Tiare Valouria is an incredibly talented performer and teacher specialized in fusion belly dance and ritual theatre. To see her is to love her: her elegance and interpretation are of the highest quality; her mystic aura makes her artistically irresistible. I had the privilege of interviewing her about her history and the meaning of her craft.
How did your passion for belly dance start?
While my passion for dance as an artform of expression has been life long, my passion for bellydance began in 2005. I grew up in Hawaii dancing Ballet and Hula in the Halau, then stopped dancing when my adolescence hit and felt more inspired to express myself through design work and immerse myself in Magickal studies. It was in my early 20’s when I first witnessed Gypsy Caravan perform ATS (American Tribal Style) here in Portland, and realized that there was a magical, mysterious movement of empowered dance that was bringing the feminine together en force! Their dance circles had this powerful, yet warm and embracing energy to it, and when witnessed, it wasn’t difficult to tap into the ancient current of vitality that was being expressed and shared between them as a unit of all races, sizes and genders. In fact, it was undeniable. I was enamored by their aesthetic as well ~ Peacock hues with black as a unifying undercurrent, bright pops of color statements and absolutely dripping with tattoos. “It’s a dance coven of vitality magic!” I thought to myself. I was so intrigued that I did some research online and soon discovered the Tribal Fusion movement that was currently on the rise through the bohemian underground. I was even more intrigued! Infatuated even. And then I stumbled upon some footage of Rachel Brice dancing… I was officially in love. That was it. Exactly what I knew I needed to be doing. It felt like a piece my very soul had been missing and feverishly searching for. Before long I was hooked. I wanted nothing more than to carry this dance current within my physical form. I craved the grounding empowerment of it. I sought out the Gypsy Caravan dancers to take classes from Paulette Resse Denis and Severina while also practicing at home regularly with Egyptian Cabaret classes on VHS (because they were all you could get at the time). I was pleased to discover that my childhood dance training set me far ahead of the pack in dance classes and I managed to learn Tribal Fusion at what some would consider – lightning speed. I soon found a small Tribal Fusion bellydance coven called Serpentine who invited me in due to a shared understanding of prioritizing Ritual Theatre as a focal point for dance. They were my gateway into becoming a performance artist post childhood Halau recitals and the rest is history.
How important is the role of teachers within this discipline?
Every discipline carries with it a technique that it is known for and therefore sought out for personal development and integration. It is through our teachers that we receive downloads of information and portrayal of techniques that are unique to them and them alone. It is through our teachers that we are empowered through their lens of experience, passion, wisdom and blessing. It is because of this singularity that when we witness our teacher, our entire being affirms that they are the ones we desire to learn from. Teachers offer a legacy of consciousness through their classes that has been passed down from their teacher before them, and so on. It offers their students an invaluable opportunity to imbue their practice and passion with this magical blend of flavors, insight and meaning, like a potion of power that vivifies their movement with a spirit that can be felt by not only the dancer, but all who are blessed to witness them share their artistry. Without our precious teachers, our treasured dance forms would not survive. Within this particular dance discipline we are tapping into a current that is as old as time. The ancients who identified as women began belly dancing in women’s only circles, where the people who identified as men were not allowed to attend or bear witness. This is a dance that has been passed down from woman to woman for thousands of years as a vitality practice for harnessing, refining and sharing divine feminine power. So yes, the teachers and who you choose to learn from are extremely important. Personally, I am of the opinion that when seeking out a teacher, it’s a good thing to ask yourself a few questions: Are they acknowledging and honoring their teachers? Are they respecting the cultures these dances came from and educating others about them? What is the story their spirit is portraying and speaking to you through their movements? Does this story and portrayal align with your chosen path? How will learning from them empower the story through dance that you wish to tell? And will honoring them as your teacher feel integral to both of you on your chosen paths? I don’t think these questions are being asked enough, and I see a lot of extremely talented dancers with immaculate technique, out there in the world with no honoring of lineage or portrayal of mythos. Many people don’t mind this at all, but when I notice it, although I can find enjoyment in the display of technique, I quickly lose interest because there is no story or evidence of spirit through lineage. No meaning behind the movements other than wanting to look impressive… And is that what their teachers taught them to do? It also really boils down to how much you as an individual really care about matters such as this. How important is your path in artistry to you? This will be reflected in who you choose as your teachers, and vice versa.
Do you think it’s possible to establish a strong tie with students even through online lessons?
Oh absolutely, and like with anything, it really depends on the teacher. The desire to bond with students must be there in the first place, and it’s even better if the students are willing to reciprocate a teacher’s outreach for connection. We as a species are experiencing such a churning right now that we must seek out our teachers from the comfort of our own home for safety and convenience as world affairs ramp up around us. As much as I miss in-person classes, I know I’m not alone in my appreciation for the luxury of modern technology to keep the spirit of education alive while we navigate the troubled waters of society. That being said, I am so deeply excited to open the doors to Animara ~ my new online school for dance magick coming up in October. I’ve been pouring so much love into the curriculum and presentation to offer students an elevating experience while engaging with the platform as classes and series roll out. It’s going to be so deliciously enriching for everyone involved.
What is the role of esotericism and spirituality in your work?
After 20 years of a spiral dance around deepening my understanding about the relationship between my work and spirituality, I have come to realize time and time again that esotericism and spirituality truly are central to all of it. Without one, the other withers, and to be perfectly honest I think it’s the same for everyone… However within the spectrum of experience, we choose to focus more on one aspect or another. No matter what, dance IS a spiritual practice. It is an exercise that brings a refinement of the spirit’s expression to be portrayed and projected through our physical form. We are all spirit and our bodies are the earthly vehicle for our spirit, therefore all dance is a spiritual practice. For me, it is vital to my personal practice and what I teach for the exercises, techniques and movements to come from a place of inner knowing as a result of consciously connecting with the forces of creation to imbue everything with a deeper understanding, relationship, meaning and intention. It is through my lifelong study of ancient ceremonial practices, magical studies, spiritual lineages and dance that I have been lovingly formulating an integral way of approaching dance as a spiritual practice called the Mystic Arts Practika that is deeply rooted in magic. It may not be for everyone, although I do think that anyone can benefit from its influence.
Which spiritual themes are more typical of your exhibitions and lessons?
Ritual Theatre, esoteric symbology, ceremonial magic, archetypes and deity veneration / embodiment has been at the forefront of my artistic expression for my entire life. It has been my calling since day one and due to the influence of my teachers and personal guides, the blend of aesthetics, techniques and portrayal is uniquely potent. My lessons range from Lunar guided yoga sessions to sync our self care regimen with the cycles of the moon and dance classes are built on a foundation I like to call Elemental Fusion which serves as a platform for building upon with intention utilizing the Practika for empowering our dance through relationship with Spirit, magical wisdoms and personal mythos.
Do you think that dancing can change the world?
Dancing is changing the world every day. It has been changing the world since the dawn of humanity and will continue to do so until the end of time. Dance carries within it the medicine of empowerment and release. Dance is a rite of passage. When we do not dance, our bodies and self confidence stagnate. Dance brings us home to the understanding that our bodies are conductors of energy. Without movement our physical form experiences atrophy, and without creative expression our lives become devoid of meaning and direction. Dance is a key to unlocking our fullest potential here on earth and it is the ultimate antidepressant. I am of the opinion that when utilized appropriately, dance can cure any ailment. Dance is a throne that the spirit of each and every sentient being in existence holds claim to.