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?
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!
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.