But that’s our secret code name for the troupe, which now you know.

So, should I not include that in the interview?

Nah, you can include it.

What is it? What is Zorb?

Zorb is a little alien guy with tentacle arms. He smokes a cigar. And we imagined that there’s an actual place called the House of Bellydance with a neon sign of Zorb being like “Come on in!” He's kind of sleazy looking, maybe with a sleazy mustache.

So it’s a house of ill repute?

No! I could get into the amazing levels that is included in Zorb’s House of Bellydance - including gambling and official sports - but that’s classified information.

It sounds pretty shady.

It’s pretty amazing. One day Zorb’s House of Bellydance will become a reality.

The next Geektastic show!

Yeah!

You choreograph all of the  LXBD dances.

For the most part, yes. Like a boss.

What is your process when choreographing?

Usually I’ll start with music and then I'll come up with a theme I want to do. Our first choreography was Game of Thrones because I thought that the theme music was cool and I wanted to do a dance to it. Plus, everyone who auditioned had auditioned using that music, so it was just a natural place to start.

I also find a lot of music on SoundCloud. I like to find various songs and edit them together, like the Star Wars dance, so it’s more unique. Also, you can put sound effects in there that will make the dance more entertaining.

What I usually do next is listen to the same song - until you kind of want to die from listening to it so many times - especially in my car. I’ll listen to it over and over and over again and I'll think -  that’s where I get a lot of good ideas - driving and thinking about dancing. Which is usually not the safest thing. Sometimes, if I have a lot of complex staging, I’ll try to map it out and think of various sections and then from there choreograph the actual sections.

So you don’t come up with the moves first, but the staging.

Yeah, like “This part sounds like we should be circling, or this part sounds like everyone should level down and we should shoot lightning out of our hands.” And then a lot of times things don’t necessarily work when we start working on it as a group, so you have to change things. And I’ll say I’ll take input from people but usually I’ll just do what I want.

Is it different than how you would choreograph a non-geeky song? 

It’s kind of the same, but I like to make things more theatrical for LXBD. I can think about staging more, whereas if I am doing a song for myself or my students I will keep the staging pretty simple. It’s a lot more fun. You can do a lot more with a group of people than you can by yourself.

If you were a Pokemon, which Pokemon would you be?

I haven’t given this any prior thought - none at all. (editor's note: this is a lie, we talked about it on FB before the interview) I think I’d have to go with Magicarp.

Magicarp?! Why is that, that’s the lamest Pokemon of them all.

Well, I feel lame sometimes. Not gonna lie. But I think I’m at the point where I have to deal with my lameness and work through it and get some experience points and then I’m going to turn into something amazing.

Because Magicarp turns into Gyrados - a big water dragon serpent thing. So you put in all the effort with the stupid Magicarp that doesn’t want to do anything and is useless, but then it’s worth it in the end.

That’s a really good metaphor for life.

I’m a sad sack is what I’m trying to say.  A sad sack waiting to become a champion.

What’s your Patronus?

Crap. I really haven’t thought about this. Or I have in the past but I never came up with anything. I don’t know, a mini-Dachsund? Like a really barky mini-Dachsund. So basically my dog.

You’d be Penny.

Maybe a herd of mini-Dachsunds, just running at you, but when they get there they just give you little kisses and want to snuggle with you. But they look ferocious to begin with.

They would chase off the Death Eaters, but then give them hugs if they caught them?

Pretty much, they wouldn’t know what to do with Death Eaters.

The most useless member of Dumbledore’s Army. You could’ve made your Patronus a Magicarp.

I don’t think Magicarp can be a Patronus. Or maybe a Magicarp on top of a mini Dachsund, with a little cowboy hat.

What’s been your favorite dance to choreograph? Or dance to.

To choreograph, definitely the Star Wars one because I worked forever on making that song and so I was going insane. When the song was done, I was super excited and the dance was just really easy to put together. Plus, there are light saber battles, so that’s super sweet.

But to dance? I like that one [Star Wars] because it’s a lot of fun to act and be a Sith. It brings out my true nature. But I like dancing all of them. The only one I am not super comfortable with is the egg dance, where I have the double veils, because I never really figured that part out. The Dragon Age one looks really pretty, but fan veils aren’t necessarily the most fun. I like them all. Harry Potter is pretty fun too. Although I didn’t want to be Harry Potter, I was forced to be him.

You didn’t want to be Harry Potter?

No, I’m not a good actress. I’m a tolerable Harry Potter but I just try the whole time not to laugh. Whereas as a Sith I can channel my inner demon.

So you can only play mean characters.

I should only be mean. That’s the only type of acting I can do. Or zombie.

Does that mean that's a zombie dance coming?

Not really, but maybe? I can do monsters or Sith. Or maybe if I had been Voldemort, then it would have been okay. 

What’s the next dance we’re doing?

IT''S SECRET. Just kidding,everyone knows about it already because we talked about it on Facebook. We’re doing a Mad Max dance.

Tell me about it.

That information is classified. I don’t want to give too much information, because I want it to be a surprise. (Editor's note: We'll be debuting the dance at CircusSpark on Sept. 18th.)

What are your hopes and goals and dreams for LXBD? Sky’s the limit.

I think it’d be cool to do shows at bigger events - or even at smaller events but with a dedicated crowd of people who’d want to come and see this. I loved doing Geektastic, our stage show. 

Would you ever want to do a weekly variety show like Vaudevillain does?

I feel like a lot of our ideas are much more conducive to stage show. I’d love to have awesome costumes and cool props and things that will really set the mood. Maybe a show that had a more cohesive theme. Mostly, for right now, I want to have fun and  do new, big things.

... I also want to bring people to tears and destroy all of their hopes and dreams, but yet make them feel like they’ve grown.

You want to force an existential crisis on them, basically.

Yes, after our performance, I just want them to be like “What am I doing with my life?” “Where am I?” “Who am I?"

Quit their job, go to a deserted island, stop shaving, stop doing anything, and then come back.

And be a better person for it.

And be in our troupe.

Also, a really big goal is to have male strippers to accompany us when we go to conventions and escort us around. And also perform!

Should we share them with the world?

Yes, if we have them why wouldn’t we flaunt them. They’d be our muscle but also perform with us, add a sexy twist.

Speaking of sexy, would you ever add burlesque to the show?

I’d definitely want to, I’d just have to make sure I had a venue where it was okay. But there’s a lot more geek burlesque out there, which is awesome, and it would be cool to have a variety show that was primarily bellydance but also had all kinds of other dance and performance.

I think that’s all the questions I had.

GOOD.